Easy Watercolour Sunset Silhouette - Step by Step | Emily Curtis | Skillshare

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Easy Watercolour Sunset Silhouette - Step by Step

teacher avatar Emily Curtis, Artist/Painter

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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 (19m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Art Supplies

    • 3. Choosing the Colours

    • 4. Painting the Gradient

    • 5. Painting the Clouds

    • 6. Adding the Silhouette

    • 7. Class Project

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About This Class

Have you ever wanted to capture the beauty of a sunset? This class is all about how to do just that.

In this class, you’ll learn an easy process for painting a sunset silhouette using watercolours. I’ll guide you step-by-step from choosing the colours to producing the finished piece. By the end of this class you’ll have your very own sunset and birds silhouette painting and all the techniques you’ll need to recreate the piece in any colours you like.

In this class, you will learn:

  • How to select colours for a sunset
  • How to paint a smooth gradient
  • The step-by-step process to paint this watercolour sunset.

This class is suitable for all skill levels from beginner to professional as everything is laid out easily for you to follow along.

If you like this class, please leave a review to help me improve.

Happy Painting!

E xx

Meet Your Teacher

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Emily Curtis




Hi there! I'm Emily Curtis.

I'm a full-time artist who specialises in acrylic and watercolour painting. I produce work which portrays atmosphere and emotion, often inspired by moments in nature and urban life.

My love of painting began as a child when I was mesmerised by the colours in the fields surrounding my home. I spent hours watching sunsets and soon became obsessed with recreating the beauty of the world on paper. Now, I use my art to prolong the moments that often feel too fleeting to be observed in everyday life.

I followed my passion into adulthood and gained a Fine Art Foundation Diploma from the University of Arts London. My art has also been seen in magazines such as 'World of Int... See full profile

