Beginner Watercolor Techniques: Watercolor Seascape | Emily Armstrong | Skillshare

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Beginner Watercolor Techniques: Watercolor Seascape

teacher avatar Emily Armstrong, The Pencil Room Online

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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

7 Lessons (37m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Materials

    • 3. Initial Experimentation

    • 4. Wet In Wet Technique

    • 5. Two Creative Techniques

    • 6. Starting the Seascape

    • 7. Adding Detail

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About This Class

Start painting in watercolor with this fun seascape project. Learn about watercolor materials, color mixing and how to use the ‘wet-in-wet’ watercolor technique to paint in a fresh and creative way.

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Emily Armstrong

The Pencil Room Online


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1. Introduction: way from the pizza room, and I'm going to take you through how to paint a fun in creative watercolor Seascape. This is an introduction toe watercolor painting, so you don't need to have done any painting before. And I'll take you through some experimentation exercises to start with so you can get a feel for the media. You can learn how to mix colors and in particular will look at a painting technique called which which, once we've done some experimentation, will work step by step on how to create a watercolor Seascape that is flowing in expressive in watery just like the ocean. So this is a really fun project. You don't need to know how to be able to draw, and there's lots of room to be expressive and creative with your techniques and bring your own style to the final painting. 2. Materials: So these are all the materials that you're going to need for this project. I've got some watercolor paper. If some blue isn't yellow. Watercolor paints my painted palette for mixing. No, but some different size and shape brushes. Here, my water jar. Just a rag in case I need to mop anything up. And then here, have some soldier. This is C soaps. You can use whatever you have in the cabbage. And then I also had some masking tape here. So if you're feeling confident with your materials and you have done some water color before and you've got all those on hand and you know how to use them, then feel free to skip on to the next listen. Otherwise I'll go through these in a little bit more detail, so I have some water color paper. I've got three pieces and they are a five size. This is a 230 Gs E. And just like a light card, it's really important that it's wit strength paper so it can take water and it won't fall apart in. This has a nice texture on it that's going to show up in the painting and It's also good for hiding a few little mistakes as well. I've got some difference. Brand tube paints here, and I like to work out of the tube. I find that you can control how much you use, and they last a really long time. So some of these I've had for years and years I've got a lemon yellow, which is a cool colored yellow. I've got a warm blue called ultra Marine, and then I've got the cool blue called Say Low Blue. Sometimes it's called Prussian Blue as well. We're gonna be using both of those different types of blue, the warm in the coal and in the core yellow. You might have something like this, a paint pellet, and it's fine to use as well where the paint is dried and then you just endure brush and some water to activate it. And then you can mix it in a separate palette, preferably so you can control how much water yet this is my paint pellets just made a plastic. You could use any kind of plastic lid that you've got at home with some different size brushes in different shapes as well. So brushes generally they start its size zero, which was a smaller size, and they go up to about 12. This one here is a 12. This one is a teen. This one is a four, and this one is a zero now they can differ between brands, so if you have the chance to go into the shop and have a look, it's a really good thing to do. End. You could look at getting a small or medium in a large paint brush, and I've got different shapes. Here is well, so these ones are round brushes and you'll hear me. Talk about them is pointed brushes. They have a point on the tip, and they're really good for making sharp lines or getting into small, detailed areas. And then this one here is a flett tip. It's kind of like a chisel, and it's good for getting into corners or for working on large areas, blocking in sections. Like I said, the salt I have a sea salt. We're going to use it later on to play around with some creative affects. But you could just use any sort that you have lying around and experiment with it, see what happens, you get different results with different kinds of salt. So the masking taken I'm going to use when we get into our final project is a long life tape, at last for 5 to 7 days. And it will still come off the paper cleanly if we really careful. So preferably have something like this rather than just standard masking tape, which might rip a little bit. When you take it off and you just get this, it's your home improvement store. I've also got bored here that I'm going to stick my piece of paper to with my masking tape . If you don't have, there's no problem. You don't even need to stick the paper down with tape if you don't want to. I just find that it keeps it from bubbling, and it creates a nice white border, so really all you need. The beer basics that you need are some watercolor paper, a couple of different size brushes, obviously