Identifying tools and Materials

I want to do this exercise again and again!

New Sketchbook – First page

I have to admit, I cannot always tell what medium is used in an illustration these days, the lines between digital, traditional and mixed are very blurred.
I feel it is very rare now that an illustrator limits themselves to one medium, more so when you can use mixed media in a way that gains the best of both worlds and avoids the most of shortfalls that come with some mediums.

In my sketchbook I wanted to explore different mediums, I wanted to work them in different ways, such as different types of water-based paint and watering them down and once dry and scanning in, to maybe touch up digitally. Guess I was doing some markmaking to see if I can get a better understanding and if I could identify better my watercolours from my gouache etc.

Another reason I was wanting to explore more, is that throughout this unit I’ve been enjoying mixed media and enhancing the work digitally after, so for this exercise I really wanted to explore and learn more.
I went though quite a few different artists/illustrators and made a list. In my head I already knew I wanted to pay more attention to Watercolour artist and Gouache as I naturally enjoy water based paints more BUT I also wanted to be open minded and explore Acrylic as well.

So.. I gave myself both to explore!

Agnes Ernoult

Water colour / Line and Wash

I was keen to use artist/Illustrators for watercolour that were different to illustration that I’ve studied prior starting this course.

Agnès Ernoult.
Is a French illustrator and I have to say I ‘m now a little bit in love with her work, it is beautiful and the soft, elegant mood which she challenges me.
This is highly detailed illustration without being too heavy, she has areas where she used the “bleed” to create shadows. I’m curious to how her painting can look so clean yet fuzzy/soft at the same time. You can almost picture her creating the brush strokes and using weight to create her lines. She manages to evoke the feeling of “fairy tale” , it is quite a timeless style, even the colour palette in this piece is clean, good soft contrast in the tones and hues.
The use of negative space around the “main” character has created by the border, this is so Ernoult can use the white to make the skin tone jump out in the image. This same border also creates a circle which can direct the viewers eyes around her illustration, her characters are also very centered and posed.
Another reason I picked this illustration is that the intended audience is along the lines of what is of interest for me, Children’s books.

Apart from pencils and markers, I think water colour has been one of is longest “go-to” mediums, I’m very comfortable with washes, building upon that. However, I need to work on a more polish/detailed finished.

Jessica Durrant

Another water colour illustrator is Jessica Durrant (US). Her work is very different to Ernoult, firstly her target audience is beauty and nature, her style very free, loose and more washy. She uses her paint bleed to create shapes and points of visual interest and has clean simple lines to create the “main” visual interest. Her work is so dreamy, It is of simple images yet hard to create! The limited control in in a image like this both scares me and fascinates me, It may not be something I can create yet but maybe in the future.
All this created just using one colour! I’m inspired by her monochromatic palette.

Luke Scrivens

It is also worth pointing out I also really love the way Luke Scrivens (UK) works, He is more controlled/polished but yet the background is a loose/messy wash. Seems like a middle ground between the works of Durrant and Ernoult.
He also shares how he creates his pieces, by sketching, lightbox and water colour paper, building up, scanning and then working/enhancing digitally. This actually sounds like the technique I like to do!

I placed inspiration pictures within my pinterest (below)

I was very selective in my pins on, I picked via style I liked, techniques and level of details I want to learn. I do still like the loose watercolor, being a facepainting I often work with brush stokes / flowers however I’m wanting to learn more how to build up my layers.

Jane Simmons


Jane Simmons
Makes Acrylic look soft, paintery something I lack at the moment.
I find when I work with acrylics my work tends to be bold, flat so this kind of style is something I’m keen to explore. Simmons like Ernoult has a soft palette, however her piece is pulled right in movement to “follow” the characters. The piece has movement in the colours and characters, this is more of an action illustration.

I’m not sure about acrylics, I use in fine art and murals but never reach for it for illustrations, so that is the reason it is my second/extra choice. I want to explore more in depth colour mixing, building the work and all around better techniques.

