Fighting the Paper II

If you have read the last post you might already know, that I encountered some difficulties during the colouring process of my fairy tale book Below the Floor.

As working with colouring pencils was not really right for this project I had to find a way to cope with the new paper the manufacturer was using now in the sketchbooks. Just remember: I have drawn all my pen and ink illustrations for the book in the same kind of sketchbooks (which I have been using for some years now).

Another possibility was making copies of the sketchbook pages on thick paper and colour these instead of the original artworks. Unfortunately, the pen and ink illustrations lost some of their finer details during the copying process. You can imagine that this was not a way to go either.

So I went back to the sketchbooks – and the watercolours – and tried different ways of using these watercolours – at the end, there had to be a way to still get my images coloured although the paper quality had changed – unfortunately to the worse.

watercolour tests for fairatyle children's book with fantasy creatures by John E. Brito

So I tested colouring the papers with different speeds of painting: Painting faster, painting slowlier, giving the paper more or less time to absorb the colours. I also tested different amounts of water, loading the brush with a lot of colour VS loading it with just enough colour to paint some thin layers. I also tested different water to colour pigment ratios and watched out for the different behaviours… I just wanted it to get working – somehow…


…while listening to 80ies music like this:

Is it just me, or was the world cooler in the eithies? 🙂 I have to admit, that I did not know as a kid, that the music video above existed. What I actually think of when I hear songs like this are some of the best vacations ever: Camping at Lake Ballaton in Hungary

Well, back to the watercolours: After several pages of testing I found a way to get my illustrations coloured. I had to use just the right amount of water (not too much or the paper would bend), put more pressure onto the brush while I was painting (like pressing the pigments into the structure of the paper) and generally painting in a more controlled manner. So what I could not do was storming trough the page and throwing pigments onto the wet surfaces (like I do rather often), but working with thinner an controlled washes instead. So I ended up with a look like this:

watercolour tests for fairatyle children's book with fantasy creatures by John E. Brito

There was no need for further testing and I finally could start colouring my pages.

Check out the next blog post to see the first coloured image from Below the Floor.

9 responses to “Fighting the Paper II

  1. So glad you were able to work this out John. I love the final look of your pages. If you really take time with the settings on a professional toner printer and don’t use too heavy of paper you can usually get the line work to show pretty much like the original. I like that the toner ink is truly waterproof. You also can pre-stretch lighter weight watercolor paper so it doesn’t buckle. I know all that doesn’t solve your immediate problem. I’m glad it all worked out for you.


    • Thank you very much, Dayne. I used to work with laserprinted copies as well – mostly for paid jobs. I have to admit, that I have never taken the time to play around with the setting. I´ll keep it in mind for the next time :)) Oh, and sorry for my late reply.


  2. Pingback: Finally the First Coloured Illustration | I create worlds. John E. Brito's Blog·

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