your paints in something to mix them on in some water. If you have these other things, great, we can do a little bit more 3. Initial Experimentation: So let's sit up. L paint Pellet. And like I said, I like to use the troop paints. But if you have something different, he have their cake to paints. That's OK as well. So this is the cool blue. This is the warm blue you don't need very much. Just a small amount in that will go a long way. And then this is the cool yellow, the lemon yellow. So to start with, we're just going to have a play around with two different colors. We will use the yellow in to mix up our yellow, get some water on the paint pellets, grabs and paint and mix it in. So should be quite liquidy. If you think about the consistency off milk and with watercolor, we don't use white paint. So the way we control the lightness of the paint ISS by adding water. So if it was tooth too bright and too concentrated, you could add some more water. You know, I'm also going to mix up some cool blue, so this is a fail oh blue or Prussian blue. It's called a cool blue because it has net call tint to it. It's almost moving into a greeny blue, Okay, and the first thing we're going to do is just have a little bit of a play with the brushes that we've got, so you can figure out what you can achieve with your tour's annual materials, making sure there's not too much water on your brush grips and paint and start making some marks. Some lines. Try the paintbrush in different ways on its tip. Flett, see what happens when you run out of paint. Try some different mixes off the paint, so if you had a little bit more paint, you're going to get a darker color. And if you add more water, you're going to get a lighter color. And if you want to get really creative with that, you could start to turn this into a bit of an artwork. Think about how you fill up all the white space and try some of you are. The brush is going to use my smallest brush my size. There a brush to start making some max. Okay, I'm also going to try my sled brush. You can see a big difference between the flat brush and the pointed brush. The different shape that you get in the amount of coverage, get with a flat brush, and you might also notice, as you do this, that the painters transparent. So when I go over Max, I've already made they still show through. Let's take a little bit of yellow paints and I'm using my medium sized brush and again just playing around with it. But you can really see the transparency of the paint to the blues coming through underneath , and it optic clean mixes so that where it was blew, it now appears green because it's got a glaze of yellow paint over the top. And if you're blue paint is still wet. You start to see it bleed into a new paint that you're putting down, and that's where we start to get some really fun and cool with fixing, we're going to move on to those next. I'm just playing around with the white space, filling in some areas, thinking about the whole page. Now there really is no right or wrong here, so just enjoy having a bit of fun in playing with your materials, experimenting, seeing what happens, and you can discover a lot that way. 4. Wet In Wet Technique: now that we've had a play without tools or materials were going to have a look at a technique called wit and wit. And it's a really important technical watercolor because it makes use off that watery nous , that flow of the water color and you get really fresh. Interesting, a fix that we're going to use later on in our project. So making sure you've got your paint really in mixed up, I'm still using my cool yellow in my cool blue together. This time, instead of painting with some water color paint, I'm just going to start by ending in some water. So I'm gonna make a circle shape, and you wanted to be a shiny surface. So if you look sideways at the paper, you can see a bit of machine. You don't want big puddles of water there, so if there's a lot of water, they're just spread it out. Big puddles air going to keep the paint in one place, and we wanted to spread. I'm using my round brush. The pointed to brush in this is the size teen soaps, the larger one using a larger brush because I'm covering a large area and Then I'm going to take my yellow paint, and I'm just going to drop it in, see what happens. See what happens if you sprayed it with your paintbrush and you see that you get a really nice soft each to the shape is it flows into the water. I'm going to do the same with the blue paint over here, so I'm just painting water onto the surface of the water color paper. We really give what you don't rub too much over the paper, either we want to get this done in one or two goes. If you rub, the paper tends to break down and get a little bit messy. The same thing with the blue. You probably see it a bit more clearly with the blue, the way it starts to spread. Let's make that a little bit. DACA is it is placed into the wit area. It's going to dilute, so it's gonna be lighter than you think. I'm going to take some blue and I'm going toe. Put it into the yellow paint, which is store it and see what happens. There's different ways you can mix watercolor pains. You could mix a green on the paint pellet here. Or you could play around with seeing what happens when you ej which blue paint with yellow paint or with yellow paint it blue paint. Okay, the same as the previous exercise, have a little bit of a play here. What happens if you put down an area of blue paint and then get some yellow paint? You see, I'm cleaning my brush off each time in paint through it, player, and with what ever asked you can think off what happens if I lift up the paper and let the different colors drip into each other, even start to run down the paper to continue to fill up your page with experiments in, Then we will start to move on to our project. 