Hello! My name is Kiki and I’m a traditional artist!
I work primarily with watercolors, markers, colored pencils, and digital mediums. I'm a self driven learner, and am super excited to get to share what I've learned!
So let's jump into the wacky world of Mixed Media!
Why mix your mediums?
Because different mediums have different characteristics. The point of mashing different mediums together is to play with those characteristics. I'll talk more about this as we go.
For visual aids, I've brought along one of my pieces: The Rainbow Crow.
(I've also assembled a gallery of other fantastic Mixed Media works near the end of the tutorial.)
For The Rainbow Crow, I used Colored Pencils and Copic markers on smooth surface, toned paper. Let's take a moment to compare these two mediums:
--These are Liquid based materials (mine use Alcohol)
--Seep into the paper, depositing pigment among the paper fibers.
--These blend via direct mixing.
--Tend to lay down color thick and evenly saturated, resulting in a nice flat look.
--These are Wax and Oil based materials.
--They rest on the top of the drawing, filling in the tooth of the page.
--They don't blend by mixing their pigments together, instead relying on visual blending.
--When laid down in a thick, solid layer, they look soft and deep.
When I put these two mediums together, I'm able to play with their contrasting characteristics. I can draw emphasis to where I want it to be just by choosing the medium, then punch up that emphasis with color and shading and line and all of that other art composition stuff.
With that out of the way, let's get started!
No matter how familiar I am with the paper and materials I plan on using, I take the time to do some studies. All of the variations of paper texture and color, Material characteristics, and even the individual colors all behave differently. And sometimes unexpectedly. Even if I end up using different colors later, this lets me warm up and get used to how all of the materials I'm using are likely to interact with each other.
If I'm extra stumped, I'll even do a digital composition study.
Taking notes means that if I ever have to put the project down for a long time, I can pick it back up and not have to reverse engineer my own process.
Or if I ever need to write a tutorial it's (theoretically) possible to follow along.
If you're scared of messing up (like me), then spend time planning and practicing.
When I take the time to familiarize myself with the materials and the concept, I find I'm a lot less anxious when working on the final piece.
Just find a scrap of paper and see what happens!
Now that I'm warmed up, I'll get to work on the final image. Using what I've learned from the studies, I can make informed decisions about what colors I want to use on the final piece. So, even though I used Color X in practice, I know that Color Y will behave similarly and will look better.
I start by laying down the Copics. The even color layer will give an undertone to the colored pencils. This also helps me keep myself more or less on track with the coloring.
I do use some blending in the copic layer, providing gradients between blocks of color.
My mixed media method relies heavily on layering. I want to make sure that I have the copic colors where I want before I move on.
For the Colored pencil layer, I start by blocking in where the highlights and shadows will go. I also begin to add detail.
With colored pencils, I take my time and layer the colors. Using a lot of pressure early on means that it's harder for me to add new colors later.
As the layer of colored pencils builds up, I increase my pressure. On the final layers, I'm working on a very waxy surface now, so I have to press pretty hard.
As I work, I try to keep my palette as limited as possible. When using multiple mediums, color disharmony can get out of hand real fast. So I have a general rule that I'm only allowed to bring in new colors at the very start of the project and at the very end when I'm doing detailing.
Time and patience are important. When I feel like I'm stuck, I'll set the piece down for the day. Doing this keeps me from getting frustrated and overworking the image.
How can you tell which mediums will work well together?
For me, I mix the following:
Watercolor, Colored Pencils, Copics
Watercolor, Colored Pencils
Watercolor, Colored Pencils, Cut paper
Graphite pencil, digital
Ballpoint pen, digital
Watercolor, acrylic paints
...and throw in a bit of gold leaf, white gel pen, and more craftroom detritus than I have any right to be around.
These are all mediums that I'm comfortable with. I find that, the more comfortable I am with a medium, the more likely I am to like combinations that I use them in.
Every artist I've worked with has different preferences for how to use the materials around them. It all depends on what you're comfortable with, what you like, and what tools you have.
There is no 'wrong' combination. Just have a look at these artists. Everything goes for these guys.
They've used ribbon, sculpture, computer parts, copper wire, gemstones, wood, and even coffee! And mixing the order that they use the materials in also creates some interesting effects.
I invite you to click through their galleries and see what they've been using.
Then, give yourself permission to make a mess, and go wild!