Mooncake is the most recent painting I did and I wanted to share some thoughts and pictures of the process.

I had this sketch for a long time but I wasn’t ready for it. Sometimes you don’t feel confident enough to make something and that’s ok, as long as you continue to practice.


After I’ve made couple of mini paintings for an exhibit and with no day job, I thought it was the time. As always, I’ve started with the fun parts. I made the typo in gold and started the mooncake with colored pencils with washes of acrylics. It’s been a while I wanted to mix both. I’ve drawn most of the left cat with pencils at this point and try bits of cloud background.


I couldn’t push the inevitable any longer, the background. I hate doing backgrounds mostly because all my life I’ve focused on characters (maybe to avoid it). Now I feel like I’ve reached a point where I need to add some background to add more dimensions in my art. I just fear to fail it and be disappointed with what I’ve done. I’ve started to make an underpainting and contouring everything I’ve already done. Bad idea I know, I should have started with the background but hey, I had to make this mistake to understand! That’s why at some point, I’ve painting over the typo instead of contouring it. On the photo you can see the first layer. It took couples of layers and many tries to figure out how to paint these clouds.


On the next picture, you can see a comparison between the process. The first cat is only made with colored pencils and the other one is fully painted. I found it very helpful to have pencils before painting.


I chose to repaint the typo in cream instead of gold. I love gold but it never looks good in picture and it’s pretty deceiving when printed. At the last moment I added the word mooncake in chinese characters (thank god I haven’t misspelled it). I felt some corners were a bit empty and now it looks more like an advert poster which I love.

Now I can say I’m proud of this one and it helped me to gain some reassurance with paint. I may have reached a little step. It could have been a disappointment but it turns well so please guys, always keep practicing and enjoy every little success you get. Things come easier with time and that’s true for many things.



Are you curious about what tools others artists use? I am too and because some people ask me sometimes what tools I use, I’ll describe them and why I use them.

For sketches and works in graphite.

I always use a 4H graphite pencil when I work in my sketchbook. It is lighter and doesn’t leave a mark when I erase it. Very useful when I draw a final sketch, a bit less when I have to scan it…

3 types of erasers
– a mechanical eraser, very thin and so so helpful to erase details, I use it all the time!
– regular eraser
– kneadable eraser, useful to catch graphite dust

Mechanical pencils from Alvin Draft Matic, 0.3mm – 0,5 mm – 0,7 mm all HB
I use them for my works in graphite and the 0,3mm is so great for tiny details! I sometimes add a 6B for the darker part but they seems to not blend perfectly together. For the lighter part, I have a 8H.

Some tortillions for the gradient, a pencil extender and a good sharpener.


For the study in colors.

Small brush and acrylic gold for the border I add sometimes in my study

Same 3 erasers, the kneadable one so helpful to catch the color dust so I don’t stain the paper

I use a sharpener from Faber and Castell, This is the only one I found which sharpen the pencil very pointy.

For the colored pencils, I buy from Faber Castell and Prismacolors. These are my favorite brands, they go well together and Prismacolor have a range of light colors that I really love. Also a blender pencil frome Derwent, very useful to blend many colors.

I usually start my colored drawings with a base of markers from Promarker and Touch. And some Sharpie or Staedtler for the black parts and a 0.1mm pen for details.


But for good results with these tools, you need good papers and not every kind or brand will work well.

The papers for drawings and studies

Fabriano pad : Super smooth, heavy and very white. Perfect for work in graphite.

Ingres pad: comes in various colors, they are made for pastel but I use them for drawing in colors. The colors looks very bright on it.

Canson pad: this is the paper I use most of the time. They are made for pastel and the colors are very bright on it. You can add lighter colors and they really show up instead of others papers. They come in many colors and have a beautiful range of pastel shades.


Kraft paper sketchbook: colors look great on it but the paper fibers are more fragile, tends to break if you erase too much.

Toned grey skectbook: like the kraft paper sketcbook but in grey, the paper is a bit stronger.

