Beginner-friendly Watercolor Galaxy with Lettering | Maria Dinu | Skillshare

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Beginner-friendly Watercolor Galaxy with Lettering

teacher avatar Maria Dinu, Watercolor and Lettering Artist

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 (53m)
    • 1. Welcome

    • 2. Your Project

    • 3. Supplies

    • 4. Choosing a Color Palette

    • 5. Galaxy Background: Wet on Dry

    • 6. Galaxy Background: Wet On Wet

    • 7. Lettering: Sans Serif

    • 8. Lettering: Script

    • 9. Display & Photo

    • 10. Final Thoughts

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About This Class


Do you love to paint, but there’s few things you’re proud of and would give as gifts or display?

In this class, you’ll learn two techniques, which combined, achieve a beautiful effect:

1. blending a watercolor galaxy background and

2. painting a simple lettered quote on top.

Even if you have very little experience with watercolor, you can dive in. By following a few simple steps, you’ll understand how to create  watercolor effects others will love, and create a beautiful quote card that you can display, give or even sell!

You don’t need many supplies. 2 brushes, 4-5 watercolor tubes or pans, and watercolor paper are the minimum. You can even use the ones I suggest in the resources section. 

I’m fully self-taught, and much of what I learned was from other artists & teachers here at Skillshare. I’m confident that by following this class, you’ll get insights on how to improve your own watercolor and develop your style.

Over the past year, I’ve painted tens of watercolor lettering designs, some included in my planners, others as custom orders. There’s something magical to see your favorite word or quote on a beautiful background.
You can also create personalized gifts or sellable art pieces that beautify and enhance a workspace.

