For the sake of simplicity and organization a watercolor can be developed with 3 separate stages. Firstly, a thumbnail sketch which includes an evaluation of values, light source, and a focal point (center of interest) followed by sketching the main shapes on watercolor paper and possibly masking highlights, white areas and preserved areas where you might put pure color later on.
In the second stage we paint a wet-in-wet underpainting (or some may call it a “ghost” painting) of soft massed shapes.
Finally with the wash dried all masking fluid is removed and an evaluation is made of what needs to be more defined such as value corrections to create a background, middle ground and foreground. The final details are painted with restraint of brushwork (not overworked) as well as a final emphasis on shadows and highlights. If you haven’t planned highlights with masking fluid you can repaint small areas with white pigment that doesn’t “bleed” when new fresh color is painted over top.
Get Started With Watercolor Underpainting Including Basic Techniques
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