5. Two Creative Techniques: so you're a couple of quick creative watercolor techniques that we can use. This thing I've done is mixed up some called blue, and that's all ready to go. And then I've got my salt. So this is Z salt, big grains you can use any size. You get different effects, depending on what kind of salt you use. But I just use whatever you have in your kitchen from laying down some paint. We're just going to see what happens when we Sprinkle some salt over the top. So the Sobel start to suck up. There were absorbed some of the a liquid, and you can see that it draws the pigment and towards it different effects, depending on how wit the painters, how much salt to use, how close together it is. We have to let that dry before we take the salt off. If we try to take it off now would just smudged. But once it's dry, weaken brush, the salt often will be left with the effects that it creates, and it's really good for perhaps creating some light reflecting on water or some sea spray . Many other technique is to take some quite watery paint in a pointed brush and make sure the brush is full of paint. Let's hold it with one hand and then it's likely tip with the other hand and you get some splatters again. These could be used for sea spray. You see, these ones are quite small. I'm using a small brush, but I'm also using paint that it's reasonably fix. If I watered that down a bit more and using a big brush, I'm gonna get biggest splitters further away. You hold it that fear, this bridge, the splitters, they're gonna be the closer you hold it closer together, this bettors will bay. Okay, We could also try that same special technique working and to which paint it's used. How yellow? Okay, in picking up some blue paint and again splattering and and because the paint underneath was which you're going to get the splitters starting to spread and mooch. So have a play with those and just experiment. And don't let this try and, you know, show you what happens once it's fully dry. Once we've taken the salt off the top 6. Starting the Seascape: So for this project, we're going to create a quick and easy Seascape. Now I have my piece of watercolor paper. I'm going to take it down to the board, and I'm going to do that for two reasons. One is I want to make a nice white border around the outside, and this makes the at work look a little bit more finished in professional, and it creates a bit of contrast as well. And then also because I want to help keep the paper, flett. And you might have noticed when you're doing the experiments, fit the paper wrinkled up a little bit when it got which, and if it does that you can always just put it in a book. But this will help keep it a little bit flatter, and you see that this tape has been used before. So that's a good thing about this long life tape, as you can peel it off and then use it again. So good, nice, even border all the way around the outside. I've changed my water and I've mixed up my warm blue. So he hit some core blue in some cool yellow and have mixed up the warm, the ultra marine blue. I'm just going to mix up a little bit more because you want to make sure you have plenty of pate paint ready to go. We don't wanna be stopping halfway through, so it's gonna be really quick. We want to utilize that wit and which technique so the paper has to stay wit and how long it stays where it is going to change, depending on the climate that you're in. So it's one to hear it moment. The paper still drives pretty quickly. If you're in a warm climate, you're probably getting after work even quicker. So for the Seascape, if you wanted to, you could draw out a few elements with a pencil. I'm just gonna go straight in here. I think that's kind of fun and creative, and we'll just see what happens. This is Aled, just a big experiment. If you end up with something called the End, that's great. But I am going to decide we my horizon line goes. I wanted to be a little bit higher up than halfway. It's always a nice compositional technique, a stable horizon line, either. A little bit for that poor little bit lower down in half way. So I'm gonna have it about here, and I'm going to start off by painting the sky. I'd like to have a couple of white clouds, and there we don't use white water color paint. We just leave the white of the paper showing taking my big pointed brush. That's gonna hold a lot of water. I'm gonna be out, too. Probably just take $1 of water and spread it all out and would be kind of hard to see this . But what I'm gonna do is put that horizon line and first so I know where the paint is gonna go down to it paint. And then I'm just gonna brush the paper with a wit paintbrush, leaving just a couple of areas of watch that are going to be my cloud. So I've got an area here that is dry paper and I've got an area over here that is dry paper and I might change those later on. So have a look at your paper on the side and just check that it's all shiny, Not cavern in puddles of water. If it does have too much water, you could take your your old rake, Make sure it's a cleaner one in this one and just soak up a bit of that water and then spread out the water again. Already, I can see that it's starting to draw in some places. And now I've got my warm blue using the same brush. Just gonna brush that in. We don't wanna be rubbing the paper too much, so it's all gonna be done quite quickly. And in one or two brushes across the paper, you see, that's weird. My cloud was gonna go. They're