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Disney’s Master Teachers: Life Drawing For Animation at WonderCon 2014

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Colors-13x19 Windsor and Newton gouache paint on Arches Watercolor Block

My sketches and work in progress shots for my “Colors of the Wind” painting for the Disney Wonderground Gallery.

This piece will release on Saturday September 13th (only two weeks away!) I will be there from  11am-1 pm signing and meeting guests. Stop on by if you can.

If you are not in the LA area, never fear-You can place an order by emailing Merchandise Guest Services at merchandise.guest.services@disneyparks.com or call Merchandise Guest Services at 877-560-6477 (select option 2) For prints. Leave a voice mail if they don’t answer. WonderGround Gallery is located in the Downtown Disney® District at the Disneyland® Resort in Anaheim, CA.

ALL my Disney artwork is commissioned through the Disney company and is ONLY sold through the gallery-NEVER online on my Etsy shop.

Several people have asked what my process is so I will use this post to explain how I work. By no means is this how everyone should work or the “right way.” I am a self taught painter and have only been painting since 2009. I have spent hours of trial and error, experimenting with other artists techniques, paint brushes, different paints/paper and this is just what works best for me (at this point of my artistic knowledge! ha!) So keep that in mind when you are painting that your techniques may change over the years. The important thing is to keep practicing always. :)

1. I first do a bunch of sketches and once I feel that I have something that I like, I will rework it until I have pretty clean line work.I always start out with col-erase pencils and am currently really into Vermillion or Tuscan Red. You can use whatever colors you want!  If I don’t have those handy though I love drawing with cheap BIC pens! :D

I use whatever thin paper I have lying around. Usually I will use animation paper that I still have from college (it’s a nice transparent vellum) but I will also use line paper, computer paper, tracing paper etc. Anything I can draw on!

For me, it really isn’t about how pretty the character is rendered or sketched but the feeling/essence of the character. Keep your sketches loose in the beginning! Most of my sketches aren’t clean and I’d deem them “embarrassing” but as long as I get something appealing, it’s all good. Appeal is VERY important! No matter how pretty it is, a boring character with a blank expression/lacking emotion is boring. 

Don’t worry or put too much pressure on yourself to make nice sketches. I’ve spent too many years buying a new sketch book and holding it dear to my heart proclaiming that THIS ONE will be the perfect sketch book and all my sketches inside will be beautiful. In my years of drawing NONE have been filled with all beautiful sketches. Wanna know why? Because they are just bound pieces of paper to get the ideas out of our heads and in tangible form.That’s it! Sometimes they will be outstanding and sometimes they will suck. It’s ok! :)

2. I clean up the drawing, then scan it into the computer and bring into Photoshop to do a color pass to figure out how I want the final image to look. That can also be rough-it’s just good to know what colors you will be using and to make sure it’s working how you want. Much better than blindly painting later on using colors you “think” would look good. Remember to thoroughly plan your work and then work your plan. If you follow those two steps, you will win at most things in life!

3. Then my trick to keep the line quality of the sketch I will PRINT it onto my watercolor paper! Whoo hoo! No transfer paper for me! Whenever i use transfer paper I always lose the appeal of my sketch. When I print it out straight onto the paper I will be painting, I retain the original sketch and if I mess up, I can just print another one! It’s pretty much like making your own coloring book page. lol

(I use Arches watercolor block cold press 140 lb.) I have a large fomat Canon Pixma Pro 9000 Mark II printer. The largest sheet it can take is 13x19 so I cut my watercolor paper to that size and feed it through.That is the largest I would care to work at anyway so it works great for me.

Print it out at a low opacity (I usually do about 30%)  so you can see the drawing still but just very lightly. Also if you are doing a background color, paint it BEFORE you print your character onto it. The printer will still feed a painted sheet of watercolor paper.

4. Paint the whole thing and try not to mess up. (I mess up a lot.) To get the “colors of the wind” for this specific piece I use the dry brush technique. The brush is pretty dry with very little paint. Apply pressure heavier at first and as you make long brush strokes in whichever direction you are going, lift off the paper so the paint tapers off. PRACTICE A LOT first on a separate sheet of paper. I kid you not-with every brush stroke I did for the wind colors in this painting,I nearly gave myself a heart attack. I was sweating bullets and knew that one wrong move, (a heavy handed splotch of paint over Pocahontas’s face for example) and it would be the end of me. Luckily I prevailed.

5. Add lots of sparkle. (you don’t have to but it’s very enjoyable to see ;)

Good luck!

♡ Liana
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