Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Copper - Watercolor Painting Tutorial

I wanted to share with you all a brief watercolor painting tutorial of my new steampunk painting, Copper. Well, I say tutorial for lack of better words! I guess you could call it more of a walk through of my entire painting process. I hope you enjoy it and maybe even pick up a few tricks along the way!

If you're interested in purchasing the original of Copper, she is available for sale in my Etsy shop here.

This was my initial sketch of Copper. I sketch with plain old pencil and paper. I actually just use a cheap mechanical pencil with .05 lead I believe. And my favorite sketch pad that I've found I bought at Walgreens for only $4! I was really happy with the way the sketch turned out. I liked the shift in body weight that I was able to achieve and her cute little hiked left shoulder. I also liked her face and hair style. But I didn't feel like the composition was balanced. There was too much negative space on the left side. So I went back to work on it.

Usually when I don't like a sketch, I take it into Photoshop and play with it a bit. For me, this is the quickest and easiest way to play around with the composition to see what works. What I did to fill up the space on the left side was first to elongate her top hat. Then I added a draped pocket watch around her right arm. I also found some awesome free gear Photoshop shapes online that I added to the piece. My idea was to make these gears part of the background. After I came up with this composition, I was much happier with it and decided to move onto the next step.

My next step is to create all the clean linework in Photoshop using the Pen Tool. I use this linework for a variety of different reasons including rubber stamps, coloring pages and to print off on my final watercolor paper. I create the lines in Photoshop because it's the best way I've found to "clean up" my messy sketch lines and get them super smooth.

More linework in Photoshop.

Here, I have created her clothes with the pen tool. I also reworked the rough sketch of the pocket watch so that the draping made more sense.

And here is the finished linework! Those chain links took forever!

Next, I always work out a rough color scheme in Photoshop using the paint bucket tool. I just drop in rough color. I like to get an overall sense of what colors to use and if it's all going to be cohesive. Sometimes I make changes as I'm painting, but I usually stick to this initial idea fairly closely.

Here, I've printed the linework very faintly onto my watercolor paper. But I reink all the lines by hand before I can start painting. For my work, I just prefer to ink everything instead of painting it with no inked lines. I think the final piece turns out cleaner and sharper looking. I ink my pieces with a dip pen and brown waterproof ink. It does take a steady hand, but you would be surprised at how some shaky lines get easily hidden once everything's painted. I always ink the face first, because I feel that is the hardest part to hide mistakes. Once the face is finished and looks good, I move onto the rest of the painting. I have been able to successfully cover up major mistakes before, but never on the face. So best to get that out of the way first so that you don't save it for last, mess it up, and then have to redo the whole thing. One tip is to use pen cleaner to lift out major splashes. It doesn't get rid of it completely, but it does lighten it considerably making it easier to cover up with watercolor.

This is always my favorite part. Copper is part of my Portrait Series and in this series I always create a textured background using salt. For this particular background, I used tan, brown, red and dark brown colors to create a really grungy, steampunky (yes it's a word!) background. I sort of blended together the tan and medium brown colors, then dropped in really saturated colors of dark brown and red. Then I sprinkled plain old table salt on top to create the texture. I was so happy with the way it turned out.

Next, I decided to take a light brown color and paint in the gears. I was afraid of losing the lines of the intricate gears and not being able to salvage them, so I wanted to make sure that they stood out enough for me to be able to work on them later. I didn't want to get them too dark though before I worked on the character a bit. So I left them a lighter color knowing that I would finish them off later. Then I started working on her clothes by painting the base colors. For the most part, I use wet on dry watercolor techniques. And build up layer after layer. Once the colors are as vivid as I would like, I then blend everything together with a soft, wet brush.

Here you can see that I built up the layers of the brighter orange/red color so that it's nice and vivid. Then I blended those layers all together so there weren't any hard edges. Then I started on the darker crimson red color. I typically work one color at a time.

The darker red color is now finished and blended. I love creating folds in skirts. They're one of my favorite things to paint!

In this picture, I finished all of the gold/tan parts of her clothing and blended everything together. I also laid down the base color for the brown and leather parts of her outfit.

Here the brown parts are finished! I tend to use the types of watercolor paints that have some granulation in them. I'm not sure what the technical term for those are, but I use them for creating leather. It makes them nice and splotchy and gives them an awesome texture. Now that I had the darkest parts of the character all finished, I could go back to the gears. I usually finish the background first before moving onto the foreground. I do this because it's easier to fix any watercolor splashes on the foreground when it's not painted. You can easily lift them off or cover them up with more paint once you work on the character. But sometimes, I have to work in a back and forth method in regards to the background and foreground so that they are well balanced. This was the case with the gears. I wanted them to stand out, but not overwhelm the character. So that's why I finished the character first before I finished them up.

