Basic Watercolor Techniques for Beginners | Sandra Mejia | Skillshare

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Basic Watercolor Techniques for Beginners

teacher avatar Sandra Mejia, Illustrator + Surface + Creature Design

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

10 Lessons (1h 18m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Supplies and Class Project

    • 3. Materials: Papers

    • 4. Materials: Paints

    • 5. Materials: Brushes

    • 6. Basic Techniques

    • 7. Precision Exercises

    • 8. Painting Wet on Wet

    • 9. Final painting: Wet on Dry Technique

    • 10. Conclusions

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About This Class

Do you love watercolors but are a bit scared of them or have no idea where to start? In this class I'll go over the basics of watercolors: the papers and surfaces you can use, the brushes I use to create all my pieces, the different types of paints available and what to have in mind when choosing one over the other, and some basic watercolor painting techniques and precision exercises that will give you all you need to get started painting. By the end of the class you will have your own finished painting of leaves and you'll feel more confident to start your journey.

Even if you already know watercolors, maybe you want to see what materials I use and follow along my process of painting my leaves print. 




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Meet Your Teacher

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Sandra Mejia

Illustrator + Surface + Creature Design

Top Teacher

Hello! I'm a Freelance Illustrator. I was born in Medellín, Colombia (puedes escribirme en Español!). I create detailed, stylized, playful illustrations, patterns and characters from my studio in Gabriola, BC, Canada.

I have very big eyes and I love animals. Most of my inspiration comes from nature and animals.

I love mixing traditional and digital media to create illustrations and patterns for a number of corporate clients around the world to use in home decor products, stationery, fabrics, kids products and greeting cards.

