How I do watercolours

I used to paint a lot with watercolours as a child and teenager, but then I started to draw comics seriously, and at least in the 90’s and 00’s I had no affordable way of printing full colour comics, so I worked exclusively in black and white for ages.

Only two years ago or so I started making forays into watercolour comics, with grey wash (The Slow and the Relentless), lots of little piggy sketches in colour, and my first colour comic (China White). Around that time, the Swedish comics publisher Ordbilder Media made a call for comic book pitches, including the option of an 80 page comic book in full colour. I pitched a watercolour piggy comic. The rest is history …

Here are my tools:

Cheap Hahnemühle watercolour board with a nice grain, Pelikan watercolours from 25 years ago, also 25 year old Raphael “Kazan squirrel hair” brush, size 1 or 2 (I’ve used it for watercolours and ink alike), tiny size “00” brush for the smallest details and cleaning up splotches. Staedtler pigment liners (sizes 0.2, 0.3, 0.5), mechanical pencil HB 0.7, lots of coffee … and finally, a Staedtler mars plastic eraser doing the devil’s work.

Half of the watercolour case and the browns and greens are from a Pelikan watercolour set (like this one) that my friend Nicole and I split in 6th grade, when our class cleaned out the crafts closet in our classroom. I supplemented it back then with blues, reds and yellows.

My process with this comic was as follows: I sketched with pencil on the board. Then I inked it with Staedtler pigment liners (they become waterproof after they’ve dried).
Then I committed the horrific act of erasing the pencil from underneath the ink. It does kind of ruin the surface to use eraser. But not enough for me to care, I guess.
Finally, I coloured with the watercolours.

I often did certain parts of the colouring in batches of 4-6 pages, to save time and to make the colour consistent in the parts that should be consistently of the same colour in one scene, like their skins and hair and some of their clothes. This should not be overdone, though, since each page is an entity that must harmonize within itself.

For the yellow morning light I started with a light yellow wash on the whole panel.

Before you’ve acquired truly mad skills, it’s usually best to use a somewhat limited colour palette for each scene, with two base colours and one or two accent colours. Above: brown/teal//light green/greyish blue.
Below (in the flashback): pink/grey//gold

Green is a pain in the arse and difficult to make look bearable. This comic is set in the summer, in the countryside, so it has a lot of greens … For greens in nature I used blue-greens and yellow-brown-greens.

For the man-made swine-made structures, by contrast, I used more “straight-up” greens, to accentuate their artificiality.

(Light green, turquoise and brown are popular colours for village houses in Tatarstan and Bashkortostan!)

My favourite advice on watercolours from Hayao Miyazaki: Use transparent, not sticky, paint; paint another layer after the first has dried.
My favourite advice from Joann Sfar (in one of the Klezmer afterwords): Use “unnatural” colours.

My own advice to myself: Don’t overwork the colouring with too much detail, and let the paper (or base wash) show here and there. With watercolours the most beautiful thing is the natural surface of simple strokes and washes. And keep some tissue/toilet paper handy. You will need it.

Finally, here is a video of me colouring one page in this book. It’s sped-up (obviously) – in reality it took me 35 minutes.

Akvarellfärgläggning: Tinet Elmgren / "Sockerärter" from Tinet Elmgren on Vimeo.

Sockerärter (“Sweet Peas”) will be released by Ordbilder Media at Stockholm International Comics festival, May 7th-8th 2016! I will be there to sign it and talk about it.

Live Piggy Drawing at Zielona Góra

Last night I did a live drawing session at the bar Zielona Góra in Friedrichshain. I hadn’t done anything like it in a long time and I was a bit nervous. V^(oo)^;V It was hard to draw on a tablet and in such low resolution …

Here are some of the highlights:

Not everybody got that this was the Ernst Thälmann park (maybe not so strange, since I temporarily forgot which way he’s supposed to be looking, argh V`(oo)´;V) …

This could have been even better animated.