Meet Your Teacher

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Maria Dinu

Watercolor and Lettering Artist


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1. Welcome: Hi, welcome. I'm Maria Dinu. I've a watercolor artist and illustrator. I've been painting all my life, but got into watercolor about four or five years ago. Kind of at the same time when I launched my planner line, colorful mind. I combine color and lettering in my work and my clients appreciate the inspiration and contrast and my pieces. I've also done collaborations with card companies and small producers. I'm completely self-taught. And what I'll be showing you comes from four years of practicing and selling my art. Galaxy watercolor is extremely trendy, but requires a few skills and tricks. Lettering is complex and beautiful art in itself. And when combined, these two techniques create stunning and beautiful art pieces. This class is beginner friendly and will teach you techniques that you can apply to your art in general, such as choosing a color palette, working with layers in watercolor. And basic principles of lettering, such as balance and contrast, we'll go through basic art supplies you need. How to choose a color palette, painting a galaxy background, and basic lettering tips. So if you're curious about lettering and watercolor, but feel intimidated by the skill level needed. This class will show you step-by-step the basics of both techniques; by combining and using the skills that you learn in this class, you'll be able to create a beautiful piece that you can give, display, or even sell. I believe creating beautiful and inspiring art pieces. enriches our lives and I invite you with me on this journey to create the beautiful watercolor lettering piece. 2. Your Project: When I first started painting watercolor quotes about 40 years ago, I felt inspired and intimidated by all the other artworks I was seeing on line. Between then and now, I established a very simple workflow and it takes me about two hours for a more complex piece such as that one. And I estimate it will take you about one hour to make a simple version of it. For your project, you will make a five by seven inch or 13 by 18 centimeter piece with a simple water colored background. And the one or two word quote on top of it. During the past year, I've done more than 20 such paintings with watercolor and glittering quote. So we've arrived at a very simple workflow, and they'll break down this workflow for you in steps. Step one, I will guide you to choose the colors for a galaxy background. And then we'll show you the process of creating two layers of water color so that you achieve that beautiful transparency and colors showing underneath. Step two, you will choose a symbol boat, or can use even the one suggested in resources. And we'll do the lettering in two versions, sensor or script. In the resource section down below, you'll find the color palette with six watches. You can either mix those up from the water colors you already have an audio can purchase directly the ones that I suggest. Then you'll find a list of keywords that you can use for your one or two words, quote. Or finally, if you cannot decide, you will even find a hand-drawn lettering script of the word glove that you can copy and use 40 or finished art. Finally, to submit your project, go into the project gallery and upload a photo of your finished artwork just as you would show it to your friends, are posted on Instagram. I'm so much looking forward to see all your artworks. But in order to get there, let's first get started and create. 3. Supplies: Welcome back. In this lesson, we'll dog supplies. One of the myths I often find when people are starting watercolor is that you need a ton of supplies and they're all expensive. Well, having painted for so many years, I know that's not true. Actually, you only need a handful of supplies to get started. And I really recommend that you start investing once you realize what you like and what you don't like. So let's talk now about the minimum that you need to get started. Let's talk paper. Whenever you purchase watercolor paper, I recommend that you don't go below 300 grams per square meter or 140 pounds. You may work with lower grandbaby herself, thinner paper. If you are only doing some sketches or you just want to practice. But whenever you really want the best results, I recommend that you get 300 gram. Now, the next thing is the brand. Here we have Fabriano and my son and the premium arch, the size really doesn't matter that much. You can use whatever works for you. For this class, I'm using the honey Mueller paper and I'm cutting this one into so that we get exactly the 13 by 18 centimeters or five by seven inch. Now that we're done with paper, let's talk. What are colors? This is my trusty pad from Sri Lanka. It's a metal case with 36 watercolors inside and you can replace them and bring other ones or just use whatever you feel like. Throughout the years. As I've used some of them, I've replaced them with other colors. So for example, from white knight. So that now I have all sorts of custom palette with colors that I really like. Another brand that I've used and I really recommend is when sudden Newton. I've actually put my Windsor and knew them colors in my SSH mincut ballad. But these are half bands that diverse purchase separately. The ones that I most dearly like are the tubes from Daniel Smith. And the reason why I love these is that many of them are granulate thing and you get beautiful tones of color when you paint with them. So this is what I am going to use for this class, that fairly expensive. However, I find that when you invest in them, you really get beautiful results. Now let's talk brushes. So these are all my brushes. But actually I recommended you start with some number eight, number six, number ten brushes which are more or less this size. Regarding brushes, some people question whether you need to purchase natural hair brushes or synthetic brushes. The difference between them is how they hold water. These are natural hair brushes, so they are softer and then to hold more water so they are better for loose type work. While synthetic hair brushes, such as this one are stiffer. So if you want to do more precise details, these will allow you to do that personally. Also for the price reason, I recommend that you start with synthetic brushes and then you can move to natural hair brushes. Late dot, if you really want to invest may be a little bit more. I recommend to use this type of brushes. This one is my favorite. It's a number two more brush, but you see it's fairly thick and it's very, very pointy. So I like that I can make both large puddles of color as well as fine details with this one. Another suggestion is it would be nice to get a more thin brush in case you want to do finer details. Another thing that I recommend having when working with watercolor