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Interview with Aaron Pocock
Towersby Jenny Heidewald
Towers have been a part of humankind's building repertoire for centuries. Built for all kinds of functions, these tall structures include watchtowers, lighthouses, clocks, various communications devices, and as an impressive feat for the 1889 World's Fair, perhaps the most famous tower, The Eiffel Tower. When one is confronted with a tower it can be looming and oppressive or, as in the case of a lighthouse tower, a beacon of hope. The towers in castles are major players in many books, holding mysteries or wizard's workrooms, or paralleling real history by being prisons.
Towers tend to collect superstitions and tales, as in the case of The Tower of London. Ancient legend says that if the ravens that occupy the White Tower depart, the Tower and British Empire will fall. King Charles II almost got rid of the birds because his astronomer had complained about them. After hearing the legend, being superstitious the king changed his mind, instead ordering that at least six ravens be kept at the tower at all times. Thus there is always a regiment of ravens kept there, with their own keeper, the Ravenmaster.
Rapunzel is probably the most famous story featuring a tower. In the adaptation by the Brothers Grimm, a couple was expecting their first child when the pregnant mother craved the rapunzel plant (rampion) which grew next door in a witch's garden. Rapunzel's father stole the plant and the witch caught him. In return for forgiveness, the couple agreed to give the child, when born, to the witch. Rapunzel grew into a beautiful child with long golden hair. As she approached the threshold of womanhood, the witch locked her into a tower with no door. The only way to enter the tower was by scaling Rapunzel's hair.
The most recent incarnation of the tale is Disney's "Tangled", which deviates a great deal from the tale told by the Brothers Grimm.
Perspective is useful in making towers, two-point is good for most towers, if you want to depict a bird or worm's eye view use three-point perspective. I won't go into the details of perspective here as many books delve into the subject.
You can go many ways in designing the architecture, since that is not my strong point, I decided to go with something simple. I have always liked lighthouses, so I gathered references of lighthouses and castle towers. In order to have more space, I start the drawing in my sketchbook. This way I'll also be able to design without fear of wrecking the watercolor paper to which I will be transferring the image.
I use a see-through ruler; this type of ruler is very handy for making straight lines without a t-square.
Once I got the general idea down, I traced the image to tracing paper, then transferred it to my watercolor block. I have one sheet of tracing paper that I made into graphite paper by applying pencil in broad sweeps on the one side of it. This is reusable many times, and is handy if you don't want to buy a large amount of graphite paper. When transferring an image use light but steady pressure; you don't want to make a deep impression on the paper. I used a ballpoint pen; this is good so that you can see what lines you have traced already. I will be erasing the graphite so that only light guidelines remain; this is so they don't show when I apply the watercolor to lighter areas.
The next step is to apply a wash of water to the sky regions. I apply a wash of yellow about half way up the sky, and then I add in quinacridone red. To speed the drying process, I use my hair dryer. I have darkened this picture so that you can see the colors, which are very light in reality.
Next, I wet the whole sky again and add in a wash of Prussian blue. While this is still wet, I drop in ultramarine blue and use a paper towel to blot out cloud shapes. Turn the paper towel as you work so that a fresh piece is used for each blot. Since I don't like working with masking fluid, the blue washes took longer. While I was carefully painting around the lower, the paint soaked into the paper more,. because of this the paint didn't lift as much, and the clouds aren't quite as white.
The second picture is a small ACEO that I did working quickly; you can see that the paint lifts better the sooner you can get at it with the paper towel. What I did want however was the previous yellow and quinacridone red washes to tint the lower clouds.
I work on the clouds and the ocean, defining forms and adding shadows. I lay in the first washes of color for the closer subjects of the painting. I make the bush that is in the shade of the tower a blue green, the one in the light a yellowish green. For the bricks that show under the crumbling whitewash, I use yellow for the bits in the sun, and ultramarine blue for the shaded parts. For the first layer of whitewash I use a mixture of raw umber and cobalt blue, The first rock coat is raw umber, burnt sienna and yellow ochre, all dropped in side by side in one wet wash. I do two washes over the parts in the shade.
From here it is a matter of working on details. I use mixtures of raw sienna, Prussian blue and purple to make dark grays for the shadowy areas on the tower and for the rocks. Washes of purple and ultramarine blue enhance the shadowed side, spots of yellow enhance the sunlit side. For the bricks, I use burnt sienna, yellow ochre and raw umber, with light washes of yellow to meld the lit side and ultramarine for the shadows. The purple, ultramarine blue and raw sienna grey mixture can be altered to give different casts depending on how much of each color you mix. I used a bluer mix at first for the metal bits of the tower, and then mixed more raw sienna for a brown cast. I use these mixtures to add cracks and texture to the whitewash.
For Rapunzel, I use pure yellow, pthalo green and a watery quinacridone red. The glass is a combination of colors, Prussian blue first, to reflect the sky, then some yellow, and some of the grey mixture.
More details; I used my #5 Kolinsky brush for all of these. I added more texture to the bricks, and went over the dark areas of the tower with the grey mixture, including the mortar between the bricks. I added bit of yellow green to the bush in shadow, and expanded on the leaf shapes. To finish Rapunzel's hair, I added yellow ochre and raw sienna, the shadow on the tower is in raw sienna. I adjusted the horizon, which wasn't quite straight, and then signed the picture with a micron pen.
While it seems daunting to draw towers, what with the perspective, don't be afraid to venture there. Perspective is a good thing to add to your artistic tool box, and practice makes perfect after all! Follow the links below to find great books on perspective, and watercolor techniques.
Books on Watercolor
Painting Water, by Joe Francis Dowden
Incredible Light & Texture in Watercolor, by James Toogood
The Art of Watercolor, by William F Powell
The Watercolorist's Essential Notebook, by Gordon Mackenzie
Books on Perspective
Perspective Without Pain, by Phil Metzger
Perspective for Artists, by Rex Vicat Cole
Perspective Drawing Handbook, by Joseph D'Amelio
Perspective: A Guide for Artists, Architects and Designers, by Gwen White
Architectural Graphics, by Francis D. K. Ching
Projection Drawing, by Thomas C. Wang
Perspective, by William F Powell
Castles: A History of Fortified Structures: Ancient, Medieval & Modern, edited by Charles Stephenson
Rapunzel Story Books and Fairy Tales, page by "Flynn_the_Cat"
Rapunzel and Other Maiden in the Tower Tales From Around the World: Fairy Tales, Myths, Legends and Other Tales About Maidens in Towers, by Heidi Anne Heiner
Jenny Heidewald is one of those self-taught artists that has been drawing since she was little; she remembers the exact moment she decided that she wanted to be an artist. Interestingly enough, it was while watching her mom draw the hand of God reaching from the clouds to His followers. Jenny was floored, it seemed to be magic, an image appearing out of nowhere. She thought, "I want
to do THAT!" In addition to writing for EMG-zine, Jenny is a prolific artist who has worked in many mediums. Her current favorite technique is working with colored micron pens, and coloring either with watercolor or Photoshop. Jenny lives in Maryland with her husband. Please check out her Sketchfest, Portrait Adoption, Deviant Art, and Elfwood pages.
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