Watercolor bat - color question


  • Moderator

    Might you put in a moon to indicate the source of light? Then you could make the mountains lighter because they're lit by the moon. If It's the whitest part of your rendering, having Evelyn contrast with it as a darker colored object might bring more attention to them both because the juxtaposing contrast will attract the eye. Just a thought... 🙂



  • Your question made me think of Henri Rousseau's work: he painted night scenes which are very colourful and only the moon in the sky, the cool grey/blue sky and very high contrast shadows let you know it's night time. I know his art isn't for everyone's taste, but you might want to look it up for reference.


  • SVS OG

    @laura said in Watercolor bat - color question:

    Henri Rousseau

    I looked him up and actually found this detail of one of his paintings ("A Carnival Night"). Is that a bat (or just a cloud?)

    0_1547295594025_Screen Shot 2019-01-12 at 7.19.03 AM.png

    @Coreyartus I had debated putting the moon in there and it may help make Evelyn look less pasted on. Right now the contrast between her color and the lack of color in the background is too great I think and a source of light might pull those elements together.

    @ThisKateCreates Your comments have really helped me get through my typical, "I can't paint" frustration, and instead I've decided I'm going to use this as a study and do a bunch of paintings in different styles and probably different compositions. We'll see where it goes.



  • @demotlj I know that frustration too well!! Good luck. I can't wait to see the results.



  • Some great advice floating about!

    I'm excited to see what you come up with ^_^


  • SVS OG

    So I went completely back to start, watched the SVS video on sculpting characters by Dan Mortensen, made a crude clay model of my bat, and took pictures of it as if it were flying into a setting sun. I immediately saw all of the anatomical and shadow errors I had made in my previous drawing! (I had made a model before but I did it quickly and did’nt think to light it.) If nothing else, I’ve learned a lot about bat anatomy. 0_1547489072894_5BAEFF89-1469-4A93-9422-1C7CA5E54C5C.jpeg



  • @demotlj Very nice!


  • SVS OG

    Here’s a redesign of the composition. I didn’t like the emptiness of the original with the bat just hanging in the air and I thought this might anchor her more. Any thoughts?
    0_1547513657649_8B471F85-6947-48F3-AFBD-1FE67C96653F.jpeg



  • @demotlj
    Oh yes! So dynamic!
    And I think you could totally do this is watercolor. It helps me to do studies about half the size, so the pressure of a final piece isn't on me. And I know we're supposed to layer slowly with watercolor, but maybe try one where put the correct value down for each part of the illustration with a single wash. For example, if the main part of the bat shadows are a level 8 dark, mix up your color and use less water to achieve that value/saturation in single strokes of shadow shapes. Just for fun! It just looks like you're a little hesitant to use a lot of color at once, as I am, and this might help push you past your comfort zones.


  • SVS OG

    @kaitlinmakes I’m definitely hesitant going too dark in watercolors because I worry that I’ll blow it and can’t undo it. I also have done better with watercolor in my sketch book than in full size paper because it’s less intimidating so I’ll try both of your suggestions. Thanks.



  • I definitely think that last one works. It has a good silhouette.


  • SVS OG

    I tried a watercolor version which I tweaked in Procreate but I’m not thrilled with it. I’ll probably also try it as a straight digital and then I’m going to move on because I’m getting a little tired of it! (The font is just a quick placeholder.)

    0_1547867560662_6ACCE662-23CA-45EF-8CEF-5FDC35AC63C8.jpeg



  • The colors and composition on the final are wonderful. Look back at your original, and then this one again; the improvement is astounding. Your hard work has definitely paid off. Love it!



  • @demotlj What a very clever idea!


  • SVS OG

    @debra-garcia Thanks for your compliments. I am still frustrated that I wasn't able to get the blues as dark as I wanted in watercolor (I was using mostly ultramarine) without making them too gray. I had to resort to Procreate to darken them while retaining some vibrancy. Color mixing is definitely a challenge for me as a newcomer to watercolors.



  • Oh! You nailed it!
    Evelyn reads so well against her background - those blues of the ground and sky are so rich! And her warm colors really make her pop.
    A disgression - I think sometimes with watercolor we try and make the paint do something that it just can't do - it's not acrylic or oil, and it just can't accomplish the same vibrancy that those mediums can produce. It's got a mind of its own - but we do get a softer story with it, and that beautiful gradation of color when we do wet in wet. What kind of watercolor do you use?
    I agree with what was said - the improvement is night and day and I'm so glad you decided to retackle this subject - the choice to change up the composition was perfect.
    How does the piece look if you flip it horizontally? I feel like I heard that an image is stronger if it reads left to right for western markets. What if Evelyn flew right and everyone else flew left?


  • SVS OG

    @kaitlinmakes I’m using Windsor Newton pan and Daniel Smith tube paints, mostly Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna, and Burnt Umber.

    I agree with you about the left to right thing but the problem is that it is actually a fact that bats all turn left going out of a cave. I read it on a “strange animal facts” site (that I hope is trustworthy) and that sparked the idea for me. I actually tried to figure out how to flip it so Evelyn would be heading to the right both physically from the cave and on the page as well but then I couldn’t show her face or the cave opening without some really clever compositional camera angles that my brain couldn’t manage.



  • @demotlj
    Oooo - I just got some Daniel smith too - they're pretty yummy.
    Thank you for sharing that little bit of natural behavior with us 🙂 It's frustrating when animal behavior doesn't comform to visual storytelling :p dinosaur illustrators have it easy(ish)


  • SVS OG

    Looking great! Your bat definitely stands out from the background.



  • This looks great, I actually love the subtle blues in the background, it makes your character pop out more because the colours aren't too vibrant in the background. Maybe you could add a little tongue in the bats mouth?


Log in to reply