Watercolors vs illustrations – Comparing two kinds of drawn journalism

Drawing up stories in watercolors vs illustrations

Artworks and text by Frits Ahlefeldt ( see my work on FritsAhlefeldt.com )

Sometimes when I draw up stories i am in doubt if illustrations or watercolors are the best way to move forward. The two art forms both have the strengths and weaknesses and it can be hard to decide between the more fluent expression of pure watercolor ( no ink ) compared to the more illustration-classic expression of the ink and watercolor techniques. Here are three examples of the same motive, where  I have painted it in both styles to compare them: 

A Magical Lamp

A rainbow bridge between two rock towers

Artwork by Frits Ahlefeldt, Rainbow bridge between mountain castles
Watercolor version, Rainbow bridge between two towers
Rainbow bridge between modern architecture towers. illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt
Illustration style, Rainbow bridge between rainbow towers


A four leaf clover

Watercolor of four leaf clover, by Frits Ahlefeldt
Watercolor of a four leaf clover
Illustration of four wheel clover by Frits Ahlefeldt


Illustrations and watercolors compared

I see a lot more ink and watercolor illustrations than pure watercolors, there is a few advantages about ink and watercolor illustrations, that makes them easier to approach. First you can start out with a sketch, do the ink and then erase the pencil traces – much harder to do just using watercolors.

Second the lines can be used to direct the color and show the overall drawn motive.

Last in print, that is not optimal ink comes out best, if the printing techniques or paper ( etc. recycled newspaper paper ) are not all that great.

Watercolors can do something different… something more subtle and hard to catch.




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