Mixed Media Illustration: Create a Self-Portrait with Watercolor, Gouache & More | Maria-Ines Gul | Skillshare

Mixed Media Illustration: Create a Self-Portrait with Watercolor, Gouache & More skillshare originals badge

Maria-Ines Gul, Artist & Designer

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13 Lessons (43m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:34
    • 2. The Power of Portraits

      2:09
    • 3. Gathering Materials and Supplies

      3:21
    • 4. Sketching Your Portrait

      3:15
    • 5. Choosing Your Palette

      4:41
    • 6. Applying Your Watercolor Wash

      8:02
    • 7. Detailing with Watercolors

      2:35
    • 8. Detailing with Gouache and Pencils

      8:00
    • 9. Detailing with Dry Brushing

      5:02
    • 10. Adding Accessories

      1:58
    • 11. Adding Your Background

      1:25
    • 12. Final Thoughts

      0:37
    • 13. Explore More Classes on Skillshare

      0:33
86 students are watching this class

About This Class

Love watercolor, gouache and colored pencil? Learn to use your favorite materials to create a vivid self-portrait that truly feels authentic to you!

Join illustrator Maria-Ines Gul as she guides you through her personal process for creating expressive self-portraits using paper, watercolor, gouache, and colored pencils. Starting with a simple sketch or photograph of yourself, you’ll discover the power of self-portraits to help you self-reflect, express your creativity and capture a specific moment in your life. Plus, every lesson is packed with Maria-Ines’ favorite tips and tricks for using her go-to materials, giving you the tools you need to create illustrations you’re excited to share. 

Easy-to-follow lessons include:

  • Layering watercolor and gouache for depth and texture
  • Fine detailing with colored pencils and crayons
  • Lightbox techniques that allow you to build on previous iterations without redrawing
  • Testing colors and patterns to evoke emotion in your portrait
  • Experimenting with the opacity of paints for buildable, rich color

All are welcome to join Maria-Ines in this therapeutic and thoughtful class. By the end, you'll have a new expressive illustration prompt you can return to again and again to express your emotions, capture moments in time and create beautiful illustrations that feel truly authentic to you.

