Time to begin laying color!

Today I begin the second phase of illustrating Ron, a picture book for Dutton. In the first phase, I worked completely monochromatic, using Payne’s Gray watercolor. The second phase will involve overlaying transparent oil colors, and then topping off with opaque highlights.

Actually, I began the second phase last week, but realized I wasn’t ready. My images were too heavy on the middle tones, with not enough contrast. So I sealed the watercolor base and worked out the contrast issues with Titanium White and Mars Black acrylic paint.

I spent the weekend adding subtle details, correcting some inconsistencies, and then, with a clothes iron, I ironed the paintings flat. Even with the heavier paper, my paintings were warped. I had planned to take a few more days to refine the underpaintings, honestly, I’d only be procrastinating. As I said before, this is a new technique for me, so I’m very nervous. At this point, there’s no turning back. There’s not enough time to start over and return to my more familiar technique, where I create a very loose Burnt Sienna underpainting (to use as a guide only), and then paint over it with opaque acrylics.

Today I take the plunge. I’ll try to post some in-progress shots as I work. I’ll be buried for the next month, or so. I’ll try to post some in-progress shots later.

Side note: The book, on my table, peeking in from the left, it’s Probuditi by Chris Van Allsburg. Inspiration. Chris is a master at creating monochromatic images.


About Don Tate
Don Tate is the award-winning illustrator and author of more than 45 trade and educational books for children.

4 Responses to Time to begin laying color!

  1. ddraws says:

    Nice shot and a fun rundown of your process. Some days I really miss the good ol traditional media. Then again, I take a look at your picture and I think, ‘man that does look like fun, but I’m sure glad I don’t have to try to fit all that into my studio space anymore.’
    : )
    Looking forward to your updates

  2. kathy weller says:

    This is fabulous! I look forward to seeing your progress!!

  3. nicoletugeau says:

    These look gorgerous, Don!

  4. carolkoeller says:

    I like the images and the description of process–looking forward to updates!

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