TUTORIAL: How to paint with liquid acrylic and color pencil

May 2, 2014 § Leave a comment

Hey guys! :)

I’m going to take you through my new process, showing you what tools I use and how I utilize them. Remember this is the first time using the liquid acrylic so the end result is a bit bolder looking than some of my earlier stuff.

Ok let’s get started.

Step 1

Get your studio clean and comfortable. You’re going to need space.


Step 2

Gather your tools.

Here is my Epson GT-20000 Document Scanner. It has a scannable area of 11.7 x 17 inches. I found mine refurbished on Amazon for around $1,000. Best investment in my studio hands down. Look around for really good deals, and if you’re going to be working on small pieces you can get a smaller scanner which will save you a LOT of money.

I got the black stand at OfficeMax for $7. I think it was meant for laptops, but, it works.

And there you can see my supply of wood plaques. You can find these sizes at Hobby Lobby for pretty cheap. Most of them are in the $2-4 price range.

If you’re going to be working at night, I recommend getting a lamp that imitates sunlight. I got my OttLite at Michaels. Original price was about $100 but they always have 40%-off-one-item coupons. There’s also smaller versions which come with a smaller price tag.

This is an Artograph art projector. I found mine at Michaels and again used a 40% off coupon to help in the costs. This version didn’t come with a stand that could point it towards the ground, so I made my own using foam board, an x-acto, and tape. You’ll see it later in the tutorial.

You’ll need a printer. A cheap-0 one is fine. Just don’t get this one (Epson xp-600). Seriously, it’s a piece of crap. It will cost more than your rent in ink…hence it’s going to meet the trash very soon.

Find a paint palette you feel comfortable with. If using liquid acrylic stick with non-porous surfaces like plastic, metal, or glass to hold the paint.

You’ll need very fine grit sandpaper to sand the bumps out of your wood plaques. I use #320 size which makes the wood super soft and smooth to the touch.

Get a sealer for your work for when it’s finished. I use polyurethane since I’m working with wood. I found it at the Home Depot near their paint section. Use a foam brush to apply it. It’s easier than worrying about hairs falling out of a brush and getting stuck in the painting.

You’ll also need a cup for water, any paint brushes you’re comfortable with, paper towels, a pencil sharpener, a graphite pencil, erasers, and a sketchbook.

Here are the color pencils. I only use Prismacolor brand because they can retain a great sharp point, are super smooth, and have a lot of pigment. Make sure to get a good pencil sharpener or the lead will tend to break a lot. I actually ended up throwing the sharpener away that’s in the previous image because it did just that. Also, don’t worry about having a lot of colors. Pick a few that you like to start out with because these can get expensive and the pencils are just an accent for the paint. The paint will be your main attraction.

And lastly, you will need some paint. I picked these up at Michael’s craft store as well. They are Americana Acrylic Paint and they come in a TON of colors. They’ll only set you back about $1.30 each so it’s easy to get a good amount on your first trip to the store. There are a few other brands for around the same price, but I haven’t tried them.

Step 3

Make a sketch.


Step 4

Scan it in.


Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 3.30.16 PM
You’re going to want to use a high dpi (dots per inch). 300 dpi is considered minimum for print quality. This will retain the details in your sketch.

Step 5

Get it lookin’ good…and all set up and stuff.

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 3.34.01 PM
Take it into Photoshop to darken the lines. This will make it far easier to see when it’s being projected onto your wood. If you don’t own Photoshop you can use a free online version at https://pixlr.com/editor/

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 3.36.59 PM
Print different sizes of your image for the projector. The projector can make the image only so big or small before it blurs. I’ve noticed around the 3 inch size works best for my wood plaques (that’s the smallest one on the sheet above). Also, don’t worry about the green color. Black works best, my (piece ‘o crap) printer was just acting up.

Step 6

Projection time.

Here is my home-made projector stand. The top is only connected on one side so it can swing down and the whole thing can collapse flat. It’s pretty genius if I do say so…

A hole is cut out of the top, just big enough for the lense of the projector to fit through.

Load the image into the lid of the projector.

Turn off the lights and cover any windows. Place the projector through the stand’s hole and turn it on. Position your wood plaque (or whatever surface you’re using) under it and move it so the image sits where you want it to.

You should see a pretty dark image like this. Get it as crisp and unblurry as possible.

Step 7

Sketch the projection on to your surface. Be very careful you don’t bump your desk or the projector stand. You don’t want the image moving around.

Step 8

Start by putting down heavy flat layers of color.

When using liquid acrylic use water VERY SPARINGLY. Really the only part I added a lot of water for was the “ghosting” fade in the eye color. It’s very easy to create gradients by having similar colors next to each other on your palette and dabbing a little into each other. You don’t really have to mix them. Just dab a bit more of the more dominant color onto your brush as you go.

Step 9

Add color pencil.

I didn’t realize I didn’t have any tans or light fleshy colors so I had to use gray for the shadows. It ended up giving the face a very cold temperature. It wasn’t what I was originally going for but I think it made for an interesting juxtaposition with the warmer colors of the rose and lips and really made them pop. You can also start adding highlights and outlines to your edges.

I added more color and shadow to the face, cheeks and nose especially.

And to finish it off I added a light pink overall to the face to lighten the weight of the gray. Some details were added into the irises and I gave the inside edges of her eyes some color and definition to help it look more realistic. Some pink was also added to highlight the horns to help tie it into the rest of the piece. And voila, it’s done!

I hope this was helpful. I always enjoy seeing the process other artists have and what they use to make their artwork, so I thought it’d be neat to make another one of these. If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comment area below. Thanks!

If you want to see my oil paint tutorial, click here:

And here:

Fair Rabbit


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