Magical Watercolour Gradients : Transition Awkward Colours With Ease! | Liese Ho | Skillshare

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Magical Watercolour Gradients : Transition Awkward Colours With Ease!

teacher avatar Liese Ho, The Art of Happy

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

8 Lessons (27m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Quick Colour Theory

    • 3. Set-up

    • 4. Let's Paint!

    • 5. Next Level

    • 6. Sunrise sunset

    • 7. Speed demo and more tips

    • 8. You did it!

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About This Class


Have you ever struggled with painting a beautiful watercolour gradient, especially when using colours that clash? 

Mixing two primary colours together will make a beautiful secondary colour, but we often forget that blending all three primary colours will make… mud!

Which means that when we go to paint a sunset for example, with a beautiful blue sky that turns into a golden orange glow, we often end up with something murky and unappealing.

In this class I share with you a fabulous wet-on-dry watercolour technique for transitioning colours that don’t typically blend well, so you can avoid painting a muddy mess…

We will go through:

  • Basic colour theory
  • Set-up and materials used
  • Intro to the technique with easy colours
  • Progression to the awkward colours
  • A sunset and a sunrise
  • Detailed descriptions to break it down

This class assumes that you have some basic knowledge in using watercolours.

The class itself will suit all levels of painter who struggle with gradients. For me, it was with sunsets, but this technique can be applied anywhere you want to paint a harmonious transition of tricky colours, like the red to green of an autumn leaf for example.

Materials you will need are watercolour paints and paper, a thirsty brush, clean water and a towel or some tissue.

Don’t forget to follow me on Skillshare so you’ll be the first to know as soon as I share a new class! The next series I am planning will be on brush technique. As a face and body painter for 15 years, I have some mad skills in this domain! 

Come find me on social media too and tag me in your posts about this class! I’d love to connect with you :D 

Instagram : @happyhappyjoy_

Facebook :

Meet Your Teacher

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Liese Ho

The Art of Happy


Hi! I'm Liese Ho, aka HappyHappyJoy :D 

I am currently living in Bali having sold my super successful business of 15 years as a face and body artist in New Caledonia.

My hubby, our financial partner and I are currently building "Spaces Bali" - a 4-star retreat and accomodation venue just 300m from the beach! But that's another story...

As a face painter I developed some mad skills in speed painting and brush and sponge techniques. The average time spent on a child's face was around 3-5 minutes - fast and furious was definitely my style! I plan to develop some classes around these subjects soon.

Since selling my business, I have been enjoying the discovery who I am as an artist, beyond the dictated desires of a child... an in... See full profile