“I’m very passionate about what I do and believe that through my art I can impact the world in a positive manner.  This is why I teach online and why I create fun, colourful and happy... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hello. Welcome to Basic Watercolor Techniques for Beginners. Don't you love watercolors and the gorgeous effects it creates? I'm Sandra Bowers and I'm a freelance illustrator and surface pattern designer. I create artwork for different companies around the world to put on their products. A lot of my illustrations and patterns are created with watercolors. I bet you keep seeing all these gorgeous watercolor show up in your Instagram feed and everywhere around you and you wish you could paint like that. Well, I'm here to tell you that watercolors are not as difficult as people say they are. For me, they're actually the easiest medium and they just take a little bit to get used to. But once you know the basic techniques, it's all just fun and play. This is why I have created this class with super basic information. If you're a total beginner, I am going to be talking about the materials I use, the papers, the brushes, the paints. We're going to go over some special effects you can create and even masking fluid, which is like magic in a bottle. Then we're going to go over the basic techniques of painting wet on wet and wet on dry. We're going to paint some leaves using both techniques. I will even show you my precision exercises to learn how to control the brush better. If you follow me, by the end of this class, you would have created your very own final illustration and it'll be ready to frame or to give away to a loved one. I'll be showing you my step-by-step process so you can follow along. You can paint what I have painted or you can choose your own leaves or foliage, it's all up to you. I will leave a link in the description area of this class where you can try Skillshare for free and you can watch all my classes and every other class on Skillshare. Hopefully, you decide to stay with us because Skillshare is so great. Join me and let's start painting. 2. Supplies and Class Project: For this class, you will need watercolor paints, watercolor paper, a pencil and eraser, if you want to create a sketch before you paint. A brush, you don't need too many brushes. I'm using a size 2 and size 10 royal brushes and I'll be using a size 12 brush also, but you can use any brush that you have at hand. You'll also need water and a paper towel and a palette, if your watercolor doesn't have a space to mix the paints. This is our final project. We will be creating a print that is ready to frame or to give to a friend, and you'll have your very own finished painting by the end of the class. Let's start. 3. Materials: Papers: In this lesson, we're going to go over the materials you need. Don't be overwhelmed, you do not need all of these. I just want you to know everything that's out there, so you can try it out if you want. But in reality, painting with watercolors is super easy, because you don't need too much. You'll need your paints, you need a paintbrush, usually just one will suffice, and a paper towel, water and your paper. I'm going to introduce you to all different types of materials. Let's get started with that. Watercolors need an absorbent surface, so you can't just go and paint watercolors on plastic or any non-absorbent surface. For example, you can paint watercolors directly on certain types of wood and it will work because the wood is absorbent, but if it has like a clear coating, it will not adhere. There's different types of paper, and they vary in their characteristics and their price points. They come in very big, loose sheets like this and usually they have these deckled edge. Then you can cut them up to whatever size you want, or they coming in pre-cut sizes and this is easier to handle if you don't want a huge piece of paper. I usually like to paint very small, so it's great for me. They also come in these blocks where you can see they have some glue on several sides, they're all different. Then they will have slit or a side that has no glue, and then you put in a knife there when you're done with your painting, and you can take a paper out. This is really useful because watercolor paper, as we will see later, will buckle. If you put a lot of water, it will start to warp. Having these blocks is really great because you don't have to tape it down or anything, you just take it out once you're done with your painting. There's also these sketchbooks, and this is my favorite favorite for everyday paintings. It's super easy to take everywhere, it's a great price, it is acid free, and it is super smooth, or just buy little blocks where they are only attached to one side. This is the same type of paper as that one, it's just a bit thicker, so it's better for final art. You can also take the individual sheets, and make your own block by just clump them together and put some white glue on all the sides. Remember to leave one side that is open, so that you can take them out. But I found that this is not as perfect because see here, every time I take out a page it reaps out. Now let's talk about the actual type of paper. If you are creating a masterpiece and you're going to sell your paintings, what I recommend is that you use a 100 percent cotton paper, acid-free. That is the best quality type of paper you can get, and it will protect your paints, and it will be the most durable. If you're just creating artwork to scan, or graphic design, or surface pattern, then the quality of the paper doesn't really matter, because it's not going to be displayed anywhere. Then there's four types of grain the paper comes in. The smoothest one is hot press paper, which is this one. I will provide a PDF for you to download, that mentions every type of paper I'm using, every material that I'm going to talk about, so you'll have it at hand for reference. This is hot-pressed paper, and it's the smoothest paper you can find. It has virtually no grain. This is perfect for a very detailed work, or if you're going to scan your paintings, because then the cleanup in Photoshop is not as bad. When you scan your paintings, if you're creating fabric collections and you need to erase the white background, it's really hard when there's a lot of texture, and it's way easier when there is not. The only problem is hot press is the most expensive paper there is, so there is a work around for that. It's this super smooth because it's vellum paper, and this is not 100 percent cotton. It is acid free, so it won't alter your colors, but this is great for scanning. Everything that I work on, like see, I rip my pages out for scanning so I don't have the coils creating any shadows. Any page that I'm going to use for scanning, I do it here and I use this to sell clip art in my creative market store, or to create projects for clients. This is a little trick and it makes cleanup super easy. Then you don't have to spend a bunch of money