Friday, June 19, 2015

How to use an iPad as a light table

Transferring sketches or detailed motives such as maps to watercolour paper can be done by using backlight from windows. However,  it can be uncomfortable to do it for a long time standing in an awkward position. If you don't want to buy light table, you can use your iPad instead. Its backlight makes it into a perfect, albeit small, light table!

Using an iPad as a light table

The trick is to make sure that the touch is disabled from the screen so that it doesn't switch applications or do other funny things because of the pressure of your pen on it.

In order to disable touch, you need to go into the settings and use 'Guided access'. It is intended for parents want to let their toddlers use the iPad, but to not touch the screen and by mistake stop a movie   (for example). This feature is perfect for painters too.

Do like this to temporarily disable touch from an iPad :
1. Go to 'Settings'
2. Go to 'Accessibility'
3. Go to 'Guided Access' (under the 'Learning' header)
4. Turn Guided Access on. Enter a passcode.
5. Now, you can go to some application that gives a strong backlight, such as an empty page in an e-reader or an empty note. Or, your could display an image on the iPad that you want to trace.
6. Press the home button three times, quickly.
7. Disable 'Touch'. Press start.
8. Viola! Use the iPad as a light table.
9. Enable Touch again by quickly pressing the home button three times, and entering your passcode.

Because the iPad makes a quite small light table, I taped the background image i wanted to use to the back of my watercolour paper. This way, I can move the paper around the surface, and have a larger painting than the size of the iPad otherwise would admit. The paper in the image is 220 gsm, and allows the light to go through both the printed image and the watercolour paper. Thicker paper would be tricky.

Preparing to use a light-table

Useful link:
- A more detailed instruction, with screenshots, on how to disable touch from the iPad, from

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Colour Wheel with Yellow Deep PY129, Cadmium Red PR108, and Ultramarine PB29

Colour Wheel with Yellow Deep PY129, Cadmium Red PR108, and Ultramarine PB29

Yellow: Permanent Yellow Deep, PY139 - Isiondoline, MaimeriBlu 114.
Red: Cadmium Red Deep, PR108 - Cadmium Sulphoselenide, MaimeriBlu 232.
Blue: French Ultramarine, PB29, Winsor & Newton Prefessional 263.
Paper:  Hahne rough 220 gsm

(A few notes on making a colour wheel are here.)

Colour Wheel with Lemon Yellow, Verizon Violet and Cerulean Blue

Colour Wheel with Lemon Yellow, Verizon Violet and Cerulean Blue

Yellow: Winsor Lemon, PY175 - Benzimidazolone yellow , Winsor&Newton Artist 211.
Red: Verizon Violet, PR122 - Quinacridone, MaimeriBlu 437 (equivalent to Alirazin Crimson of other brands). 
Blue: Cerulean Blue, PB36 - Cobalt Aluminum and Chromium Oxides, MaimeriBlu 368. 
Paper: Hahne rough 220 gsm

For making the tonalities of each colour and mix, first lay on a thin wash, on all four central boxes, then glaze it darker and darker, allow it to dry in between.

For making the black in the middle, use a lot of blue, some red, and add a dash of yellow.

The outer circle is showing the shadow colours. For making these, add a dash of the the complimentary color on the opposite side of the circle of the colour you are working with. 

Useful URL: has a great a video tutorial on how to make a colour wheel.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Upgraded Palette of single pigment watercolour paints (MaimeriBlu)

It was time to upgrade my palette. I invested in a larger set of artist grade watercolour paints.
In selecting colours, I had great help from the advice by Bruce McEvoy on the Handprint site in selecting which colours to get. I used the ‘artist’s colour wheel’ to make sure that i have most of the spectrum covered in terms of hues and chroma. My selection is mostly
  • single pigment paints,
  • of the list of ‘top 40’ pigments, and
  • of price group one.
The exceptions to the single-pigment is one blend, Payne’s Grey. I like to use for making dark red-violet clouds by blending it with alizarin crimson or verizon violet (Quinacridone PR122) or mix with earth yellows to make muted dark greens for pines and such.

For brand I chose MaimeriBlu, as they are carried by the artist store in my block on Malta in Sliema, and as they are recommended by Handprint. They come in 15 ml tubes, and are, at least in my local shop, less pricey than Schmincke, which is the other brand they carry. The exception for the more pricey pigments are cerulean (PB36) which I got myself, and then my aunt bought me the cadmium reds (PR108), and my friend Lena gifted me the Viridian (PG18) and the Tizian Red (PR209).

I made a color chart with notations of components, lightfastness, opacity/transparency, and granularity. The granularity was not noted on the packaging, so again, I had help from information about granulating pigments at Handprint (links below).

Here are the colours:

watercolour paint selection from MaimeriBlu

Useful links:
The artist’s colour wheel
Granularity (scroll down to the texture section)
List of top 40 pigments
MaimeriBlu Colour Chart