Botanical Illustration from Life
© 2023 Isik Guner / Search Press · Reproduced with permission.
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Make your greys
If you mix any three main colours: reds, yellows and blues, in the correct amount, you will get grey. Explore mixing different main colours and you will be amazed to see the variety of tones and colours of grey you can obtain. The key point here is to use a lot of water for mixing and only a tiny bit of each pigment must be blended together. If you use a lot of pigment to start with, the mix will turn to a dirty brown colour.
Mix of Cobalt Violet, Naples Yellow and Indigo.
Mix of Indigo, Cadmium Lemon, Scarlet Lake.
Use the white of the paper
Apply the grey mix very gently. Ligulate flowers have a very small surface area, so use less water for the base. For white flowers, the key point is to keep the white of the paper unpainted. A grey colour must be applied only for the shadow areas. If it is all over the surface, the flower will look grey, not white.
Increase the tone
Increase the tone of the shadow gently, in many layers. Look carefully at the overall flower to understand the light and shadow. The left side of the flower is more in shadow than the right. Keep using diluted pigments to build up the layers. Define each flower clearly, make sharp edges with denser pigments and apply the pigment on a dry surface for very fine details. Outlines for the edges can be very helpful to make the white flowers visible on the white surface.
Sharpen the image
Shadow around the centre is important to give depth to the image. Always look for and understand where the darkest and the lightest areas are. A correct application of light and shade is the only way to create a three-dimensional image. The number of lines on each ligulate flower can be species specific. They must be observed very well from tip to base. Use different tones of grey for different layers or areas to get a better colour match and a more realistic image.