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Human figure in watercolor

January 10, 2012

We have seen that it is very difficult to paint a human figure in watercolor. The basic problem what I face is to obtain softness. Any watercolorist knows how hard it is to avoid hard edge of a thin color film. The challenge becomes more difficult when it’s a human figure. Another problem we may face is to get the appropriate skin tone. What is the percent of yellow? Is it looking too reddish? I am ok with midtone, but what about the highlight and shadow? I can not distinguish the figure from the background, or it is looking like a cutout and not a part of the background. These are the few questions which may strike all the time we paint. Next is overwork of brush. We often cannot minimize our number of brush stroke thus results a muddy watercolor. Believe me, this is one of the biggest mistakes while doing watercolor. We think careful and small strokes can produce good watercolor. But the fact is, unless you are a master of watercolor, small strokes with thin brushes lead to a failure. The masters can paint a human figure just by a single pass. You will get proper skin tone, highlight, midtone and shadow and most important the expression. Even by using a completely a different color scheme (say complementary) all these can be achieved. But we are not in such a position. We are just at the first step of whole staircase. We have to climb up and after 20 or 30 years we can have such skill. Then we shall not paint by our brush, we shall paint from our experience and with our perception.

Here is a short demo I have prepared. You know I have none to help me, so I had to take snaps in between. Hope you will like it. Original colors are much lively than the scanned image. I shall make a pdf file with these images and step by step instruction. And don’t forget to give feedback. 🙂

Step by Step


Final Work

From → tutorial

  1. mammamuffin permalink

    What a great job you have done on this human figure 🙂

    • Anindya permalink

      ha ha, thanks! i shall be uploading more.

  2. Good figure work, here, Anindya. You captured the contour through the highlights and I like your choice, throughout of where to soften edges. Good post!

    • Anindya permalink

      thanks! 🙂 now i think i should post a few quick figure drawings. those will be helpful for understanding light and shadow.

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