Day 42 – A Chinese Tea Farm in Ink and Water

I love reading the National Geographic Magazine.  It’s like being able to travel and see loads of interesting things without leaving the comfort of home.  I was tidying out a bookshelf when I came across a really old issue from 2010 about Mount St Helens:



In it was an article called ‘The Forgotten Road’ about an old trade route in southern China where they used to trade horses and tea.  There was a beautiful photo of a tea farmer in southern Yunnan province drying his tea.  In the background was, what I think was, his home.  It was obscured by the drying tables for the tea and was at an angle but I could see enough to use it as the basis for a sketch.

I tried something new with this sketch.  I used the reference photo for some of the colours and a number of the details but I drew the man’s home from straight on and in the photo is was at an angle.  I made up what I couldn’t see and added other elements which weren’t there at all.  Since the builing he was living in looked really old I drew a person who might have been there a few hundred years ago in my picture.

I inked the sketch again with the Kuretake water soluble pen and then again used a brush and water to draw the ink out to make a grey scale wash.

Here’s the finished ink drawing…



I felt I had better control of the ink the second time around but I still found it to be brillliant fun!

Once I’d scanned it in I began to colour it in Manga Studio.  I started using the colours I could see but quickly added a whole raft of colours which weren’t there.  I used the three cell shading technique I’ve been working on lately but blended the shades afterwards so that the colours worked well with the ink style.  Here’s the final picture…


I like this one much more than the boat picture I did yesterday.  It has better tonal range and the light is coming strongly from one side which, for me,  helps add to the drama of the moment.

The method I used to paint this digitally could very easily be adapted to traditional watercolours.  I might think about doing that in the future if I’m feeling courageous.  🙂

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