is this artist tape or masking tape. It's useful to fix the paper on a cardboard or even on the table so that it prevents warping and it also helps you get very nice clean lines when you take it off. What I've learned when painting watercolor is that the best is to work with what moves you. You might realize there's a certain brand of water color which really brings out the best new, then invest in that one? Or do you might realize you work better with one particular brush, then buy more of those. The idea is to find what you like and really invest what it matters to you personally. It's easy to think when you're at the beginning and you see more experienced artists using a particular brand of watercolor or a particular brush. You imagine that if you will use that brush or that watercolor type, your art will blossom and you will really get things going. It's not necessarily always like that. I've seen experienced artist using student grade materials. So really cheap ones and still there aren't, looks amazing. But in a beginner's hands of very expensive material or item might be wasted. So this is why I really recommend testings out, figured out what you like, and then splurge on only what do you think is really worth it. 4. Choosing a Color Palette: Welcome back. In this lesson, we're going to talk about how to mix a color palette for your watercolor galaxy color as a principal, I think it's the most important thing in your art because it's the first thing that someone will know this when they look at it. It's also the thing that I enjoy the most. And they've built by the process when choosing my color palette. So we're going to go through that. There are two ways I generally use when choosing a color palette. The first one is intuitive, and that's also what we're going to use. And the second one is the more structured scientific method. First, before we start, I want to recommend this book is called The Color Psychology, and it very nicely explains the journey of colours through the ages and the interpretation one can give the certain color palette. Now let's get started. If you see here, I have all my color swatches. I really recommend that you do that. It doesn't matter if you have 12 or 15 or 35 colors because they really help. In order for you to sort of do an inventory of what you have on hand. And you can way easier, make color balance and color combinations if you know what a color looks like when it's put on paper. So let's start with the colored valid for the galaxy. The first approach that I use is generally to replicate the color balance that you can find in nature. So in my case, we're looking for a galaxy. So I'll open being dressed. And here we have some galaxy photographs and I'll try to replicate the colors from this one. So we have some indigo, magenta, violet, maybe another pink, and maybe some bell yellows. I also see a little bit of orange over here. And we think that one will do better. And then I'll also have some green over here. Some very, very dark green or something like that. Good. Now, once I figured out my basic ballad, and normally shut down the screen and start looking at how they work together. So I have two greens, a couple of magentas and Violet. An orange and two yellows to choose from. And I look at the overall, the first thing, and I really recommend that you use your intuition. The first thing that strikes me is that this orange has nothing to do with the rest. It's a warm color in a sea of cool colors. So I will move it. These two yellows that almost identical. So it really doesn't matter which one I know from the magenta is inviolate. I could use both or like this and just assume that they will mix nicely together. But I don't want to make it dark, so I will remove this pink. And now I only have to choose between these two. I could use both. I will just choose this one because I like it better. Now between these two greens, they are both quite cool. But this one has some blue undertones and I think it will do very good in a galaxy conversation. So I will choose that one. And between these two blues, This one is Walmart and this one is cooler. So again, I will choose the more indigo one because it just reminds me for galaxy. Let me show you the other ways of building or colored ballot. Another way that I like to use is again, via Pinterest. And it involves just using ready-made colored ballot. This is my Pinterest board of color pallet. And you can see there stands of ready-made color palate, which you can just try to emulate using your own colors. And you basically just put one on screen and see which colors from your ballot matched the ones over there. What do you do if you are required to start from a particular color? It often happens for me that my clients asked me to do commission work, which they will explain that homes. So I have to use color palettes that will match what they already have in their homes. So in that case, we usually start from one or two particular colors. Let's say in our case that one of these colors will be this very dark indigo. So I look that. And on this app, which is called colors or colors, you click Generate and you get several other color palette. Let's say that you decide you like this Sage green over here. And you also lock this one. And then you click generate again. And you have a totally different color pallet. And you can keep playing around like that until you get to something that you really like. And then you can do the same exercise over again of matching what you have with what you see on the screen. So this involves knowing the color wheel and they greatly recommend that you go to a color dot and use their engine for grading colored compositions. So you can either play around and do your own by just playing around with the colors. In the middle. They're lighter in the extremes that darker. Or you can use AI and try to get a suggestion from the engine. So for example, if you go and try it, it will give you suggestions which are in the opposite ends and form a triangle. Complimentary, completely opposite ends of the color wheel and so on. So you can play around and just see what comes by using the coloured harmony theory. Finally, what I recommend is that you use your own intuition because color is not something that you create a new machine and a computer will never know better what is more harmonious to the eye. So I believe that in nature we can find the best color harmonies and the best color palette. So I greatly encourage you to use your own intuition and to experiment and see what works best for you. In the next lesson, we will put these colors to work and we'll start building our galaxy. 