in hot-pressed watercolor paper for things that you're not even going to sell or display. The only difference with this is that this one is a bit thicker. This one is a 300 gram paper and the other one is only 190 grams, so this is just a thicker piece of paper. If you're going to work with a lot of water, it's better to use a thicker piece of paper. Then there's cold press. This one is created by the Bee Company, and it's 100 percent cotton cold press. This one comes in loose pieces of paper. This one is by Arches, and it comes in a huge piece of paper, and it's also cold press. This one is by Fluid. It's a cold press watercolor paper too. It's acid free, but it's not 100 percent cotton. Depending on the brand and depending on the composition, they will have different grains. I will show you the close up on these, so you see that they're slightly different, like this one the grains more compact, and I really like it because of that. These ones are different. If you can go to a store, you can see and think about which one do you like best. I don't like using cold press because my style is very delicate and with a lot of little details, and I don't paint lose watercolors too much. But if you are into a loser style, and you want the colors to move around and leave different textures on the paper, then maybe try cold press. Because it does really gave a nice grain effect. This is Aquabord, it's made by Ampersand, and it's just a little piece of wood, and they have different sizes. It comes prepared with an absorbent ground. You can paint on it, and it'll behave similarly to paper. Not exactly the same, but pretty close, or you can buy an absorbent ground medium, this one is by Golden, and you can paint these on any wood panel, or a canvas. Just follow the instructions, and then you can use your watercolors on that. 4. Materials: Paints: In this lesson, we will talk about watercolor paints. The only thing with paints is, you've got to understand lightfastness. Watercolors are a relatively fugitive medium, and fugitive means that the light will make the colors change and lighten and disappear sometimes over time because there's not too much pigment, and it dissolves with a lot of water. They are more prone to disappearing, or changing colors in time than other types of paint like acrylics and oils. That is why if you're creating an artwork to sell, you want to use professional grade paints, and every professional grade paint will have the lightfastness number listed. Some of them use different numbers like 1, 2, 3, or 4 or one star to three, so you have to go to each brand and see what they mean. You want to use the pigments that are more lightfast. That means more resistant to the light, and this is something you only have to have in mind if you're selling your paintings. If you're painting to scan, don't even think about this. There's different brands and presentations. We're going to talk about that right now. You can find watercolors in tubes, big and small tubes that are just liquid, and you spread them on your palette, or you can buy them in pans. You can also buy the empty pans, put these in there, let them dry and they'll be like that. This is more cost-effective. It will be more expensive at the beginning if you buy all your colors like this, but one of these tubes may have like five of these half pans, so in the long run, if you're using a lot of paint, it will be way cheaper, but if you're starting out, I would suggest get the half pans just because they last so long. For example, this is a palette that I use and some of them came ready in half pans, and some of them I [inaudible] out. There are several brands that are made out of honey, the base of the paint is made out of honey. Like for example, Sennelier, which is one of my favorite brands, but they will not dry up in a pan. These are all dry. See, I can put my finger in there and nothing happens, and these are all different types of brands, but this is the only Sennelier that I bought in a tube, the rest I bought as half pans, and this has been in here for over two years and look at this. It's not dry and it will never dry. There's no problem because it's not falling out. It's very gooey. There's not problem with it not being dry. It's just that if you create a whole palette like that, it will be messy. There is also this type of palettes, and this is a student grade palette and it's made by Artist's Loft and they sell it in Michaels if you have Michaels in your country. It's so amazing. I started out with these and most of my illustrations I created with this, and it has no lightfast information or anything but my painting still look great. I don't know. I don't use them anymore for professional paintings that I'm going to sell, but I really love them. They are more chalky than professional grade watercolors, but I will show you later how they paint. If you're just starting out and just want to practice, this is a great option, and you have so many colors. There's also watercolor pencils. You basically just paint with them and add water, and they become water-soluble like watercolors. Watercolor soluble wax pastels, for example. There is also watercolor markers. You don't even have to paint with actual watercolors. The last option, which I really love to work with, this is the liquid watercolors. These ones are Dr. Ph. Martin's which are my favorite brand of liquid watercolors by far. They come in liquid form. They come with this eyedropper and there's two varieties. This one is radiant concentrated watercolor and the colors are super bright, and when I tell you they are super bright, they are super, super bright. The only problem with this ones is that you shouldn't use them for paintings that you're going to sell because they are not pigment-based, they are dye-based, which means they are not lightfast, and they will disappear with light. They're perfect for scanning purposes, or for keeping in a notebook where it's dark and closed, and that way the paint won't disappear, but they're not good for exhibiting paintings. There's this Hydrus Fine Art Watercolor, and it says they have been chosen for extreme lightfastness and brilliance. These are lighfast. I'll show you how these work later on. In the next lesson, we will talk about brushes. 