Create Amazing Digital Watercolor Backgrounds the Easy Free Sketchbook Way - No Experience Needed! | Sandra Hess | Skillshare

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Create Amazing Digital Watercolor Backgrounds the Easy Free Sketchbook Way - No Experience Needed!

teacher avatar Sandra Hess, Sandra Rose Designs, Graphic Designer

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

5 Lessons (24m)
    • 1. Introduction, Watercolor Bkgs

    • 2. Video 1 Workspace Essentials

    • 3. Video 2 Let's Get Creative

    • 4. Video 3 FINAL Variation

    • 5. Video 4 Final Variations

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About This Class

N 3 SIMPLE STEPS AND 30 MINUTES you will create your very own watercolor backgrounds. Perfect for non-designers as well as designers, creatives and non-creatives! You don't need to know Photoshop or Illustrator! If you have a computer and can download a free program, then you can create amazing watercolor backgrounds! But becareful, it is very addictive. You will save them out as JPEGS and they will be ready to use for any project. I will show you the easy steps, and you show me what you create! 

AFTER TAKING THIS CLASS you will walk away with several amazing watercolor backgrounds that will work for so many projects! From blog headers, to personal stationary, from Pinterest pins backgrounds to greeting cards! 

DOWNLOAD the FREE SketchBook Express Program using the links below for Mac or PC and let's get started! 

-  Windows Free Download

-  Mac Free Download


  • Step 1. I will give you a quick tour of the set up and the few tools needed.
  • Step 2. Get creative and start playing with just a few tools - Variation 1
  • Step 3. Variation 2 - Select and paint in a different set of colors then brush on the magic! 
  • Step 4. Variation 3 - Change the size and shape of your color strokes.


Watercolor backgrounds are very popular and people can make them in many ways, from painting, to digital methods using Photoshop or Illustrator. But I am going to show you the easiest and most versatile and beautiful way to do this! You don’t need to buy a program. You don’t need to learn a  whole program. You don’t need to be a designer. You just need to learn 3 simple steps and 15 minutes and you can create amazing, trendy and beautiful backgrounds!

That's it!  3 simple steps to create amazing digital watercolor backgrounds. 


After researching a number of apps, I chose SketchBook to teach my grandchildren the art of digital watercolor painting. When I discovered the secret (by accident) I was so excited and enthralled by the great results, that I made over 15 different backgrounds one after the other - in under 15 minutes!

With those backgrounds, I created greeting cards, computer desktop wallpaper, iphone background wallpaper, my blog header, and so much more! Are you ready to get started?  Let's go!

My two other classes that may be of interest -

Create-a-Chevron-Greeting-Card-in-Illustrator This is a very popular class as people learn how to make a quick and easy Chevron pattern as you create a greeting card from start to print. 

Create a Custom Wine Bottle Label Using a Quatrefoil Pattern in Illustrator Perfect as a summer picnic hostess gift, birthday present, or for Mom or Dad or Graduate! Of course Thanksgiving and Christmas as perfect times to bring your own wine bottle with your very own personalized label!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Sandra Hess

Sandra Rose Designs, Graphic Designer


"Your 20 year old daughter MADE that card?" I asked my best friend. The card images and text were stamped and embellished with a well-placed rhinestone. A 3-D feel was created by layered focal points and a beautiful ribbon completed the look. She showed me several more cards that she received for her birthday and her recent wedding anniversary. I was in awe and felt so inspired as I saw card after card, each with its own unique charm! I couldn't wait to learn to hand craft my own cards!

And so began my love affair with designing and creating greeting cards. That day was 16 years ago and my passion continues. I love good design. I love greeting cards. I love connecting with people and teaching what I have learned.

