In this blog I'll share what I have learned over the years about drawing and painting. My processes creating illustrations, visual development and concept art. I'll share thoughts, techniques and ideas that have worked for me in my career as an illustrator. I hope they inspire , and work for you too!

zondag 5 juni 2011

Plein air step-by-step

I photographed the various stages of my plein air painting in Dochamps, Belgium.
The first thing I do is taking a walk, and look around for interesting shapes, lighting, colors structures...anything that gives me a reason or a challenge to start painting. In this case, I was struck by the mosses on the roof of the house, and the tilted horizon, which can cause interesting compositional challenges.

Here's an overview of my setup. For more information on the materials I use and equipment I bring along, check out this previous post: LINK


I start out with a pencilsketch. I use the sketch only to define the placement and sizes of the objects in the composition. I don't take the drawing any further than this. I want to do the rest of the decisionmaking with a brush in my hands. In other words: I want it to be a painting, not a drawing.


I first put a basic (in this case) yellow tone over the complete canvas, to get rid of the pure white of the paper. This white will appear nowhere in the painting. Then I add light washes to define the basics of the color composition.

I now use thicker paint, to apply accents and tonalities.

I start out adding more detail first at the point of interest of the painting. I can decide later on how much detail the background needs to support the subject of teh painting.

More detailing. At this point (which is quite late) I decided to leave out the pole in the front. I made the mistake of waiting too long to add it in the painting, (I should have done that in the very beginning, when I still had the fexibility in the painting to move stuff around , and play with it, to make it work. Now it became a separate object in the painting, that caused the composition to fall apart. At this point I was frustrated because I didn't think of this at the very beginning, which made me forget to take a picture of the moment I put the pole in, and then paint it over again. That would have been an interesting moment to show... I'm sorry about that...;-)

The final painting. Little details in the front, and less detail in the trees left, lead the eye to the house.
The shift in lighting, because clouds getting in front of the sun, and the movement of the sun because time passes, makes painting outdoors extra challenging. Especially at the and of the day, or in the morning when light changes quickly, I lay in the shadows, so I know xectly where they are, even when they changed already.

8 opmerkingen:

  1. Thanks for the tutorial! I'm just learning to play with gouache and this is helpful.

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  2. Mooi, Wouter! Het doet me een beetje denken aan de Studio Ghibli films!

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  3. @David: Dan alleen nog zo'n stuiterend hoofd er doorheen ;-)
    @k. Borcz: I'm glad it's helpful for you. Good luck!

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  4. beautiful landscape and useful tutorial.

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  5. This is so awesome Wouter. Is this gouache?

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