This week, illustrator Brandi York shares her experience using Copic Sketch markers on gray paper.
I’m a sucker for new, fandangled art products and things I haven’t tried before. So when Strathmore came out with their new toned gray and tan sketchbooks, I was all over it. And of course, I had to try them out with Copics. It’s a lighter weight paper than I’ve been using in my previous tutorials (though I’m no stranger to using standard 80 lb. sketchbook paper with Copics).
As always, I’m using the brush tip of the Copic Sketch Markers, this time on Strathmore Toned Gray Sketchbook paper.
I start with a light pencil sketch of this round’s subject, Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, from The Avengers (hey, Comic-Con just finished up. I need to support my inner geek from afar this year!). I decided with keeping things simple and broke out the Warm Grays I have (to which I also discovered I do not have all of them. To be rectified later!).
Starting with W0, I lay in a light wash of the shadows, using a black and white print out in conjunction with the color version on my computer screen. The black and white helps with values, whether you’re working in color or grayscale. Something I noticed very quickly with the Strathmore paper (like many 80 lb sketchbook papers) is the color seems MUCH darker than it will be once it dries. This creates a bit of panic at first. And also a bit of interest, as you don’t always know exactly where the tone is going to land once dry. I finish laying the majority of the values in with W0 and W1, moving to W2 to lay in a bit more detail to the value. Most of these values will be darkened significantly by the time we’re finished, but I like to lay myself a roadmap in lighter values first. The biggest targets are laying down the value around the nose and eyes.
W3 and W6 come next (yep, that’s where I’m missing some!), bulking up the darker portions around nose and neckline, and in the depth of the eyes. I’ve created a deep shadow under the chin that seems a bit excessive at the moment, but I know as I add more value to the whole piece, including under the chin, it will balance out. I’ve also started detailing a bit of the hair, hopping between W0, W1, W2 and W3, with a little bit of W6 behind the neck, where the hair is darkest. I let the tip of the marker do the work with the hair, varying the pressure on the tip to create thick and thin lines.
As I continue darkening the values, I have to pause from time to time to let the ink dry. As you can see by the side-by-side, the ink is quite a bit darker when wet. It smooths out quite a bit and lightens a lot when dry, so you’ll have to layer and re-layer to get some of the darks to where you actually want them. I have to do this several times with the shadow on her cheek, as it takes several layers of W1 and W2 to get a smooth transition that doesn’t lighten too much once dry.
I continue layering the warm grays, moving up in number as I need to go darker than the previous allows. I continue darkening the corners of her mount, pupils and lashes, adding a bit of value into the irises of the eyes with W2 and W3. I also continue detailing out the hair, similar to the method used in my curly hair tutorial. To finish off and offset the hair a bit, I use W1 in the background, using the brush tip to fade out the edges to create a soft, darkened halo around her hair.
See more of Brandi’s fantastic illustrations on Copic Color, and add your own work while you’re there!