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Legion’s Gingerbread Man on Stonehenge Aqua Black

Stonehenge Aqua Black is the first 100% cotton black paper sized specifically for water-based media. The sizing of the Aqua Black enables fluid coverage and amazing articulation in water washes as well as pickup. A wide range of media and techniques work splendidly with this paper.

The vast majority of art is done on white so working on a black ground, especially with water media, is a radical idea. However the effects and experiences are extremely exciting and involves a shift in thinking. Instead of working from highlight to shadow as on white, lighter values to highlights are built up on black. In either case, on white or black, water media is applied with thin/transparent applications to opaque/thick thus creating a value scale of highlights, midtones and shadows. However the effects can be startlingly different on black. A tremendous amount of light is reflected off white paper often minimizing color and subtle visual effects. On a black ground light is absorbed and thus creates a stage upon which color, luminosity, atmosphere and the qualities of metallic, iridescent and pearlescent materials are more dramatic and enhanced.

The employment of technique in partnership with creativity is a motivating force in creating art. New challenges offer opportunities to expand and discover fresh and exciting results. The premium materials used in this exploration of “the dark side” will enhance your search for exciting results!


1. Using the gingerbread man cookie cutter as a guide. Trace the shape with the #177 Walnut Brown, Albrecht Durer watercolor pencil. Sketch in details such as buttons, eyes, mouth, etc.

2. Squeeze a dab of Holbein metallic acrylic paint onto the paper. Use the brush to wet part of the paper and draw the paint from thick/opaque to thin and transparent.

3. Use the notion of light shining from the left. Wet the paper on the left side of the figure, charge the brush with paint and apply to outside edge of figure.

4. Apply the paint to the edge of the shape. As the brush moves to the right, the concentration of paint will thin, allowing the black of the paper to influence the value of the paint so that it appears to be in “shadow”.

5. After working paint from opaque on the left edge inward, wet the right side of the paper, and with a wet brush charge the brush with a small bit of paint. Work the brush in the paper margin until the laydown of paint is transparent. Start in the center and blend from left to right. As your brush works to the right it will deposit a very light layer so the value on the right edge is quite dark.

6. Push the paint as needed to complete a smooth blend from bright/opaque on the left to shadowy and transparent dark values to the right.

7. Reinforce highlights (primarily on the leading left edges but in a few strategic spots along the right edge of the figure) by applying thicker applications of paint with the smaller brush.

8-9. Draw a light line about 1/4” from the painted edge of the cookie with the #184 AD pencil and then lightly color to the edge. Add extra pressure to increase pigment around curved areas on left along the edge…Keep the pencil deposit thin on the right. Use smaller brush to lightly blend from the outside towards the inside of the cookie. Once dry add darker outline with #182 AD pencil and reinforce highlights with the #184 pencil.

10-13. Add embellishments with Daniel Smith iridescent watercolors. Use either brush to apply water onto designated eye, nose, mouth, etc. areas and then paint keeping in mind the direction of the light source. Heavier, opaque layers of pigment will create highlights (tops and left sides) and as you feather to very thin applications darker values and a sense of shadows are created.

14-16. The Gumdrop Buttons !!! Use the Sakura Gelly Pen to add pointillism dots of white to create a rounded and texture for these shapes. Concentrate the marks on the left side/top and left fade to none to the right. This will help create volume and consistent lighting with the rest of the drawing. Once the dots are dry use Daniel Smith watercolor to wash over: thin to none as you paint from left to right.

17. With paint, put finishing touches, e.g. bright highlights on the right side of the decorative elements to create the impression of a slight divot in the surface. Use the Gelly Pen to add highlights on the nose, along the left side of the cookie crust and, perhaps, a very slight highlight along the inside right of the cookie.

Congratulations, you now have a deliciously rendered Gingerbread Man, just in time for World Watercolor Month!

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