And here's the finished painting! I worked on her skin tone. I did have some problems with the skin tone. I mentioned before that I use a wet on dry technique most of the time and blend everything at the end. But for some reason, the lighter colors don't like to blend as easily and can sometimes turn blotchy. This is a very nerve wracking time for this to happen, right at the end of the painting! But after I complained to my husband for awhile about ruining the painting, I set back to work to fix it. I added a lot of red and pink tones and lots of water with a smooth brush. This really helped with the splotchy skin tone and in the end I was happy with how it looked! I also painted the pocket watch in a really bright copper tone so that it stood out from the background.
And here are some pictures of the finished painting!

Monday, August 20, 2012


I know I'm a little late to the party, but I just set up a Pinterest account yesterday! I always wondered what it was. I knew that it was sort of like an online bulletin board, but I didn't really fully "get it" until I started playing around with it. And now I can see why everyone says it's so addictive!

For those of you who haven't tried it out yet, I definitely suggest that you give it a whirl! What you do is set up different "boards." These are categories of things you may like. A few of the boards I set up are: "I <3 Zombies", "Pretty Food", "Amazing Tattoos", "Whimsical Places to Live", etc..! You can make as many boards as you would like. Then, when you find a picture that you like online somewhere or on Pinterest, you pin it to your particular board so that you can always find it and have access to it. It's sort of a fun way to organize ideas, recipes, crafts, DIY projects, photos or anything else that you find inspirational.

As an artist, I am really enjoying it so far! I think it will be a great way to make "inspirational" boards for upcoming paintings. Working on a steampunk piece? Just make a steampunk board and pin awesome inspirational photos of steampunk jewelry, clothes, artwork etc.. I'm really looking forward to using it in the future.

I also wanted to let you know that I have uploaded my entire portfolio of work to Pinterest! So you are more than welcome to repin any of my work if you would like to boards that you have on your account. Here's my Pinterest account. And here's the board with all of my artwork!

Now, if only I can get off of Pinterest and get some actual painting done!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Giveaway - 4 Heather Witch Stickers

Hi everyone! I have a new giveaway I wanted to share with you. Just click on this link to be taken to the giveaway.

I'm giving away 4 Heather Witch Stickers! Each one is hand cut by myself and will come beautifully packaged in cellophane with a colorful tag top.

You have through August 20 to enter! It's super easy to enter and takes less than 30 seconds. I hope you all enjoy this new giveaway!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

New Fan Photos

I just updated my fan photo album on Facebook! I absolutely love seeing my art displayed in your home. So if you have my framed prints on your wall, my magnets on your refrigerators or my stickers stuck all over the place, I would love to see pictures!

I also love seeing what you create with my artwork!! So if you enjoy coloring my coloring pages, using my collage sheets or designing tags with my tubes, please send in images to me! You can either tag me in a photo on Facebook or email them to me at nikki@aurella-art.com.

I will happily display them in my fan photo album on my Facebook pages and on my website! =) It really brings so much joy to me to see you all enjoying my artwork in your life!

Here are some of my new fan photos:

Beautiful altered art bottle by Michelle! She used my printable collage sheets to create this stunning piece of art!

Telsa, Arden and Angelique Hand Cut Stickers - Photo taken by Brittany!

Here's another one of Brittany's stickers that she put on her journal. This one features Heather!

This is a Cassia print framed and displayed by Gloriann!

Look at these awesome stickers on Lisa's computer case! I really love how she cut out the borders on the rectangular stickers to give them a fun edge. And the Angelique handcut sticker looks so cool against a black background!

Wow!! I am so impressed by this coloring page of Mina that BreAnna did! I love the colors and the shading is stunning! Isn't it amazing?

This is an awesome tag made by Jacqui! She used my tubes from Creative Design Outlet to create this.

Here is a set of prints (Symphoni, Cheyanna and Rayne) displayed beautifully on BreAnna's wall!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Artist of the Week at Creative Design Outlet

I just wanted to let you know that I'm the Artist of the Week over at Creative Design Outlet! That means that they're offering 20% OFF my tubes & images for a whole week (Monday - Sunday 10pm PST)!

My packs & singles have already been marked down in the store so no code is needed & the price will drop when you go through to the checkout.

That's $1.48 for an individual tube, $4.00 for a three pack, $5.20 for a four pack, $2.40 for a MEGA tube & $6.80 for a scrap kit bundle pack - awesome!!

*Combo packs are not included in this deal as they are always 20% off. Check out all of my tubes here!

Here are some of my latest tube packs from Creative Design Outlet:

Want to know what tubes and tags are all about? Check out my blog post here for a quick explanation!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Weekly Question and Answer Blog Entry

Hi everyone! I am thinking about starting up a weekly blog post where I answer a question from one of my blog readers or Facebook friends! I get questions frequently, but usually just answer the question to that person directly. I was thinking that a lot of you may enjoy reading the answers because they sometimes contain little tips or tricks about art, drawing or my art business.