I started my career in the fine arts field of music as a reg... See full profile

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1. Introduction, Watercolor Bkgs: When you sign up for this class, we will create amazing digital watercolor backgrounds the easy way. Using the free program called sketchbook, it'll be the Sketchbook Express version, which is the free version, and this is all we need. There is no experience necessary if you're a designer. Great. If you are not a designer, you can create just as amazing, wonderful background images. Here's some examples of greens into variations of green using some different colors on the left with darker and lighter greens, you'll see if we get an effect of the paperwork. Here is one of a sunset look beautiful sunset and even the sun was something we made in this first class you can create for right. Colors are very subdued colors, hardly there. You can use warm tones for cool tones. You can use a horizontal stripe formula are more of circular center blobby patterns. Here's an example from the minted website. Log background is something that they created. You could do the same thing using this class. Here's a save the date background. Very simple. A single color. I created this greeting card for my granddaughter. She and my grandson were the ones that we were exploring sketchbook and doing these backgrounds when I first discovered this technique, sort of a magical technique is really It's just very interesting to Dio. So they were helping me create these backgrounds, and I turned this into her birthday card. She loves giraffes looking on the section It's Your Birthday is your 10th birthday. That is the full strength. And then I used very soft versions of the same colors to create the background. Here's the background of my logo that I created using sketchbook in these very techniques that you will learn. So sign up for the class and I can't wait to have you get started. And within 30 minutes you will be creating all these wonderful type of backgrounds and so many more. Let's get started. 2. Video 1 Workspace Essentials: Once you have downloaded sketchbook, we are ready to begin. I'm Sandra Rose, and I'll be your instructor during this class. As we learned three very basic techniques and ways for you to create beautiful wallet, watercolor backgrounds using sketchbook. It is very easy to do young old. It doesn't matter whether you're experienced or not experienced. I use this all the time, and my grandchildren use this. They are very young, and they love doing these watercolor backgrounds using the free Sketchbook Express. So first thing when you open up sketchbook, you will see. I'm not sure what you will see on your art board, but we have our art board here. And if you go up to window, I want you to make sure you click on toolbar. That's the only thing I want you to have open right now. If anything else is clicked, you can uncheck it. Okay? Just checked uncheck anything else, So let's not get all mixed up. So the first thing I want you to do is click up here on your toolbar to the color editor and you'll see the color editor appear on the right side. Then I want you to click on this next icon to the brush palette and that will open up on the left side. Those are the only two tools we will be working with to create these fabulous watercolor backgrounds in the color editor. You will see this outer circle and this dot on it you will take the dot around and as you go around, look at the top bar across here and you will see it changing the color to that I am on. Okay, so you'll see the previous color on the left and then the new color that you're working with on the right so you can compare if you want to. Then the inside is going to give you true blue. If you pull it all the way to the right or again, watch up here at the bar and you will see it. Going to more gray or at the top is completely white. The very bottom is completely black. The very left is completely gray and all of the variations in between of your blues. Once you get a color that you like, you will just click and hold it. Notice it becomes a square. Then you're going to pull that down. And that is now a new color you have in your color palette. So make sure if you find a color that you like, you just pull it down into your color palette. So the other side are your tool. Is your toolbar for your brushes there? Only to that we're going to be using the first is this paintbrush. And the 2nd 1 is this brush that we're going to use to smudge. So in the paint brush, you just click on a color that you want over here in any of the squares, and I am going to draw cross here. You'll see how narrow my brushes or thick which of her you consider it. And if you click on the right bracket key, it enlarges it left bracket key will make it smaller, and you just you're gonna choose one. It doesn't really matter. We're just gonna pick one, and you're going to draw a cross. And that's gonna be one of our first steps We do. If you want to erase something or go back a step, you just hit command or control zzz. And that will go back your several steps the other thing to point out are your erasers, Hardy Racer. Soft it racer doesn't really matter. Just pick an eraser. So if you've done something and you want to race just a part of it, you can do it this way. Eraser works the same way. Left bracket makes it smaller. So if you just want to get rid of a few little things like this, change some things. That's how you will do it. I'm gonna go, commander. Controls ease that. You see to get rid of all of that second thing, I want to point out, is this brush down here? When you click on this, there's not much color as you can see on there, and we can control that, which is this is gonna be our little magic secret we're going to do. And when you double click on any of these tools, you will have your brush properties pop up and we can control the size by this as well. And the flow and this strength that's going to be how much color is put on when you click on it. And then how long the color lasts. See how when I hold and drag it out. It doesn't last very long at all that is controlled by the flow in the strength. This is what I use is 15% on the flow and the strength of 18%. Keep it very low for what we're going to do. So once we have that set up, I am going to click this away so we can see our art board and our tools. I'm going to get ready with a brand new area to work with their art board. One more thing I want to mention if you would like your art board instead of being the horizontal like this, if you would like it, vertical come up to image and you can rotate your canvas. And there it iss in a vertical format. Okay, I'm going to do this one more time and go back to my horizontal, which is what I'm going to use for this class. Okay, that's it for getting set up. I'll see what the next class and we're ready to get started with our first project. 