Transcripts

1. Introduction: What I love about self-portraits is that it's the best way to document how you feel. A simple drawing can sometimes speak so much more than words. Hi, my name is Maria-Ines Gul. I'm an illustrator based in London. Today I'm going to teach you how to create a self-potrait. Using self-portraits in my work was something that happened quite naturally. I've always been doing it. That's just the way I like to document my life. Today I'm going to teach you how to draw or creates a self portrait. We're going to be working on paper using only analog media. Working on paper feels a little bit more relaxing and therapeutic. When you work with real paint, there is more room for happy accidents and things that you just can't easily replicate on a computer. This class is separated into three main steps. We're going to be starting with the initial sketch to give a foundation for your portrait, then we're going to move on water colors to create a base for the rest of the colors. Then we're going to be adding some final touches with glass and color pencils. At the end of this class you're going to have a physical self portrait that you can show in your portfolio. You can hang on the wall or you can post it on Instagram. I'm excited to show you the process. Let's get started. 2. The Power of Portraits: What I really love about creating self portraits is that it's just such a great way to document your life and do what you feel. One of the most empowering aspects of self portraits is they can dress yourself up in any imaginary clothing. I definitely believe in power outfits, and the way that can really change your mood and make you really confident. Being a fashion designer was actually my first dream job. When I was a student at the Royal College of Arts, I started working with the fashion and textiles department. At that point I realized that I don't actually have to be a fashion designer to work within fashion. Since then I've actually collaborated with quite a few fashion designers, designed some prints and embroidery designs. I really like to use fashion and accessories in my self portraits. It's quite an important way of self-expression for me. The project for us today is drawing a creative self portrait, combining different techniques. There's going to be two challenges in this project. The first one is I want you to select an outfit that you wouldn't normally wear or you don't have in your wardrobe. The garment I'll be using for my portrait is a Tartan top from Molly Goddard. I really like Molly's designs because they are quite whimsical and girly. But also their shapes are quite bowed and the sleeves in that top feel a quiet statement. The second one is going to be combining at least two different techniques. We're going to be using different media such as watercolor, wash and color pencils. You can use all of these or you can select two or one that are you're comfortable with. You'll see that this exercise can be quite therapeutic and reflective projects. If you like this project in the end, you can start to incorporate portraits into your practice. Next we're going to cover some basics tools and supplies, and then we're going to dive into the process. 3. Gathering Materials and Supplies: Before we dive in, I'm going to give you a quick overview of the chosen materials. These are just some of my favorite brands and materials that I like to use, but you can use whatever you can find. The goal is just to use a couple of different techniques. First thing, paper. We're going to be using two different types of paper. For sketching, I like to use paper that I'm not too precious about. So even just like paper from your printer will do. Then, we're also going to be working with watercolor paper. I personally like to work with this hot pressed paper because the surface is quite smooth, but you can work with any brand you like. It's all about just getting a good watercolor paper that's going to be thick enough for a watercolor. These are some of my favorite paints. We have some examples of watercolor. I really like this flesh tint from Old Holland and I like to work with Daniel Smith as well. They have really good pigments. Then we're going to be working with two different types of gouache today. One is just like a regular gouache, and the second is acrylic gouache that we're going to use for the background that's a little bit more opaque. I have few types of color pencils as well. One of them is this luminance from Caran D'ache, they have really nice pigments. The second color pencil is this neocolor. These are really great to work with. You can put them on top of any paint to create really nice textures, and they're great for details. Some other tools we're going to be using today is a masking fluid, that's going to help us to create an even skin tone. You can get different types of that. You can get one in a bottle, or you can get this one with a dispenser that's really easy to use because you don't need to use a brush and it's quite difficult to clean your brush, so I like to use a dispenser. Another thing we're going to be using is just some regular masking tape to create some straight lines. We're going to be using some different brushes today. Those regular round ones for watercolor and gouache, and some small ones for the details. Also, we're going to be using this special brush with different lengths of bristles, and it's going to help us create a really nice hair texture. I really like to work with the light box, and it's great if you can get hold of one because it can really speed up the process. This way you can just work on different layers and keep your painting neat. I quite like to use separate pallets for different paints because quite often I have the same color of each paint, and that helps me to separate them. The last thing is just a sheet of a paper towel so you can wipe your brush here and create a perfect consistency. Now that we have all our materials and tools, we're going to move on to the illustration. We're going to start with a sketch. 