Illustration of the city Monschau (Germany) - Step by Step with HORADAM® AQUARELL watercolours

The Serbian artist Maria @marrillu, shows in this beautiful and complex watercolour painting her kind of illustrative painting with HORADAM® AQUARELL watercolours by choosing the small but famous German town Monschau as her motif.

For your information:

Maria already painted this motif in June 2021 - just before the terrible flood inundated parts of Germany and so also Monschau.

We did not want to withhold this great work of art from you.

Our thoughts are with all the victims of the flood in mid-July 2021!

You will need:

  • Watercolours - HORADAM® AQUARELL in tubes:780 ivory black, 783 Schmincke Payne's grey, 785 neutral grey, 649 English venetian red, 349 cadmium red light, 791 Marsblack, 485 indigo, 496 ultramarine blue, 491 Paris blue, 370 potters pink, 672 mahogany brown, 537 transparent green gold, 525 olive green yellowish, 660 raw Sienna, 661 burnt Sienna, 662 sepia brown reddish, 669 Vandyke brown, 789 hematiteblack, 671 transparent umber, 515 olive green, 225 cadmium yellow medium, 663 sepia brown, 218 transparent orange, 534 permanent green olive, 645 Indian red, 516 green earth
  • Schmincke masking fluid, Liquid frisket, coloured 50 303
  • Paper: Fabriano Artistico 600 g/m² hot pressed watercolour paper, 40x60 cm
  • Brushes: da Vinci Harbin Kolinsky in different sizes (0/3 - 10), da Vinci Cosmotop-Spin in different sizes (0/3 - 2), a thin, old brush for the application of the masking fluid
  • Others: pencil, Faber Castell "Polychromos" coloured pencils,pastel pencils von Derwent, Masking tape


Step 1

At the beginning of creation, I always take a lot of time to find the motif for my illustration. For this project, I decided to illustrate the German city Monschau. My wish was that I illustrate the whole city, so I chose a larger paper (dimension 40x 60 cm). After a detailed analysis of numerous photographs of the city, I begin the process of illustration. The first step is to draw a preliminary sketch with pencil on the regular paper. After that, when I am satisfied, I transfer the final sketch to my watercolour paper. 



Step 2

I apply a layer of masking fluid, Schmincke Liquid frisket, coloured, odourless. This way I protect all surfaces that I want to maintain white. I apply it with brushes intended for masking fluid. Also, you can apply it with a wooden stick, old brushes, or a pen. I cover the windows because they should stay white. Keep in mind the masking fluid should not be left on the watercolour paper for no longer than two days, and it must be completely removed. Otherwise, there is a risk of yellowing of the surface! Considering I work on a large format, I realised that I can not finish my work in 2 days. So, I decided to test the masking fluid on my paper, and how long I can leave it on the paper. I left the masking fluid for 5 days on Fabriano Artistico. After removing dried-rubbery, there was no yellowing on the surface. This gave me the opportunity to relax a bit and gave me more time.





Step 3

If you use thinner paper, you should stretch the paper before painting. Although my paper is thicker (600 g/m²), I will still tape the paper edges, because I will do wet on wet technique to reduce the risk of potentially making waves on paper. My first brush strokes start with a very wet wash of the whole composition. I mix the following colours with plenty of water: 789 hematite black, 662 sepia brown reddish, 660 raw Sienna, 645 Indian red, 485 indigo, 785 neutral grey. When the first layer absorbs water and while the paper is still wet, I add lighter colours in places. Also, I mix with plenty of water, using wet on wet technique I use: 225 cadmium yellow medium, 370 potters pink, 660 raw Sienna and 671 transparent umber. These are the first layers.



Step 4 and 5

I'm starting with green and a lot of water for the first layer and I colour allthe trees. I use: 537 transparent green gold, 525 olive green yellowish,515 olive green, 534 permanent green olive, 516 green earth, 645 Indian red and 649 English venetian red. To achieve the effect of different types of trees, I used different shades of green. I also mixed greens with each other by adding 225 cadmium yellow medium. The first layers had plenty of water, then I waited for the first layer to dry, then I added 4 more layers with less and less water. So, trees became more vibrant.