5. Materials: Brushes: Now you know where to paint and with what the paint, but what are we going to use to paint. We're going to talk about brushes. The good thing about watercolors, is that you do not need a ton of brushes. Usually you paint watercolors with a round brush. So a round brush will hold a lot of water and if you press lightly, it'll give you a thin line. Then if you press harder, you'll be able to get thicker strokes. I'm using these paints and they dry out really fast. That's the one thing. So you want to put in a lot of water and load your brush well if you want to have longer strokes. Basically with these, you can create a totally finished painting just by using one brush. I always like having two sizes of brushes. This one is number 10 and I like using this one, which is size 2 round also because I can use this one for smaller details and I'll have more control, but see basically it's the same thickness of the lines. There is also this one which is a Princeton, and it's like a quill brush, so it holds way more water. You can also press softly and then press harder. But this one, see how water it is? So see this one is great for gigantic strokes and it holds a lot of water so you don't need to recharge it as often as the smaller ones. I don't use this one so much because as I said, I paint very small and very detailed work. But if you're painting loose strokes and loose flowers and leaves, something like this size would be great. You can also have specialty brushes like this one for example, this one is a comb brush. I'm sure I'm not pronouncing that perfectly, but I'll write it down. This one creates little hairs, o maybe you like that for fur, I really don't use them, but I think they're so much fun and I wanted to show them to you so you know they exist. This one is so cool, you dry it a bit and then you just dub and it creates leopard spots, this one I love, I need to paint more leopard so I can use these more. You can also use it for tiny little leaves. This one is called a stippler. There's this brush, which is a water brush and I absolutely love it because I can pick this in my bag, take my paints, this, a paper towel, and I don't have to have water. Most of them open their wrong way out, just so you know, basically you fill in the tank with water and then you close it to the wrong side and then if you press, it will release more water and then you can paint normally. These comes in three sizes and now they come in different shapes too, this is a mini round it's the smallest one I could find and I can create a whole painting with this. If I want the change to color and just wash it, I will clean it here first without pushing and then I will push out some water and clean it, you see? It's totally clean, so that is great for traveling. Finally is something I really like to do is using a nib pen and this is for details. What you do you do is you take your brush loaded with lots of paint and water, make sure the little hole is covered. I have a whole class on how to use a nib pen because you do need to learn how to use these. But it basically lets you create super thin lines by using your watercolors. So you don't need additional inks and you can match the colors perfectly. It's also great for lettering and for adding the tiniest details to your water colors. Then you just rinse it in water and you dry it and you're ready to use another color and there's no ink cleaning up and you don't have to buy additional inks or materials. Your watercolor brushes, you would just wash with water, they last me forever. Just don't leave them standing up in the water like that so the tips don't get squished. Wash them, dry them out and when you're done you can wash them with a brush cleaner. Like this one, this is The Master's Brush Cleaner and Preserver. But you can also just wash them with mild soap and water. This is it for the materials and now you've seen every material I use. In reality, I do not use all of these things so don't be overwhelmed. That's the most important part. But now you know the options that are out there and what you might want to try. In the next lesson, we're going to go into the painting techniques and I'm going to teach you some fun effects and we can start doing the actual fun part which is painting. See you there. 6. Basic Techniques: In these lessons, we're going to go over the techniques to paint with watercolor. These are very basic techniques. I have different classes on how to paint more advanced projects. If you want to watch those, you can go to my Skillshare profile and you'll find them all there under watercolor classes. The most important thing you need to learn with watercolors is water control. With watercolors, the more water you add, the lighter the color is. That's with a lot of water, and then that's with less water. Certain grade paints will have less pigment, so they won't let you go really, really dark, but art is grade paints. If you don't add too much water, see how dark you can get that pigment. Just practice this, adding more water will dilute the pigment. This brush is funny, when it's dry. In water colors, you should go from light to dark. You should start painting with very light colors, and then you can progressively go darker. So this is the very basic concept you have to grasp for painting with watercolors, and practice how much water you add to your paints, depending on your brand and your type of paint, to get the effects and type of color you want. I'm going to show you some basic techniques with the student-grade water colors, which are these ones, with liquid water colors, and then with my professional artist grade pan watercolors. There's two ways to paint with watercolors. One is wet on wet, and the other one's called wet on dry. So the first one is study wet, the paper first, and then you add your pigments. You just drop them in, and let the water blend them also. We can add more water. If you're going to use a lot of water with a lose sheet of paper, I recommend using some type of artist tape, or washi tape, or something that won't ruin your paper, and just tape your paper to a board or your desk. That way, if you tape it like that all around, it won't buckle. I'm not going to do that because I'm not going to add too much water. It's just so you know. The second way you can paint is with wet on dry. So you don't add water first, and you just go in with your color, and paint, and see that I'm drying my brush every time I dip it into the water. With this artist paint, you actually have to add more water to the paint because they dry so fast. So I'm drying my brush. I dried it too much, and adding the paint to the dry paper. This way, I can control what's happening much more, and this is my preferred way to paint. This way creates really nice effects on color blends that you can't create like this. So it all depends on your style. I'm going to show you the same thing with the liquid water colors. So for the liquid water colors, you need a palette. These ones, you need to shake really well, because they do settle. These are super concentrated, so you only need one drop. I'm going to go ahead and wet my circle here, and if it's still wet, you can go back in and dry your brush. It's not a huge puddle. It's just shiny. Then I'll grab my paint and just drop it in and let the water spread it. Clean my brush, and do the same thing with the other color. Then I'm going to do the wet on dry. I'm just adding some paint. If I want to dilute that color, I can add a lot of water and dry my brush. Lets start with the wet on wet. Create the wet circle. Get this wet and drop in some paint. Then lets add the other color. Then dry the brush for the wet on dry. Again, if it's still dark, you