Captain Hook & Smee – Part 1

I thought I’d share with you a couple of paintings I did this past winter. I got into a Disney’s  Peter Pan mode of thinking and envisioned myself as Captain Hook’s first mate, Smee.

Well, while they are technically paintings, I tend to call these “watercolor sketches”. Each of these took maybe an hour or two to do from start to finish, so they aren’t my typical full-blown watercolor illustrations. This is what I do if I’m making a card for a friend, or doing quickie pieces for fans. There is a certain spontaneity to them that gives them a real energy. Everything is fast and loose and hopefully pure fun.

I’d like to show them to you step-by-step, which is something I haven’t done in awhile. Since there will be a few images for each, I’ll show you one of these today, and I’ll post the second one on Thursday.

So, as with any art I do, it all starts with a rough sketch. I don’t have to please anyone but myself, so it can be as rough as I want it to be. As you can see, the rough sketch for this one started with blue pencil, then I finalized my lines with regular lead. Captain Hook is always fun to draw, and it just seemed with my own body type that I was a shoo-in for Smee.

This is the initial rough sketch of the pirates!

Next, I took that rough and put it on my light table and created my final line with colored pencil onto a rough textured watercolor paper. I didn’t want to get too tight with the drawing, so you can see even in this phase the line work is sketchy in places, and not all the shapes are closed.

This is the final pencil line drawing of Capt. Hook and Chad Smee.
This is the final pencil line drawing of Capt. Hook and Chad Smee.

Next will be the tones. I often like putting the tones in purple. It looks nice when working with bright colors, which I will be for this piece. The purple seems too bright and dark right now, but later when the final paint is placed on top of it, the purple will get muted a little, and even somewhat blend in to the wet medium. And so that all my shadows don’t have a hard edge, I was careful to have it fade off in certain places like on Captain Hook’s face, and even his hat.

Hook and "Smee" get the purple tone treatment in watercolor.
Hook and “Smee” get the purple tone treatment in watercolor.

Then lastly, I painted in the final colors. You can see that some of the purple shadows got absorbed into the final colors, while in other areas it served as an enhancement. Then I ended with flicking some blue specks on with a toothbrush (preferably NOT the one you brush your teeth with).


The final piece bringing Hook and "Smee" to life.
The final piece bringing Hook and “Smee” to life.

Come back on Thursday to see the second Captain Hook and Chee (or is it Shmad – thanks to my friend Jennifer Hobson-Plattner for the name) full-bodied watercolor sketch!