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1. Intro: Hi, My name is Lisa. Welcome to my very first still share class. I really excited to be with you today on. I have plenty of fabulous tricks and tips to show you are that I've learned over many, many years as an artist. Today, I would like to share with you a particular watercolor technique, a wet on dry watercolor technique that I learned, and it is fabulous when you want to make a transition or awkward colors. Colors don't typically blend well together, so we know that primary colors and colors are next to each other on the color wheel, which is something I will go through if you later much easier to blend. The colors are opposite each other on the color wheel. On the reason for this, when you blow all three primary colors together, you end up with much. That's how you make brown. Okay, so when you want to do that beautiful transition off early evening sunset, when the light goes from the sky blue into the first shades of orange your sunset, that can be really tricky to do. And it's certainly something that I have been challenged with in the past until I learned the state me. So I'm really excited cause it's really cool. And it's really easy once you know how to do it. Um, yeah, really happy to share this with you. So it will suit anyone of any little pinch of any level who struggles with the same thing. And it could be applied to all sorts of situations where ever you want to graduate Awkward colors together. This works materials only. It will be some water color paint somewhere. The paper first brush some clean water and, uh, some tissue or a towel. I prefer you to towel for the ICO friendly aspect of that. Oh, I nearly forgot your class project. Please share with me. Your results fall of trying this exercise. And if you want to turn your final results into something Ah, finished artwork, then please do that by all means and love to see your finished beach scene, sunset, home trees, dolphins. Well, however, you choose to employ this method, I'd love to see you in the final results. Uh, if this is something that you need being please join me in this class and let's get started 2. Quick Colour Theory: Okay, so first of all, I want to talk about color And what I mean when I say awkward colors. Now we know that on the color wheel we have our primary colors red, blue and yellow. When we mix, red and blue will get the shade of purple, depending on the ratios used when you mix blue and yellow will get a shade of green when you mix yellow and red will get a shade of orange. Okay, basic color theory. So that's your primary color. And this is your secondary cult. Now, when you mix all three primary colors together, what do you guess? You get month when you least want it, you get mud. Oh, on a good day, you get nice shades of brown when that's what you're going for. But whenever you don't want it whenever I don't want it, I get much. So, um, this is exactly what I'm talking about when you want to do a transition. As I said, from blue into orange, you see that opposite each other on the color weight, which means that you've got the blue primary and you got red and yellow already mixed into your orange so it's typically when you mix the two together, you will automatically get a shade of brown because you've got all three primary colors in there. Does that make sense? I hope so. So that is where the struggle begins. As soon as you do any mixing and muddling, you end up with a brown on. That happens the same this way with rid. It happens with green. So the perfect example of that as an autumn leaf where the transition can be awkward. And the final one is Ah, yellow and oh, which will also give you a lovely shade of brown. All right, so that's basically what I mean when I say awkward colors. Okay, next will move on to be set up and show you all the materials that have in place and how I've organized everything I need. And we'll get to painting. Please. If you have any questions regarding any of this, and don't hesitate to drop them below, and I will do my very best to answer everything that I can 3. Set-up: way we've got our materials prepared. I'm using Ah, set of white nights pan paints. You can use whatever you want, tubes or pans. Anything is fine. Um, what I have done is prepared my colors beforehand because I don't want to be mixing colors whilst I'm painting, because that kind of, uh, disturbs the flow of things. Onda where I am, especially things dry up very quickly, so it's important to be prepared in that respect, I'm often not on. It's a bit of a panic, so it's definitely well worth doing. Um, trip, I'd like to show with you is instead of dipping my brush. This is the brush amusing today. Just another six around and a trick rather than dipping a brush in water and transferring to the palate. And then you waste a lot of paint and you dirty your water in the process. What I like to do is use a little pip it. You can also use a spray bottle up, see, and I keep some clean water on the side. So if I need to top up any of my water, any of the paint is drying up or anything, or if I do need to maximal mix. Then I could easily extract some clean, fresh water from the side and know that it's not being contaminated by my by my rinsing water. Okay, what's next? So I've got ah, just a little sample sheet prepared. We're going to do a few different ah ah tests for you to see the different ways that this can be used, this method and the different effects that you can get from a different color combinations . More importantly, and especially when the color combinations get trickier as we talked about before. All right, so let's get started. 