On the final days of 2012, I was preparing my portfolio for job applications. One of the studios that I am trying for is Tecmo-Koei, developers of Dynasty Warriors. Their submission requirements include an illustration that is created using traditional medium. It was an opportunity for me do another watercolor piece and I took it.
I was pretty sure I wanted to paint a snow scene. This was triggered by the 'missed opportunity' late last year as I was not able to experience snow in America before flying back to Singapore. I also knew that it was going to be a character piece, and specifically a female character. I felt that I had been doing a ton of male characters recently and wanted to go for something different. I chose the Mongolian theme as I recalled eating Mongolian BBQ Noodles in Beverly Hills Center in LA. The food was unremarkable, but the cashier was quite pretty and friendly ;)
I started off doing quick thumbnails on paper, determining the rough composition. I then selected one that I'm happy with and proceeded to do a digital sketch (as seen above). During this stage, I prefer to work in Photoshop as it allows me to make quick adjustments to character proportions and shift things around without having to erase and redraw. This step definitely helped build confidence when I draw the actual lineart on paper.
I also did a more traditional 'un-posed' character concept sheet to support the painting. I wanted to be sure of the design of the character in a neutral posture so that I can better illustrate her in the final painting.
Another step I took before transferring the lineart was to produce a color thumbnail. Once, again I favored Photoshop over using watercolors. While using the final medium helps to inform you on how to mix the right colors, I feel the process is too slow and too inflexible for my liking. Having the experience of working on color scripts for my team's upcoming short animation, I was able to quickly block out the colors I had in mind for the illustration using Photoshop.
With all the preparatory work done, I moved on to replicate the lineart onto the watercolor paper. I intentionally left out the line work for the environment as I wanted to see what kind of results I can get if I painted them straight onto the paper without guides. The above is the final artwork done in watercolor. I'm pretty happy with the results though I feel I could definitely improve on some parts of it (right wolf looks too chubby, girl's face could be more appealing etc).
Hopefully this is will kick start a string of watercolor paintings for 2013!