Wednesday, February 18, 2009


A lot of people have been asking how I paint this stuff, so for this latest piece I photographed the progression.

Also, here is an older progression I photographed a while back using the same technique only on a white watercolor paper.

And here is another, before and after concentrated water color application.


Emmanuelle.Walker said...

This was verrry interesting! Thank you.

SHOo said...

That's a fantastic post! Thank you very much!

Fabrizio Ferrari said...

Wonderful! This instruction will help me much!

Chris said...

Thanks so much for sharing Bill! Great post!

Larry Levine said...

Thanks for the fun & informative post!!!

Bobby Chiu said...

great tutorial Bill!

rico said...

Awesome, thanks for taking the time to show your technique for this illustration!

mike said...

very cool! thanks for that.

Ben Newman said...

thats great!
thanks for taking the time to do this.

Kei Acedera said...

AWesome technique!!

Raquel said...

This was amazing! Great instruction! Thanks so much for doing this :) You're awesome!

Ironbob said...

Fantastic!Great work as always.
...and, hey Bill! I'm in LA now wohoo.

Bill Robinson said...

Thank you! Answered all my questions!

Brian Growe said...

Wow, thank you so much! It's awesome to see how you work all broken down like that! Thanks so much for taking all the time to do this!

Scheurbert said...

This is awesome, thanks!

How do you control the colour gradation with the damp brush scrubbing?

kdsh7 said...

That's an amazing process - for some reason I'd presumed it was all watercolour! Can I just join in on this chorus of thanks, I've always wanted to know how you did your tones!

R Blizzard said...

Brilliant post Bill, thanks for sharing a inside look on how you work.


Dan said...

Wow Bill. Thanks!

I was sooo curious how you did it. Now it's clear. A lot of precise and detailed work. I'll have to try this sometime.

Kristen McCabe said...

Wow! Great post Bill.

I never learned how to paint properly with acrylic washes or watercolor so you posting this blog is a godsend.

thank you! thank you! thank you!

Kristina Bustamante said...

Awesome tutorial! I'm inexperienced when it comes to using watercolors, so I never would've guessed that you use acrylics for shadows. I should go try that sometime. Thanks!

Purple Quark said...

beautifully brilliant!!

Very informative and inspiring

David Bernal said...

Awesome post!!!! tahnks tons for this!
and again, beautiful, beautiful, BEAUTIFUL painting!!!

Brian said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing your techniques. I always stop and look at your book of beauties when I am at the Cartoon Art Museum bookshop. Really fantastic work.

bpresing said...

Thanks everybody. I'm glad it makes sense.

It's kind of hard to describe how I do the gradation in words. So you put down the wash right? So basically with the clean damp brush you gently scrub back and forth across the area between the wash and the dry place where you want the gradation to be. as you move away from the wash area the color should lighten. You can then (if necessary) use a tissue to dab the end to prevent an edge.
It takes practice. I think you mostly have to find a way that works for you.

Michael Dooney said...

ummn, you left out the part where you reveal your hidden secrets on how to draw really well first ;)
pure gold, thanks.

Kyri Kyprianou said...

Brilliant! Nice post, thanks

Ivar said...

Thanks for the tutorial! I have another question - what kind of pencils do you use? I saw your originals last summer in Arludik and I must say your lines are pretty thin... :) Thanks!

Tarsila Kruse said...

Amaaaazing Tutorial - so interesting and well explained. I fell like grabbing my brushes and trying it! Thank you so much!

Anson Jew said...

Truly inspirational, as always! Thanks for sharing your technique--I can't wait to try it myself!

Jason said...

Absolutely amazing. Big fan. Thanks a lot.

Mark McDonnell said...

Ah . . . beautiful and so nice to see your process. Great piece as well.

I would love to see how you do your sponge/dry brush? technique for the bg framing element you do behind the character. Not sure if it is sponge or not?

Best to you and love your work,


hadi tabasi said...

great work
great tutorial
great bill

Hux said...

Great tutorial, I'm definitely going to give it a try. I just have one question. I've never worked with acrylic before (I mostly use gouache). What brand do you recommend?

bpresing said...