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1. Intro: Hello, My name's Emily Kotis. I'm a full time artist based in the UK, and I specialize in a critic and watercolor painting. Today I'm going to show you how to paint this lovely sunset silhouette. You don't need any prior knowledge of water colors for this class as I'm going to walk you through all the techniques, step by step. First, we'll talk through all the art supplies they're going to need and any replacements you can use. Then I'll instruct you how to mix all the colors you'll need to make this piece in the main section of this class. I'll talk you through the step by step process to painting this beautiful sunset, and we'll go over any adjustments you can make to make the painting easier or harder. Depending on your skill level, let's begin 2. Art Supplies: before we start, I'm going to go over. The equipment will be using and any replacements you can use first up on. Most obviously, you'll be needing water colors. I'm using ones from Windsor and Newton, but you don't need to have this exact set. You can use whatever set you have, see White of Bright and make a cheaper alternative. These are the watercolors often given out of schools. You can do a lot with these watercolors. I'm a big fan of them. In fact, if you go through my instagram, you'll see that I used these for my sketch with printings until the end of 2018. You'll definitely need to use watercolor paper for this class. I'm using 300 gram per square meter paper, and it comes in parts like these. You'll need a water ball and tissues toe washing dry your brushes. I recommend using a white water bowl so it's easier to see when the water needs changing. If you find that your paints often look muddy, it could be that you're not changing the water often enough. I'm going to use three brushes in this class, and none of them are my pointed brush proof that I do own other brushes. I'll be using a big square brush like this, which is an inch wide under smaller square brush, which is 10 millimeters wide. And for the details, I'll be using a small brush inside zero. If you don't have anything this small, then you could use a black pen or pencil. You'll want to take the paper to the table to stop it from bending. I recommend using Scotch tape, and finally, you might want to use a hair dryer to dry your painting. You don't have to, but it will speed up the process. 3. Choosing the Colours: I'm going to take you through all the colors will be using and how to mix them before we start on the main piece. I'm only using three paints to mix all of my colors, and the's are Windsor Yellow, Permanent Rose and Windsor Violet. If you don't have thes exact colors, that's fine. You could just use what you've got or, if you want to experiment, use completely different colors. All of the techniques are used in this class will still apply. I'm starting by selecting the colors I'm going to use for the Grady int in the sky. First up are mixing a dark pinky purple from permanent Rose and Windsor Violet for the middle color. In my Grady INT. I'm just using permanent Rose. This is going to act as my transition color between my lightest and darkest colors. I'm using permanent rose to mix all of the colors in my Grady INT, which is going to help them all blend together really smoothly. For my lightest color, I'm mixing an orangey red using wins, a yellow and permanent rose. When using lighter colors like yellow in mixing paints, it's best to start with the lighter colors and mix the darker ones into them gradually because colors like yellow can be easily overpowered. Moving on to my cloud color, I'm starting by making a dark purple out of Windsor, Violet and permanent rose. Then I'm adding a little bit of winds yellow, which will make it a bit more of a brownish purple. I'm actually going to use the same color to paint the bird silhouette just mixed up a bit more concentrated, so it looks almost black. 4. Painting the Gradient: we're going to start this piece by painting. Ingredient First step is to prepare the paper for the wet on wet technique by saturating it with water. I'm using my one inch brush to do this. If you don't have a big brush than just make sure your paper is fully covered with water so the paint will apply evenly. Then leave it for about 10 seconds to allow the water to sink into the paper. Now I'm going to apply my colors. I'm going to use three colors in my Grady INT. If you want to make this painting easier, then you could start with just two. If you want to challenge yourself, then use more. I like these kinds of paintings because they're easy to tailor to the level you're currently working. At first, I'm going in with my reddish orange color on putting that at the bottom of the peace and then blending the pink into that for a really smooth radiant. You want your colors not to just sit next to each other, but to overlap slightly so they really blended in together for a smooth transition. This is why I'm taking my pink right to the top of my paper before adding the purple. You want to keep everything fairly light to avoid unevenness, but we are going to do a few layers to build up the colors. Now. Leave the piece to dry. You can see now it's dry that using the wet on wet technique makes the paint settle really smoothly on the paper. However, it also makes the paint very watered down and light, so we need to apply a few layers to build up the vibrancy using my big brush, same as before. To prepare the paper to use the wet on wet technique again. Dry water colors can start to move around once re wet, so we want to use really night brushstrokes to avoid disturbing the paint underneath too much. Now I'm giving the water a moment to sink in before applying the same colors as last time. I like to work from light to dark when painting Grady INTs. If you start with the darkest color, I often find that you can end up dragging it too far down the page, which could make things look muddy. - You can go over any colors that look to light once you're happy with the way it looks. Leave the piece to dry again. I do recommend using a hair dryer when using the wet on wet technique to speed up the process. If you do use a hairdryer, make sure to hold it about a foot away from your work so the heat isn't too strong. Also, put away anything that's going to blow around on your desk before turning it on. You don't want to start a mini hurricane in the art room. If the area around your painting gets too wet, just dry it with a tissue so the water doesn't cause the tape around your paper toe. Unstick. We are letting the work fully dry in between each layer for two reasons. One so that the paint dry smoothly on two is so that we can see the true progress of how the radiant is forming. For example, now the pieces dry, we can see that it still lacks contrast between my lightest and darkest areas. So I'm going into my third layer with this in mind, following all the same steps as before saturate the paper, then apply the colors. I'm mixing my colors to be more intense than before, so that the contrast between them shows up better this time, - then wiping down the sides and leaving it to dry. You can also use the wet on wet technique to work on only one color. At the moment, my purple isn't coming through very well, so I'm going to saturate my paper with water just the same as before. But this time, instead of applying all of my colors, I'm only going to mix up the purple, placing it at the top of the paper on dragging it down slightly. You can put in a little bit of pink in the center just to keep the transition nice and smooth. No, I'm going to let my painting dry again. You want to keep changing your water when painting Grady INTs? Because if the water gets too dark, it continue painting and make things look muddy. I'm happy with how my great aunt looks. Now I'm just going to paint one last layer to make sure all my colors are as vibrant as possible, and I'm sure you know the drill by now. So say it with me. Kids saturate the paper with water, Leave it for 10 seconds to sink in and then apply your colors who I feel like Dora the Explorer. Vibrancy is key in this piece, because even though we're not painting the sun, we still want to capture the rich colors that make sunsets so magical. Leave your work to dry before moving on to the next lesson. 5. Painting the Clouds: Now we're moving on to painting the clouds, and I just like to take a moment to point out how beautiful that Grady Int is thoroughly worth the effort. If you ask me, we're once again going to use our big brush to cover the paper with water. Make sure to use really light strokes for this so you don't accidentally wiped the paint off the background, then leave it for about 10 seconds so the water can sink into the paper. I'm mixing up a really dark purple to paint the clouds. I'm going to make it a bit more brown than the purple in the sky so that the Kyle's don't disappear into the background. You want to make the purple darker than you want the clouds to look, because using the wet on wet technique causes pain to spread out and dry a lot lighter than when it is first applied. I'm using quick and deduce motions with my brush to paint the clouds. The idea is to paint an approximation or impression of clouds rather than exact detail. The bird silhouette is going to be the main focal point of my piece, so I want everything else to be soft and out of focus. I'm painting the darkest clouds at the top, and do they get lighter as we move down the painting, the Kyle's at the top are closer to us and so a darker because they are further away from the sun. I leave the piece to dry before moving on to the next lesson. 6. Adding the Silhouette: Now we're moving on to painting the details. Under this is the silhouettes off the birds on the telephone pole. I'm going to switch to using my small brush for this. I'm going to paint the details using that same dark purple we used for the clouds in the last lesson. But this time it's going to be more concentrated, so it's going to look a lot darker. I'm painting the silhouette of a wooden telephone pole because thes aren't exactly straight , and I think the imperfections add a bit of character to the peace. I'm leaving a bit of space between the pole and the edge of the painting. This is so that my painting isn't cut in half with a harsh line When I paint in the wire, as you can see, the purple looks almost black. However, I find it that actually using black could be a bit too harsh. So using purple softens this a bit while still keeping the contrast with that said, if you don't have a small enough brush for details than a black pen, will do just fine. Feel free to experiment with the silhouette. You could put in more wires, more birds. Whatever you like, really. Next I'm going to paint in the birds. The's congest be very basic silhouettes. They don't have to be exact. We're not making a nature documentary here. Spread them around the wire a bit. You could even put a few just flying in the sky. Try to vary the size and position of the birds because it gives the painting a more natural feel. 7. Class Project: Here is the finished piece, up-close feel clause project. Try creating your own watercolor sunset by following along with my instructions. Don't forget to post your results down below, as I'd love to see them. Do leave a review as it helps me out a lot. And if there's anything you want me to do a tutorial on that, we know. You can find more of my work on Instagram at E dot dot curtis, And on my website, www dot M&E hyphen curtis.com. I hope you enjoyed this class and I'll see you in the next one.