5. Galaxy Background: Wet on Dry : Welcome. Now we get to the fun part. We're going to start painting. And the first technique I am going to show you is called wet on dry or basically how the paint on normal dry paper. So get their colors ready because we're going to start painting. Before we start, I want to specify one thing. It's going to be several layers. And in between each layer I'm going to use my hair dryer. So now first I'm going to what my colors. So now I have my four colors and they are each unequal proportion of water and color, about 50-50 pigment and water. So the next thing I'm going to do is start with one of them and create my Galaxy shape, which is going to be fairly irregular. I usually put the darkest color on the extreme and then the lightest color in the middle. Also because the text is going to be there and I want it to be visible. The trick when painting that I own with is to have this sort of bubble of more than that number gets. This gets dry. It's already too late and you will have a line. You see here. It's almost there. Now, as I'm adding the colors and lessen their unix by themselves. I don't care what I put there. Because I know I want them to mix directly on the paper. Before I add yellow, I clean my brush very, very well. Another critique is that I'm not going to go with a darker color to yellow and everything. So I'm going to stop and then blend them with an almost It's almost dry. So I'm going to bring my hairdryer and right completely. And then we'll proceed to the next layer. So this is the first layer. As you can see, it's not very pretty. But when we add layers and layers upon color, it's going to show the transparencies through and it will look nicer and nicer. I usually don't put the same color, are in the same place twice. The most beautiful thing with transparencies is that it shows the color underneath. So we may have some violet with some dark blue under. Okay. And you could leave it here. However, I think that the more layers you add, the more definition and contrast your piece we'll have. I don't like the middle part where it sort of hazy. You can't really see what's going on that. So I'm going to use these foggy stains and I'm going to try to even put them more into contrast, more into focus. So let's see how I worked with that. Okay. So I've put white wash on my palette and I'm waiting a larger brush. You see I have lots of it. And now I'm going to try to splatter. So that's our first watercolor. And in the next lesson, we're going to explore another technique which is called wet on wet. 6. Galaxy Background: Wet On Wet: Welcome back. In this lesson we're going to explore another watercolour technique which is called wet on wet, or basically painting on the paper that is wet with clean water. You're going to see it's a much more interesting technique and the results are simply amazing. So join me and let's get started. But before I start the actual painting, I'm going to show you some mistakes that often happen when you paint wet on wet. And that, in my view, cannot be mended unless you do another layer on top of them. So one mistake is to drop a lot of pigment. And then another color in another area. And just doing dots. And let's say I do another one with green. And that's it. So if I just sit here and wait for them to blend, that's not going to happen because they are too far apart. A similar mistake is if I drop some lighter color in the midst of darker color. So for example, if I drop yellow over here, it's not going to blend quite nicely. On the contrary, my brush is going to get stained with all that yellow and my paint will turn quite muddy. So that's why it's important to always clean your brush. And they lighter colored only with a clean brush. If you wish, you can put the word lighter color where the, where the paper is already white and there is no other color. So you see it starting to already dry over here and nothing is blended. So the trick when painting wet on wet is to always link the painted areas with them. Brush. What they see in beginners is that they have no patients, so they rush, they take another color and then they just started blending everything. And what you get is one big muddy puddle. However, let's give it another try and let's see how to properly do it on the wet paper. I'm waiting, waiting the paper. But I'm making the shape in approximately a circle with some dots. So it's going to be fairly regular. And sometimes I'm asked how wet should the paper to be? Well, it shouldn't be exactly a puddle, but it shouldn't dry up too fast either. So you should be able to see when I move the paper that it's fairly wet. And now I use the same principle. Darker in the extreme. But I placed them quite close to each other so that they can blend by themselves. This is what I love most about water colored, this almost magical effect. I'm going to add yellow now in the middle, not too far out. And now the violet. And then just moving it around with the very word brush. So I'm just basically moving the water around so that it covers all the whitespaces. When I broached the yellow, I'm using a clean brush so that the two colors don't mix. Why shouldn't they mix? Well, because in one day, yellow to stand on its own in the middle. And also violet and red and yellow are complimentary colors. So if they mix, you will get a very nice shade of money brown. And that's it. That's our first layer. Let's start our second layer. As you can see, our second layer is pretty much the first experience all over again because now we are having the dry paper and we can repeat the process. So wetting it first, but very, very lightly dubbing with the brush so that we don't accidentally lift what's underneath. So there you have it till beautiful galaxies. You wouldn't even say that they were done in different techniques. And now just imagine how amazing they will look when you add lettering on top. Stay tuned because in the next lessons we are going to explore two different lettering techniques, san-serif and script. 7. Lettering: Sans Serif: Welcome back. In this lesson, it's still about painting and watercolors. But first we're going to draw the letters, and then we're going to paint on top of them with a water color. I'm going to make it really simple by just sticking to lettering styles, san-serif and script. But then also we're going to choose just one word so that it's really simple. You don't have to worry about composition or flourishes or other more advanced techniques. There's tons of classes out there which really describe lettering in way more detail. And I have learned though so a lot from them. When I first started lecturing about four years ago, it was easy to feel intimidated because there are so many artists out there who do beautiful letters and wonderful compositions. But you've got to start somewhere. So the best is to start from just one word with which you can paint on top of our galaxy that we just created. Let's get started and we'll go step-by-step. For this lesson, you will need a few other tools. A ruler, mechanical pencil, or any pencil will do. And an eraser. I have one with a very pointed. Now let me explain the lettering styles. 