Last year, Gabi Xavier (contributor of our blog) and I worked on the Sailor Drops project. If you are new here, you can find out about the project in our first post about our Sailors. All my Sailors were drawn with colored pencils, and the six most recent ones have watercolor in the background. The Sailor Chibi Moon was the one I used to record my whole painting process.
As my skills in editing videos are kind of limited (and I couldn’t afford the editor this time) it took me a while to put together this material. But today, finally, I can show how I painted the main 5 Sailors in the series, and also Chibi, using traditional techniques.
In the image above we have the sketch which I traced to the final paper using a decal of my own sketch (could have used light table). I usually sketch on paper of lighter weight, until I’m glad with the composition, and then trace the basic shapes on the final paper. From there, I redraw everything in detail with very light strokes, and adjust everything I possibly missed in previous studies.
First step: colored pencils
I like to start by the main parts, which in this case is the face, the hair (♥), then to the skin and clothing. I always define the color palette before starting the painting, and try to use only the selected colors throughout the painting.
I was supposed to add glazes at the end but it bothers me a bit to see the unfinished eyes. So I took the white Posca and made some sparkles in the eye and accessories here (before I even start the background).
Second: background with watercolor
The background is the fun part, although I felt unsure doing it on this paper (totally inappropriate for watercolor, a very smooth double-sided). As the ink was drying very fast, easily spotting, I had to beat my records regarding wash speed. Good thing I’ll sprinkle stars on the background. A great resource to conceal the stains.
The most important discovery I made with this work is that if the colored pencils on parts are sufficiently saturated (when we put so many pencil layers that nothing of the paper is visible through this painting), watercolor usually will not adhere to those parts.That is, I can spread my wash on her hair and then remove the watercolor from it with a paper tissue.
Knowing that practically changed my life! For I can now make the backgrounds without fear of overlapping parts already painted with pencil, without watercolor mask or the need to “deviate” from those elements at the risk of leaving that white space between the subject and the background. (I have nothing against it in paintings in general, but for the results I’m going for that does not actually work).
With the dry bottom, I take the tape that I used on the edges (to make this white frame only), and circled the moon (in the sky) and the other moon (symbol in background) to make them more apparent. I was not sure if the yellow was going to work for this pink palette but in the end I liked the result, it was a good addition.
In the end the table is not very organized or clean (image below). Especially with the last stage of the background, which is white ink sprinkled with a toothbrush to create the stars. It is a good idea to protect everything that should not have stars before doing this (in the video at the end of this post you can see it better).
Like I said earlier, here is the speed painting:
I tried to make everything in a way so that I would not have to edit it too much in Photoshop, so the printed versions are virtually identical to the original. I really hope that, with practice, I do not need to edit anything at all. Still, I feel that from the first to the last Sailor I did, I have clearly improved — persistence! This is the result:
The process is quite complex, so this was the summary about 4 to 5 hours of painting If you are interested in a more detailed video, or have questions about any step, let me know here in the comments.! I will be very happy to help :)
If you like this art, it will be available at the Fantastic Art Shop, my online shop with prints and limited editions (including this Chibi here), bookmarks, stickers and originals. Join our emails list to receive an official message when the shop is finally online, and you’ll get a discount code too, of course! Cheers,