Painting Watercolor Cityscapes (Series #1) Step by Step Walkthrough | Rainb.w Watercolor | Skillshare

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Painting Watercolor Cityscapes (Series #1) Step by Step Walkthrough

teacher avatar Rainb.w Watercolor, (Rainbow) |

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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

9 Lessons (17m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Structure of this Class

    • 3. Materials, Tools & Supplies

    • 4. Planning the Composition

    • 5. Sketching the Composition

    • 6. Layer 1 (Sky, Defining Light and Shadow)

    • 7. Layer 2 (Detail and Depth to Shadows)

    • 8. Layer 3 (Finishing Touches)

    • 9. Your Turn!

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About This Class

Welcome to the first class of the Painting Watercolor Cityscapes (Series), where in each class we will explore the step by step process of one specific cityscape painting. 

Structure of the class:

  1. Materials, tools and supplies
    • Specific tools used and suggestion of alternatives.
  2. Planning the composition
    • Transforming our reference photo, observations and cropping.
  3. Sketching
    • Drafting our composition, preparing for painting.
  4. Painting Layer 1
    • Defining the lights and shadows.
  5. Painting Layer 2
    • Adding depth and detail to shadows.
  6. Painting Layer 3
    • Details and finishing touches.


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Rainb.w Watercolor

(Rainbow) |


Instagram: @rainb.w




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1. Introduction: Hey everyone, my name is Rainbow and welcome to my class painting cityscapes in watercolor. This will be a first of a series of classes, where in each class we will be exploring a step-by-step process of one specific cityscape painting. So we'll go all the way from sketching and looking at the reference photo, transforming that into a composition, painting layer by layer until we have our final piece. But focus of this class will be insight to the process of this specific cityscape. You will need some previous knowledge in painting and in the theories of color's perspective. Hopefully, throughout the series of classes, you'll help you accumulate in-depth examples of cityscapes of painting watercolor. So that you'll be more equipped to paint cityscapes of your own in the future. I'm so excited to have you with us. Let's get started and I'll see you in class. 2. Structure of this Class: Before we get started, I want to go through a bit of the structure and rundown of this class. So first we'll be looking at some of the materials, tools, and supplies you'll need for this painting. I'll be talking about specific materials that I am using, but you can always replace this week what you have and what works for you. After that, we'll look at the reference photo together and I'll explain more of the composition, how to transform that into our painting. How do you crop it? What are the things to notice specifically in a photo? And then finally, we will begin the process by sketching and after that, least letting the painting process into three layers, three parts. In the first part, we'll look at how to identify the light and the shadow. And in the second part we'll be adding depth to the shadows and the details. And then the final part will be adding some other finishing touches. So feel free to pause the video or skip ahead. Just follow this class at your own preferred pace. And yeah, let's get started. 3. Materials, Tools & Supplies: So let's talk about the materials. The first thing that you'll need when you're painting watercolor is obviously you watercolor paper. So paper that I'm using here is a watercolor block, which means it's a stack of paper glued on the edges and it's very convenient to bring it around to carry. The type that I'm using here has a rough surface which will create more of a texture in our cityscape. This one has a weight of 300 GSM, which is pretty normal and standard for watercolor paper. Next up we have brushes. So here I have a large flat brush for the background washes. And we also have a small round brush for the details. And additionally, I have another small brush with a finer tip, and this is great for drawing out thin lines. Moving on, we also have watercolor paints. The paints that I use are normally toothed paints squeezed out in this palette. And the main color is used for this painting specifically is critical. Don't Scarlett could, it could own gold and ultramarine. Quinacridone Scarlett is a red color and another substitute for this color would be Perlin read or Alizarin crimson cryptochrome goal, This is a rich yellow color. You can replace this with cadmium yellow or gambits yellow. And with ultra marine, this is a dark blue color. And this is a very standard color that is normally present in most basic pallets, so you should be able to find it. There are some variations. Some of them is called ultramarine, dark ocean green light, French ultramarine. But all of them would work just as well. And some other tools and supplies that we will need is masking tape. And we'll be using this to tape the edges of our painting. We'll also need a pencil for sketching, a towel whose water for washing our brushes. And finally, we'll need a mixing palette to mix our paints. 4. Planning the Composition: And now we will be looking into the planning stage, planning the composition, and preparing it for sketching. So first, I have my reference photo. And what we want to do is to just look at it and observe its basic structure. So this photo has a very simple one-point perspective. We can mark out the vanishing point over here and see how the lines draw out from it. We want to notice what are the special or distinct characteristics of the scene. What makes it pop out? What is different about it? So with this one, we can see that it's the symbol de scene, but is has a very strong contrast with the light and the dark. And it has beautiful shadows that are casted over the buildings, the floor. So this is something that we can focus on when we're painting our composition and creating our cityscape. There are also some interesting lines on top over here, some lines that the stroke, the very standard perspective lines we have. Another thing to consider is, how are we going to crop this? Do you want it to be vertical or horizontal? I personally think this composition would work great in a vertical form because of the tall buildings and how the shadows are laid out. And we can think about cropping it so that the right side, the buildings will fill up all the way to the top. And on the left side, it will leave a bit more room. So there is more of a balance, a counterbalance in the composition. Once you are satisfied with your reference photo and you know what direction you want to take it to and you can begin sketching, so we'll do that in the next part. 5. Sketching the Composition: Beginning with our sketch, we're going to start by