gonna look cloud over here, frustrating that my horizon line. Then it's always nice to bring some tone to your painting. So some lights and some docks I've got this middle toned blue here and I'm gonna add in some dark areas so using tone and gives the appearance of dips or form. So just underneath those clouds, I'm gonna add some more paint so that I get a docking area, maybe just to break up this really even area of blue at the top. I had some doctors will, so that could be it. If there's any changes, you want to make a couple things you could do. You could take your your rig and just blot out a little bit of the color. If you feel like there's too much in some places where you want it to feel like this and really wispy clouds around, you can also use a wit clean paintbrush. Make sure most of the water is out of it to soften off any ages of these clouds. So it's I've got quite a hard edge here where the painters met to dry paper, and I'm just going to brush over a bit hostage line that was there and make it a little bit more fluffy on the top. You know, maybe just a touch more dark over here underneath this cloud to give it a little bit more contrast and definition. Sometimes you just have to tell yourself to stop. So that's this guy done. The next part we're going to do is get see in for this one. I'm going to use my flat brush, and I'm going to use it on its tip and use it in a linear motion to create the idea of ripples on the ocean. So again, I am gonna wit the page first we're working with and which. But I'm already using the brush on its tip and just moving side to side so that we know. Look at it sideways. I can see that there's still some areas of what kind of long lines of white that lift and those air going to possibly be. Waves or ripples on the water, white water or they could be reflections. Okay, I need to go all the way down to the bottom between making sure it's not paddling on the page. Why do spread some that? But don't spread it out too much because you also don't want it to dry too fast. So it's a big part of water color as well as learning how to control the amount of water. And it just comes with practice. So I'm taking my cool blue say, low Blue, and I'm going to start in the middle. Make those linear max. You see that lovely wait and wit a thick starting to happen, and then I'm working upwards. So as I mixed the paint into the water, it's going to dilute and become a little bit lighter. And usually things in the distance appear lighter things in the foreground appear darker and more details. So think about that as well. Paints a little bit light there. I'm just mixing up a little bit more paint into the water because I want the foreground to be a little bit darker and I've got a a white area here. And so that could be, Ah, wave coming in to the shore and going right to the ages. It's gonna give me that white border we know. Take the tape off. I'm getting quite a lot of water on the year now, as I had more and more paint and you'll see that it is starting to wrinkle a little bit. But that's OK. Like I said, it will flatten out later. Then I'm going to take some yellow. I might not even wash off my brush because I'm putting the yellow straight into the blue so that it will create green median starting in the middle and just brushing it through with that looney emotion, creating the appearance of repose or fictions that's a little bit too yellow there. Let's get a little bit more blue. Everyone's Seascape is going to come out different, so depending on the way you use your brush. Depending on your own natural style of movement, you're going to have different brush, Max. The amount of water use is gonna make a big difference again. I'm heading in some dark areas. So underneath this area of Whitewater, Canadians and dark blue, don't be afraid. Teoh go really dark because the other thing with watercolor is they dry about 20% lighter is putting a little bit of yellow on there to make it slightly green. And I can do the same thing here where I've got some really bright white areas. If they're a little bit to shop, ich I can just soften them off with a clean brush a little bit too much water here, you see standing to peddle and it's going to dry like that. It would drive with a big doc Mac. So just get rid of that using my sponge or my cloth. So any time you take water off, you're gonna be affecting the painting that you've done and the best thing to do if you take away something and you really wanted it is to just let it dry and then we can come over with another layer later on. But while this is still wit, what I want to do is use my soul. So this is special effect. I want to show you. I've got see soldiers kind of bigger clumps of salt, bigger grains of salt. But you can use what have you got in the kitchen and where it still wit. I'm just going to Sprinkle on that soldier that's going to drawer in the pigment. You might see it starting to darken around where I'm dropping in the grains of salt. Now, once we've done this, we can't really paint on it too much more. Maybe we could do a little bit more detail once it's dry, but really want to let the salt dots thing and then let it try and then brush the salt off afterwards. Three other technique you could use is to Kate, uh, paintbrush with your paint. Make sure it's quite watery. I met your brushes full of paint. I'm just using a small one and then creates and splittists. I'm just tapping on the brush so the weight of the paint, the lighter the spectres are gonna bay, and also the bigger they're gonna be. So if you got more water on your brush, you're gonna get much biggest places. It actually moved to another