Create Amazing Textures and Patterns with Watercolours | Victoria Jeffery | Skillshare

Create Amazing Textures and Patterns with Watercolours

Victoria Jeffery, Artist and teacher

Create Amazing Textures and Patterns with Watercolours

Victoria Jeffery, Artist and teacher

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8 Lessons (30m)
    • 1. Watercolour Textures Introduction

    • 2. Watercolour Puddles and Grids

    • 3. A Pinch of Salt

    • 4. Wrap it up

    • 5. Bits & Bobs

    • 6. The Big Reveal

    • 7. Class Project

    • 8. Conclusion

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About This Class


Have you ever looked at a watercolour painting and wondered, “How do you get the paint to make patterns like that?” Join me to discover how to create amazing textures and patterns with your watercolours and a few magical ingredients from your cupboards.

In this class we are going to learn how to intentionally create patterns and textures with our watercolours and readily available household things. There may well be a happy accident or two, as the process can be unpredictable, but that’s all part of the fun.

Throughout this class we will explore and experiment with things like salt, bubblewrap, string and even rice, to create fascinating textures with your paints.

If you are new to watercolours this is a fun introduction to how versatile they can be. Or, if you are already familiar with watercolour this class is a great way to increase your painting vocabulary and pep up your practice.

Let’s make some watercolour magic!

Meet Your Teacher

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Victoria Jeffery

Artist and teacher


Welcome to my SkillShare page.

I’m Vicky, also known as Crobbles Watercolours. I am an artist and teacher with a passion for watercolours. 


I have been creative all my life, but love to paint and draw most. It makes me incredibly happy to share my knowledge and skills and be inspired by those I work with. 




I studied art and textiles to degree level. As a primary school teacher, I was responsible for art throughout the schools I taught in. I ran art clubs and even painted an enormous mural of childrens’ book characters. 

I taught life drawing and colour exploration at a holiday resort in Portugal.

