Today I’ll be showing you how I painted a Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time Watercolor painting. It features many enemies from the game, and was lots of fun to work on.
I’ll break down the painting process Step-By-Step and also highlight some important techniques that I used in the painting along the way. More in-depth technique information will be designated by a Technique Spotlight title. Feel free to skip over these if you’d just like to see the painting process generally. So Let’s get started with set-up!
For the sake of simplicity there is a glossary of terms at the end of this tutorial in case you are confused by any of my wording.
Part 1: Set up
Pelikan K12 Opaque Paint Set
I really like this watercolor set because it behaves like opaque gouache or watercolor depending upon how thick you apply it. I also like the range of colors and the moveable paint trays. The set also comes with a small tube of opaque white paint that comes in handy.
Pigma Sakura Micron Pens (Sizes 01 and 05)
These are basically the only pens I use. They’re super water-proof, easy to find and come in many sizes.
Currys Synthetic Brushes (2500 Series Various Sizes)
I like these brushes as they are inexpensive and hold up well. They rarely get stray bristles and keep a point for a long time.
Drawing Pencil / Eraser / Pencil Sharpener
I’m not so picky about these things, but I like to use Staedtler pencils and products because they’re easy to come by and good quality. I usually draw with a B3 and B Pencil.
If you’re a beginner please purchase Watercolor paper, do not try to watercolor paint on any other surface, even expensive dry media paper. It just won’t work. I use cold-press papers, usually around 80lb. Student-grade watercolor pads are fine as long as they are archival, I personally prefer Canson papers.
These are the supplies that I use for 90% of my watercolor paintings, but I also recommend Reeves gouache and watercolor sets for beginners.
I start painting once my inked image is completely done and cleaned up. For this tutorial I’ll be focusing only on the painting aspect, but I’ll quickly outline how I got to this point for your information.
I use a B3 pencil to sketch out the scene that I want, and then refine it down until I had enough of a pencil outline to work from with my ink pens. I usually keep my pencil drawing fairly rough, but still refined enough to double-check my perspective and such.
I outline the entire image using my Micron pens (sizes 01 and 05), following my initial pencil outlines. I initially go over most of the image using the 01 pen and then use the 05 pen to outline the edges of each character. This adds dimension to the lines and helps the characters pop. I’ll go into inking further in a future tutorial. Once I’m happy with my inking I erase all of my pencil lines and I’m ready to paint!
Part 2: Flat color painting
This technique is how I do the vast majority of my painting. It goes a little like this:
Step 1: Select a shape you’d like to fill with color, and select the side that you’d like to be the deepest in color.
Step 2: Fill the side that you’d like to be deepest in color with moderately dense paint. Only fill about 30% of the shape’s total length.
Step 3: Clean off your brush entirely and dip it with clear water. Use the clear water to dilute the paint at the edge of the section that you just filled. Wipe your brush dry.
Step 4: Use the now dry, paintless brush to spread the water and diluted paint out. If you do this right you should be able to fade the color so that it is lightest at the other end of the shape. I repeat this basic technique with all of the shapes in the flat coloring phase of the painting.
part 2: flat color painting Continued
Step 1: Select a shape or area to fill, making sure that you are aware of it’s edges.
Step 2: Select the first color you’d like to use, create a blend of that color, that is both deep in hue and watery enough to flow into surrounding colors. Fill a desired area with that color, do not allow it to dry or leave the shape’s outline.
Step 3: Select a second color, again making a blend that is both deep in color and watery enough to flow into nearby colors. Paint it in nearby and into the first color, blending as much as desired. The two colors should flow into each other somewhat, you can experiment with the dryness level of each color. As a rule of thumb, the more dry the color, the less a new color will flow into it.
Step 4: Repeat step 3 as desired until you have the desired color range in your shape.
Step 5: Go around the edges of the shape with a dry, clean brush, blending the still-watery colors so that they just touch the outline. You should be left with a shape filled with a variety of colors that blend into each other in a loose, interesting-looking manner.
part 2: flat color painting continued
Part 2: the background
I will be filling the background with fairly dark black paint. To do this, I start by picking a section of negative space, where no character is situated. I mix up my deep black paint, and begin filling the section, making sure to avoid actually touching the black outlines, while still getting as close as possible. This maintains the original black outlines that we spent lots of time on, and also creates a thin white line around all of the characters that makes them stand out even more.
Step 1: Tear off a small piece of paper towel or similar material. Ball it up into a wedge shape so that it has a nice point.
Step 2: Pick a still wet section you’d like to fix and quickly dab out the paint using the paper towel.
Step 3 (optional): Use a wet, clean brush to add extra water to the mess-up, and dab it out again. This can be repeated to ‘delete’ large sections of your painting, even if it has already dried! Just work the water in a bit more into the dried sections, and the paint will eventually lift up.
part 2: the background Continued
Part 3: Shading
Basically for shading, you want to create and then use a deeper shade of the color you’re adding shadow to. Yes, I said deeper, not darker. I personally make most of my shades by adding the complimentary color. IE: for shading Link’s tunic I added red to green NOT black to green. I find this helps to keep the colors more saturated and less muddy. Of course, it’s fine to add black if that is how you work.
Part 4: Done! and terms
Have a deku-smooshing afternoon!
Find my art other places or keep in touch with me:
Color– Usually when I say color, I’m referring to the color of paint.
Clean Brush – A brush with no paint on it.
Dabbing: Using a dry paper towel or other media to remove wet paint or water from the paper.
Dry– Paint that has already dried on the paper. Dry paint is harder to manipulate.
Fill– To completely “fill” a section of the painting with color. IE: a hat that is surrounded by a black outline, or a section I would like to shade that does not have an outline.
Fade– A gradient from one color to another: IE: Green to Light Green.
Wet- Paint that is still watery after being applied to the paper. Wet paint is easier to manipulate.
Flow – Could also be called ‘bleed’. When two wet colors placed next to each other begin to ‘join together’. Can be used intentionally to gain interesting effects or can be really obnoxious when not intended.
Gouache– a kind of paint, like watercolor but able to be used completely opaque.
Opacity/Opaque – How see-through something is, Opaque being not at all.
Loose vs. Tight: How refined a detail is in the painting. I usually use loose to refer to effects created by blending together multiple colors.
Shape– Any distinct area in the painting, either surrounded by an outline or not. IE: A hand surrounded by an outline that I want to paint fleshtone into.