A magnolia against a dark bokeh background really helps the light colored magnolia pop out.

This is a beautiful image and I couldn’t resist working on it. This will also show how to make a bokeh background to hide mistakes or to help the image pop off the page more.

Watch the time lapse or skip down for more.

Where is my flower

magnolia-1Light colored images can easily get lost in a sea of light colored paper. And while the extra white fabriano isn’t a true white, it appears white. And white on white is hard to see. I could have painted in the magnolia on a white background and hyped up the color and contrast to help it pop. Or I could keep the bokeh background from the image and allow the background to work for me. The lineart, link to the reference, and color list are available on Patreon and is accompanied by the speed drawing video on youtube.

To background or not

magnolia-2Really this is a personal preference for the style of art you wish to do. I like botanical art against a clean crisp background, but I also like how a background can make the subject pop off the paper and shine. No matter your preference, this magnolia can accommodate, either skip the background or have fun with it. This background, while dark, is not black. I started with several layers of dark green before adding in a layer of red-violet and a layer of black. I blended and wend back over it with several more layers of green and another layer of black. And I repeated this process again. This gave me a dark but variated background and not a flat layer of black. The background it composed of leaves, and branches and other magnolia blossoms that are simply out of focus. And not flat black. It is fine to use black, but mix it with other colors to give it variation.


magnolia-3The magnolia is very light in color with just the barest hints of color. I used a lot of flesh tones mixed in with warm grays to create the color, depth and texture. I know not everyone can afford Luminance, but the burnt ochre 10% really helps fill in some of the color between the flesh and the pompeian red. I can use the burnt ochre to slowly build up the layers without adding too much red to the blossom. I wanted to fill in the tooth of the paper without having the color become overwhelming and between the light flesh and the burnt ochre, I did a decent number of layers, adding in medium flesh and pompeian red for a touch more color.


magnolia-5It really is a layering process, layer in color, blend out and check progress. Add more color, correcting and darkening as needed and blend out again. Taking pictures and comparing to the original is a great way to check values and progress. I still have not been getting enough layers to fully fill in the tooth of the paper, which I can never see until I take a picture in good light. And the paper has been giving me blurry edges. The blurring makes it frustrating to work, and I find myself going back over my edges with sharp pencils trying to redefine them.

What is next?

You can follow me on Facebook, InstagramYouTube or Patreon. I’m currently working on a snowdrop in graphite. Let me know in the comments if you followed along and how it turned out.

Equipment (amazon affiliate links):

Colors used:

  • *Buff Titanium 801
  • Cadmium Yellow Lemon 205
  • Orange Glaze 113
  • Leaf Green 112
  • Earth Green Yellowish 168
  • Chrome Oxide Green 278
  • Juniper Green 165
  • Red Violet 194
  • Medium Flesh 131
  • Light Flesh 132
  • Pompeian Red 191
  • *Burnt Ochre 10% 872
  • Dark Sepia 175
  • Raw Umber 180
  • Walnut Brown 177
  • Warm Grey V 274
  • Warm Grey III 272
  • Warm Grey II 271
  • Cold Grey I 230
  • Black 199

An asterisk indicates a luminance color.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s