Welcome to Step 4 of Build-A-Bear – watercolorly speaking, of course. Yesterday I shared with you the beginning step of applying the color to the background of The Pic-a-nic on the Grass. Since the background is not quite done, shall we continue along that line of thought?
Just as was done yesterday, the rest of the background needs to be fleshed out in shades of green and yellow. The various colors continue to be laid in wet on wet (shorthand for wet paint onto pre-soaked areas of the paper). I have a darker green for much of the foreground section of grass, and an even darker shade that will be dabbed in around the base of the characters to ground them to the — well, to the ground.
You may have noticed that the trees have also received a bit of paint. Maybe two shades of brown were used on the bark, and a little bit of light green. You really don’t need too many shades of a color because you can control the color’s intensity by how much water is in your brush before you paint. An excess of water makes the color more transparent. The trees further back were painted in lighter to help create that sense of distance. Regarding the cluster of trees on the left side, that one horizontal tree was painted in darker to make it seem like it is more in the shadows.
The large tree on the right I left without brown for now so you can see the green tones put on the bark. The addition of green on the bark helps blend the trees into the scene. There could be multiple lessons on how light affects color, but the shorthand explanation is that colors bounce around in light in real life. It is reflected color. If you stand next to a red car while wearing a light colored shirt, your shirt will look slightly red from the color bouncing off the car in daylight.
Remember how I said in a previous Step that it is wise to paint from the back to the front? You would want to paint in those tree trunks before painting the leaves on the tree because the leaves need to be on top of the wood. It is far easier to paint individual leaves over the wood than it would have been to paint the wood in between all the leaves. No longer working wet on wet, using my trusty #12 Round brush, I began to dab in a few shades of green to build some volume to the leaves.
Obviously no longer dominant in the art, hints of that purple underpainting still peek through the greens keeping things a little light and airy. The darker greens are used in the foreground all to maintain a sense of depth. What helps is being able to see that light green peeking through the dark leaves creating a sense that the area behind those trees is getting some sunlight that is not present in the foreground. Once all the tree leaves are painted in, you can really see the composition coming together.
I am really a character guy. I work as a character designer in the world of animation after all. So, when you look at the image above, mostly what is left are the characters. I like to think of it as saving the best for last – kind of like eating the icing after you’ve enjoyed the cake.