Sunday, October 7, 2012

How I Make a Painted Pendant

(For larger pictures click on the image 2 times)

1.  Get a great reference photograph.  I took this picture at a local park but sometimes I also use the reference pictures available on  I like this picture because it is bright with good contrast.  I can really see the color and form of the turtle.

2.  I create a ink drawing using waterproof artist markers.  I find that the ink drawing gives my painting a crispness that I sometimes lose when I just use watercolor.

3.  I paint in miniature.  This painting is 4 inches by 7 inches and almost double the size I usual work with! I use masking tape to tape my watercolor paper to a small plastic cutting board. It works perfect.

4.   Since I am going to be using watercolor to create the rock and water I want to protect the turtle by using masking. I cover the turtle and the shadows with regular translucent brown packing tape.  I use brown tape because it makes it easier to see where the turtle is once I start painting.  

5.  Using a craft knife I carefully cut around the turtle.

6.   I wet the entire paper with clean water using a paint brush. Starting at the top I loosely sweep very light blue down to the rock area.  I overlap the blue onto the rock area to give the impression of water on the rock.  Then starting at the bottom I drop in different shades of brown working my way upward into the blue.  The brown I use is a combination of Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna.  I also add a touch of Hunter Green in spots to vary the color.  A really neat trick to create texture is to sprinkle table salt into the wet paint.  The salt will soak up some of the paint and create a beautiful varied texture. 

7.  I allow the painting to dry completely before I brush off the salt.   I then add more layers of blue to the water area to intensify the color.  I apply the color in random horizontal strokes to give the impression of ripples on the water. 

8.   Once the paint has dried I carefully lift the tape with the tip of the craft knife.  Sometimes the tape will lift some of the ink or even a thin layer of the paper.  If it does, I darken the re-apply the lines of the ink drawing.

9.  I then start to work on the turtle.  I start with yellow for the stripes and highlights.

10.  I add a light brown wash over the entire turtle.

11.  Using a darker brown I continue to build up the shape of the turtle.

12.  I finish the painting process by applying a wash of straight Ultramarine Blue over the entire turtle EXCEPT for the yellow underside of the shell.

13.  The final step on the turtle is to create highlights by lifting some of the paint with a barely damp paintbrush.

14.  Using the round selection tool in Corel Paintshop Pro X4 I select the area I want then copy and paste as a new image.  I save that image as my master so that I can re-size the image to whatever I need without losing image quality.  I then re-size a copy of the image to 1 inch to fit my pendant tray and print it on Avery Half-Fold Card paper.  This card stock has a special coating that seems to hold the color and resist blurring.  I have tried many different types of card stock but this works best with my ink jet printer.

15.  I pick up a domed glass piece that fits the pendant tray.

16.  I apply a thick layer of diamond glaze to the back of the glass.  

17.  I turn the glass over and position it on the image.

18.  After ensuring that the dome is centered on the image I allow the piece to dry overnight.

19.  Using a sharp pair of scissors I carefully cut around the glass dome to remove the excess paper.

20.  I apply a very thin layer of glaze to the bottom of the pendant setting.

21.  Carefully I position the image in the setting.

22.  The finished pendant.