I ran a highly successful art class for Home Educated child... See full profile

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1. Watercolour Textures Introduction: Have you ever looked at a watercolor painting and wondered, how did they get the paint to make patterns like that? Join me to discover how you can create patterns and textures with your watercolors and a few simple ingredients. Hello. My name is Vicky Jeffrey. I'm also known as Crobbles Watercolors. I live in the Northwest of England with my family. We're all creative and we love to collaborate together. I recently rediscovered the joy of watercolors and they have become a passion. I studied art and textiles up to degree level and have always painted and drawn. In this class, you'll discover how to create amazing patterns and textures with your watercolors and a few magical ingredients. Throughout the class, we'll explore and experiment with things like salt, string, cling film, and even bubble wrap. By the end of the class, you will have created an informative grid that in itself is actually a very beautiful thing. You can pop it in a sketchbook and keep it for reference. You can cut it up and create mini abstract paintings, bookmarks, or even greetings cards. If you're new to watercolors, this is a great class to discover how versatile they can be and how much fun you can have. If you're an experienced painter, it's a great way to pep up your practice and have some fun. Come and join me, and we'll make some watercolor magic. 2. Watercolour Puddles and Grids: Right, let's get started. First of all, we need to prepare our paper, and then we'll prepare our paints, ready for making the grid of patterns and textures with our watercolors. For this, I'm going to need masking tape, my ruler, and a pencil, and I've got a piece of paper here. This is 100 percent cotton paper, it's from The Langton and it's called Prestige. I would recommend using a sturdy thick paper, the thickest you can get, and if you can get cotton rag, that would be really good. The quality of your paper will affect how your experiments go. But then that's all part of the fun. Who knows? Maybe you could make the whole thing into a range of different papers and see how each one reacts. I'm going to put all the information about the resources and the items that I use into the notes below the video. I'm going to just divide my paper up into eight centimeter squares, and the reason for this is it gives us nice little boxes to try each different experiment in. I'm actually using 12 different ingredients to do these patterns and textures. You could do more or less, whatever you happen to have around. It is quite addictive. Once you've done this a few times, you may find you start wanting to experiment with other things that you've got in the house and see what happens. I will also add a list into the resources of the some of the things that I have actually tried that we're not going to be using today. This masking tape is quite slim, but it should be sturdy enough to hold our paper in place. One of the reasons for taping it down onto the board is because we are going to be using plenty of water and if we don't tape it down, your paper may well buckle, and we don't want that because that will make our experiments difficult to do. Now we have the paper put taped down, I'm now going to use the masking tape to make my grid for each little experiment. When I finish with this, the little white borders around each square will be very useful for if I want to cut them out, if I want to turn them into greetings cards or use them as little mini abstract paintings. That wasn't square. Once you've taped your squares out and it's all in place, just go over and make sure that any places where there is overlapping tape that it's firmly in contact with the paper, what you don't want is any of the paint seeping underneath and getting into the border areas. There we go, that's our paper ready. It's a good idea to make sure your paints are prepared before we start actually painting onto our paper. That way we've got a good supply of paint ready and we're not having to mix it up while we're actually doing our experiments and exploring the colors. I've got my daisy palette here, I've chosen this one because it has nice deep wells which will hold a reasonable amount of liquid. You don't have to have a special palette, you could use lids from jam jars or any little source dishes or anything like that that you have. Just something that will hold a reasonable amount of liquid. I've got a large paintbrush because I want to get the paint onto the paper quite quickly, which that one's a size 10 round, and I've got two colors. You can use any number of colors you like, just one single color or a multitude, but for this particular exercise, I am going to use these two. I have cobalt blue and Winsor violet, both Winsor & Newton paints. You can experiment with paints that have more than one pigment in them, they're great fun in their own right. If you have something like Daniel Smith's cascade green or undersea green, they have both blue and yellow pigments within them. If you're applying our magic ingredients, they will make wonderfully spectacular effects. I have some clean water and I'm ready to start making a puddle. By making a puddle of each color, we're going to make sure we've got plenty in reserve for our whole sheet of paper. If you don't have tubes of paint, don't worry, you can quite easily do this with your pens. Just make sure that you get them nice and wet and well activated before you start painting. I'm going to put a small amount of paint into this well. I've just moved this up so you can see it a little better. Into here I am now going to add my clean water, and you can be quite generous as we want a good reserve of paint. I'm going to swirl it round and what I want is to get rid of any lumps, I want the paint to be good and smooth. You see I've got some on the brush there where it hasn't dissolved yet. Just work it round and make sure it's a good supply. I can add a little more water to that. There we go, that's just what I need. Give that one a clean, and I'm going to repeat the process with the Winsor violet. This is a very strong color, we might not need quite so much paint in the beginning. Add clean water and dissolve it in. There we go. Yes, maybe I tap more water in there and we're ready to go. 3. A Pinch of Salt: We're all set up, ready to go and start our experimentation. For our first row experiments, we're going to use things from the kitchen cupboards. I have ordinary