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In this chapter, we're going to take a look at watercolor media. Watercolor is very interesting. I tend to think of it as the medium of happy accidents. Of all the 2D mediums, watercolor is probably the most difficult to control. If we examine it a little bit, we'll see that there are a lot of physics going on when watercolor is applied to paper. Watercolor is a pigmented colorant suspended in a liquid medium. We'll begin by applying some clean water to our watercolor paper. It is this wetted surface that provides the medium of watercolor with one of its signature looks.
I'll take a bit of color and apply it to the dampened paper. Notice how the applied stroke diffuses when it interacts with the surface. This diffusion is controlled by the degree of wetness of the paper. Painter's watercolor tools mimic this quality as well. Another key look of watercolor is the influence of gravity on the wet surface and applied pigment. I'll apply a bit more color to the paper. And now we'll tilt this pad downward. The pigment begins to migrate it downward.
This unique facet of watercolor allows the artist to create subtle blends and washes of color. Another key quality of watercolor is translucency. Because the carrying medium is clear, there is only so much coverage that watercolor can provide. To accentuate watercolors' rich color translucence, the artist will work wet over dry to build up layers of color. I'll take a bit of orange and yellow and apply it. Painter can dry its watercolors to duplicate this visual appearance as well.
One other well-known look of watercolor is a combination of absorption and diffusion. This is the way in which pigment tends to migrate to the area of most wetness as the water is slowly absorbed by the paper. The result is that signature darkened look along areas of color often seen in watercolors. You can see a good example of it right in this area here. What happens is that the pigment continuously moves away from the driest areas of laid down watercolor and is eventually deposited at the outer edge, producing that signature darkened edge.
Painter is capable of duplicating this behavior as part of its watercolor bag of tricks. As you can see, there are a number of influencing factors that dictate the behavior of watercolor. All of these factors conspire to make watercolor a challenging medium. The reward of this physical complexity is a wide range of unique visual appearances. An artist controls watercolor only up to a point. After that, watercolor tends to do what it wants to do. An experienced watercolorist knows how to work within this situation and a successful watercolor is one that balances control with randomness.
Let's take a look at Painter's watercolors.
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