4. Let's Paint!: First of all, we're gonna do a simple, um, blue to purple tone. So that's where the colors are gonna be quite easy to blend because they're in the same family. All right, so let's start with the blue look. My brush, it's in paint down. And then the important thing here now in this technique is to keep the edge. Wit have a bit more intensity that now. So keeping this edge went to need to keep the bead on this leading edge, which prevents you getting the dried collie flower believing effect. Oops. And what's important now is instead of rinsing your brush, we're gonna what the excess color off rather than rinse it and make too much water into the mix to dine you. The colors stay, we rinse, and we choose the next color to stop lending in now. Like I said, this is pretty easy because the colors in the same family so they go really well together. Yes, taking a bit more well into the purple now, and you can take that further if you want. Oops, I nearly rinsed my rush. It's such a habit, but diaries, your brush, wipe it off and then select the next transition color, go back in into the wet paint, don't start in the dry and start to pull and drag. Always keeping this leading edge. Groups want the brush. It's such a habit. Anyway, it does take some practice to get used to. Oh, what the brush. Pick up some more pain back into your wet bench and keep pulling the paint down like that. And you see, it's been really easy to make this beautiful transition from light blue to a purple E and into the pinks. Okay, next one we're gonna do is, um, let let's stick with the easy transitions Ritz. My brush completely knocks on the set of colors. This time we're gonna dio fire colors. So let's go yellow orange writ that once again in the same family. So this should be easy or keeping my trusty coffin the hand because if I put it down, I might more easily forget to use it. So it's in yellow. You wanna have an area of overlap, like if you know where your um, for example, if you're doing a sense, it, I'll just make sure make sure that edges what before I stop and talk. If you're doing a sense, it you know where the you want. The transition of colors toe happen, and you have to extend the first color beyond. We kind of wanted to really end where the blending will begin. I hope that makes sense. Okay, so I'm wiping the brush now. I'm gonna pick up my orange, give little mixed first, go back into the wet paint so the transition can begin. What? The brush back into the wet paint and you see, because the borders at an angle hopes, I believe I forgot to say that before the board is at an angle and so it helps the paint to the gravity, helps the paint to flow down and blend into the next color. Not picking up my red back into the went orange. What the brush and start again. Depending on how quickly want the transition toe happen. You want brush more or less frequently? No. We go 5. Next Level: All right. Next, let's try something a little trickier. Now, instead of the these easy transitions with colors or in the same family, let's go a primary with a, um, a secondary. There's three basic options. You've got yellow and purples, a yellow being the primary color and purple being the, um, secondary color. So we'll do that one first. Normally, when you mix yellow and purple when I makes you purple, I will get mud. Well, I found with this technique, it's not always guaranteed. But you know, it's It's pretty is pretty good considering, um, the other options that you have all that I have done that bean utter failures in the past. So I've got my overlap area here on a nice way edge to go on with what the brush, and they're going to go straight from my purple. Just mix it up a bit. First to make sure the pigments haven't settled too much. Your top off of it because I don't want going to heavy straight up begin to slowly blend that in. Wow, that looks so scary. And so like, it's gonna be horrible, but just keep going. Her faith. What the brush continue the method. Hopes have picked up a hair I can see simple Aiken, one of my dog Cheers. Hey, let's keep going And somehow that magically, we've gone from yellow into purple and we haven't really made a brown. There's a subtle blend of the two without actually going into the brown tones, and I just think that's absolutely amazing and wonderful. Another tricky combination. Well, the the second of the three combinations possibilities is red into green, so red being the primary color and green being secondary color. And this is a perfect example of what you would find. This, uh, is in autumn leaves, So here we go red. It's got a nice face down. You see the proof that hair is still. Is there some way on the need? More of an edge. Whoops and nearly rinsed again. Vigilance What? The brush into the green. Once again, I'm gonna dab off some of the the green so that it's not so intense straight up in here and then stopped to lend it down. What The bush back to the green. What the brush. Wiping the brush every time takes off the excess off the previous muddled mix. So it helps you to achieve a cleaner and clean a color more. You compress down the page, then we go. Isn't that cool? I think that's quite wonderful. Personally, Very thrilled to have. Have you told this technique and now to share with you. Okay, Next up, we're gonna do the sung sets and a some rise. 6. Sunrise sunset: Okay, so here we go for the some set with the sunset terrorist. I prepared refreshed paints a little. Um, I'm gonna do a sun set that is sort of earlier on in the in the evening, rather than the dark, dusky colors that time Get the beautiful idea barking dog. Sorry about that. My dog. Things that are out of control. Oh, I didn't have a wage. OK, so that's not gonna be very pretty, but let's see, maybe it's not too late to save it. Well, if you would be very lucky. Still went enough. Okay, Great. So we have a What was I saying? Oh, I was saying the blue sky oven early sunset When the Well, when the sky still quite like blue in the early stages of the transition of day tonight. Okay, so we've gone blue. Make sure we have a nice we're inched down here. Groups. Yeah. Why? Don't brush into the orange. Ah, this is always just carry part because you never know. But all things going as they should and I see that looks so scary it looks green and murky and dangerous. However, we, um, repeated action in a small space of time. Remember I said that the more often you what? And refresh the foster the grading room appear. Look at that. We've cleaned it up pretty much to orange now, but bought the the blue has made a nice transition without being brown. Yea, Okay. What the brush Now we're going into What shall we do? Let's go pink for a sunset. I love pink and purple sounds it What? The brush and again that was so easy. See how the difference between the, um working with colors in the same family as opposed to Ah, the colors that Ah, I opposite each other on the color wheel. All right, let's get that down to a nice purple to finish this little sunset. Very mild. Oops. I forgot to mark my brush like, Oh, oh, well, it will still be loved me. Luckily it's in Missy. Luckily, it was in the stage where we're in the same family of color. So the different the the effects onto dramatic. It's not a huge problem. It would be a problem if you were up there. Palin. I'd like to try it. I like to show