table salt, sea salt, which is much coarser in texture, uncooked rice, and uncooked couscous. The first one we're going to do is the table salt, so I'm going to add some generous amounts of my paints to the first square, and I'm going to use a little bit of both colors, just because it's pretty. There we go. A little bit more purple in the corner there I think, and we sprinkle some salt on and see what happens. As you can see, as the salt dissolves, it pushes the pigment in the paint away, so we get little starburst patterns around. This will take some time to develop, but if you keep an eye on it while we do the others, you will definitely see changes. Number 2, we're going to try a different sort of salt. This is sea salt, the grains are much larger than, should have cleaned my brush there never mind, than in the table salt, but there are all sorts of different salts you can try. I've even seen people having an experiment with the pink salt you get from Himalaya. There we go, and let's let that one develop. Clean my brush properly this time for the blue. Next, we're going to try the dry rice, so I'm going to slush on some more paint. The rice, because it is dry, actually absorbs some of the moisture from the paint and will make little, hopefully, make little torpedo shapes, but you can also see it pushing the pigment away from the grains. There we go, a couple more. I've used this one for painting things like jellyfish, and I've used it on landscapes where you want it a little rocky, and actually in combination with salt and the rice to make rocky textures, and it's a very useful, quite abstract finish you get with that one, and last from our kitchen cabinets is the couscous. I have the blue at the bottom this time, there we go, and a bit of purple across the top. The couscous acts in the same way as the rice, and obviously, because it's a small cabled shape, you get little speckles rather than little torpedo shapes like the rice. There we go and we leave those to dry. It's best to leave them to do their own thing and just dry on their own, rather than using anything to dry them off like a hairdryer or a heat tool. What will happen with that is, you will push the pigment around, and you may even disturb the salt or the rice that you've got on the surface, so we just have to be patient with these ones. 4. Wrap it up: I have cut my piece of baking parchment into a little heart-shape. You could just keep it as a square or any shape you fancy. That was what I felt like this morning when I was preparing my paper. Again, we add plenty of paint to our square and then lightly the press paper onto it, and we'll see what happens. Next, I'm going to use cling film. This piece of cling film has been used several times for making patterns and textures. I don't like the thought of the plastic being wasted. What I do is when I've used it, I gave it a wipe over with a damp cloth and keep it to one side to use again. The cling film forms cell-like structures within the paint where it touches the surface or it doesn't. If you can crinkle it up nicely and rest it onto the onto the paint, you should be able to see where the paint is actually reacting to the cling film. You see the dark areas where it's been pulled in by the cling film. Next, we get to use some bubble wrap. Again we'll put paint on, a generous amount. Let's go for a purple in the middle and blue on either side I think for this one. The bubbles of the bubble wrap, where they make contact with the paper, will form little circles and dots in the paint. I'm just going to rest that on gently. Press it down and you can already see the dotty pattern appearing. Again, we need to leave that to dry on its own. Blue and purple, make that a bit stronger there. Again, like we did with the cling film, I'm going to crunch up the foil. Not a huge amount, just a little bit, and then rest it onto the paint. Again, like with the other ingredients, we need to let these dry. We can now move on to our next set of experiments. 5. Bits & Bobs: Our final ingredients are household things, but they're things that not necessarily found in the kitchen. We have a piece of natural sponge, some string, and some cotton thread and washi tape. It's wonderful what you can experiment with. Don't just be limited to these if you don't have them at home, don't worry. See what else you can find you think might be able to make an interesting pattern with. First of all, I'm going to use some washi tape. You can use any masking tape. I've got this because it was particularly thin and I thought it would make some interesting patterns. You could use wider masking tape and rip it to get different shapes and jagged edges. Another way of forming a resist like this would be to use wax crayons or as we did when we were at primary school, wax candles. I have also tried with chinagraph pencil, which actually resists the watercolor paint very well. I'll just add a few more of these randomly making a crisscross pattern across the bottom here. Make sure it's well connected to the paper. There's a little something under there, I think it might be a piece of salt. I'm going to paint over the top I knocked the camera there, sorry about that. You can see the paint is bubbling away from the washi tape and settling around it. There we go. The next one I'm going to do, is use the strings. This is just ordinary kitchen cotton string, and this is a bit of cotton thread from my crochet basket. Now these aren't always successful. They can be a little unpredictable, but that's all parts of the fun, and why we are experimenting and testing out our materials. I'm putting generous amount on. There we go. Because the string is absorbent, it will hopefully absorb the paint wherever we lay it onto the paper. I'm going to swirl it round trying to make sure it has good contact. Pressing it down like that. I'm going to put the slightly finer yarn around the outside. There we go. We should get some nice lines. There. It looks like it's making contact all around. With this I've got a piece of natural sponge that I'm going to use. You could use any household sponge. But to get a good texture on it, you might want to pick some holes in it and rough it up a little bit so that it's not too even. But this one has has a very spiky texture. I'm just going to dip it into the paint and apply it over my square. There we go. It's rather delicate and pretty. Shall I add some purple to that? I think I should, just a little. There, that'll do. Our final ingredient is just water. I'm going to use my brush to drop water onto the wet paint. This will cause what we call a bloom or run back. A lot of people don't want those things that happen when they're painting certain things. They want a nice even clean wash. But I actually find getting run backs and blooms quite exciting. Let me just get my brush and some fresh clean water. I'm going to drop it on. There you go. Can you see that? See me see if we can do it here on the blue. There. We'll let those spread and do their own thing. 