How I created Derwent’s new catalogue cover using the new Derwent Metallic Pan Set by Clare Mills

When Derwent approached me to work with them on creating artwork to showcase their new metallic watercolour paints, I didn’t have to think twice! Having been involved at the product review and testing stage, I was already a convert to these beautiful, shimmering pans of smooth colour.

As an animal artist, I was inspired by how I could incorporate these paints into my work and the shimmering scales and fluid movement of fish seemed to be the perfect place to start.

The team at Derwent were also interested in a Japanese inspired theme and combined these into a brief for me to produce Koi carp illustrations. After submitting a round of sketch ideas, Derwent picked out a strong single fish design.

The design brief asked for the illustrations to be able to be used to create an interlocking pattern, to showcase how effective the paints are on both white and black surfaces and to create modern, bold watercolour works demonstrating the exciting range of colours.

Initially, I played with the paints, creating large washes of watercolour and layering the paints to see the different levels of opacity that could be achieved. The quality of the paint lends itself to everything from subtle washes right through to creamy, dynamic pops of colour. I found the shades mixed beautifully to create a range of colours far beyond the 12 pans in the set. Traditional watercolour techniques worked well, and I was able to get lovely effects using the paint on both wet and dry surfaces.

The next stage was to create my Koi carp line drawing. I looked at both photographic references of Koi and videos of them moving under water to get the feel of their basic shape and how the fins and tail move. Once I was happy with my initial sketch, I transferred this onto both white watercolour paper and black card. I preserved areas of the fins and tail that I wanted to keep free of paint – using masking fluid and a Size 1 brush.

Using what I learned from my colour and technique test sheets, I created lots of loose, bold watercolour fish on black and white backgrounds – focusing on showing as wide a mix of colours as possible.

Carefully peeling off the masking fluid revealed translucent fins and tails that ‘disappeared’ into the background to create the effect of emerging through water.

The final illustrations were used to create the product packaging. And the icing on the cake? Finding out that they had been chosen for the cover design of Derwent’s product brochure for 2020!

The clever folk at Derwent created an interlocking design of different size fish which really makes them look like they’re a shimmering, moving shoal. I am thrilled that my work is the ‘face’ of Derwent’s catalogue and am very proud to represent this fantastic British brand.

You can find out more about Claire Mills here before purchasing your own Metallic Pan Set here.