just water down your brush. I like to use this palette here to bring out some of the color and water it down, and then dry the brush, and that way, you can get a lighter shade of that color. Then let's do the same with the other color. So here you can see that they behave differently, especially the liquid water colors. They are stronger, and they don't blend as softer as these ones. I think it's because they might dry faster, or they're so pigmented that the pigment stains the paper immediately. They're so vibrant. I love those colors. Definitely, for a beginner, I think it's easier to handle pan water colors. I'm going to create some washes and glazing with this. The way you create a wash is, let's use a darker color so you can see that better, you put a lot of pigment there, and then you start dragging it down. I need to make sure that edge is wet the whole time. If you need to put a bit more water, do it, just so the edge doesn't dry, and that way you create a nice wash. It's very easy with these student grade ones. Let's do that with the liquid ones. You add a bit more water, and here you've got to work even faster. You got to add a lot of water to that color, if you want it to blend lighter. See, I stopped there for a second and it created that line. So you got to be very careful with the liquid ones if you want to create smooth gradients. Now with this one, put a lot of color down. The difference here is the pigments. See how pigmented this is compared to the student grade. These ones usually use pure more expensive pigmenting a higher concentration, so that's what makes these ones to be more expensive than the student grade. But I think this work great too. The only difference is that if you want a lot, lot darker color on that one, you would have to go back in and this is what we call glazing. I'm going to show you here. You'd have to go back in and add more color. We're going to let those dry and this one's dry and I am going to show you how to glaze. We'll be adding a different color on top. Let's add this blue for example. You have to go in softly with not too much water and add these on top. That way you can create different gradients. If you want to soften the edges, you just go in with more water and just softly touch these around like these and you can dry your brush and that will create a softer gradient. I'm going to try lifting these up, I'm using a sharp towel here. That means that when it's dry, I can go in and add more water and I'm just stopping, I'm not doing that and I can lift the paint. I'll show you here, that doesn't work very well with the liquid colors because as I said, I think they stained the paper too much. You can lift here in the student grade, not with the liquid watercolors or not as easily and you can here with the artist grade. That works in case you want to add a lighter area or in case your paint is dry and you want to go in and soften the edge. Don't scrub you paper just be gentle or else you'll ruin it. See, I could erase that whole edge there. What if i tried out here, that's not going to erase the edge and if I tried here, it works also but not as much as with the student grade. These one has less pigment and that's why it's easier to lift. Hey, let's go on to glazing with this other two because they're dry now. Let's add some blue here. Maybe more water because it's so dark and see that glazes beautifully. The colors are very shiny and vibrant because the bottom layer is not lifting up here. The bottom layer is being affected by the water. Here it's not, so you can actually see like the blend of the two colors on the pink shining true? I think this is where this liquid watercolor shine. It makes the painting so much more vibrant and let's place it over here. I'm just laying it down with my brush, I'm not scrubbing it. If I want to erase that line, I just have to go in with my brush and dry and go in like that and it creates a softer transition. These are the basic techniques you need to paint. Just understand how the paint behaves with the amount of water you put down on your brush and if you're going from a wet paper and adding paint, or if you're starting with a dry paper and then adding paint. Now some fun techniques, we're going to try salt. We need this to be wet not a huge bottle but steel shiny and you're going to put salt on it. Just regular sea salt works better because it has bigger crystals. This is Himalayan salt and I'm just going to drop it in there and we're going to see how that works with these type of paint. We're going to let that dry while we do something else here and then we're going to check if they work. We're going to try alcohol now and I'm going to drop it in with my brush. That's so weird. In the student grade it doesn't work. This is so much fun. Finally, I'm going to try this one out which is just a watercolor spray bottle and it's different from a normal spray bottle, it creates a different effect. I'm going to cover these areas so I'm not spritzing everything and I'm just going to spray it. As it dries, you'll see the effect that it has. We are going to wait for this to dry to move the salt away and to see what happened here and I'll be back in a second. While that dries, I'm going to show you something that's really useful. In watercolors after you go in and paint, there's no way to going back to the white of your paper. That's why these was created. This is called drawing gum or liquid frisket and there's a lot of different brands and this is just a liquid. It's also called masking fluid and it will preserve the white of your paper, so you can paint over it and then you can lift it up and you'll see how it works. I have a whole class on these two, so be sure to watch that. I'm keep plugging in my classes, but I'm trying to go over everything here really fast. That's in case you want a more in depth preview of everything we're doing here. These will ruin your brushes. Don't use your good brushes for these. This specific water brush is really good, but it leaks. I don't use it anymore, I just left that to use with these. The key for these will always be soft and not ruined is to wet the tip first and add a tiny bit of a salt or better yet the brush cleaner. I just remove it with my finger, so it's not a lot just a tiny bit and then you can go into your frisket. I'm painting the areas you want to be left blank. I like this one because it's like a light blue, you can actually see where you have applied it. I want to apply it super thin but it doesn't have to be very thick either. Just enough that you can see that it's there. After that you just go and wash your brush really well. I'm going to do it here in the water, but I would go to the faucet and wash it very well and then just add a tiny bit of cleaner. Make sure to cover that tip and I store it like that. This brush has lasted me for years doing this. Before I just had to throw out cheap brushes or they also sell other tools for applying these but this is my favorite way. With the masking