4. Sketching Your Portrait: We're going to start with a sketch. I went ahead and created this sketch base from a memory. I like to draw portraits from memory just because sometimes I think they're actually way more expressive, but if you don't know how to do it you can get inspired by a flow graph or just looking in the mirror. I'm going to show you a trick on how to create a more expressive and loose sketch using a light box. Why we like to work with the light box is because I didn't like to have the pencil sketch on my painting, and also with the light box you can do as many sketches as you want, and you don't have to worry about getting it right. So this could be a photograph or a realistic sketch that you did looking in the mirror. Now, I'm going to show you how to create a more loose and expressive sketch on top of it. So what I like to do is I use a different color for another layer. So it's easy for me to see where I'm going. Sometimes it's good to just work faster, to create a loose sketch. Or sometimes you just want to change things around. I think the original sketch looks a little bit grumpy. So I'm going to try to work on that expression. While sketching you don't have to worry about it looking super realistic, you can just see what works for the illustration. Yeah, so I'm going to start sketching the taut and pattern. With this sketch, we just want to create a very rough guide for a final illustration just to know where the colors are going to go. I'm quite happy about this expression, but I'm going to try to draw the garment once more because the shape looks a bit odd. So we can just use a different color of pencil to create another layer and we can see exactly what we're doing with this other color. That's the beauty of working with the light box. That you can just work on different layers and combine them together. Okay. I think this looks good and now I'm going to try to create another layer combining the red and blue together. So this is a sketch I'm happy with, and this is why is really good to use the light box because even if I was not happy with this one, I could just do another one on top. So now we have a final sketch with the outlines and we're ready to go with the watercolor. 5. Choosing Your Palette: So now we're going to move on to the watercolor paper. I would like to a use this one. It has two sides, you can just choose the one you like most but I personally like to work on the smooth side. Before I start with my watercolor wash I'm going to test out some different color combinations on the paper. It's always good to test the paint on the same type of paper because it behaves slightly different on different papers. I'm just going to tests some color combinations and see how they worked together, this is a flesh dent. When you work with watercolor, it's always good to create enough of a mix to cover the area that you want to work with. Because when you start out in water, it can change the texture of the paint. I'm just going to add some more water and see if this is the color I'm happy with, and for the top I really like this shade of red and pink. So because I'm working with paint straight from the tube, the only thing that can change is the opacity. So I just need to make sure the mix has a good ratio of water and paint. For the watercolor wash, we don't want to go too dark. We just need a little bit of color as a base. So I'm just going to try out a couple of different colors. I have some gouache on this palette. I'm just going to see how it looks together. I'm going to apply some of this scalat squash on my palette, and I like to keep the palette for water, color, and gouache separate because quite often, I work with same shades of different paints. So I like to know what am using, this is a gouache. I might use this red for some details on the face and the lips. So I'm just going to put it next to the flesh dent and I think it works quite well together. We also need a wash for the hair. So for the hair, I'm going to use this walnut brown watercolor. I'm going to apply it in the palette, and we just want a tiny bit of color, nothing too dark. So I'm going to add quite a lot of water to this mix. Okay. Let's try it out. Yeah, this is great. I think this is going to work for the hair. We're just going to try out some different tools and see how they look together. These might be the colors that we're going to put on the top. So little bit of green. A really good method is selecting a narrow color palette. So maybe think about 10 different tones and colors that you want to use. Then you don't have to worry too much about it. I've tested out some different color combinations for the garments beforehand. I think now I have a pretty clear idea of what I'm going to do. When we are drawing the outfit, you don't have to worry too much about doing exactly how it looks like. We can be a little bit more creative with it. I've actually simplified the tarts and pattern a little bit because I think it's going to work better for my illustration. So experiment with the colors and the patterns, and once you have a color palette that you happy with, we can move on to the watercolor wash. 6. Applying Your Watercolor Wash: Okay. So now we have a sketch and we can place the water color paper on top. The reason why we're going to start with watercolor is that we're going to go from the lowest opacity to the highest. Basically you can cover water color with gouache. So it's a nice way to just work the opacity upwards. For the flesh tint we're going to use the masking fluid to mask the shape of the face and the hands. This way we can be little bit more playful with the actual water color. So, we don't have to worry too much about the shape. This is going to help us to create quite an even finish. So I'm just going to draw an outline with this masking fluid. You don't need to draw a really thick line, a thin line will do. Make sure the line is straight to get an even edge. I'm just drawing a line around the face and the neck, that's going to be one shape. Then we're going to draw a line where the eyes are as well so they stay white. I'm going to add another line for the hair clip, and now we're going to draw around the hands as well. The flesh tint is all the skin tone that's visible. It's good to wait for the masking fluid to dry, and that's why you don't want to use too much. You want to just create a really thin line so it dries really fast. So while the masking fluid is drying, I'm actually just going to take the paper down so it doesn't move. So we're going to try a flesh tint. I'm just going to add a little bit more water and I can test it out here. This is a little bit too dark so I'm just going to add more water. That's a bit better. I'm ready to go. I'm just making sure I have enough of paint mixed with water to cover the whole area. So I'm going to start applying watercolor. You want to be quite quick with this one just because we want to get a really even skin tone. The trick is, try not to go over the same area twice. We can deal later with the garment, but with the skin tone, it's quite important to have one quite even layer of paint. Because we're using the masking fluid, we can move quite fast with this one. You also want to get into all the corners. Now I'm also going to do the hands. You have to be careful and try not to spill the paint outside of the masking fluid. So now we're just waiting for our