I use col-erase pencils (which are animation pencils).
And I keep them very sharp for the final piece.

Are you talking about the sponge effect on some of my bookplates? It's pretty simple I just dip the tip of the sponge in the color I'm using and dab it around the edge of the background shape that I want to have a sponge effect on.

I generally use liquitex for my acrylic. There are better brands out there, but I've never tried them. The important thing to consider is that they come in different categories: opaque, translucent and transparent. Transparent is the best to use for washes, opaque is meant to be mixed with white and used thick and opaquely. And I think translucent is meant to be somewhat multi purpose (you can use either way) but I could be wrong about that. You can still use opaque for washes it just may have a mild covering effect where it doesn't let the color underneath shine through as much as it would otherwise. Which could be fine if that's what you want at that moment.

bpresing said...

One more thing about the acrylics I forgot to mention. Sometimes they are labeled "mixture" or "mixed pigment".
These are the cheaper student versions of the colors where the manufacturer mixes a few of the other colors to simulate the true color. They're not as vibrant and dull more quickly when you mix them yourself. So try to avoid them.

Erin said...

This is SO fantastic Bill! I love reading about artists' techniques. I love how you painted the shadow forms first, and then applied the transparent color on top.. it's like using Photoshop kinda! XD I wonder how you kept the paper from buckling with the wetness of the paints!

bpresing said...

Hey Erin,
I don't think I work wet enough for it to buckle. I haven't had a problem with it.

Lovelace said...

Brilliant! Thanks for the master class, Bill!

Patrick Schoenmaker said...

Very informative BIll, I can't wait to start experimenting with this myself!

Ikupoo said...

You forgot the most important step that everybody should follow...

Give to Ikumi!

gamusino Javi said...

wonderfull class boss!!!

gamusino Javi said...

wonderfull class boss!!!

Hux said...

Thanks so much, Bill! I'm currently working on a series of gouache illustrations to launch my art blog with, but when I'm done I'd like to give these acrylics a try. One last question, and then I promise you can return to your brilliant paintings. Are there any papers or illustration boards I should avoid with liquitex, or can it go on anything? Thanks again.

P.S. I love Kevin Dart's stuff. One of these days I have to learn how to paint digitally.

Gabe Fullilove said...

As always you amaze me. Thanks for sharing. I'll be trying these steps out myself one of these days.

Sarah Forrester said...

Wow, thank you so much for putting this together, Bill! I adore your technique. :)

Reynes said...

Funny, we've got quite the same technic ;)
But... you're the Master !
Thanks for sharing your inspiring work, Bill.

John said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! This was awesome.

GeeBee said...

Belated thanks for posting that tutorial, Bill !
Interesting technique: I' ll give it a try;o)
Do you use the "Dr.Martin's" brand concentrated watercolors inks ?

Adam Street said...

Awesome tutorial--thank you!

bpresing said...

I'm not sure really what's best to avoid. Probably anything too smooth. You should experiment for sure. And see what works best for you.

That's crazy that we have similar techniques. I would love to watch you work some day.

I try not to use Dr.Martin's anymore because I heard that they are not light fast and will fade very rapidly. I use Luma, which is light fast. But unfortunately they're discontinued.

Jamie Baker said...

Bill, you just blew my mind; thanks for posting this. A step-by-step on how you draw so well would be nice too. Post that soon, please.

chia said...

Thanks for sharing your technique!! I would never have guessed it. I'm new to watercolors and now i'm dying to buy some acrylic paints too just to try your method out! Looking forward to more of your progressions :)

Mr. said...

Excellent tutorial. I'm curious about the paper and brushes. I've worked with pastel paper before, but found it very thin and weak, wrinkling easily. So, do you use a thicker brand? Also, how long do you have to wait in between washes for them to dry? Do you use a blowdryer on them? Beyond that, what brushes do you use for painting/scrubbing?

Kab -ValMo said...

HOOOO MY THAK YOU SO MUCH for the sharing :D

Nikhita said...

Thanks so much for sharing your process bill! I've always had trouble working with the traditional mediums!

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