fluid, it works really well. We have to let the paint dry now before we lift that up. If you're using a hairdryer to speed this up, do not use it in warm or hot air or else you won't be able to peel the frisket off your paper. Do not leave these for a very long time. I usually just to it. I let it dry, I paint, I let it dry, and I take it off. If you leave it there for a long time, it's going to be adhere to your paper and you're going to ruin your painting because there's no way of taking it off. You can take these away with your finger, or our rubber tool which mine is always missing, or you can use these color shaper tools and then you can just rub it out softly, takes a bit longer with this. You can also use your finger, especially if you're not creating like a final painting and you're just going to scan this, just go ahead and use your finger and see how great that works. It's like magic, but it's satisfying to remove the frisket. That's the best way to achieve a white area in your painting without having to go around every nook and cranny. This is dry now and we're going to remove this salt just softly. Make sure it's really, really dry, or else you'll just spread your paint around and I'll show you a close-up of how this looks. You didn't think this one was going to lift too much but it actually did, I might have put too much salt, but it creates nice effects and it really works here. Look how pretty those effects are? With the student grade paints, I wouldn't do it like I don't like what happened but you can try it if you want. The alcohol definitely did not work and the alcohol works here and even better here to create textures. In the next lesson, I am going to teach you some precision exercises, so you can get better at handling the paintbrush. If you have already have great control of your brush then you can skip this lesson and go straight to painting our plant. 7. Precision Exercises: In this lesson, we're going to go over some exercises that will help you control your brush better. If this is the first time you're working with a brush, it's going to feel awkward and it's not going to do everything you have planned in your mind. But don't worry this all gets better with practice. I'm going to water down some of my paint here and first I'm going to create straight lines. If you angle your paper, it will create an easier angle with your hand. Feel free to move your paper around because that really helps. It's more awkward if you're doing a straight line like this than if you're doing it like these. Also try to vary the place where you hold your brush. For some people it's more comfortable to hold it farther away. For me, holding it really close gives me a lot of control while recording the class I can't really hold it as I usually do, because then you wouldn't see anything that I'm doing. But I usually paint with it like holding it really close to the tip but I have way more precision that way than the way I'm going to paint it right now. So I might mess up. The first thing is just start with straight lines. You can do this with different brushes, because they all behave differently. So try to make straight lines that don't touch and try to have even pressure in your brush. So they are the same width. I have been painting for years and you'll see that my lines are not perfect. Some people achieve perfect brush control and some people don't. But it doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that the brush will do what you want it to do and you'll also see that you start warming up. Don't feel bad if you make a mistake, like there my lines touched, but that's not the end of the world. If you do this often, it will definitely help with your pulse and with your precision. Especially when you're starting out, you might think this is stupid, but it's really, really helpful. Now we're going to try to start with a light touch and then press down and end with a light touch. So start with a light touch, press down. These ones, it doesn't matter if they're touching. The important thing here is that you control that motion where you start with a thinner line, create a thicker line, and then go back to a point. Again, different brushes will perform differently, so you might want to try all the brushes you have. This will also help you figure out what they can do and which one feels more comfortable for you. Now let's create edges. With this one you're practicing laying down a straight stroke and then starting where that one started. You're also practicing your vertical and horizontal strokes. You can also try making shapes. Stars are really great for this, and triangles. Now let's make some circles. One stroke circles, and you'll find that really hard here because the brush is going upward. So this is when you're going to learn what works best for you. For me it's stopping there and then coming back here. I find it's a more natural brush stroke that way. I'm going to do a spiral here. That is hard for me. But you start learning that if you lift your brush a tiny bit up here, for example, it's way easier. This is why these exercises are really good. One really good exercise for washes, just start adding your paint and moving this last drop of water around. You're just spreading it and maybe you're adding more water but you're still moving that water around and try to create a wash that ends up very, very light. See I got a line there, which is not supposed to happen if you're doing this correctly. Maybe try that again. That's much better. If you want to practice more lines, practice some horizontal lines too, short lines, long lines, diagonal lines. You can try to make them closer to each other and make sure they don't touch. They touched. You can even practice your lettering if that is something that interests you. So this helps because you're attaching lines seamlessly. You see that my line is interrupted, but I can just go back in and attach those lines. It's not a huge problem. That's it. These are really simple exercises that will definitely help you with your brush control. In the next lesson we're going to start painting with a wet on wet technique. 