In the 5th stepI start to paint the first layers of buildings. First, I start with painting walls with a lot of water for the first layers. I used 783 Schmincke Payne's grey, 791 Mars black, 672 mahogany brown and 789 hematite black. Then I painted the other houses with warmer tones: 669 Vandyke brown, 218 transparent orange, 661 burnt Sienna, 662 sepia brown reddish, 663 sepia brown. Now I was waiting to dry these first layers and continuing with putting the shadows. To make the first shadows, I used the colours from each house, adding warmer and cooler colours. For houses that are brown in colour, I used 660 raw Sienna, and where it is grey, I used very little 485 indigo for shadowing. I skipped some houses and left them completely white. 



Step 6

In this step, I worked on the remaining buildings. I painted all the walls, streets, and roofs. I applied the first layers with the following colours: 780 ivory black, 783 Schmincke Payne's grey, 785 neutral grey, 791 Mars black, 496 ultramarine blue, 672 mahogany brown, 662 sepia brown reddish, 789 hematite black, 663 sepia brown, 660 raw Sienna and 349 cadmium red light. I must be very precise here and I work on each house separately with different gray and brown colors. Then, I mix these colours with a lot of water. I dab some 218 transparent orange and 660 raw Sienna into a few walls with a lot of water.

Hint: It's also essential that you use clean water.

I worked carefully on each house, also I wanted to achieve as many different shades as possible. Hot pressed paper absorbs colour quickly and does not allow me to make a double layer. I want to have only one layer in this step for each house. It is very important to notice that masking fluid is still on the paper at this stage.




Step 7 and 8:

Now, I am painting all the windows. For this I use 780 ivory black and 791 Mars black. I used a lot of colour and less water in this step. Also, I added shadows to some roofs. My colours are: 780 ivory black, 783 Schmincke Payne's grey, 491 Paris blue, 669 Vandyke brown, 791 Mars black, 485 indigo and 671 transparent umber. I added some soft shadow wash on the right side of the buildings because I decided that light will come from to the top left.

In step 8, I waited for the paper to dry well. After that I took off the masking fluid carefully from the surface.


Step 9

Finally, I painted some small details, like shadows, street, streetlights, details on the houses, especially on the house facade and roofs. I began with the trees, I added shadows to each tree in my style. Shadows are strongly expressed and emphasized. For shadowing my trees, I used these colours: 515 olive green, 534 permanent green olive, 516 green earth, 649 English venetian red, 537 transparent green gold, 525 olive green yellowish, 660 raw Sienna, 225 cadmium yellow medium, 645 Indian red, 370 potters pink and 671 transparent umber. If necessary, mix in accordance with the first three layers.

Hint: I tried out the colours on the extra paper before adding them to the final illustration. This way I check my shadows and make a smooth transition between shadows and highlights. I added a lot of dark lines with a thin brush. For the lines I added on the facades, I used: 780 ivory black, 789 hematite black, 669 Vandyke brown and 791 Mars black.

And in the end, I paint the river - the Rur, which flows through the small Eifel town. After drying I added masking fluid along the edges of all stones to create sparkling water. Then, I was painting the river with 496 ultramarine blue and a lot of water. That was the first layer. Onto the semi-wet area, I added shadows with 485 indigo and 491 Paris blue. When the paper was completely dry, I took off the masking fluid.


Step 10

Now follows the fine tuning. I started doing the fine work with coloured pencils, polychromos and pastel pencils Derwent for expressing and adding more details, some lines and textures. In this step one should be guided by the feeling. No matter how much detail you put in, you can not go wrong. This is the relaxing part of the work and the most rewarding.


The watercolour painting of Monschau. (Maria has never visted Monschau - the painting has been painted exclusively using photos and phantasy!)