Recently I’ve done made a few illuminated initials as gifts. I’ve been working again with gold and wanted to share a little bit of information about an alternative way to add a bit of metallic shine to watercolor work.

For a more traditional technique of gilding using Instacoll you can check out my other post.  Here a little bit of the process that went into each work.

After completing the watercolor for this first illuminated initial I realized I was NOT a fan of the watercolor paper I had used. I remember this paper being so much better,but something may have changed. The watercolor seemed to absorb unevenly and get streaky. The color felt dull and was hard to re-activate when I wanted to lift out highlights.

Here you can see the trouble I’ve been having with the gold leaf (or in this case copper leaf) is that it’s hard to get the surface of the size smooth, and often times no matter what I do small areas just won’t stick. With Instacoll you use a solution to re-activate the base, but even after multiple attempts sometimes it just won’t stay. The copper high shimmer, but shows ever imperfection and wrinkle. It also seems to craze across the surface.

For my next illuminated initial I committed to doing the gold with a different product I’ve been a fan of. Finetec Metallic Pigments.

This initials watercolor turned out much stronger as well. I used a different unamed paper I happened to have, but I suspect it as hotpress Arches.

Above you can see my sketch on the old paper, but the painting was giving me so much trouble I switched to the paper below.

You can see some comparisons above. Ultimately, these Fintec pigments are incrdibly easy to work with. You need to work up the cakes a bit with water and really load up your brush, but otherwise they work just like regular watercolors.

In person they’re really very nice and you can get crisp edges and details that just don’t turn out well with traditional gilding. They can’t quite match the metallic shine of true gold leaf, but they’re so easy to use and crisp at the edges that they’re definitely worth picking up if you want to include gold or silver in your work.

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