8. Painting Wet on Wet: In this lesson, I am going to create some herbs and you can choose whatever herbs you like. I am going to do it in a very loose style. It's going to use a wet on wet technique. I'm using the liquid watercolor, the radiant concentrated watercolors. I'm just using these five colors. Remember that the paper is very wet, and you can wet it with water like this, or you can just start with one of your colors, for example, the yellow. That way it's actually easier to see what you're doing, and you can start dropping in other colors. I'm just dropping in like barely touching with my brush, and letting that run. See that I'm not cleaning my brush. It's because I want the leaves to be different colors. So I like that mixture. I have some brown and black here just to mute some of these colors, so they're not super bright. I'm just pushing my brush in, and lifting it at the end. Then dropping in different colors. See how pretty those are. Here I'm using my block that I have created, so I don't have to tape this down. As long as this is wet you can go in, and drop in more colors, and create those pretty textures. You can also make some leaves starch, and I will make the colors blend really nicely. You can also use the bigger brush. I'm going to use a lot of water, and I'm pressing and lifting. I like that my colors start to mix here a lot because it's creating different shades that are very unexpected. If you put a very dark area, and you don't like it to be so dark, just wash your brush off, and really dry it. Then you can go in and lift it. Then you can add a lighter color on top. But with this technique of wet and wet, I like the unexpected combinations. So I don't like to go in as much and re-touch it. Let's add one last one here. I'm just letting my brush create the shapes. I'm being very playful about these. There you have it. See, its super easy, and you can create a lot of things with this, just with this very simple technique. These will take the fear out of painting for you because you're being very playful. Then you can go on to more advanced projects. In the next lesson, we're going to create some plants with a wet on dry technique. 9. Final painting: Wet on Dry Technique: In this lesson, we're going to paint a painting that's a bit more advanced, but it will still be easy for you so you can practice everything you've learned. Here I'm going to use my FrogTape to tape this down. You can measure the borders so they are perfectly straight here like same distance or you can eyeball it. I suggest that you try your tape on a piece of scrap paper first, just make sure it's not going to tear the paper. I'm using my size two brush and I want to create a little outline with a pencil. Just draw very lightly so it doesn't mark your paper. I'll have my eraser to erase the lines later. Some brands of watercolor don't let you erase the pencil lines underneath. Maybe test it in a little swatch. If that's the case, draw very, very lightly. Let's say that here I'm just going to create a bunch of random leaves with different shapes. I'm making this up but you can go out for a walk and gather some leaves and use them as reference. Now I'm going to use the student grade watercolors, just in case this is what you have available you can see how I work with them. The good thing about these paints is that you have a lot of greens that are pre-mixed. That is great. You can have your palette here and you can mix them up, mix different colors, make sure you're not scrubbing your brush like this, or you will ruin it, always on this side, softly touching it like that, not like that. You can mix your colors here or since we have such a variety of colors there, you can just use them straight from there. I like using a palette because I can add more water and start lightly. Here, I will add several layers, letting each layer dry. It's not like a wet on wet or I am applying a lot of paint and just with one layer, I'll paint everything. I don't want to let the borders of these dry. I get a smooth transition. I want to work fast. That's one of the things with the student grade watercolors, it's that they seem to dry faster than the artist grade so it's harder to get smooth transitions. But they do leaf very well so that makes up for it. I'm probably using a super small brush for that big leaf so I'm going to change to my big brush, and I want to paint them all different shades of green because that'll give interest and variation to the painting. See it's easier with this brush because I can cover more area. I'm not claiming my brush in between greens because I don't mind them mixing a bit. But if you are painting something where you don't want the colors to mix, then clean your brush really well between colors. Okay, so here I want to paint this leaf, but I don't want the color to mix with this color. I want to wait for that to dry. I can start painting areas of the painting that don't touch. For example, this one. This one, I want it to be a very dark green. That's more like a brown. So I'm going to make some green into that and add a bit of water. For this, I can change to my small brush now. I can grab more paint. I'm going to create the stem for this one. I can start painting this one also because it won't touch. I'm going to grab another green here. I thought I wanted it to go on top of that leaf, but I don't so we'll just cover that later. Here, I'm just letting the brush create the shapes. Now this one is dry. I can start painting this one. That one I want to make a very dark bluish-green. See in these ones, I'm going really dark. Because these ones, I don't want to layer so much. If you want to create a lot of shadows and layers, I suggest you start really light, like in these leaves where we're going to create some veins. But if you're creating these ones which won't have too much detail, then it's okay to go dark. Okay. This one's dry, dry, dry. We can continue with this one. That one's going to have detail still so I'm going to make very light. That means adding a lot of water to this color. I dry off my brush so it's not super wet. See now, I get a light shade. If you go too dark, you can just add some water. Wipe your brush and that'll lighten up the color. Again, I'm going and grabbing different colors for my palette and from the color palette, so I create interesting variations. See that still wet there, so I dry my brush and I pick up some water and that's better. Now I have to paint this one, but this part here is wet. I'm going to have to wait for this to dry to continue with this one. Since we're not using too much water, if you're just creating these, you don't even have to tape your paper down. But I have taped it down because then we're going to add a background and that would make our paper work pull up. This is dry, so now we can go in and paint this leaf. I want to make that one like yellow-green. I'm trying not to touch the borders so I don't lift what has already been painted, and that is our base color. At this point what I like to do is let it dry really, really well and go in and erase the pencil marks so that we can add the details on top of this and we wouldn't have so many layers building up and then have to erase our pencil marks. I use this big brush to take away the eraser bits and pieces just so I'm not touching my painting with my fingers constantly and making it dirty or depositing grease. We're ready to start layering. I want to create some shadows on these leaves first. I'm just going to add like maybe tiny bit of brown and some different types of greens. I dry my brush before I go in. I'm just going to softly lay the color down and I can add a bit more water if I want. Not too much, just to soften those edges a bit. Then we'd add different shade for each leaf. We're going to do the same. We just want to create some shadows in the borders and see, that's