watercolor layer to dry. If you want to speed up the process you can always use a hairdryer. So now we're going to remove the masking fluid. You want to make sure the watercolor is completely dry before you do that because you can create a lot of damage by trying to remove it too quickly. Or let's use a small piece of paper to remove the masking fluid. You can also just rub it off with your fingers. I think I'm pretty done with this and now I'm just going to unplug the light box for a second. So you want to make sure you dust it off completely before you start painting again. This is good. So now we're going to do another wash for the hair and the garment. We don't actually have to use the masking fluid again because later we're going to cover up the background with the acrylics wash, so we don't have to worry about that. The only thing I'm going to do is, I'm going to block off the line of the neck with just some masking tape. It's just a little trick. So I'm going to do exactly same thing with the hair, we just want to create a really nice light brown shade. I've tested it here, I think it looks okay. Just want to be careful when you go closer to the edge, because we're going to cover this up with some texture, we don't have to worry too much with the flesh tint. You want to get that perfect because it's going to stay visible. So I'm just painting a nice light brown layer. It's good to think about the size of the area you want to cover. So with the hair, the area's quite big so you want to use a bigger brush. When you're not sure about your layer you can always switch it off to see how it looks like. I think it looks okay. I think we can do the garments. So I'm going to put it back on, and for the garment I'm going to use this nice shade of pink. Just going to test the pasty. I think it looks fine. So just going to add a little bit more water so we have enough to cover the entire area. I'm quite happy with this consistency. So I'm going to start applying it to the garment. A tart on top has this geometric pattern that helps us. We can just fill in each section. We don't have to worry too much about the texture here because we're going to cover it up with different materials later, it's just like a base layer. I've started filling in the sleeves. You don't want to go too dark as well because you want to still be able to see our outline from the sketch. I am just going to have a quick look without the light to see how it's coming together. I think it looks okay. I think we're ready to move to the next step and add more details to a painting. 7. Detailing with Watercolors: Now once our watercolor wash is dried, we can move on to adding more watercolor details. I'm going to start with the lips and I'm going to use the same shade of pink that I used for the garments just to create a base tone for the lips. I also switched to a smaller brush because I'm working with smaller detail. Now I'm going to add some more detail in watercolor and I'm going to start with these red stripes on the tartan. I'll be using this shade of red that I had already tested before. I'm going to put it on tartan stripes using the guideline of the sketch. That's just like a general guide. We don't have to stick to it but it's just going to help us to replicate this pattern because it's quite complicated. This is the spot where we could start taking the creative liberty because it doesn't actually have to look like the original outfit. We can just see what works for our illustration. So I'm just applying the red watercolor to the stripes. Here, the sleeves I'm just going to think about the direction of the grid. That's the advantage of working with the grid pattern because it's quite easy to show the 3-D aspect and the way it folds. I could do this with gouache or pencil, but we're going to add more details with pencil and gouache. So we still want to keep this layer quite light and low capacity. I think it'd be too heavy to actually paint this with gouache. I've switched off my light box to just have a quick look and I'm quite happy with how it turned out. So now we just have to wait for the paint to dry and we can move on to the next bit. We're going to apply some details with gouache and colored pencil. 8. Detailing with Gouache and Pencils: We have all the base layers look down, so we can move on to the fun bits. We're going to add more details with gouache and pencil. I'm going to apply some neutral gray gouache with my palette, and I'm going to use it for some other stripes on the tartan. So now we're working with gouache, so you want to get the consistency right. So not too wet but not too dry. So I'm just going to test it here on my paper towel, and here on paper. I think that's good. So now I'm going to add some vertical stripes to the tartan. Really like working with gouache and what's colored because they have completely different textures, and I think combining them together creates a very nice effect. So you don't have to worry too much about getting the edge perfectly straight because we're going to cover it up with the acrylic gouache in the end. I don't actually like having outlines on my paintings, but I'm going to use this grid to show us where the sleeve ends. Because I wouldn't normally paints and outline here. But since we have this line on the tartan, could help us. That's good for the great lines, I'm quite happy about them. I think I want to use the same gray for the eyes, so this is a good moment to do it. I added bit more paints, so I need to make sure that I'm happy with the consistency again. So it looks fine, just tiny bit thicker. Now, I'm moving onto the eyes. It's nice to use a dry brush stroke for the eyes because this way, they look quite expressive. Cool, I think we've done with it. I'm just going to apply some red gouache on my palate, and we're going to use it to paint some of the details on the hands and the face. So once again, we just want to make sure we a have really nice thick consistency, because it's really nice when the lines and other details look little bit dry. I think this is my favorite read. A trick that you can do when you want to paint a straight line is just make the bristles really flat, and you want to count the fingers. So now we're going to apply the same red on the nose and the lips. Now I am rotating my brush. So the breaststroke is bit more round. So I am going to water. So now I'm just going to add a little line for the smile, and I'm going to draw the chin, just a delicate. Great, I think that's it for now with the gouache. I'm going to now move on to the color pencils to add some more details to the tartan pattern and bring it to life. It's good to test out your pattern beforehand. I run a little test here and I think I'm