How This Moth Took Flight: My Artist Process

A couple of weeks ago I announced the winner of my contest. Jeannie Pauly (@rovingsprout on Instagram) was the lucky winner with her submission of her huge moth photo.  A perfect Autumn subject (and yes, kinda creepy). The original art will be en route to her this week! image

I figured I'd take this opportunity to not only show the final illustration that Jeannie will be receiving but also show a bit of my process. I know that as an artist I love to see other artist's process. So here we go:

First, I go right to drawing out the moth and surrounding pole / background with my Staedler pens (black waterproof ink - 4 pen set sizes .1 .3 .5 .7). I start with a .3 in size and work my way up to a .7 where I want to add a little thicker lines and darker areas. I used to start with pencil, but found that I erased too much & was too noncommittal in my line. I switched it up after reading a book challenging me to go right for pen, as it helps you with more confident line. And it forces you to work with the line you've made, rather than to get stuck in constantly erasing & redrawing, never moving on to the rest of the process.

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Then I lay down some watercolors - starting with lighter colors and hues. A little wash here and there. A happy little moth. For brushes, I primarily use water brushes like these. But on this one I also used a few watercolor brushes I have kicking around. Nothing special.

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I build that up getting darker and darker, defining more of the shadows.  I have several sets of watercolors I use. It usually is more about selecting the right colors than sticking with a certain brand. I used a few different pan sets for this one. I tend to like colors that pop, and didn't want to keep the brown and almost monotone feel of the original photo.

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Then once the watercolors are dry, I'll go back in to a few spots to hit with a darker black Take-sumi ink (that isn't waterproof). I use my TWSBI pen for this finishing touches stage. And, voilà...

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And there you have it folks.  Here's the original and the final art! I give you "Moth-er, May I?"