Ballpoint Pen & Watercolor: Imagined Environment

This video shows how to draw an environment from imagination using ballpoint pen and watercolor techniques. Diverse experiences, gathering reference images and objects serve as the inspiration for creating this imaginary environment: a plein air drawing session on site using soft pastels, a trip to the grocery store to buy unusual looking produce, and finding tiny plants to be references for trees and landscapes. Demo led by Guest Teaching Artist Julie Benbassat and Teaching Artist Cat Huang.

Video Walkthrough

  • Think about a background as a character.
  • Backgrounds are in all areas of art: comics, movies, fine art painting.
  • Backgrounds do as much as characters do to tell a story.
  • Creating an environment for Julie’s “Macklemore” creature design
  • Brainstorming a background.
  • Gaining skills from sketching plein air with soft pastels.
  • Plein air sketching is a completely different experience than sketching from a photo.
  • Soft pastels are painterly & fast.
  • Designing a forest with moss, underbrush, trees and speckled lighting.
  • Creating a space for several creatures, with some in the distance.
  • Atmospheric perspective in Caspar David Friedrich’s paintings.
  • Reference objects for landscapes can be house plants, small succulents, rocks, geodes, branches, mushrooms.
  • Photos of national parks can be good reference photos.
  • Sketching from the reference objects from life as a warm up.
  • Starting thumbnails with the biggest shapes to plan the composition.
  • Diagonals are effective in compositions to show movement.
  • Be aware of the entire composition while sketching thumbnails.
  • You can transform any reference photo into a landscape.
  • Sketching thumbnails to figure out the composition.
  • Watercolor cakes vs. tubes.
  • “Duet” between ballpoint pen and watercolor.

Artists Mentioned

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