marching out the vanishing point. And with the vanishing point, we're going to draw out the perspective lines. You, once we have those basic lines to give us the structure, we are going to work outwards from the buildings at the back, all the way to the buildings in the front. You want to focus on creating lines that are in three different directions only. So first we have the vertical lines, the vertical lines of the buildings. Now we have the horizontal line, which is the same as the level of the floor. And third, we have the perspective lines, which is the lines that lead back to the vanishing point. B should be the only three directions that you begin with. And when you're drawing the perspective lines around the buildings, make sure to drag them back into the vanishing point to make sure that they are correct and accurate. In this process of sketching, it's more important to focus on the objects and it's correct placement within a composition. Think about its role, relation to space, rather than the details of each specific object. There is no need to go into too much detail as it will be slightly covered when we have paint layered over eight. And if you want to refer to the details, you can always look back at your reference photo. So don't worry about that and focus on the overall shapes and space in the composition. So after you are satisfied with your sketch, can use the masking tape to tape the edges of the piece of watercolor paper. And this will create a very nice frame for our painting. 6. Layer 1 (Sky, Defining Light and Shadow): Now that we have our sketch ready, we can finally begin painting the heart that we've all been waiting for. So to begin, we're going to start by painting the light areas. You're going to take a bit of the red and the yellow, mixing it into almost a very light orange. And painting this where the light falls, use a good amount of water to mix the paint so that a glide swell on the dry paper. But make sure to not use too much water for it to become watery and run all over the page. So next we are going to paint the sky. And we're going to use our blue color, mix it with some water and paint from the top going downwards for a little bit. After that, we're going to watch our brush again and use a bit of the orange that we had previously to continue the sky so that it creates a very nice gradient. After that, we're going to move on to painting the shadow areas. So we are going to use a bit of the blue to block out these shadow areas. Don't have to think too much about the details. So first we'll mix the blue with the hint of Fred and yellow. This will make our color a little less saturated, still in the shadows look deeper and darker. And essentially we are painting over the areas that are still bite. Since we first painted the bright areas and then we painted the sky, the only areas left would be the shadows. When you're painting the shadows, you can use the edge of the flat brush to your advantage to create straight lines for the buildings. You can also try to leave a little bit of a white edge and gap between the buildings to create some boy structure. So in this step of creating the shadows, you can actually do it right after you paint the orange bits while it's still wet. And in this case, you create more of a softer look where the light transition slowly to the dark. Or if you prefer, you can also wait for the lighter areas to dry. So when you paint the shadows, it'll create a harder edge. Once again, don't worry too much about the details. We want to use this first layer to set the foundation of where are the light areas and where are the dark areas. In the next video, we'll talk more about adding depth and adding detail later. 7. Layer 2 (Detail and Depth to Shadows): As we begin the second layer, we want to make sure the first layer has already dried. And in this step, we will be adding depth to the shadows, adding a bit more detail to define some of the shapes. So we're going to mix a dark purple blue colored similar to what we've used previously for their shadows. But this time you're going to mix a little less water, so it will naturally become a bit darker. We're going to add some details to the Windows. You can use the perspective lines to help you and guide you when painting these lines. And we're also going to add a second layer of shadows to different parts. This same color we're willing to paint in the car on the left, tried to add a little gap on the top edge of the vehicle to create a nice separation with its background. We are also going to add shadows on the floor. And if you notice the, especially with the shadow further away, it creates a very nice effect, breaking between the bright bits on the floor. 8. Layer 3 (Finishing Touches): After our second layer of adding more depth to the shadows, we are again going to make sure that this layer has tried before moving on. And in this final layer, we're going to keep increasing the contrast between the lights and the darks. Add some of the final details and a splash of color here in there. So here I mixed a bit of green to add to the trees on the left. I'm mixed blue and yellow together or you can use a green paint. Make sure that it's not too much or else it could overpower the whole painting. So just a little bit. And then I'm also going to add a bit of red to the rear lights of the car as well. Going to use the same color to add a bit of a, some dots towards other parts of the composition. And to further create the emphasis of light versus shadow. Going to paint in additional wash in the foreground like so. With this wash, you can mix a bit more water so that it's a little more transparent. And you can also do this in other areas that you feel should be a bit darker to increase contrast. And of course, we have to add the power lines, cables, wires on top. With this, I use a thin brush to draw out the lines. Make sure to do it carefully. To make this a little easier, use pane with a thicker consistency, so put less water in so that it'll be easier for you to control those very thin lines. And finally, add any finishing touches anywhere that you feel you might need more details, more color. And when you are finished, you want to wait for it to dry and then remove the masking tape. And there you have it. So that is your watercolor cityscape all done. 9. Your Turn!: Great job everyone for completing this class. Hopefully it was helpful for you and gave you a bit more insight into the process of painting a specific cityscape here. If you've followed along and painted this painting with me, I would love to see what you've done. Feel free to post your artwork in the project section of this class. Or if you share your work on social media, I'd love to see it as well, so definitely tag me. And that's it for today. I have a few other classes where I talk a bit more about how to paint cityscapes, sunsets, different types of things in watercolor. So be sure to check that out. And yeah, I hope that you enjoyed this class and I'll see you in the next one.