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Gorgeous REALISTIC FAIRY Drawing Tutorial with Watercolor Flowers [Week Six of #50FunFabFaries Challenge]
Today's REALISTIC fairy drawing tutorial with watercolor flowers is lesson six of the #50FunFabFairies drawing challenge- featuring Awesome Art School guest teacher, Bryn Nguyen.
A master of the grid drawing method, Bryn will show you step by step how to use this technique to achieve a fairy portrait that looks EXACTLY like any fairy drawing reference image you select! You'll learn how to draw fairy ears in Bryn's whimsical style and how to add colorful, loose watercolor flowers to bring your fairy to life. Enjoy!!
Want easy access to this and even MORE fairy drawing ideas? Join our FREE #50FunFabFairies drawing challenge over at Awesome Art School!
Simply click the button below to receive instant access to ALL the fairy reference images for each drawing prompt (including today's!), plus info on supplies, cheatsheets and more!
I'm excited to introduce you to today's Awesome Art School guest teacher, Bryn Nguyen. Bryn is a very accomplished artist with a distinct style (below) that my students and I have been admiring in my Facebook Group for years!
Bryn and I have known each other online for years, but finally got to meet in person for the first time this summer, on my 2022 Scotland Castle Art Retreat at Wardhill Castle with Lucy Brydon!
Before we continue, super quick announcement: All product links are Affiliate. I may earn a small commission if you choose to order through these links but by law there is never any additional cost to the consumer for doing so. I thank you for your support.
To get us started, Bryn demos how to trace the key lines of a drawing reference image using a sheet of trace paper and a lightboard. This helps her achieve greater accuracy, and she finds the process therapeutic.
You may be wondering why we're tracing today instead of freehand drawing. The freehand drawing part is coming up! As you'll see in the video, this is a great way to zero in on the key features of a drawing reference photo, and removes the distraction of all the shadows and highlights.
I've been asked many times over the years if "tracing is cheating" when it comes to art. I believe tracing can be a very effective tool when it's used like it is today to create an original piece of art that's all your own.
Check out this video for more of my thoughts on that subject.
Once her face outline is complete, Bryn explains how to pencil in grid lines over a tracing. She loves to get super detailed at this point and creates 1/2" x 1/2" boxes for this process. Then she transfers what she sees (this is the freehand drawing part!), box by box onto another sheet filled with 1/2" squares.
If you'd like to learn Bryn's process in even greater detail without time-lapsed (sped up) video, Bryn is a guest teacher in The Fun Fab Drawing Club with me over at Awesome Art School in my Realistic Face Drawing classroom. Add your name to the waitlist here to get notified when the Fun Fab Drawing Club is open for enrollment.
Since Bryn plans to add loose watercolor flowers to her fairy drawing, she needs watercolor paper. Today she's using a sheet of 140 lb. cold press (textured) watercolor paper by Canson. Bryn enjoys working small, so cut a sheet of this paper in half for today's project.
Make sure you watch the video to see exactly how Bryn transfers a scaled down printout of her original drawing to watercolor paper using graphite transfer paper.
I LOVE using transfer paper as well when I'm doing watercolor portraits because this process really saves my paper.
If you do a freehand drawing from scratch directly onto your watercolor paper, you risk wrecking your paper from tons of erasing. Drawing from scratch on another sheet of paper first (even plain old printer paper!) and transfering your finished drawing to watercolor paper is totally the way to go.
As you'll see in the video, Bryn uses a kneaded eraser to lift some of the bold graphite lines from her watercolor paper once her transfer is complete. This is a great tip, because if you skip this step, your watercolors can smear the graphite and turn brown.
When Bryn's finished with erasing, she uses a purple Copic multiliner (in .5) to outline portions of her drawing. This fineliner is non watersoluble so it will stay put once watercolor is added. Notice how Bryn doesn't add fineliner to each and every line of her drawing, and sometimes only outlines a piece of each line. This technique really adds a sophisticated look to her artwork.
Once the ink is totally dry, you can erase any remaining pencil lines, and get ready to add watercolor! Bryn is using "The Classics" watercolor palette by Prima today for this project, but you can use any kind of watercolor you like. I typically use Daniel Smith watercolors, and have a wide variety of my favorite shades recommended for you in my Amazon shop if you need ideas.
If you need help starting a Daniel Smith watercolor collection of your own, check this video out to learn about Daniel Smith dot cards to inexpensively discover YOUR favorite shades, and this one to start your first Daniel Smith watercolor collection.
To create loose watercolor flowers on a tiny scale, Bryn uses a #3 round watercolor brush and adds abstract doodles of color in spikes and swirls to indicate flowers. Watch this process in the video because each moment has been recorderd step by step so you can paint along from home.
After the first layer of watercolor is dry, Bryn darkens portions of the flowers to add contrast, and adds bits of yellow green throughout to suggest foilage and leaves.
For the skin tones on her fairy's face, Bryn adds in layers of pink from her existing palette. Once these layers are dry, she adds a light layer of yellow green to indicate the darkest shadows.
I LOVE this look! Just make sure your original layers are FULLY dry before doing this at home, so your colors don't turn into brown.
Next, Bryn thickens a few of the lines from her original drawing using her copic multiliner (above), and draws in a few light embellishments throughout her watercolor flowers to tie things together.
To finish her fairy, Bryn adds a little watercolor splatter paint. I LOVE this effect too!! The key to getting this just right is having a really wet brush. Watch the video to see this technique in action, and paint along with Bryn in real time!
Thanks for hanging out with us today! We hope you have fun with lesson six of the FREE #50FunFabFairies drawing challenge!
If you're OBSESSED with fairies and fantasy art like Bryn and I are, you might just LOVE the Celtic Collective art club over at Awesome Art School.
Add your name to the waitlist to be notified next time we're open for enrollment, or when there's a club member cancellation so you can join in the fun with us!
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Founder of Awesome Art School. Mixed Media Artist. Author of 18 Instructional Art Books!
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