you the other way around So that means in the morning when you have a beautiful night sky that's starting to lift for this lovely dark night sky blue, and you could make that darker. Of course, up to To start with you could do a transition of two blues, but we know that's the easy part. And that's not a bit that I'm interested in in showing you here. It's getting from the Blue Tiu upstart rings What to you? Uh who? Oh, you see how that color just falls down and blends as it goes. It's just magical and love it. I love it kind of it, I know. No, it's got each other. Lets go of it, uh, myself for what? Inch? You. I know what I didn't want much there, but the transition with dark colors is not so hot as well. Not going to go into the pink now. This may take a little longer because going from a dark to light as opposed to the other way around, you have more work to do to get to the but my to color. But that's worked quite nicely and run out of paint, Mr Belt, just enough to keep me going? What? My brush on and then we'll go to an orange. Actually, this is not a hard one doing A. This combination of colors is not so challenging as the blue toe orange of ah, son, sit and then I'll go to yellow, and then they folks all right. 7. Speed demo and more tips: so I thought I'd take this opportunity during the speed demo to describe things in a little more detail, since I'm not focusing on painting at the same time as well. So hopefully, if there's any any fuzziness and what I've described so far, it will be created by the end of this. Now this class assumes that you're not a complete beginner with water color and that you do understand that the amount of water you news has an effect on your on your outcome. Okay, we're heading into our treacherous blue orange blend zone now, and I just want to take them. Take a moment to say. You know, there's a perfect example of how you use your watercolor techniques, and I'm hoping you already kind of have where you can manipulate your paintbrush to pick up the dirty colors. You can see when to stop blending. To stop. Continue painting when it's time to, um, wipe off the brush and refresh the paint because things are starting to get a little muddy . So just described that one more time with different language, because sometimes it helps to hear it differently to really understand what's being taught for example, when you have a wash and you end up with excess water at the bottom of your wash and you want to collect it, you use a tissue or you dry your brushing. Wipe your brush off and use the brush to soak up the excess paint and water. So that's what I'm talking about with this method. When you begin the blend and the the mud is too too scary for you. Rather than continue the method straightaway, you can pause. Wipe your brush, as I did just previously. What the brush and use the dried brush to collect the excess money paint before you work again and then continue. Okay, I hope that's clear now. If it wasn't already before, Ah, and I must excuse that little jump frame there because I didn't realize I painted myself off the screen. So there was a little jump in the video because I had to delete a bit out because you couldn't see anything. So with this method, basically, what happens is that because you what we're brush, it means first of all of the paint stays clean. You're not transferring your your money mixed back into your clean paint, so your paint stayed clean. But the blend actually begins on the brush because you haven't rinsed it clean, so it's not a shock between the two colors. When you go back to the page, you already have some of the previous collar still trapped in the bristles. But because you walked off the excess, the whole thing is much cleaner. Another thing to be mindful of is the entry point off your brush into the wet paint once you have already begun the transition process. So what I mean by this is when you have, um, one side of the painting that is kind of murky because the transition has begun and the other side is a little cleaner. When you come back with your freshly loaded brush, you want to go into the side that is cleaner and dragged the paint into the murkiness rather than the other way around. Because if you do it the other way around, you'll just be spreading the muck across the page rather than cleaning it up. Um, so this also points to something else I want to mention, which is the frequency of your strokes. So the more you go back and forth across the page, the more you actively mix the colors together as opposed to what we're doing, which is laying the colors down together. And that allows the magic of water color to do all the work and all the blending for you. Of course, the pigments that you use and the dilution of the mix will have an effect on the outcome as well. 8. You did it!: so they That was pretty easy, right? Once you know how and a pretty cool technique. Um, I hope you learned something going. Have you got sorry from that class and I have you enjoyed it and I hope for to see in your class projects I would love it if you share your permission. The transition. So the first attempt may not be so fabulous. Maybe it is. You know, you know, my very first time I did it was like, Oh, angel saying I was amazed because it just work regardless, whether it works or not and anything in between. I'd love to see every attempt, because I believe it really helps, you know, learning and in our collective learning process, when we can see the mistakes that other people may cause. Well, um, something that you might consider a mistake. Some somebody else might consider absolutely perfect. So there's a lot of learning in that, learning to accept ourselves as artists, too. So please shows all your transitions, um, for your stages of development and the final piece. If you choose to go ahead and turn it into an attributes of up, I'll be sharing one of mines for sure below, on what else? And I look forward to seeing you on my skill share channel again, I have much, much more to share. I was a face painter for 15 years, facing body artists, predominantly Children's face painting so fast and furious was my style getting, ah, beautiful. Based on in the 3 to 5 minutes eso I have developed some wicked brush skills and techniques , which I'm thrilled to be sharing with. You don't forget if you have any questions and you can put them down below too, and I'll do my very best to answer the wall. Thanks so much for joining me today on dime. Have fun with your painting, happy creating.