Skill share Classes

As I wanted to “level up” my skills in watercolour, gouache and Acrylic so needed to boost my skillset, so I took to skillshare to watch a “few” classes.

I started with Getting to know your paints by Dylan Mierzwitiki
What I really like about this class is that Dylan compares methods together, such as wet on wet vs wet on dry techniques. A lot covered what I knew, but this has been a great refresher class and I came away from it with things I wanted to try and experiment.

For Gouache I found this class that was perfect in terms of style I wanted to explore Gouache Illustration: Paint a Whimsical, Colorful Character, by Vanessa Gillings. This class is incredibly insightful and helpful. A little too scientific for me personally to follow every step, not sure if Gillings was using all these step to teach or if she does herself every time herself, like I said seems personal preference I’ve taken away from the class some things I believe will changed the way I work with gouache for the better.

I had trouble finding Acrylic classes with subtitles which was disappointing as a few really looked useful however found one my a teacher I like Cat Coquillette called Modern Acrylic Painting: Explore Techniques to Create On-Trend Art.
She makes acrylic seem new and exciting again!

For the colour mixes I found a class by Kendyll Hillegas, whom I have linked before in this unit from youtube. This class is called Creating Realistic Color: A Primer for Beginners

Like everything, I think I need patience and practice, so I think will be using more in my sketchbook watercolour and gouache even if final piece is in another medium. Just to give myself time to level up.


I was keen to explore more of Agnès Ernoult style, however the visuals I have created so far didn’t really inspire me, but I’ve have been wanting to create a newer version of “getting the gist” based on my tutors feedback and for me so this is the perfect time to do so.

For Acrylic again I wanted to keep the illustration fairly basic so can really explore the medium, so I picked “The fish in love with the moon” the piece I created for the exercise Black and White, The intention within Acrylic is to aim for Jane Simmons type of style but I knew my own limitations will not get there at the moment but it was was something to aim for at least.

I’m doing two version of each medium, giving me a change to explore both a polished and looser version, so I can compare the two.

Polished and loose version of watercolour illustrations

Watercolour results
I like both version I’ve ended up creating.
The first I was more aiming Agnès Ernoult style and the second trying to add a touch of both Luke Scrivens and Jessica Durrant loose/bleed techniques.

OCA Identifying tools and materials
The “polished” version final piece

Scanned and edited digitally version the above
Looking at I know I need to be cleaner in my finished to get the effect I desire, which I think will come with more practice and time. I also need the edges to be softer, no lines and a soft shadowing / highlights.


Acrylic version
I like the polished version more again and this is an improvement upon my acrylic style as managed a more painterly finished while still looking clean. Prior my work I felt was very flat with random blobs all around.
Second version, There are elements really I like, such as textures on the background.
Maybe a mix of both versions would work!

OCA Identi tools

Scanned and Edited version above
I admit it isn’t really soft and almost like oils found in Jane Simmons illustrations, but I like it because somehow I made this “very me”. My style is sharper and not soft like Simmons illustrations. I’m not mad at myself for missing the mark with acrylic technique as I think I’ve unintentionally tapped into something and I want to explore deeper!

I admit, I may have done a bit of my own thing with this exercise. I not only did I want to explore these artists but I wanted to understand the tools, the materials and how can be used. Not just to “learn” from a source but to understand what I was doing, using and why.

I also had my own questions doing this exercise…
Why do illustrators that are mixed media use a particular medium for certain illustrations?
Can I use different media to convey my message / mood better ?
Can paint technique/tools be used to communicate as much as colour/shape etc?

I even asked my children which of my version that appealed to them and then asked adults and the result were different!
This exercise has made me very curious and honestly I would keep doing this exercise again and again, I think I can explore this more over the coming exercises in this part.

Credits, research and resources used

2 thoughts on “Identifying tools and Materials

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