3. Video 2 Let's Get Creative: we're now ready to get creative. We have started working in sketchbook you haven't downloaded were familiar. Now with the couple of pallets that we want to be working with in the toolbar. And now we're going to just begin. I want you to select up 3 to 5 colors that you would like to work with you. If you change your mind. That's perfectly fine. I am going to work in this blue and green, the cool blue and green palette for now that I have over here on the right hand side. Now, depending on what you have on your right hand side, you can choose a few things here. Like, for instance, I want maybe a light blue to add to these colors. I have some greens and some light blues like they see the screen right here. I think these air very similar in color. So I'm going to change it. When I clicked on here, I can now see it at the top of my color editor and I'm gonna grab and pull it down. When I pull it on top of something, it takes its place. So now the original color is gone and Now we have this new color. So now I have this color palette here that I want to work with. And I think 123 Think this yellow would be nice over here In order to bring that close to it that I'd like to see together. I just click on it, drag it down and there are my colors that I have Um let's see if I want a light blue and I don't want this one anymore. I come up to here and I'm gonna go to my blues and come up here to a light blue that I want to work with Actually, if I want a lighter blue off this color, I'm gonna click on here, moving over. And here's a nice lighter color Gonna work with all Put this over here. So now I have this family of the blues, greens and yellows that I want to work with. So once you get your palate set up, come over here and you just click on your art brush and I am just going to drag it across. This one is full strength. We didn't change anything with the defaults and there's a color and I'm going to just spread on another color. Just spread on another one. Let's grab the screen and add this and maybe this screen. And let's add some over here. There's a darker green and let's do a dab yellow. We want up there and let's see. I can add a little more This kind of pretty, pretty blue and I want to make my brush a teeny but thinner. So I'm going to use my left bracket and come down and there we have a stretch there and let's put one down here as well. Okay, so that's my first step. Second step. Once you kind of get color displayed on there. Now you're going to take your brush, and this is like a true watercolor brush that you're going to be adding water and, um, merging some of these colors. So you just take any one of your colors you want to from this color palette. Uh, just take this lighter when it doesn't really matter, because not much color is going to come on and look at what begins to happen. Okay, Now we're going to be blending these colors out Now when I click and hold it's adding more and more water. Every time I stop and click, it's adding more of that color. Okay, so you can see there's a little bit of that blue there. I just move it around an order to rush it out and give it a nice soft appearance as I am blending these colors. Okay, so, e just come forward Blend these colors now is I'm working. I say, Oh, I really don't think I like this color. I want to stay in these brighter tones. Okay? Just my personal preference right now. Not a problem. If you have something on there, I don't even have to erase it. Watch what happens. I'm gonna click back on my basic Arte brush and I want to go back to this brighter green instead. Gonna make my brush a little bit thicker just because And I'm going to drag this over here , and I think I'd like a little bit more yellow down here as well. So what I am doing in order to get this effect, I'm going to make my brush larger here. In order to get this effect, I can, um I'm just going side by side left to right and merging these blending these colors out. Okay, there. Look at that. Isn't that pretty? Look at how simple that waas softened a little bit of this yellow. Now it didn't matter what color I chose. What if I chose this color and added some two? That's perfectly fine. And there I have my nice watercolor background I get keep going left and right in order to get this effect. And there's my 1st 1 When you have a complete and you're happy with the way years looks, you're going to save it out. I come up to file and I'm going to go save as, and I will call this water color horizontal blue green. Okay, and I'll save it to my desktop and that's it. We're ready to start our next class, and we're going to create the first variation from this set that we have done 4. Video 3 FINAL Variation : you were starting with the completion of our horizontal blues, greens and yellows that I created. You might have done something different than mine. You years might look somewhat like mine, and that's perfectly fine. So make sure you have saved it out once you've saved it, then we're going to go to a new file. We want to save changes before closing. Yes. If you haven't saved it, then yes. You do want to say that. So now we're into step two, creating our second variation. This time I'm going to make only one change. I'm going to keep our horizontal direction that we're doing. And I want to show you what it looks like if we do the warmer colors. We