Piggies from the rough side of town.

This was the best part of the session. I first drew this image. It was meant as a little story in itself: maybe the piggy man has been out drinking all night and is now trying to cure his hangover and his conscience with a coffee, while his wife has come to pick him up, knowing that he would be here, same as every time, and they are frozen in this moment where she is pausing for a second in the doorway, looking at him, looking at their life and how it has turned out to be.

But luckily some members of the audience intervened and demanded to change this devastatingly sad story. They came up to me and requested that it should be a happy love story: they should be strangers meeting for the first time, the piggy woman should come sit down next to the piggy man at the bar, she should have a glass of champagne, and they should talk and then kiss!

So I drew it as a “live comic”, erasing parts and drawing in new parts. It was especially fun to show their conversation with simple expressions like eyebrow wiggles and blushing. (Unfortunately I didn’t make screenshots of it!)

And then they walked home together. Awww.

(Although I guess even with the addition of the love story, the story could still end up in my vision of “the morning after/this is how our life has turned out” some time down the line, and it will be even more devastating because that diner is where the piggy woman and the piggy man first met. It will be a closed circle of eternal doom. Yeaahh.)

Let’s hang out in Tempelhof tomorrow!


(Click to enlarge)

This Saturday!

Opening party for the 24h Comics Marathon exhibition (featuring comics by atari_elle, Auge Lorenz, Clémentine Guichard, Darkam, Ilan Katin, Javier Lozano Jaén, Lilli Loge, Tinet Elmgren and maybe more!) + concert with Bananarchie and JFG und die Irregulären, at Panke, Berlin-Wedding!

– Details

(Flyer by Clémentine Guichard!)

24h Comics Marathon 2012, Berlin edition

The 24h comics marathon is going to happen shortly right there

Since nobody else had organized a 24h comics marathon this year, Ilan and I decided to do it ourselves!

We were graciously provided with a space at the lovely Panke in Berlin-Wedding. 12 artists came, and a “hardcore” group of 8 people stayed for almost all the 24 hours! (Even though the time slot we were able to arrange – Friday to Saturday – was potentially a bit weird. But I guess that thanks to Neoliberalism there are plenty of unemployed and self-employed people in Berlin.)

Ilan found a "thinking cap"

Ilan found a “thinking cap”.

Some of the hardcore participants, grinding through the night

Some of the hardcore participants, grinding through the night. That crappy fruit device was just there to provide us with a clock, because I forgot to bring a proper one.

Me and my drugs

Me and my drugs.

This time I drew a piggy comic with ball point pens. I had to switch between two different pens as they started bleeding after being used continuously for too long. (Cheap 1€-store pens!)

Great thanks to Erikah and Justas at Panke for allowing us to use their awesome space, whipping up a delicious raclette dinner for us when their vegan cook couldn’t come, letting us pet their doggie, and being such lovely people in general!

24h comics 2012 Berlin participants:

atari_elleAuge Lorenz, Catalina Somolinos AlonsoClémentine GuichardDarkamIlan Katin, Javier Lozano Jaén, Lilli LogeMikael RossStef, Stefan, Tinet

We will make an exhibition with all the comics that we produced in January, also at Panke. So stay tuned … V^(oo)^V

Tomorrow!

Dinner and a Story, December 29th at FIGO


(Click to see it bigger!)

This will be an evening that stimulates all senses equally. The three course dinner is an integral part of an audio-gustatory-olfactory-sensory-visual performance … And it will all be pleasant, so don’t worry.

We will also present some exciting hand crafts made by my mum, textile artist and book binder, as well as some comic books by myself and my sister. Perfect for those christmas gifts that you forgot to buy, or whatever. V^(oo)^V

We’ll charge 10 € for the full experience, including non-alcoholic drinks. (Alcoholic drinks are extra.)

Seating during the performance is limited, so please email me or click “attending” at the facebook event page! (But you can of course drop by later on to just hang out.)

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