Happy Holidays! I hope you're all finding moments of peace and joy this season. I had a lot of fun creating my holiday card this year, and I thought I'd share the step-by-step process for anyone who might be interested. (Click on the images for a closer look.)
As always, I began with a very small, very simple thumbnail sketch of my idea.
Then I worked on creating a finished drawing, which I traced onto watercolor paper using a light board. My current favorite paper is Fabriano Artistico Soft Press, 140 lb.
Next, I did a value study on a printout, using a Wolff's Carbon Pencil.
Back to the watercolor paper. Now I did an underpainting of values using French Ultramarine Blue. (Sorry it's so blurry. The paper is taped to watercolor board, which makes scanning tricky.) Notice I left off the candy cane border. I knew I would be adding that as a layer in Photoshop later.
For the final painting, I used only 3 colors: French Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Crimson, and Cadmium Yellow. Though the penguins look black, they're actually a very, very dark purple. I did cheat once, using Viridian Green for the ribbon on the gift, because I wanted it to pop.
Now to make it snow! For this, I used a #1 brush and India ink, painting flakes on watercolor paper. Then I scanned it in and selected the background with the magic wand tool. I erased the background to make it transparent, and then changed the black flakes to white by using the brightness adjustment tool (under the Image menu). I then placed this layer on top of the penguin painting. I played with the spacing of the snowflakes by enlarging and reducing the layer until I felt it was just right.
Finally, I painted the candy cane frame on another piece of watercolor paper, scanned it in, selected the middle section with the magic wand, and erased it to make it transparent. This was placed on top of the other two layers. Viola! All done. Hope you enjoyed this peek into my process!