Hi everyone! 😄
Yesterday I finished a watercolor piece that I had been working on since the middle of May, and it’s probably the most detailed watercolor painting I’ve ever done. Working on the face alone took me several hours, as did the hair, the shadowing of the fabric, and the pleats on the shirt.
I thought it would be fun to do a post critiquing my own artwork so I can identify aspects I want to focus on improving for my next big watercolor project. I had so much fun working on this watercolor piece, and it was so satisfying when I finished the painting knowing how many hours I spent working on it.
Before I even began sketching, I knew I wanted to do a detailed watercolor painting of a person, with heavy focus on the face, using a reference photo to help with shading and layering of colors. There was a pretty wide selection of reference photos on my phone, but I decided to go with Suga’s portrait photo from BTS’s Young Forever “Day” photo shoot because the photo offered a clear image of Suga’s face from a front angle, which I was already confident in drawing. Since I didn’t want to focus on a difficult sketch (e.g. a side profile or a face tilted at an angle), Suga’s simple posture was perfect.
I used a Prismacolor Col-Erase colored pencil in “Carmine Red” to sketch out the basic outline on a sheet of Canson XL mixed-media paper. After that, I started to color in the face, a process that took around four hours. I’m really happy with how it turned out, but now that I know how the process of layering watercolors works for a watercolor painting, I will definitely modify some things the next time I do watercolors.
The picture to the left shows Suga’s face after I finished drawing his face and hair. The aspect of Suga’s face that I feel most accomplished in drawing is his lips. For every single drawing in the past, lips were always something I struggled not necessarily in drawing but coloring in in a way that was realistic and not just one flat color with two dots of white from a gel pen to make it seem more 3D.
Instead, this time, I actually layered the colors on the lips — the lightest pink first, then gradually adding darker shades according to the reference photo. In addition, instead of using black to outline the corners of the lips and the middle, I used a darker brown, which looks so much better and realistic.
And just look at the cupid bow’s shading! And the detailed lines within the lips themselves! 😍 I can’t find any fault with the lips myself, and I will definitely take what I’ve learned from painting lips in this piece with me for the rest of my watercolors of people. 😊👍
I mean, just compare Suga’s lips with the lips I drew for the girl from my “Taking a Vacation in My Mind” post:
White gel pens can solve many problems in drawings, people, but it just can’t compare with good shading and layering.
Anyways, the nose is also something I’m really happy with. 😊 I restrained myself from adding color to the entire nose, leaving some untouched areas to give the illusion of sunlight hitting skin, as was shown in the reference photo. I will admit that I could have toned down on the blush color a bit, but I’ve always liked adding a wash of pink across the cheeks and nose for faces, so that’s not something I would change dramatically. The shading of the nose, both near the root and the sides, is something I’m also very proud of. 😋
But on to the things I could improve on:
The eyes don’t look even on the face, and also look unproportionate in terms of how close they are to the nose. This is something I could have fixed by paying closer attention to the sketch. I’m starting to realize that the more detailed/accurate I make the sketch of any drawing, the easier the coloring process will be because I’ll only have to focus on coloring and shading and not necessarily the proportions of my subject.
In addition, that random patch of pink above the right eye really bothers me. The color could have been made smoother if I had blended the pink more with the skin color before it dried.
I also think the skin color looks too patchy and yellow at certain points. In the reference photo, Suga’s face definitely had some orange-y and yellowish tints to it, which I was trying to replicate in my painting. I think this discoloration problem could have been avoided if I spent time just looking at my actual painting instead my reference photo all the time. Sometimes I get so caught up in using the reference photo that I forget to look at my own painting with a critical eye to see if it looks alright by itself.
Oh, and the brown patch on the neck — I was able to blend it out better before I finished the painting. It was bothering me, too. 😅
So, after finishing painting the face and the hair, I happily continued to color in my drawing, and then, once I painstakingly colored in the blue of the shirt and made the pleats on the white fabric, I realized something.
I forgot to draw in the eyebrows.
How could I FORGET that? I cannot believe I colored in the hair before I remembered to draw in the eyebrows. And it’s not like I can draw Suga without eyebrows, so I proceeded to color in the eyebrows over the hair, which, upon reflection, I really shouldn’t have done.
I ended up desperately trying to layer hair over the eyebrows, but I didn’t want to do too much of that lest I completely ruin the shading of the hair. At that point, I was very satisfied with how I had layered and colored the hair to imitate sunlight hitting it, and I wasn’t going to ruin that just to cover up the random caterpillars clinging onto the bangs of Suga’s ash brown hair.
Lesson learned: Draw in the eyebrows before drawing hair. Especially if the subject has bangs. Le sigh. 😐
For the shirt, I do think that because the main colors were sky-blue and white (with gray for the shading and the pleats), I shouldn’t have sketched the drawing in red because up close, the red of the Prismacolor pencil really pops out in contrast to the blue, which wasn’t my intention. The overall colors should have blended together like the reference photo, which looked like a soft haze of sunlight was cast over it. Next time, I’m going to use a softer colored Prismacolor color pencil, like pink, to sketch out the drawing instead of using Carmine Red.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with how the shirt turned out. The pleats on the right could have been a softer gray color, and the darker blue on the shoulders could have been taken out or toned down, but the detail of the blue vertical pleats (which took a long time, btw!) really saves it, in my opinion.
And finally, the background! I should have added more water to the background to give the illusion of it being blurrier. If you look at the green trees/shrubbery in the background of the reference photo, you’ll notice that a thin rim of orange-brown lines the top outline of the vegetation. It definitely emphasizes the blurry aspect of the background, and I should have done that for my watercolor painting to show some contrast between the subject of the painting, Suga, and the background.
That’s all I have to say for my watercolor of Suga! Despite the number of things I could improve on for this piece, every moment I spent on this watercolor drawing was so fun. There’s so much I want to experiment with and improve on with watercolors, and I hope to use my self-critique for this watercolor painting of Suga to improve my next watercolor piece.
Thanks for reading this post, and I will cya next time! 😝 Happy drawing!