Watercolor bat - color question

  • 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?

  • @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.

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    @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.)


  • 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!

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    @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?

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    @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?

  • If you are getting tired of it, why not take a small break from it? I think the colours that you have used are wonderfully simple and the bat just flies of the page ( 😉 ) i think it would be a shame to ditch the watercolours because you are getting a bit stir-crazy over it 😌

  • agree, the end result is so much stronger and the colors are lovely. Good job Demotlj! You inspire me to get back to my crocodiles 🙂

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