So, what I need from you all is QUESTIONS! I would love for you to submit questions to me so that I can keep a list going and pull one question from the bunch once a week. Feel free to ask me anything! I would love questions about my art process, drawing, watercolor painting or questions relating to the business side of my job...how to get started with an art business, how to promote...etc...! I also don't mind personal questions as long as they're not super personal...ask away!

You can pose your questions here on my blog, send me a message on my Facebook Page here or email me at nikki@aurella-art.com. Thanks so much for your participation and I hope you enjoy this new addition to my blog!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Weekly Special - Set of 6 ACEO Prints - Half Off!


From Thursday 8/9/12 - Thursday 8/16/12 I am offering a set of 6 ACEO prints for only $12. If you want the set hand embellished, you only have to
play $20 total!


I know there are a lot of us that are tired of the summer and hot weather and are dreaming of the fall! So that's why I picked out this set of ACEOs to offer up as a weekly special this week! I call this set "Dreaming of Fall" and it includes my pieces filled with orange and red colors accented with leaves, pumpkins and mushrooms! I can almost feel the crisp fall weather and cool breezes when I look at these paintings. Hopefully you will too!

This set includes an ACEO each of Cheyanna, Evania, Malana, Krista, Willow and Sabrina. You can purchase this set for only $12! These ACEOs retail for $4 each, so that's 50% off their normal price.

I'm also offering a fun option! You can also choose to get the set hand embellished for only $20 total! So that's only $8 extra dollars to get each ACEO hand embellished. What I do is paint iridescent watercolor medium on each piece by accenting their clothes, hair, eyes, or other details in the piece to give them a soft shimmer. It really makes these ACEOs so special! On the hand embellished ACEOs, I will also sign, title and date the back of each one.

Each ACEO will measure 2.5x3.5" and will come packaged in a plastic sleeve.

All you need to do to purchase this weekly special is send me an email to nikki@aurella-art.com and let me know if you would like the regular set of ACEOs or the hand embellished set of ACEOs! I'll then send you an invoice directly through Paypal to your email address for an easy and safe purchase. Once I receive the payment, I will package everything up and ship them off to you. There will be a shipping charge added to each order. The charges will be as follows:

United States: $2.25
Canada: $3.25
Everywhere Else: $4.25

**Please note that this special is not being offered through my website store or my Etsy store. Though I will happily combine shipping with any orders purchased through my Etsy shop or website store. Just message me if you have any questions. =)

Vacation Journal - Oakridge/Portland/Seattle - Part 3

See Part 1 of my Vacation Journal here!
See Part 2 of my Vacation Journal here!

Day 4 - Portland

After the wedding, we were all pretty tired! But we still had a few full days ahead of us. Our next stop was Portland, OR. We got to see where my brother-in-law and his girlfriend go to college which was very neat! We also walked around the city for a bit and ate at some of the food carts. It was my first food cart experience. It's really pretty neat. They have areas around town where there are 10-15 food carts all next to each other with a sitting area in the middle. So everyone can go and order what they want and then eat together. Most of the time, everyone ends up sharing like we did. I got a crepe, but also sampled a burger and some delicious pork sandwiches.

My husband and I walking around Portland
My brother-in-law is part of a club at his school where they build race cars completely from scratch! We got to visit his work room at school and saw the last car that they built. My husband was excited to try it out!

My husband in the car!
Day 5 - Seattle

After that, we all headed up to Seattle where we got to spend a couple days just having fun! It was a blast. We all piled into a car and drove around looking at all the sites.

All of us!
The first thing we did was take a ferry to Bainbridge. It was so beautiful to be out on the water and it was a gorgeous day!

The girls!
The beautiful Seattle skyline from the ferry

My husband and I on the ferry
After the ferry ride, we walked around for a bit by the water. It was so beautiful down there!

Walking by the water
Our next stop was the new big Ferris wheel that they just put by the water. It's so big when you're standing next to it!!

The Ferris Wheel
The view from up top! So pretty
My husband reassuring the kids that we weren't going to fall lol
After the Ferris Wheel, we went to the locks where boats transition from salt water to fresh water. It was really interesting to see how it works. They put the boats in an area that lowers or raises the water level depending on which direction they were going.

All of us relaxing, waiting for a boat to come
We also had to go down to the actual water and walk around on the beach!

Playing in the very cold water! I was too chicken to put my feet in
Then, we walked up to the top of a hill for the absolutely, most perfect view of downtown Seattle at night! What a wonderful way to end our vacation!

My husband and I in front of the Seattle skyline at night