30 flattering is any type of lettering that has a terminal to the strokes. So the ending of the letter is a little bit more exaggerated. You see those little lines at the edges of every single letter. Those are called serifs. Serifs come in a lot of shapes and sizes, but we won't get into that detail yet. San-serif is a more casual style of lettering and it doesn't have any ornate endings of the letters. The letters are very simple. Block letters, very easy to read. And then you also have script. And the script is any sort of lettering that similar to handwriting. And of course you can use your very own handwriting to start from. Now, let's write the word love on the paper. I am writing it in a very simple way in capital letters. This is how it looks. But now let me also draw some guides so that I'm sure that I'm writing on a straight line and that all the lenders have the same height. And now I will add some weight to my letters in sensor if lettering, I don't need to add any ornamentation to the letters and they have the same weight on all sides, meaning that the weight of the letter where it's more thick, it's the same on every single side. And now I will fill them in a little bit just to see how it would look. So now that we have are scheduled ID and we're pleased with how it looks. We can start to transfer the sketch onto the water color paper. We're going to use the ruler again. And I'm going to place it in the middle of the painting. So I am going to draw the line here. And then this one over here. I'm taking care that the lines are parallel, but I'm not going to worry too much about measuring them or anything. And now I will just draw very light strokes. Just placing my letters O, V, E. Taking care that they are equally spaced and that they both fit the space. In case you have a longer word. A way to do it is, let's say we have all Guide over here. And we start with the first letter, and then with the last letter. And then we place the other ones at equal intervals so that they are equally spaced and they look good or something like that. In my Js, I think I've made a fair estimation, so I'm going to pencil them in very, very lightly, because once you paint over the pencil, you cannot delays it anymore. So the pencil lines have to be thirdly thin. And I'm going to make the letters quite thick. Okay, this is very thick and I don't think the L has enough space. So I'm going to erase a little greater than o and make this line, the lower line of the earn a little bit more to the inside. Now on the V. And I'm just taking care that the weight I add is more or less the same on every lead that you don't want to have. A very thick l, something like this. And then a very thin v because that will look imbalanced. And now the E, remember I told you you would need a thin brush when now is a good time to use it. Let's start painting. So I'm using the darkest color on my palette here. Remember that was that very dark blue like an indigo. And that's what we're going to use for the extreme letters. So for the first and the last, the background is very, very dark. So the only chance someone could actually read them is if they are painting with it even darker color. So that's our finished quote. We're going to wait for it to dry and then we're going to erase the guides completely. Now in the next lesson, we're going to work on the script. 8. Lettering: Script: Script lettering is basically handwriting, just more elaborated. So if I were to use my own handwriting and to write the word love, I would probably write it something like this. I don't quite like it however, because it's not very easy to read. So again, I'm going to draw my guides. Notice that I'm trying to also keep these dots at more or less the same height. The trombone with cursive handwriting as opposed to san-serif, is because you have the letters tied together. You cannot really play with the space in between them. Also, don't forget that we have an angle at which the letters are slanted. This is called a slant. So when I'm going to prepare for my final sketch, I'm going to draw all my guides, little bit large, but even including the height of the smaller letters. And then the guides for the slant. It looks kind of like a calligraphy booklet. And then we have our handwriting. I think this part could be a little taller. I'm also going to start to give it a little bit of weight. Something I get asked often is where do you put the weight of the letters? And it's always, if you remember how you were drawing the letters, it's always on the downstroke. It has a bit more weight and on the upstroke. So for example, here, it's thin, something like this. So this is how my quote cookie look like. Now you can use tracing paper and then copy this and transfer it to the watercolor. But I'm fairly confident in my and my skills, so I will just use this one. Draw my guides, and just look at the sketch and transfer it directly. Now my sketches ready? I'm quite pleased with how it looks and I'm going to start painting. S. So now we have these two beautiful art works with Galaxy and lettering. And the next step is framing them and photographing them. 9. Display & Photo: Hi and welcome to behind the scenes. This is what I showed most of my photos and obviously this class as well. So I'm going to take you with me to show you how I normally shoot my photos to best display my art after I painted it. So you're going to need your artwork framed. I personally love these symbol ikea frames. You might need your watercolors that he painted with the brush. I like to have some wrapping favor in the same color palette. And maybe some flowers or even some dried branches. This one is artificial and this one is very much dried up. But if you have fresh flowers, are fresh branches, please use those. So let's get started. I generally should my photos in flatly, which means the flood. And sometimes I also use my hands. And the photo. Lets first do a set-up with wrapping paper. Another setup, like I said, could be with just the painting and the materials displayed. And sometimes you don't even need to have the frame. You can simply use the finished painting. 10. Final Thoughts: I'd like to thank you for coming on this journey with me as a self-taught artists, I know what it feels like to not believe you can do something. But then after experimenting to be in all regarding what you could just accomplish, I hope this class managed to raise your confidence regarding your watercolor littering skills. And I hope you get inspired by what you can create. I'm very much looking forward to see your projects in the project gallery. And I'll be cheering for you as you show them to me. If you have any questions, please drop them in the comments and I'll respond to each and every one of them. Since this is my first class, I'm very much eager to see your feedback and comments and I will very much appreciate it. Thank you. And keep creating.