Simulating Watercolor with Tombow Dual Brush Pens 7

“Across this wide country there are many of you in that predicament. You, also possessed of that unaccountable urge which seemingly comes from nowhere, want to speak the language of art. You love to draw. You wish to draw well. If there is any change, you greatly wish to make a living at it. Perhaps I can help you. I sincerely hope so [.] -Andrew Loomis’s “Opening Chat” from Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth. 

"Domestic and Global Restlessness" Arlene Ellis, 2014

“Domestic and Global Restlessness” Arlene Ellis, 2014

I’ve bought more than dozen instructional art books over the past few years and none of their introductions instantly put me at ease as Andrew Loomis’s “Opening Chat” from Figure Drawing for All It’s Worth (1943). Drawing can be intimidating, especially when you’re just discovering your artistic voice. There are so many historical masters, expert opinions, techniques and tools vying for your attention. And all you want to do is transcribe that image in your head onto paper. So how do you focus? You follow your intuition. Despite my inclination to be overly analytical (science background), I’m learning that there’s no precise formula for artistic growth. (Side note: I’ve been told that “real” illustrators paint. I think you should use the tool that fits you comfortably. I can appreciate a beautiful painting, but I’ve never cared for all the setup and cleanup associated with the task. Give me mobility!)

The first time I watched a friend demonstrate how to use Tombow Dual Brush Pens, my gut told me my illustrations would improve. I was stuck on a cardinal illustration commission and couldn’t get the colors right. My friend looked at my cardinal and suggested I try the pens she used for fashion illustration, Tombow Dual Brush Pens. In fashion design school she loved the pens because they allowed her to layer colors like watercolor paint, but without losing the precision of a pointed tip. She told me I had reached a point at which my illustrations deserved to be refined with better tools. She was right. That week I bought my first set of Tombow Dual Brush Pens and injected life into my cardinal illustration.

I love these pens and I’m honored to be Tombow’s first guest designer blogger. Thank you Tombow! These pens are both accessible and mentally stimulating. Just when I thought I kind of had them figured out, I came across a tutorial that demonstrated how to use watercolor brushes with the pens. More watercolor transparency without the mess of color palettes? I had to try it. The photos below chronicle my first attempt. Sorry I didn’t take more progress photos. I’m new to guest blogging, so have a little mercy. I promise I will show more practical progress photos in my next illustration. Hope you guys like it!


Illustration tools. Notice the watercolor brushes.


I layered yellow, gray, blue, orange and purple to get that coloring of the ladybug shell (Psyllobora vigintiduopunctata).


Since the mass of the bird’s head was so big, I used watercolor brushes to help me layer the various colors (red, orange, pink, blue, purple, green, yellow) for the feathers.


I used Deco Color Opaque Paint Marker in gold for the speckles.

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