After my sister gifted the most amazing watercolors I’ve touched in my life, I’ve been mildly obsessed with them. Forget those pencil drawings I love; I’ve got watercoloring to do. Hence why Ron Weasley and JGL are still sticky-tacked to my desk half finished, whereas I’ve been cranking out the watercolors. Also because Ron is wearing plaid and JGL is in stripes and why do I always pick reference photos with complicated clothing patterns? In any case…. here’s how I do these watercolors.
First, here are the materials I’ll be using on this:
1. I start with a reference photo I like, and then make a sketch of it on a piece of paper sized appropriately for the watercolor paper I’ll be using. Then I’ll take a soft graphite pencil (like a 4B or 6B) and color all over the back of the piece of paper with the sketch.
2. I position the image where I want it on the watercolor block, and with another pencil (a normal HB works fine, but make sure it’s not super sharp) trace, with some pressure, the specific lines I need. Clean up the watercolor paper. The lines I need should be dark enough for me to work with, but light enough that they won’t be distracting.
3. At this point I decide what color I want to use, as this is part of a series of single-color paintings. I have a tiny bit of Indian Yellow and Scarlet sitting around that I’ve been waiting to use, and yellow is the perfect color for Molly. However, before I touch the watercolor paper, I need to do a color test to see how the color reacts to amounts of water and if this really is the color/color mixture I want.
4. I’ll start with my wash brush and wet the paper I want more in shadow, and then add a light wash of the yellow to start, trying to guide the color a little. The initial wash is really important because it sets up a lot of the faint shadows and such.
5. Duel-wielding brush time. I’ll have a fine-point in one hand and a wash brush in the other. The fine point has color, the wash has water, and this is how I slowly darken areas until it’s what I want. This is where I start doing the larger details, more shading, and such. The fine details, such as the mouth and eyes, I’ll leave until last.
6. Once I’ve gotten most things finished, it’s time to do the eyes and mouth. Louise Brealey, who plays Molly Hooper, has a slightly odd mouth shape here, and her teeth are showing, which is annoying at the least. Teeth are hard to do.
7. Clean-up time. Sometimes it needs it, other times it doesn’t. Really depends on the painting. In this case her eyes need just a bit of love. I have a white color pencil I’ll bring in to do highlights or any cleaning I need, and then a signature and it’s done. Oh wait, except for the part where I blast it with fixative. Stuff smells terrible, but it helps seal the color in and prevent possibly future damage from water.
Sounds pretty easy, right?
Molly is such an amazing character, because even when John can’t see Sherlock, she does. She never stops seeing him.
So in light of that I’ll talk about my color choices for her. I wanted to do Molly in tones of yellows and golden browns, but a yellow-orange color ended up being the one that felt right to me. Here’s some production design babble on the significance of this: Orange is what’s generally known as the people’s color. The color of the ordinary person, but it is also, in color theory terms, a color of energy and life. Unlike orange’s counterparts–the powerful and aggressive yet passionate red and the energetic and obsessive yellow, orange bears none of the negative stigma. It is bright, hopeful, yearning without the pain. Lively. But also the color of a deceptively ordinary person. Molly is this. She is the ordinary person exemplified, but she is a thousand times more, special and anything but ordinary, and that’s why orange is right for her.
Orange is the color of the people’s hero, and that is who Molly Hooper is.