Russian mix up a bit of green, mixing a little bit of blue into my yellow and gruesome green splashes on there, too. That's up to you. How expressive you get. You might want to cover the whole thing with splitters. You could bring some sweaters into the sky as well. You might want to keep it more subtle than I have done, so that's pretty much it. Probably the only thing I would do once it's dry is bring in a few more ripples with my small brush, my small pointed brush just to give a little bit more detail in the foreground, because at the moment, because I had so much water on there, it's quite flat. I'm really happy with the the water in the distance. I'm pretty happy with the clouds. That's where we could add a little bit more detail into that, too, but only once. It's dry, so if we work into it now, we've got some of its weight. Some of it's dry. It's going to do all sorts of weird things that we can't control. 7. Adding Detail: So I think this drive for a couple of hours in depending on the climate, urine may dry more quickly or it may take longer. Try not to be impatient in brush the sort of too soon, because it's just gonna it's gonna smear things across your painting. Let's take the take off here and I just put this type on the edge of my desk, stick it to my desk, and then I can use it again. If I want to do another small project like this, it should come off really easily. If it's got into it, it might stick a little bit. And if it does start to stick, so that starts to rip up the page news, come back from the other direction in very gently unpeeled and keep it really flett in close to the board as you pull it off. So you see how the border really enhances the contrast and brings out the white of the waves. I've possibly gone overboard with the salt. I really like that technique, and I forget that sometimes less is more so. It probably do a little bit least salt and just having a little bit of a sparkle in the top of the water. We're gonna brush the salt off now. Might want to do this straight into a rubbish bin. So brush the salt away and I'm left with the effect of the salt works absorb the water in drawing the pigment to it. So I don't want to do too much more to it. But I do feel like the foreground is a little bit too similar to the background that needs some more detail into these here a little bit distracting these areas of salt, where its effect is just too much. So I'm gonna take my medium size pointed brush and go beckon with my core blue and just glaze over top and it takes it down a bit. It reduces the contrasts, so it's It's like a medium tone. I'm not going to thick and dark, but I just want to take that back a little bit and you see that the layer underneath the sulfur fix is still showing through because water color is transparent. But I'm just reducing how obvious they are to make sure you have brushed off all the salt before you do this. The other thing I'd like to do. Is it a little bit more detail in with my really small brush in the foreground, maybe a little bit in the middle ground as well? So I get a bit of green paint and just creates, um, report on the surface of the water. Bring a little bit of interest to it, a little bit of texture. And remember, you can control how dark the painters. So if you feel like these max aren't dark enough, you can add in a little bit more if you concentrated paint to paint into your mix, or if you feel like they're too dark, then you can mix a little bit more water in. I think I also just defined my horizon line a little bit more with a really light mix of paint. I don't wanna go to dark because I want the full ground to be darker. We want the background to look like it's fading away into the distance. Again. Tone is working to create dips and then just a little bit more interest in the foreground. Here. I've got some quite concentrated paint, not too much water with it, creates and Doc recalls and also to create a little bit of depth in these waves. So if you think about the wave curving over underneath the white water, here is gonna be a little bit darker. I can always use a dent, brush a damn clean brush just to soften off the edges. Those dark areas blend them into the background. I just had a little bit of green in the ATO, usually in the way. If there's a bit of green, I don't get too carried away. I'm going to do just a couple more things when it is to make thes white here is not quite so stark to give them a little bit more form in a little bit more depth in the way I do. There is, to it, really, really light, it's and color of paint. Using my core blue, I was creating some a little bit of turbulence in that wave by hitting some shadows, and then I can do the same with the cloud. But using the one blue that I used for the sky, it can help to have a piece of paper next to you, especially when you're doing these fine details and just test out the colors that you've got See, making sure that it's not too dark. I was creating Cem fluffy, bumpy areas in the clouds. If you do anything that you're not heavy with, you go but overboard again. Clean, damp, irrational, which just did rub over the area and then either use your wreck or really get a water out of your brush and mop it up. So, uh, brushed. It doesn't any water, and it is going to suck up that weight area there and get rid of what you weren't happy with. So I think that's about a kid playing, but I'm pretty happy with it. It's nice, it's loose, it's playful, its expressive, and that's what this project is about. So I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope you can take some of these things that we did and bring them into your other watercolor projects.