a very distinct line. If you want that blurred, you add some water and you go in softly and you soften it. I like to leave some that are very obvious like these and then I like to blend some other areas. If it's, for example, like a fold, like here I'm indicating a folding on this leaf, so I'm going to make that line really, really obvious and I'm going to make these very dark. It looks like it's the back side of the leaf. Maybe here it's folding again. For darker colors, I'm not adding too much water. This leaf is behind, so I want to create a shadow of these other leaves. That one will have very defined edges too. I can darken it a bit more. Remember not to add too much water so you can control the effects. Remember I wanted to cover this line here. I'm going to clean my brush, then I'll just darken the whole leaf a bit and darken that shadow. In water colors, you can't really erase your mistakes. It's good to get creative and find ways to just blend your mistakes into your work because nobody knows that you didn't intend that leaf to be that color from the beginning anyways. It's just you who knows you've covered something up or something. If you're taking these into their computer and scanning it later, then it's super easy to fix there in Photoshop. Let's add some dark areas here too. You can make this as realistic as you want. I don't paint very realistically, so I just like making up my shadows and my details. Make sure to create contrast between areas. Here, I don't want these leaves merging together, I want it to be obvious. What's happening here, there's a leave on top of the other one, so I'm going to create arc edges there. I like adding a lot of details, so I'm not going to add too much water to this. I'm just going to add some dots here, for example. If you want white details, for example, you can use the masking fluid technique before you paint this, or I'm going to show you a little trick at the end in case you want to add some little details and you don't have masking fluid or you forgot to do it. You see that I'm mixing my colors and some are really dirty. Look at that yellow right now. I usually try to keep the very light colors very clean. But I've found that in this palette, it really doesn't matter because if I add a water and I just dab it with my paper towel, then it ends up being very clean. So I'm not as careful with this one. But if you want to keep it clean, just use a brush to bring the yellow over to your palette like a clean brush, and that way you won't be messing your colors off. Here here created a super dark color and I'm going to add just some veins here. This is when the precision exercises come handy because then you'll know you'll have control of the brush. But don't worry too much about it. My hand shakes a lot. But I've learned to live with my not perfect lines. Who said they all have to be perfect? Nobody. I've been practicing for years and years but I have to understand that my hand shakes. I've found things to help that like grabbing my brush really close to the papers gives me a bit more control. Just understand that this is art and nothing has to be perfect. Unless you're creating a scientific illustration or an illustration for a medicine book, for example, then you have to be super precise. But if not, don't worry about it. I'm going to go really dark on this one. This one is just one color and I don't like that so much, so I'm going to add some yellows to some of them. I like that better. You can add as many layers as you want until it looks great, and as many details as you want. I think I like mine now, so I'm just going to add a background. You can leave yours like this. I just want to show you how to create a wash. You'll have to be so fast with this and put down a lot of water. This is a time to use the big brush. If you want a background that goes into every nook and cranny, I would suggest you do that first, and then you paint your leaves. But I want a background that is very abstract and it doesn't touch everything, it just leaves like a white border, so I can do that now. I'm going to use some things here. I want to have these very, very wet because it's not going to be very dark, and I'm just going to go. I can't let this border dry totally, or this one or any of them. So I'm going really fast. I'm working on both sides. I can add some more pink in some areas. I'm using the tip of this one to create some little areas easier, but I don't want to be super perfect. This one might be drying out, so I'm moving to this side. You can go darker if you want. Now we've painted the whole area and I'm going to show you the trick I told you about for adding white details at the end. I'm using a Uni-ball Signo pen and just using this to add details. I'm adding some white to the veins, and you can also add some darks if you want. It works really well in dark areas. You see that it's buckled a bit. It's because this paper is not too big and it has buckled even with a tape. Just wait for it to dry. You can use a hair and then just lift the tape out. This is so much fun seeing the perfect white borders. Just be careful so you don't ruin your paper. Remember to test your tape with each type of paper you have because this tape has worked very well in all my other papers but on this one, it's lifting little pieces of paper. You don't want that if you're painting something to sell. I'm really excited because we have finished our very first complete painting. Every time you practice, you'll get better at this. So don't worry if the first tries are not pretty. Every day you create something, you'll get better and better. In the next lesson, we're just going to wrap things up. See you there. 10. Conclusions: Well, we've come to the end of this class. I hope you had a lot of fun and that you learned a lot of techniques and that you're not intimidated by watercolors anymore. It's a great medium because it creates amazing effects. It's really easy to carry around. It's not messy at all. It's super on trend. Let's face it, it's so much fun. Now you know how to paint wet on wet and how to paint wet on dry. Now you can choose which one you like better according to your style and your preferences, or you can mix them both. With what you have learned today, you can start creating your own art work and you can use these for clip pad or you can make illustrations for your website or even start building your service design or illustration portfolio. I hope you learned a lot. Show me your exercise in the project gallery or ask your questions in the discussion area. If you want tag me on Instagram, I'm @sandrabowersart. Remember to follow me here on Skillshare so you get notified when I put some new class or there's new announcements. I will leave a link in the description area of this class where you can try Skillshare for free, and you can watch all my classes and every other class on Skillshare. Hopefully, you decide to stay with us because Skillshare is so great. See you in the next class, bye.