Yupo paper: this one is very new for me. It is incredibly smooth, it’s like drawing on butter! And if you buy the translucent one, you can draw on both side. This a paper made in plastic so you can put everything you want on it. But colors will appear more lighter and I’m not a fan of how markers looks on it. I would suggest to work in graphite on top and add colors in the back for better results.

Transparent Vellum : If you like the translucent propriety from Yupo but want a bit more grip , I would suggest this. You can use it almost like the Yupo paper. But notice the paper tend to curl a bit and will need to be framed.


For the painting

Some of my favorite brushes, I don’t have a specific brand. I use anything for now and I wouldn’t make any recommendations since I’m still kind of new to acrylics.

I always kinda hated acrylics but since I’ve tried hi-flow acrylics from Golden, I love it! They are fluid like inks but high in pigments.

For the gold borders, I use fluid acrylics. They are just a bit more thick and gold is more opaque than its version in hi-flow.

I use mini bottles for some mixes of colors I do. And tooth picks to mix them.


Some soft body acrylics from Liquitex, I got them since a long time. I use it only to paint the side of my wood panel.

Gesso from Liquitex. Very opaque. I use it in my mixes to make it more opaque but also to recover old ugly paintings I can reuse.

Airbrush medium, very useful to thin your paint or for making some wash layers.

Acrylic retarder, when I want to keep my mix wet for a longer time. Don’t put to much of it, it could thin your colors.

And finally varnish and a sponge brush for the application. The result is more even than using a square hair brush. Just don’t forget to trim the border with scissors to have a smooth finish!

These are the tools I use most of the time. What are your favorite brand/tool?

Freunde fur Immer wip

Since I was young, I have been exploring many mediums. It is natural to me to mix medias together and I did it a lot when I did my first paintings. Because I had a lot of troubles doing great gradients with paint (especially with acrylics), I chose to use gouache and add layers of colored pencils on it. I eventually switched for acrylics years later. I worried about the longevity of the gouache and had interaction problems between mediums and varnishes.

Anyway I thought of sharing my process for a piece I did last year. For most of my paintings, I make a study I use as a guide. I made a lot of research about strawberry and its leaves and flowers. It helps me to place lights and choose colors. Actually I do a lot of research on everything and I keep the reference pictures in a personal image bank divided in a lot of folders. It mostly made of photos but sometimes I add pictures of other artists works.


Photoshop is very helpful to create the perfect layout for the painting. I have scanned the sketch outlines of my characters. I made the typo and scanned it too. Then I try different layout fitting with a size of wood panel I have in stock. In this case, a 18×12 in panel was the best. When the composition is looking good, I print the outline and transfer it on my panel. For this one, I wanted to color the background and keep the wood grain. Some artists would make washes of acrylics but I felt more comfortable using dry pastels. I used a cloth to smooth the pastel and remove the excess and then I put a layer of workable vanish.

I love putting gold o my artwork. And I always prefer doing the background before the characters. It helps to adjust colors and sometimes I feel intimidated by acrylics. I have this little fear that I may not be able to complete my work. This is a strange feeling which will disappear with time and experience. This is why doing background before helps me to approach slowly the work.

* for the borders, I used a gold ink because it is more opaque. The only problem with is I have to spray varnish on it because it is not permanent and it will dissolve when I’ll add acrylic varnish at the end. Now I use gold acrylic. I have to paint more layers to achieve the same opacity but it is stable.

Now the typo. There is no real trick for doing crisp typo. You need to have tight outlines, a tiny brush and a lot of patience. I love doing this part, I can let my mind to wander.

Now the characters. I always keep the hard work for the end. I put flat layers of colors on each part before building with lights and shadows. I work with hi flow acrylics so it feels like ink. That’s why I put flat layers of color before.

Then 2 or 3 layers of acrylics varnish and tada! I did a painting! So this is mostly how I do my paintings. Next post I’ll try to share my process for the step before painting, how I make my sketch ready for a painting.