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Moon Glow: A Watercolor Tutorialby Sonya Fedotowsky
I always start with a fairly detailed sketch on drawing paper. This process can take days to weeks, depending on whether it comes out the way I want quickly, or whether I need to put it away and come back to it to continue with a fresh mind. Moon Glow only took a few days. Once I was happy with the composition and pose, I refined the sketch to a detailed line, which I then drew over using graphite paper under the sketch to transfer it to watercolor paper.
After transferring the sketch and cleaning up any graphite smudges with a kneaded eraser, I used a Micron 500 ink pen to ink over the unicorn. I decided not to ink the moon as I intended to give it a softer appearance as a background element. With this piece, I had made a mistake on the rock the unicorn stood on, and for the first time used a new product called "Aquacover", a liquid watercolor white out, and re-inked over the mistake. I was a little worried about how the paint would settle on it compared with the paper.
For the background, first I used watercolor masking fluid to outline the unicornís horn, mane, tail, the crescent of the moon, and dots for stars. Next I wet the whole background and painted with Ultramarine Blue and Dioxazine Violet. I dabbed the paint on, letting colors run together randomly, sometimes rewetting drying areas, sometimes adding more color to create areas of contrast, achieving a nebulous background. The paint did settle a little differently on the Aquacover, but I was able to work with it and blend it with the paint on the paper. It worked out wonderfully.
I rubbed off the masking fluid. Next I used slightly wet Q-tips and lifted the hard lines around the unicornís horn, mane, tail, hooves, and the moon crescent to soften them so they appeared to glow. I also used the Q-tips to add fluffs of hair on the unicornís mane and tail. I then wet the rock with water and dabbed in Sepia, Indigo, and Purple Lake, letting the colors blend and mix on their own. I used a Q-tip to lift a highlight on the rock where the moonlight hit it.
Using a mix of Cerulean Blue and Payneís Gray, I began to lightly shade the unicorn. At this point I mixed Winsor & Newtonís watercolor blending medium into my water (about 1/4 teaspoon of medium with an ounce of water) and used this mixture with the paint to create soft blends with the shading. I also wet the moon crescent with plain water and dabbed in very light spots of Ultramarine Blue and salted it.
I darkened the shading on areas of the unicorn using the blending medium/water mix with the paint. Using plain water I wet the dark side of the moon, and dabbed in Ultramarine Blue, letting the color splotch and blend on its own, and then added salt. After the salting dried, I brushed the salt off. I worked on all the details, cleaning up the painting until I felt it was finished.
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