happy with how it looks like. So I'm just going to apply it to a final illustration. So now I'm just going to apply some horizontal lines with this green pencil. I really like this new color. It's like a mix between a pestle and a wax crayon, and it works really well on top of paints. So you can add it on top of any watercolor or ink and I think it looks really great. So now I'm just going to add more tartan. I think it works really well because it has this dry texture to it, but at the same time looks like it's a bit lower pasty. So I am just following the grid again with this pencil. I'm also going to add some pink lines to create more depth on the pattern. You don't have to be cautious about the lines, it's just to get the sense of the fabric. The grid doesn't have to stay perfect or whoever pattern you're working with. Like it can just below them or creative whether it could be quite abstract. So sometimes when I have these tiny gaps, I'm actually going to skip it just because I don't want it to look too busy. It's also the way the fabric folds on the body, so sometimes the lines disappear. Have a look. So I've just turned off my light box to have a quick look, and I think we need just few more lines on the tartan, something that has been more of a contrast. So I'm just going to use this white pencil. I think the lines are going to be quite small, so I'm just going to quickly sharpen it. We just want to have a quiet fine point with this one to create a really thin line. I think this is looking good and we're ready to go with the last technique that we're going to use today which is dry brush. 9. Detailing with Dry Brushing: Okay. So now we're ready to move onto the next part which is the dry brush technique, and for that I'm going to be using this special brush. I'm going to start with the red gouache again. I'm just going to reapply it to my palette. For this technique we just need the tiny amount of water. This technique is great to add more details to the face because the tiny lines will create a lot of depth. So I'm going to turn on the light books again so I can see my sketch, and I'm just going to add some lines to the eyebrows and side of the nose. I'm just trying to get the right consistency again. Just adding tiny but more depth to the bridge of the nose, and I'm going to add some text to the lips as well. Now I've got the light books off just to add a couple of more details so I can see them. Now it's a good moment to remove a masking tape from the neck. I'm just going to add a couple of more lines here. Just add the above shading to the neck. I'm also going to add few more lines to the hands, just near the fingers. So now we're going to move on to using in the dry brush technique on the hair, and the way I do it the last is just because the black is quite hard to remove from the brush. Also, this is an acrylic gouache which is a bit different to the previous one. So this is the best time to use it. So I'm just going to add a little bit on my palette. With this type of gouache, you have to be a bit more careful and make sure you wash your brush immediately after because acrylic doesn't come off easily. So I'm going to start applying the texture to the Hannah. We don't have to worry too much about going off the line because I'm going to cover up the background with the same color later. I really like working with this technique when I paint hair because it's like the fastest way to replicate the hair's natural texture. Something I like to do is I just make sure the ends of the hair on the top of the scope is bit darker to create this 3D effect. So we don't have to worry too much about going out of the line. You can see how fast it starts to look just like hair. So just doing the other side and we just need a tiny amount of water for this. I'm actually painting almost straight from the tube. I can even make the lines a little bit wavy to show the movement of the hair. As I said a little bit darker on the top, and you can go a little bit darker halfway through as well. Just a bit more texture on this side. I like to add just a couple of tried lines on this side, so it looks like a natural hair texture. Okay. So that's it for the dry brush. Now we're going to move on to adding few more accessories in details. 10. Adding Accessories: Now once the majority of a painting is done, we can move on to adding few more personal details. Think about some accessories that you wear every day and items that you can add to make this portrait look even more personal. I'm going to include my glasses. I'm going to turn my light box back on. For the glasses, I'm going to use this brown pencil. It's quite opaque, so it's good to wait until the very end. I'm just following the shape that I sketched earlier. Normally the glasses would be covered by hair but I quite like the geometric aspect of this to run circles. I'm just going to add a little line for the eyes as well. Just tiny bit so they don't get lost. The last detail I'm going to add is just a white hair clip that I'm going to draw with this near colored pencil. I'm just going to switch the light box off again just to have a little look. Actually it's looking quite thin, so I'm just going to add a little bit more here. These pencils are really great because you can just add them on top of any color. Now we're ready for the very last step, which is adding the black background. 11. Adding Your Background: So for the background, we're going to be using the acrylic wash again. So I'm going to apply little bit more paint on my palette. Just tiny bit of water. Again, we just want to have a really nice consistency that's not too thick. So I'm just creating an outline first around our painting. While painting the outline you just want to make sure you're overlapping tiny bit over the paint so we don't get the white outline. So there's one trick that you can do to make the garment look like it's on top of the body. I just want to make sure it sticks out a tiny bit. So create a tiny little corner where the garment meets the body. Okay. Now we can just fill in the rest of the background. You can use a bigger brush to speed up the process. Okay. We did it. Here's my final piece. 12. Final Thoughts: Congratulations. Now, you've got your own self-portrait. I hope you've enjoyed it and you can continue using self-portraits in your practice. I hope that one thing that you took away with this class is the fact that self-portraits can be quite therapeutic and an important way of expressing yourself. If you start to creating your artwork and have any work in progress, please upload it, I'd love to see it. Thank you so much for taking this class and I can't wait to see your self-portraits. 13. Explore More Classes on Skillshare: