How to Prep a Watercolor Palette the RIGHT Way | Peggy Dean | Skillshare

How to Prep a Watercolor Palette the RIGHT Way

Peggy Dean, Top Teacher | The Pigeon Letters

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6 Lessons (26m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. How to Prep Your Palette

    • 3. Choose Colors Wisely

    • 4. Properly Add Color to Your Palette

    • 5. Create a Swatch Reference Chart

    • 6. Conclusion

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About This Class

How do I make a watercolor palette correctly? This question comes up way more than you'd think. I remember the first time I was going to prep a palette and I was extremely discouraged because I had no idea how. As far as I knew, watercolors belonged in pre-made cake palettes, while acrylic paints were in tubes, but WATERCOLORS in TUBES?! That was crazy. No way.

This class is going to set you up to create your very own YOU palette of YOUR favorite colors without making crucial mistakes. You know... when you watercolor knocks loose and falls out or when you try to mix colors but your palette makes the water just bead up? Yeah.. this class is going to help you avoid all of that nonsense.



For your reference, I've listed the materials used in this class:

Palette: The Pigeon Letters Palette

Brush: The Pigeon Letters Round Brush

Paper: Legion Cold Press

Watercolors: Daniel Smith (Here's a link to a video on my Instagram of a full swatch chart of every color they make!)

Daniel Smith - DOT CHART

Daniel Smith - Chinese White

Daniel Smith - Lamp Black

Daniel Smith - Buff Titanium

Daniel Smith - Burnt Umber

Daniel Smith - Indian Yellow

Daniel Smith - New Gamboge

Daniel Smith - Cadmium Red Medium Hue

Daniel Smith - Pyrrol Scarlet 

Daniel Smith - Garnet Genuine

Daniel Smith - Rhodonite Genuine

Daniel Smith - Bordeaux

Daniel Smith - Prussian Blue

Daniel Smith - Mayan Blue Genuine

Daniel Smith - Deep Sap Green

Daniel Smith - Sap Green

Daniel Smith - Cascade Green

Daniel Smith - Jadeite Genuine

Daniel Smith - Green Apatite Genuine

Daniel Smith - Perylene Green

Daniel Smith - Green Gold


1. Introduction: Hey, guys, I'm Peggy, and I'm the founder of the Pigeon Letters. This class is going to be a super easy introduction on how to use to watercolor paints in the palette, more so on how to prep your palates. This is information that isn't readily available. Strangely enough, so my goal here is to give you the tools to be able to perfectly prepare your Pollitz. You'll have all of your favorite color is ready to go. There's a few steps to do this to do it effectively. Severe pains don't get loose in the wells, and so they don't fall out how to prep the palate itself so that it doesn't beat up on you when you're trying to mix color. So there's little tricks like that. Pretty straightforward, though, So I'm excited to get you on the right path to do this properly. So I'm super excited to share the set up with you so that you can take your pallets into your own hands. 2. How to Prep Your Palette: the first part to propping your palate is easily the most important part. You need to make sure that the pallets ready to hold the paint. If you've ever seen the issue or have the issue where your paint is falling out of your palate, it is most likely due to the fact that it was not prepped correctly. So this part is crucial, Crucial. It's really easy to dio with these plastic pallets. They are great to hold all, you know, aton of different color. But they're also not very abrasive, so they're not gonna hold your paint as well. So what we want to do is actually rough that up so that your paint has something to hold onto instead of just being scooped right out or getting knocked loose. And when you mix your paint in the wells here, they usually get kind of beat it up where you don't see the color very well, and it's no sin. Just water beads with color in them, and then forget it. Easy way to do this. You just need, like the rough edge of a sponge. Um, I got this. It's actually a detail cleaner. I bought it initially to clean. Then I ended up using this because it's small and can fit into the each of these wells a lot easier. Um, you don't need to rough this up so much that you can see a bunch of, you know, marks all over the place. It doesn't need to be like a sandpaper site type of situation. It's just enough to where the paint has something to hold onto. So to do this, I'll just start in the big area and just sorry about this noise, but and that's it. So I'm gonna do that. All of my wells. Just get it so that there is something Teoh hold onto. Did you got all of your paint? Wells? I'm doing it over here also because I want to do it anywhere that there's going to be paint and I often use this area for paint. That part is done. You might be able to see a little bit of abrasion on the surface, and you also might not. Not a big deal as long as you go through the motions. That is all that you need to dio. So one thoughts done. Then we can start talking about paints 3. Choose Colors Wisely: So I'm using Daniel Smith watercolors, and I don't know if you guys have ever seen this, but they have a dot chart of all 238 of their colors. And this is so convenient when it comes to picking colors that you want to put in your palate because you can try them all. First, you can see and feel their consistency as you use them. You can see exactly what color and tone they're going to be seen. Those any regulation. So what I've done is I have actually swatch all of these colors in one of my watercolor journals, and I've got all of the colors laid out here. I refer to this so much I can't even tell you. It has saved me on so many times that I have needed Teoh pick colors to put on pallets or to use on pieces of art. If you don't have all the colors that Daniel Smith has, it's just a good idea toe Have the dot chart on hand. Um, obviously you can put whatever in your palette that you want to, but let's say there's a color that's not in your palate dot chart comes in real handy, especially. What's the color you're probably not gonna use enough to buy a tube for. That's just about Daniel Smith. But, uh, you know, there's there's great brands out there. I'm just very partial to them. So what? I'm going to dio if let's say I haven't watched this yet, and I just have my dot chart here. What I'm gonna do is actually just wet the paper itself and spread the color over itself to see which ones I want to do because I'm not totally sure I know that this palette has 28 wells and I have some more colors than that. So, um, I'm really partial to greens. I've got a lot of greens, but I have to figure out exactly what I want to put in this palette. So I'm gonna test a few of them here. I have got some greens here that I know I'm going to include, which are cascade green jadeite, genuine peril in green green appetite, genuine and green gold. So show you what those look like for your reference Cascade Green as a really pretty, um, kind of bluish tone green. It actually ends up looking, um, as it dries. What it ends up doing is getting some of the blue and green. They end up separating. So it's a really pretty tone that it drives for that granule ation on, and it's kind of unpredictable, so you don't know where that's gonna go. I tend to really like the texture that that creates and the way that that works. So I've spread that out so I can see it. Spreading amount on the Dodge Heart is a good idea for overall look, but I do recommend making a separate swatch that you can actually see and feel the way that each of these colors works because some will be more pigmented and some will be, Ah, lot more. Um, they'll need a lot more water like this. Amma, this color is going to be. You can tell that it needs a little more water for it to really get going. Um, also, this color is made from real gemstones. So this is their prime attack Lying anything with a P. There is really jump stones, which was really cool. Um, the next color that I'm going to definitely include his jadeite genuine and this is made from real jadeite. And let's see where it is on here. All right, underneath. So, what this color is is this nice, deep, rich green. So I'm definitely including that Para lean is one of my absolute favorites. It's like this really dark, moody Kulish color green almost looks like black was included in its pigment. And then we've got green appetite genuine, which is going to be here. This one is kind of like the cascade green in that it has some granule ations. So as it dries, it will start to separate a little bit with some brown. And they're so this is great for nature colors. And I've got green gold, which I believe is on the next page yet which is, um, this really pretty colors of the more pigment. It looks more green, and then the less it looks a little more yellow, which is really pretty. So I know I have those colors. They're going to be included in my palette, and it's pretty much crosses all my checklists when it comes to greens. So I may or may not add more. I'm going to see what else I want to do with the rest of my colors, but I know that I'm including these. I'm sending them to the side, and now I'm gonna jump into blues, so I have a few that I want to choose from. I'm pretty set on using Mayan Blue Genuine, which is also made from real jump stones. I know that this one requires a little more water to get going because it is not as pigmented, but it's a beautiful color, and it's super worth putting on a pallet. So it's kind of got that dirty undertone to it, which I'm a huge fan of. And then I am going to use oppression blew. It goes in every palate, no matter what, it's my favorite. Um, it's a really rich blue, highly pigmented and create some really nice depth halo blue, and they have a green shade and e red shade. Where is it? Curious. This is the green shade, even CGs on the blue. Or excuse me, the red shade rs. So I have the green shade that I wanna maybe put in here. It's really, really bright. Got the same kind of pigment is depression blue, but for me, the pressure in blue is the way I want to go. Um, because I like that depth. Not so much the bright, bright colors and what I'm doing So they think that I'm set on blue I have to run that I'm gonna include So I'm gonna move over into yellow and for yellow. I know that I'm gonna include the Hansa Yellow meeting, which is this color here. I'll show you what that looks like. Groups note to everyone. Don't do it when you still have blue on your brush It's just this nice standard yellow. It's got a nice bright color It's going to stay true to its yellow tone And then I've got the nuke. Ambos, if I'm not pronouncing is right, Don't make fun of me. I know what they looked like paper, but I don't say it aloud very much, but I've got Indian yellow, which also looks really similar. It looks on paper like it's going to be kind of a dirty or color, but it is very similar to the Hansa yellow medium. In fact, I might use this instead cause it's just lightly richer. Um and then the new gambles is more of like a light, orangey color like that. So, yeah, I'm gonna include both of these. I don't need the Hansa yellow medium cause it's so similar. So that goes away. So these air definitely going on my palette. But I've got my reds now I have pirouette Scarlett and cadmium red medium. Hugh, I can't tell you how many times I fight with both of these. With which one that I like the most. Um, because they're so similar. Also, both of these aside, it's really going to come down to what I have available on my palette. And then I have some more colors that I want to consider along the red spectrum. So I've got some pinks and some I know. I'm gonna use Garnett, which is on this page here. I'll show you what that looks like. This is made. It's a natural jump stone to, but it's kind of like this undertone of brown, but it's a really, really pretty reddish brown color, so I'm definitely including that, um I also have the payment. I genuine again. You guys, if I'm not pronouncing these right and you know more than I do, don't tell me I don't want to hear it. Um, here it is. So this one's more of a dark kind of brownish undertone. Violet, Um, one that's definitely going, and one that's similar to this that I have over here is the human tight, violent, genuine. And this one is so pretty. So it's got some granule ation with some violet color and the brown because I love these so much and I do a lot of nature. Every types of illustrations will probably end up doing, including both of these. This one's just a lot more brown on the sons. A lot more reddish, but there is an undertone of violet in here once it starts drying. And then what's left over? I've got Bordeaux, my inviolate row tonight, genuine and organic for a 1,000,000 So I will show you those. The organic per 1,000,000 is going to be a lot like that cadmium medium red hue. It's a little pink or I don't know if you guys see these tones on the camera as well as I do, but it's very similar. It's just a little bit lighter overall, so I'm gonna skip on that one. The road tonight genuine is my favorite pink color that they have. Um, it's also made from natural gemstones. Takes a little more water to get going, but it's a really pretty pink tone versus being kind of overboard. So I'm going to include that one. I've got my and Violet, which is right here. This one is a really pretty rich purple lee color, but it's also similar to Bordeaux, which is a lot more pigmented Just underneath here doesn't take much, so they're similar. I mean, it really comes down to Lake. This isn't, ah, one of those examples of transparency, like the pigment that you went in there. So if you want more transparency overall than you probably go with this one, since there's a similar or like, Bordeaux is like instant papa color, you're not gonna be fighting with trying to get that nice and bold. So could do both could do either or could do none. But these air, just like here's an option of where something is similar. But it really depends on what you want. I can't decide. So I'm just going to probably keep these, um around and lingering to later decide. So now move into my browns I have three that I can't decide on, uh, got transparent brown oxide, which is right here. And this is kind of a nice overall brown, very warm. You can do a lot with that and then burn number. Very similar. Is it on here? Right here. But it's not as warm, but a nice, easy brown. And then I've got my Van Dyke Brown, which is my favorite. I love these deep colors, so let's see, where is it? Here we go. It's It's one of those ones that looks like there might be black undertone and it's so good . Um, so I'll probably go with Burn Number and Van Dyke Brown just because I won't use a lot of this when I got some brown undertones in some of my reddish colors. Um, so that's what I'm going to choose to dio. I will get rid of this woman and keep these two. I might even just go with one of these. It just depends. And then my favorite favorite color to include and all of my palace is the buff titanium. This color is it blends so well with everything, and it just adds a little bit of, um, natural tones. So I love it. It's coming in no matter what. And then I got black and white. A lot of people will say Don't ever use white because you can use water. Teoh get transparency. But I use white because I like to create like pastel colors sometimes, or I want just a wash that's really light. And I don't want to use water, and that's up to you. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Okay, so I have lamp black. This is what it looks like. I already know I'm including it. But just so you see, it's a nice, rich black. And then I've got Chinese white, which is just your typical easy pigmented white, your not really going to see much coming up here, Um, and then that is it for those guys. So I might be over the amount that my, um, how it's going to take some 28 wells. Let's see my colors I have. So I actually only have 21 colors, which is great, because that gives me room for more. So now I can experiment with these greens and see these extra greens. I know I have a lot of green authority, but then I can see if I want to include them. So I got deep Stop green, which is a really, really pretty color, and iTunes, where right here and the reason why I may have not included that before is because it is similar to jadeite genuine jadeite. It's a little cooler than deep sap, but I because I have room, I'm totally including that. There's a lot of greens, and then terra verity is a beautiful color. It takes it uses a little more water to get going. So that was the reason for me to hesitate, although since I have room will probably included so you can see it has a lot more transparency, but I'm gonna put it in their sap green, also a really pretty color. It's kind of like a step darker than the green gold. Oh, and then one other color that I like to include is actually not one of the water colors. It is a good wash. So think about that, too. You can always add wash in your palette as long as it's one that can be, uh, ree wedded. There's a lot of them that can't be so pay attention of that. They're like acrylic, more like wash acrylic so they don't get rewarded. But, um, my favorite is Flesh Tent by Windsor and Newton. It's a really nice it's this color, and then you can always include more of those in there as well. Now that I picked my colors, I want to figure out where I want them to lay in my palette, which is a strategic move. And I can't tell you how many times I've been mad about my choices on where it's that things so we'll do that together. 4. Properly Add Color to Your Palette: So I'm just putting my pains in the order that I had them placed. So I make sure that I do. That's exactly how I want to. So I'm just gonna start here and work mainly around, so something to pay attention to As you're filling your palate, Um, you, When you put your paint in, you first want toe, line the edges before you fill it in. Um, the reason for this is because it's going to grip to the sides that way and the bottom When watercolor dries, it starts to shrink up a little bit. So to avoid doing that when you edge the sides than it really gives it something to hold on to and it will shrink down instead of in were also not gonna fill it all the way to the top or all the way this to the end. We're going to leave about 1/4 inch so that we have some space for water to actually glide on the top without spilling over into the next color. Uh, these pains air really pigmented, so there's no need to actually fill them that full so and starting with buff titanium and I'm taking it directly to the sides here. So I'm going to get one side in just squeezing till I get to about here. And then I'm going, Teoh, get the bottom real good. And then the other side. And then once that's done, I can fill in the rest of it. I'm using a paint that it's almost empty. So it's not really the best example, but ideo other ones to show you. So Okay. And then my next color, I'm gonna do the same thing. This could get messy to, um if you don't trust yourself than what I would dio is put a piece of paper underneath. All right, So see how I feel the edges and then fill in the rest of it. And I'm just gonna do that with all of these colors. This Okay, So once my watercolor is in here, what I usually do is keep my palette open near a window for 24 hours or so. Um, I've made a mess. Um, and then I will come back the next day and I just take my fingertip and I just press on each of the colors to create just a very small crater um, your watercolor will still be soft, but it will be mostly dry, especially on the surface. It'll be soft toward the middle. So when you press gently, it's gonna create a little crater so that as you use your watercolor, um, it'll keep that water on the colors that you're using a little bit better so that you don't have to keep rewriting and re wedding as much is just a little trick to help you in the next video. I'm just gonna show you a quick way that I do my swatches for each pallet that I create so that it's a little quick reference point for me so that I know exactly what color is where . 5. Create a Swatch Reference Chart: Okay, so I want to make sure that my reference chart will fit inside of my palette. So I can either mark that location off or I can just cut it right away. So I am just taking. You can take scissors or a paper cutter. Um, and I am going to cut this first so that I don't accidentally make it too large. Andi. So when I cut it down, I don't chop off any of the colors. I say that because it's totally happened before, so this just helps me know that I'm staying in my guide. Um, I say this because, yes, it's easy to swatch, but, um, I kind of like to draw my fella just for fun Z's. So I'm gonna do that real quick with the amount of wells that it has. - As you can see, it's very sloppy, and it's not totally proportionate, but I don't care about that. I just think that it's a fun little swap start to create its. Now I'm going to write all the colors down, and then I will fill it with the actual color. - Okay , so once that is done, I can start putting my colors in here real quick. No, I used a, um the pigeon letters. Monoline studio pen. This is a waterproof archival ink pen. So once I if I put water over this, it's not gonna bleed. That's something to note to. If you do this with a pen that is not, um, permanent or archival ink, Then if you get any water on your ink, it will bleed. So be careful of that. Otherwise, use one of the pens that will be a little more forgiving. So now I'm just going to fill in all of my swatches. Once this dries, I'm just going to put it in my palette, and it will always be there and is the quickest reference. So you know exactly what I'm using. I know that it's going to for sure be the tone that I want it to be. 6. Conclusion: All right, guys. Pretty simple. Right. So that's it. Upload your beautiful pallets in the project gallery so we can see them all. And if you did end up doing a swatch chart, I mean, who doesn't want to see your color palette just saying so, uh, so please of love that if you feel so inclined Otherwise I hope you enjoy the class. You sure to check out my other classes and for more inspiration, Follow me on Instagram, and I'll see you later.