have yellows, oranges, and I'm going to choose a red color. So I'm going to be working with my color palette over here, creating a couple more colors. You're sort of a red. Let's go with this orange and of it a little bit more to this kind of an orange. So I have my orange yellow school slightly darker red. See what happens with that? Yeah, that works are like that. That's good. All right, so I have this red and oranges and we will begin working with that. It's gonna be the identical thing we did. And I want you to choose a different color spectrum this time and we're going to keep the horizontal. I want to show you how quick and easy it is to add color and to create our background. This just so it doesn't matter, just sort of spread on. Whatever you want to create is perfectly fine. And I'm sure we'll look wonderful. I'm gonna just throw in a couple little batches of things here. Read here. Dark red. Okay, I think that's fine for it to start with and I'll come down to this brush again, and that's just blended on out into the warm tones is what I have right now again. Feel free to do the warm tones or do something different. I want you to change one thing, which is the color, um, spectrum that you're working with. Get your color palette different than what you had before. Now you'll notice that what I did was sort of create things that are similar in color. So on the color wheel, I was working just over here on the color wheel right now and before I worked with these colors in the color wheel over here, and that if you're not sure what to do with color, that always makes a beautiful look, is when you can work with colors that are very similar or the colors on it on the color wheel similar on the color wheel. Remember, if you need to add more color, drag it out. But there you have it. Look at that. That is another beautiful background that I can now add text to. If I want or do other things, just creating this as our background. We're going to save it out as a J. Peg again. I'm now gonna change your color, too. Warm tones read orange yellow to save it on my desktop, and there is my 2nd 1 when you're ready for your new one, I am going to just click over here to file new, and there is our new art board and again, click on image. If you would like to rotate it to be vertical, that's it. I will see you in the next video as we create Variation number three, changing one more element. Toe what we're doing 5. Video 4 Final Variations: our last video, and the third variation we're going to do is working. First, make sure you have a new file file new. And here is our file. Now, I am going to be working this time, um, and show you how I created the introduction images that I did, where I might might my title images, and I'll show you how quick and easy it was to do those. And right now I think I'm going to use the purple and that the pink. So I'm going to come here. In this case, I'm going to use this little smaller brush. And I just went horizontally like this. A little chunky pieces with that extend out a bit and I'm gonna add my pink to it. And I want to leave lots of white around it so that I can have space just so I could sort of look more like that. And I come to my brush and I'm just going to blend it out a little bit and have it sort off . Looks very brush like the edges. You can now see the brushstrokes is more easily. It looks like I just brushed this on, so I'm just gonna make sure I go over the edges of this. Remember, you can adjust your size of your brush, okay? And that is it. There it ISS. That's what I did to create the effect that you saw that you see in that the title images. So I'm going to go file, save as and I'm going to say, Let's see title images purple and think, and that's it. Now I'm going to do one more with you. Um, let's let's just do file new and we have a new one and this one, I'm going to do something a little bit different. I'm going to do chunky pieces and show you what that looks like when I am creating a new, chunky piece for this. So, um, let's see, this time I'm going to use colors in these same families. I'm gonna come up to hear that I have thes thes blues and show you what it looks like when I have just some blues and then all the same family instead of being something different. So I need this brush first, we're gonna use large strokes, and I'm gonna give you some different chunky pieces here. Okay? lets this'll once more chunky pieces. I'm going to sort of fill my I, uh, art board some of these different colors. Same one. Let's try this one. Hey, that works. That's adds a very lighter blue to this. So this one is even closer on the color wheel. The color spectrum that we have It was a very dark blue is thrown and even darker blue. Okay, we'll leave some white space is there, And I'm going to take maybe my slightly lighter one as I click on my synthetic round bristle brush And I'm just gonna blend these out in circular patterns so it gives a different effect. See, this circles how it gives another effect so you can see sort of a messier look that we're going for in this one. See how the colors air swirled around together. Okay, now I can keep going, going on on, or I can leave some of these. So these air more blended. I just think this is really exciting when I do. This is just so much fun to do and to see what I can create, um, see the different effects. It's different every single time. I have done this and you just get very, very different effects. You can do lighter, darker. Look at this effect. Is this kind of cool? Um, I think this would make a meat desktop wallpaper background. I think it would make wonderful for a blawg post that you can add your text on top of it. Um, just lots and lots of things you can do once you have it. And look at how quick and easy it was to create this. Okay, I love it. Just just like that. I think that's really neat. I can't wait to see what you've done because I'm sure you're gonna come up with your own creative things. You don't have to be creative to be creative. When you're doing this technique, I again please upload so I can see what you've done. I think it's really, really fun. Thank you.