Painting Watercolor Cityscapes Series (#2) Step by Step Walkthrough | Rainb.w Watercolor | Skillshare

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Painting Watercolor Cityscapes Series (#2) 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 (23m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Structure of this class

    • 3. Materials, tools & supplies

    • 4. Planning the composition

    • 5. Sketching

    • 6. Layer 1, Background wash

    • 7. Layer 2, Depth & details

    • 8. Layer 3, Details & finishing touches

    • 9. Sharing your work

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About This Class

Welcome to the second 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
    • Background wash, 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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Meet Your Teacher

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Rainb.w Watercolor

(Rainbow) |


Instagram: @rainb.w




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1. Introduction: Hey, everyone, my name is Rainb.w. I'm a watercolor painter and welcome to painting cityscapes in watercolor. This is the second class of a series, where in each class we are exploring a step by step process to one specific cityscape painting. We go all the way from sketching, looking at the reference photo to our composition, and then painting layer by layer until we have our final piece. The focus of this class is to give you insight to the process of this specific cityscape painting, so you will need some previous experience and knowledge in painting. Hopefully throughout this series you'll be able to accumulate an in depth examples and knowledge that will equip you to paint cityscapes of your own. Come follow along and we'll dive in and paint this painting together. 2. Structure of this class: Before we get started, I will just explain a bit of the structure and rundown of this class and the different things we'll be explaining in each section. First we are going to look at the materials, tools, and supplies that we will need. I will explain some of the materials that I'm using, but you can always use your own and I will provide some alternatives in that process. After that, we're going to plan the composition together. We're going to look at how to transform a reference photo into one that is ready for painting and sketching. Then we'll move on to the sketching process. I will show you from beginning to end. After that, we will go on to painting. The painting process will be split into three layers. In the first layer, we will define the light in the shadows, so where is the light source and painting the entire backwash layer. Then in the second layer, we're going to add some depth, some shadows and details. In the final layer, we're going to add the finishing touches and the finer details of that painting. Feel free to pause the video or skip ahead. Do it at your own pace and hope that you will enjoy this class. 3. Materials, tools & supplies: In terms of the materials, we are using some very basic watercolor supplies. First, we have some paper. Here I'm using 300 gsm. You can use other thicknesses, but I find that this usually works best. Here I'm using a watercolor block. Basically, it's a stack of watercolor paper glued together, which is more convenient. But again, you can also use other types of watercolor paper. Then, of course, we have our brushes. Here I have a combination of some large and smaller brushes. This is a large flat brush and we'll use this for the background, mainly in layer one. Then for the smaller brushes, we'll be using that for the second and the third layer. This brush here has a much more tapered shape and this is actually great for drawing lines, which we will use when we're painting the power lines and the cables on top. You can make do with very few brushes, here I only really have three brushes. But you could also have a larger variety, just so it's easier for you to match and mix and see what is more suitable for you. Then, of course, we have our paints. This is my palette and I use tubed paints and I squeeze them out here. The colors that we are specifically using for this painting is quinacridone gold, quinacridone red, ultramarine, cobalt turquoise, and compose green. Here I have some alternatives, if you don't have these specific colors. Even if you don't, you can always experiment with what works for you, and try different moods, different shades, different color tones. It'll be a great chance to experiment. Moving on, of course, we need a mixing palette and need some water, masking tape. Now, masking tape is optional, you don't have to use it, but it'll be great to just tape the edges of our painting to create a nice edge. Of course, you need a pencil and an eraser for the sketching part. Great. Now that we have all of our materials and our tools, we're going to start and look at the composition in the next video. 4. Planning the composition: So before we get started, we're going to take some time to look at our reference photo, and we're going to transform this into the composition that we want so that it'll be ready for sketching in the next stage. Let's first look at our reference photo here. We can take some time to observe what are the distinct characteristics of this cityscape? What stands out and what is special about it? Well, for starters, we can see that on this top, we have some very complicated looking power lines. In the middle on the left, there is a very beautiful light source. This whole cityscape is rather empty. It has a very peaceful street, very calm feeling to it. We can all think about this and bring this out in our painting. In planning the composition, one thing we can consider is the cropping of the photo. In cropping the photo, we usually look at the rule of thirds. So you want to consider the important parts of your composition. This includes the focal point or other parts that you want people to focus on to have those points align with the guidelines. Because with this cityscape there are some very interesting power lines, we're going to give more space on top. It crops like this. The next thing that we're going to do is to identify the perspective and the vanishing point. This is the vanishing point right here. Drawing the lines outwards, you'll be able to see that this is the perspective. This is going to help us form the basic structure so that later when we sketch, it'll be accurate and the objects will be in proportion to each other. Of course, before the actual painting process, we also want to consider the color palette and what colors we want to use in this painting. Different colors would bring out different moods. Here I have a few examples of just different edits of the picture. You can play around this on Photoshop or even just on your iPhone, editing it in terms of the warmth and the colors. In the demonstration later I'll be using this one, which the colors are more mellow with a more saturated center around the light source. On the left, those would include some bright yellow, some orange, in contrast to the outside, where I'll be using bit more awesome graze brown's, some dull colors just to create that juxtaposition. So now that we have a basic idea of our composition structure and we have more or less a plan of what we want to do and how we want to portray this painting, we can move on to the next step with sketching. I'll see you there. 