Steven Powers (SMP): Jungle Book - How to Paint Mowgli in Watercolor

Jungle Book - How to Paint Mowgli in Watercolor

This watercolor painting was fun to do. The composition is from a book based on Disney's original animated movie.

I used a lightbox to transfer the image to Fabriano Hot Pressed watercolor paper and taped it to my easel, which is kept at approximately 45 degrees. I don't normally paint or draw with the easel flat. I like to keep it at a comfortable angle and the perspective easier to see. I tend to mix my brands of paints, and will mix both transparent watercolor and gouache, along with using white to lighten and to add opacity to my mixtures. I am not a traditionalists when it comes to painting. One thing I didn't use here, was any colored pencils or markers. I used a 2b to transfer the image, but lifted where I didn't want the lines to hold the shape, but the values. Remember the old mantra, "Value change equals form change." Values and contracts will shape thier composition. The video of this painting has been condensed from 3 1/2 hours down to 9 1/2 minutes, so one does miss some of the subtle techniques. One tool you will see me use is the maul stick. This one I made from a strip of poplar and wood glue. The other is a Chisel Blender of my new favorites. I of course loved the blending attributes with adding texture to the tree, which I spent more time on then I did Mowgli. But the other aspect of the brush, was using it to pull layers of paint off, as if it were an eraser. If you don't have a Chisel Blender, get one and try it out. My method of painting is to start with a wash from the back to front. In this instance, I minimized or avoided the light areas of the tree and the character. The use of layers and at times, gouache in the mid and foreground will help to develop the final colors. Normally it takes many layers to find the balance between the darks and develop the values and contrasts which allow the shapes to read well. Below are the tools, paints, and mixtures I used for the painting, along with a link to the video.


I hope you found this tutorial helpful. Comments and questions are appreciated, -Steve


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