FAQs: Line First or Paint First?

One of the most frequent questions I get is: Do you do line first or paint first? And the answer to that is I go either way. If the composition jumps at me as shapes, then I’ll start with paint. Otherwise, it’s line.

This sketch of the Los Gatos Theater starts with pen line. I drew most of the line I wanted at the start and then moved to color. I finally came back to gouache highlights and some bolder line.

With this one of Hakone Gardens in Saratoga, I started with paint, went to line, then back to painting in the darks and last of all, some gouache highlights.

I’m a pretty liberal user of white gouache. I carry a tube of it with me and dip my brush directly into the tube. The way I thin of my whites is: I like to leave them as paper when I can. But when leaving a highlight would mean carefully painting around it and would take away from the freedom of a brushstroke, then it’s a gouache highlight.

About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
This entry was posted in california, Close to home, How to, Silicon Valley, watercolor and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to FAQs: Line First or Paint First?

  1. Sue says:

    These two are lovely! Especially the Koi fish and water.


  2. Nice sketches, I like how your colours are not overly saturated.


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