6. The Big Reveal : Here we are for the big reveal and peel. As you can see, we've had some changes already, but some of it we can't see at all. Now these pieces here particularly took an age to dry. I could have had several cups of coffee. In fact, we ended up leaving the paper overnight to dry, and this is the next day because these ones were just not drying. Its particularly cold here at the moment, so you do have to be patient. It pays off in the end because you will get the effects that you really want. Let's have a look and see what we've got. You can gently rub the salt off, or if it's sticking to the paper a bit too much, use the edge of a blunt knife or a ruler. I've got my palette knife here. Now that one was just the table salt, and as you can see, it's made some beautiful patterns and speckles where the salt granules stuck to the paper. Fairly similar with this one, with the rock salt. I'm still very pleased with the results of that. These make great foliage patterns for the background of landscape paintings, things like that. Now the rice, hopefully underneath the rice, although they've got some dispersion patterns around them, hopefully underneath each one of these grains will be a little oval shape. Let's pushed myself. There we go. Great for rocks and texture in that manner. The same with the couscous, where all the grains were, we should have speckles. These have stuck down quite firmly. As I said before, this is unpredictable, sometimes these things work very well, sometimes they do very unexpected things, and that's part of the fun. Now, onto our more covered surfaces, the grease proof paper heart, let's peel that off and see what's underneath. You can see it's created a mottled texture that's rather lovely. Underneath the cling film, we should have cells of color, let's have a look. This is another one that I've used for the background of foliage when I did some toadstool paintings, using cling film on the background made great foliage background for the toadstools. Let's have a look under the bubble wrap, do we have dots? Yes. As you can see here in the middle, that's a stray piece of rice, the dots are not as strong, so the violet paint reacted in a different way than the cobalt blue did to the bubble wrap. Let's have a look what's underneath the foil. That's lovely, look at that. Wonderful cell-like shapes moving the pigment around so that it's darker in places and paler, and I'm really pleased with that one. Now this one should be fairly obvious, we should just have white stripes under these pieces of washi tape. Let's have a look. Yeah, good, bold, strong lines. Here we go, that's very dramatic, very strong and bold, and they're very clear lines where the tape was. I'm not sure how this one will have worked, this one can be unpredictable. This is the cotton string, it's where it's touching the paper, we should get some lines, so let's have a look. We've got some. Yes, it's pale, but we do have some. One of the problems we have with this one was when we left it to dry, Oli, our cat decided it was a good place to go and lay down. He was actually lying on some of the string. Well, it has made some marks, very faint, very delicate, but not as strong as I have had before. Now we've got this one which was just the natural sponge. This is as it is, it's just dried as we made it. Wonderful for foliage on trees and shrubs and things, using it for moss on rocks, or sea sea if you were doing a rock wall painting, this one has worked very well. Then the last one which did something I didn't expect, this was where we dropped water onto the paint expecting to get runbacks and blooms that look a bit like cauliflowers, and in fact, it did run back, and it's made all these very delicate little feather-like patterns, but it didn't make the cauliflower patterns I was expecting. I still like it though, I think it's rather pretty. Now, let's take the tape off from the cells and reveal each square in its own right. If you find the tape sticking to your paper or pulling it up, taking the surface off the paper, what you can do is if you've got a hairdryer or a heat tool handy, just give it a quick whiz over with that on a warm setting, and that will soften the glue on your tape and stop it pulling up the paper. Let's try this one. Some paper, if the surface is very textured, will stick to the tape quite easily, so you do have to be careful. There we go. Now for the final ones around the outside edge to complete the picture. I have a smaller version of this that I keep in my sketch book as a reference. I also have several smaller ones where I've just experimented with salt and different paints, the ones that happen to be on my palette that were leftovers from another painting. It's always good to have a little play and build up your repertoire, knowing what paints will work best with the salt, or the rice, or the told wrap, and also which papers as well will make a difference. There we are. Now we have our reference grid of patterns and textures made with things from your cupboards and your watercolors. I hope you've enjoyed this lesson and we'll come and share all your experiments with me too in the projects. 7. Class Project: Our class project is to create an informative and beautiful grid of all your experiments and textures and patterns. It would be wonderful to see what you create. To find the projects" page, click on the link below for Projects and Resources, and you'll see a green button that says Create Project. If you share with us, we can all appreciate each other's experiments and comment. Thank you. 8. Conclusion : I hope you've enjoyed this lesson and I really look forward to seeing what you've produced with your paints and the magic ingredients. Please share them in the projects, it would be lovely to see them. By practicing and playing with your paints, you will increase your knowledge as well as having lots of fun. With these techniques, you will be able to make some amazing paintings, and I hope you'll come and join me in my next class when I can show you how to make paintings like these. Just a little salt, your watercolor and it's magic.