5. Sketching: Now onto our sketch. Make sure you have your reference photo on the side just to look back at it. We're going to start by marking out the vanishing point. From this vanishing point, we're going to draw out the perspective lines. This is the same as what we've done in the last video, where I showed you where the vanishing point is and where the perspective lines are. This is going to be of great help when we are drawing the lines on the floor to create the depths of space. Moving on, we're going to sketch out the mountains and the little houses architecture at the back, and then you're going to work your way forward to the front. Focus on the outlines, try to create staggered lines so that it gives a bit more texture and variation to the shapes. This does not have to read very detailed. Just make sure that they are clear so you know what you are sketching. After that, we're going to draw the little cars in the middle of our composition. Now this would be a good place to make use of the perspective lines so then you know where are the cars would be placed at. After that, also lightly sketch the power lines and the structures on top just so you have a rough idea of where those are so that later it'll be a lot easier and then we're also going to draw the crossing in front. This time again, make use of the perspective lines. This is one of the more important parts for the perspective lines to be followed. Once you are happy with that, once you're happy with the composition, we can take the edges with masking tape. This is optional. You don't have to do it, but it will leave a very nice edge on our composition. Once you've done that, we will move on to the next stage and we will start painting. 6. Layer 1, Background wash: Now we have our sketch ready and we've taped the edges with our masking tape. Were going to start by wetting the paper. What I mean by this is, we're going to take a brush, your going to wet it, and you're going to brush some water towards the brightest areas of the composition. This would be the light source, as you can see. Then we're going to mix some yellow, orange colors. Here I'm using the paint called quinacridone gold. You're going to use this yellow to paint the light source. You can paint around the water, so then it creates an even brighter light source that reveals the white of the paper. After that, we're going to mix a gray, a fairly dark color, and here I'm using a bit of cobalt turquoise, a bit of the quinacridone gold, quinacridone red and ultramarine together. Essentially, it is a mix of some blues, yellows, and reds together to mix this almost murky gray color. After we've mix the colors, we're going to connect this to the yellow, orange part that you've just painted. Now try to do this quickly while the yellow patches are still wet, so then you can connect them smoothly. A way to make this process a bit more efficient is to mix those colors first. You can use two different brushes, mix them first, and then when you paint the yellow, you can immediately go and paint the gray. Then we're going to extend this down to the bottom, so using the same grayish dark color, we're going to paint all the way down, just so that in our first layer, we are able to identify the lightest areas of the composition, as well as the darker areas of the composition. We can also add a bit of depth while the painting is still wet, so here I've added a bit more ultramarine to the mix so that it's a bit darker. Adding that to various places in the painting, and that's it. That is the first layer of our painting, and we're going to wait for it to dry completely before moving on. 7. Layer 2, Depth & details: So once the first layer has dried completely, we're going to start by adding some darker silhouettes to our composition. We're going to be using the same grayish brown color that we used before. But this time we're going to make it a little darker, darker than our base layer. We can do this by mixing a bit more of the Ultramarine blue to it. Great. Using one of the smaller brushes, you're going to start by filling in the shapes in the buildings and the structures at the back. You want to focus on the outline on top. You can also leave some gaps in between the structures. They could be the windows or different structures, just to create some variation. You can keep this abstract, so it doesn't have to be too precise of exactly where you're adding the lines, where you're adding the gaps. Just keep it simple. Try to just go with the flow. Go with your instincts, see what happens. After that, we're also going to leave out the gaps to where the cars are going to be. So look for where you sketch the cars. Make sure to leave those areas white because we'll be adding a bit more details to those in the next layer afterwards. Now using the same colors, we're going to extend this towards the ground in the lower parts of the composition. Here I'm painting the crossing by leaving a gap in the middle. Remember to refer to the perspective lines in this part. After you've left the gap, you can fill in the perspective lines just like this. Now continue to paint downwards and fill the rest of the composition. Then we're going to let this layer dry and move on to layer 3 in the next video. 8. Layer 3, Details & finishing touches: Now, moving on to our third layer, this is where we're going to be adding some of the details and where the whole painting will really come together. Make sure that your second layer has already dried completely, we don't want to be working on a wet surface. Again, we're going to be using the same mix of colors but this time even darker, so that we can add blocks of colors on top of what we have already painted. For example, you might want to fill in the roof of this architecture on the left. You can add some windows, some lines, and extend those lines to the front as well. You can also paint some of the perspective lines just to emphasize on their direction and do the same thing on the right side, filling in the pavement. Now, again, you're going to let this dry and as you can see with mine, it has completely dried, and we're more or less going to repeat this process very simply with a much smaller brush for finer details. This would be a good time to look back at the reference photo, just so you have specific details that you can pick out. You can look back at the photo to find more specific characteristics that might have missed in the sketching process. For example, on the left, we have a tree here, keep adding more lines to emphasize on the different shapes and giving it more depth. Of course, we have our lamp posts as well as our power cables on top, which is one of the highlights of this composition. A tip to help with creating these thin and smooth lines, is to move your wrist rather than your entire arm when drawing these lines. You want to isolate your wrist, so you're able to keep your hand or even your arm steady, anchored on the table on a surface. Another thing is to use thicker paint for this part. Mix a little less water when you're mixing the colors. It will help you have more control in this process of drawing the lines. Now, finally, add any last finishing touches to your painting. Here, I decided that I wanted to add a pop of color to this composition. Here, I'm using a mint green to add to various parts of the composition and this is optional. You can experiment with using different colors as well, whatever you think works artistically for you. This process again, is actually very similar to what we've done previously with the darker colors and adding those details. It's the same thing, except here I'm using a mint green. Once you're happy with it, once you are proud of it, wait for it to dry. After that, we can tear the masking tape on the sides. That's it. That is your cityscape painting. 9. Sharing your work: Thank you so much for taking this class. I hope that you enjoyed it, and now it's your turn. We all know that learning is best when we do it and apply it, so definitely try on your own and feel free to post your painting in the project section below, or if you want to tag me on Instagram, I would love to see your work there as well. Of course, if you have any questions, you can leave them in the discussion section, or message me via social media. I would love to connect with you. That's it for today. I hope to see you in our next class. Bye.