okay guys. since my first tutorial post was such a hit, here’s post number two!

this one is all about neon (my fav). i get a lot of emails asking how i get watercolor to look so bright and fluorescent. it’s true, watercolor itself does not get this bright- and is traditionally known for it’s softer hues, especially since the main ingredient is water.

my secret to neon is using gouache. i honestly haven’t worked with gouache much, besides the neons, but i treat it the same as watercolor.  i mix it the same and i use the same brushes. the one difference you should be aware of, is that once gouache dries, you cannot re-wet it and use the excess like you can with watercolor. so make sure you use a separate palette for it.

the three colors i use are luminous orange, opera, and luminous lemon. there are plenty of other neons to choose from here.

above you can see how adding water (the same as you would with watercolor) can create different shades of the color. from a very pale neon, to a very intense neon.

i’ve included two examples of places i’ve used the gouache in my illustration. below, you can see how i applied it to the flowers in bri’s hair. it really pops against the soft watercolor, doesn’t it?

another thing i like to do, is mix watercolor with gouache. it gives a pop to the color- but a little less neon than using pure gouache. here, i mixed neon opera gouache, with ultramarine watercolor. this creates a cool semi-neon fushia- the same mix I used for the pants below.

above: luminous lemon gouache + viridian green to create a neon greenish blue.

above: luminous lemon gouache + terre verte green to create neon yellow/green.

try it out! neon makes everything a little bit more fun.

**neon, unfortunately, does not scan. which is super annoying huh! the bright white light used in scanners reflects off of the neon and results in a grayed out color. instead, i take a nice photo of an illustration that has neon. like this one.

send me your watercolor questions, and i’ll try and answer them in my next post.

Posted in Fashion Illustration, Tutorials | 20 Comments | Share:

20 Responses to TUTORIAL 3// NEON

  1. Lydia says:

    This is awesome! I am currently taking a fashion drawing from the model class, and my professor is always talking about how a great illustrator makes the clothes look even better than they do in real life. When I saw your gap illustration, that’s exactly what I thought. I’m so happy to know how to do this myself! Thanks!

  2. Zoë says:

    Yes! Very refreshing and zesty :) I remember using neon gouache on backgrounds for a German animated project Benjamin Blümchen years ago. You could also try mixing gouache with acrylic glazing medium for other interesting effects. Your illustrations are really inspiring btw – keep up the beautiful work!

  3. Liz says:

    What fantastic tips! I sure hope you’ll be posting more in the future. After you take a photo of an illustration, like the one in your example, do you make any color adjustments in Photoshop? By the way, your illustrations are gorgeous. Thanks!!

  4. Mary says:

    I love your work!! How large of a format do you work on? Do you sketch it with pencil first?

    Your last tutorial has made me think about purchasing your last supply list and to try to illustrate again. I use to love painting fashion faces. Thank you for sparking the passion inside of me again. I thought it was long gone.

  5. Laura Kay says:

    could you show a tutorial of how u create your illo’s start to finish (in short)
    thanks a million, love your work!

  6. Steph J says:

    Thank you so much for your tutorials, and I really hope you keep them coming! Very useful as references (:

  7. Seraphine says:

    Thanks for the tutorials.

  8. Steph says:

    Ok, first off, you are so talented, I love your work! Second, thank you so much for demystifying some of this stuff for others, it’s really helpful!

    And last, but not least:

    I’m also curious about if you sketch in pencil first, and if you do…how do you get rid of the pencil lines?

    Do you use a different brush for every color, or how do you make sure your colors don’t get “dirty”? I always end up getting my colors dirty from mixing them and such. Any tips or tricks for that?

    Thank you so much, again. :)

  9. Kathleen says:

    I’ve never used gouache, and from wikipedia only just learned how to pronounce it. This is an interesting idea, I might have to pick up some new art supplies this weekend… :)

    Thanks so much for taking the time to do these tutorials!

  10. bellemackey says:

    Love these tutorials, and love your work! Thank you!

  11. Kasia says:

    Thank you so much for your tips :) Now I love your blog even more :) Greetings and have a nice day !!!

  12. Melanie says:

    I love it i love it i love it!!!!! I was also wondering how you did the watercolor look so bright and vivid. In my art class i had learned that watercolor should be light a fluffy. but there was times where i hated light and fluffy. It was one of my teacher’s pet peeves. Can u do a tutorial on skin colors? I have such a hard time figuring out the right colors to get the right shade. Skin colors are sooo unique. I love watercolors. :)

  13. I’m not an artist (AT ALL) but I’ve always wondered how people managed to make water color look SO vibrant! And now I know! Keep the tutorials coming!


  14. Ana says:

    Hello Katie,
    everything you do is wonderfull! I you are such an inspiration!
    I really love your work and I love to come here!
    Thank you for sharing!

  15. Olivia says:

    Great tutorial!
    I’ve been using guache extensively and I would like to mention that you can re-animate it once it has dried. I saw that you are using Holbein acryla guache which has the qualities of acrylic paint and will not come back to life once it has dried and most guache does not have that quality. I use Holbein artists guache (same company different product) and it acts a lot like water color depending on the amount of water that is used. Hope this is helpful!

  16. yasmine says:

    Thanks for these watercolor tutorial, it is very nice of you to take the time to show us some of your techniques, they are really helpful, I hope you do more tutorials in the future. :D


  18. Sasa says:

    Thanks for the tutorial! I’ve never tried watercolours before, but now I want to. Thanks for the tips :)

  19. amy says:

    Hi Katie,

    What do you use for outlining, is it a fine liner or do you us watercolour? Im struggling with outlining – I can’t seem to find a way of doing it so that the piece all flows together and the line doesn’t look too clunky.

    • paperfashion says:

      i usually use micron pens (.005) or copic pens (.01)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>