This post is a sequel to the A Foolproof “Day in the Life” Sketchbook Layout Formula. In it, we’ll talk about how to transform your black and white sketchbook layout into a colorful, vibrant work of art. Get your watercolors and some super strong tea or coffee ready, and let’s do this!
In last week’s tutorial, I showed you how to make a “day in the life”-themed sketchbook layout. Today, I’ll walk you through how to add vibrancy and personality to your page with tea, metallic paint, watercolor, and a smidge of decoupage!
Begin by brewing a small but incredibly strong cup of tea (or coffee). It’s important that the beverage be so strong that you wouldn’t even consider drinking it! The stronger the tea, the more it will stain your paper, which is a good thing. (I imagine that you could also use wine or fruit juice.)
3. Fill in the Background
Dip a fairly large brush into the tea, and use it to fill in the background of your sketchbook page. Don’t worry if your paper bubbles up a bit; it’s just reacting to the moisture!
Continue to paint until you’ve added tea to the entire background.
Finish up by using your brush to apply tea spatters to the bottom part of the page. Concentrate on filling in the space between the cup and the tree, then apply a few spatters to various areas around the cup.
4. Add Watercolor to the Food
While your tea dries on the bottom of the page, lend your focus to the top of the page, where your food drawings are. Grab your favorite watercolor palette (I love the Adventure Set from Greenleaf & Blueberry), and use your colors to fill in the different foods. If this part of the tutorial terrifies you, that’s okay! Just take a timeout to read Painting with Watercolors for Beginners and Painting with Watercolors for Beginners Part II. You’ll learn a lot in those articles that will help you with contouring and blending!
It’s a good idea to keep reference photos in front of you as you paint. That way, you’ll have an idea of what colors you should use and where to add in shadows!
Continue to add color and contour to the food. If you’re right-handed, try painting from left to write. Lefties should paint from right to left. Follow that tip, and you won’t have to worry about smudging any wet paint!
Continue to fill in all the lettering at the top of the page.
5. Add Tea to the Clock
At this point, you should add a little bit of interest to the clock — however, you want to keep the clock pretty clean to help it stand out! To that end, dip your pen in tea and cover half of the clock’s face with a henna pattern.
If you had stars on your clock face, fill them in with Finetec. Then, use a paintbrush to apply more tea to the outside of the clock, which will help the clock’s placement look a bit more natural.
6. Fill in the Banner
We don’t want too much white on the page, so it’s important to add some color to your banner! I used a light blue (Vivianite) and a high water ratio to fill my banner in.
Before the paint fully dries, use a bit more paint (and less water) to mix a darker tone of blue. Use that blue to add some color to the outside edges of the banner and its tails.
Finally, fill in the blank strokes of the George Style letters in the banner with a Finetec Pearl Colors tone. The color that you choose should echo a color that you used to paint your food! In my case, that’s burgundy.
7. Paint the Cup
At this point, you’ll move on to paint the cup on the bottom left of the page. Try your best to match the cup’s real life color scheme!
If you drew a teacup, try decoupaging a tea tag onto the page!
8. Paint the Tree
Now, use three different shades of brown to paint your tree. I’d start by filling the entire tree in with a light brown tone, then use a dark brown tone to highlight the edges and grooves. Then, use a deep purple tone (I love Violet Hematite) to add shadows.
Once you’ve finished the tree, use two or three different tones of green to add color to the leaves.
Finally, use some of that brassy Finetec to fill in any lettering beside the tree.
9. Add Finishing Touches
To complete the sketchbook page, take your dip pen and trace around the now-dry tea spatters.
Then, use your paintbrush and the tea to add some shadows to the sketchbook page. Experiment, too, with filling in the loops of the calligraphy with tea!
10. Admire Your Hard Work!
If you took on this two-part tutorial, congratulations! A sketchbook page like this one is not an easy (nor a quick) project to take on, and you should be proud. Making this sketchbook page reminded me how much I love painting with tea; it’s gratifying to watch the tea subtly layer on, giving the page a look that I’d describe as “elegant grunge”.
If you liked this tutorial series, please let me know in the comments! I love coming up with sketchbook page concepts, and I’d be glad to share more like this one. I’ve already noticed a couple of “day in the life” sketchbook pages pop up on Instagram (check out this one), which has been really cool to see! If you have a page you’d like to share, please tag me (@thepostmansknock) — I love getting to enjoy your work. 🙂
Thanks very much for reading, and have an amazing day!