Simple Watercolor Ocean : Painting Tutorial for Beginners | Alifya P. Tarwala | Skillshare

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Simple Watercolor Ocean : Painting Tutorial for Beginners

teacher avatar Alifya P. Tarwala, Artist | Acrylics, Watercolors | Painter

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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 (26m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Materials

    • 3. Exercise 1 - Techniques, Layering, Wash

    • 4. Exercise 2 - Waves

    • 5. First Layer

    • 6. Second Layer

    • 7. Third Layer

    • 8. Final Details

    • 9. Thoughts & Class Project

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About This Class


In this class, I will be teaching you how to paint a simple Watercolor Ocean Painting. I will show you basic watercolor techniques and will take you along step by step to in painting this seascape. This class is perfect for beginners to intermediate but all levels are welcome to try this!

A former art teacher and now an independent full-time artist, I am so excited to be teaching on Skillshare and I truly hope you find this corner of your space comforting, inspiring, and encouraging! Can't wait to connect with you all!



  • Materials – I will show you how to prep your paper before painting and all the brushes and paints you will need for this project.
  • Warm up exercises – I will go through few exercises and cover basic techniques, layering, washes, along with a sketch of waves.
  • Painting process and details – We will go through a couple of layers, keeping our exercises in mind.
  • Final Touches – This step will teach you how you can be more expressive by few details.


MATERIALS I USED (but use whatever you have available.)

1) Paints:

2) Brushes: #2 round, #10 round , 3/4" Flat Brush -

3) Arteza Watercolor Paper 140 lbs -

4) Masking tape -

5) Bowl for water

6) Paper towel / rag

*Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no extra cost to you, I will make a commission, if you click through and make a purchase. I only recommend products that I genuinely use on a regular basis!


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Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Alifya P. Tarwala

Artist | Acrylics, Watercolors | Painter


Hello, I'm Alifya Plumber Tarwala, a Fine Artist from sunny California and founder of 'Alifya Lifestyle' where I create and sell my Originals, Art Prints & various Merchandise (phone cases, mugs and much more!) I also have an Etsy Shop to fit YOUR home! A former art teacher and now an independent full-time artist. My classes here will be focused over Loose Landscapes and Florals in Acrylics and Watercolors. I am so excited to be teaching on Skillshare and I truly hope you find this corner of your space comforting, inspiring, and encouraging! Can't wait to connect with you all!

To keep up with snippets of my artist life, follow along on Instagram or join my private Facebook Group, where you can connect with a community of other art lover's! I als... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hey everyone, my name is Olivia and I am an artist here in San Jose, California. Welcome to my painting class where I'm going to be showing you how to paint a simple watercolor ocean. In this class, I will go through all the materials that you will need. I will walk you through basic techniques and layering. We will also be going through a quick exercise and then we'll show you how to paint this ocean step-by-step. It's perfect for all levels. Beginners and beyond are welcome to try this. And we'll also be adding a class project at the very end. So be sure to complete the entire class and then hop on over to the projects section where you can share your results with us. I let's get started and dive right into painting. 2. Materials: The materials you will need able a paper towel or a rag. I went ahead and use these three brushes for the entire painting. Again, I'm going to list everything down with links, so make sure to check them out. If you are interested. For my watercolor paper, I'm using Artesia. I love this paper and I recommend this all the time, is very reasonably priced and the texture and quality is amazing. It's just great for everyday use. Also I use r t is the palate. It comes in about 36 colors, and it looks like this. I only use two colors from this palette for the entire painting. And I also used white paint, acrylic white paint just for highlights. And then I also went ahead and taped my paper down with this artist tape. 3. Exercise 1 - Techniques, Layering, Wash: So before we start, I just wanted to go over some basics with you. I'm not going to overwhelm you with a lot of techniques and brushwork, but I'm just gonna cover the techniques that we will use in today's class so that you can get a more practical approach for this. So the two most common watercolor techniques are wet on wet and wet and dry. For the wet on wet paint is applied to wet paper. You can leave different colors on top of existing web paint, which will create this blurred out expansion effect, where you will notice the colors bleeding into one another. And the second technique is wet and dry. The paint is applied onto dry paper. It is as simple as that. So let's look at the effects that these give us rates. And now the wet on wet gives us soft edges. It's more blurred out. This is great if you want more delicate, softer paintings, great use for backgrounds or far-away objects. You can also blend easily while getting an effective gradient and also creates a misty effect. It is also unpredictable and hence, not so much in your control. And the very opposite of the wet on wet is the red on dry, which gives us a sharper edges. So you can definitely have more control where you can get a well-defined ships. The wet and dry also allows you to LEO paint as much as you want. We will go through layering in the next step. So here I'm going to show you how you can Leo your paint in watercolors. I'm going to show you three different kind of washes here, each one with a little more pigment to show you the effects of leering. If you want to well defined shapes when it comes to living, you will have to work on this wet and dry. So I'm dry out my paper with a blow dryer to speed up the process before I begin to layer my shapes. Ok, once you're appealing has dried, Leah, you're shapes Little By Little, getting darker each time. But also wait for your pan to dry and between each layer that you add. So as you can see, the lighter your initial wash is, the easier it is to build up on leering. So keep that in mind when you are painting with watercolors, you always have to work light to dark. And like acrylics where you can get away with working from dark to light. I think watercolors as a medium does require you to be more patient. Let's go over some basic washes here. So for the first one we have a flat wash where you're pigment is even all around. And then to get a in, I'm starting from a light wash with less pigment and will slowly increase my pigment intake as I move downwards. You can also, you can also start dark and then gradually lighten up your wash as well. Honda is where you combine two colors. I merge them together by blending. And to blend them, you will like the kind of brush your colors in between. 4. Exercise 2 - Waves: Okay, so for this exercise, I'm going to roughly show you what you can expect when it comes to painting leaves by sort of drawing it out for you here. So here I'm going to demonstrate to very easy methods. The first one I referred to the mountain wave, where you stretch them out, hit a peak, and then stretch them down again. You can connect them to other mountains as well. Some of them can be left alone by itself and some can be connected. And the second version of a wave is what I referred to the zigzag. See mattered. Think of this wave has the letter Z, but again is stretched out, elongated version. You can also connect another wave to the end of this or at the beginning. So to recap, we have the Z wave and then the mountain wave. You can very well combine both of these together as I show you right here. Just to put things in perspective right here, I wanted to show you what these would look like when you paint them. So this is the mountain version of the Wave right here, as you can see. All right, and then we've got the combined mountain and zigzag version right about here. As you can see, I got the mountain and then I stretch them out into a zigzag into that z motion. Right. So I hope this kind of makes it a little bit more clearer. 5. First Layer: All right, so first step towards having your paper is to tape your entire paper down. So I'm doing this so that you can stay in place. And also because in I will be tinting the entire page will be covered with paint. So once you take the tape off, it will leave a very nice clean looking border. You can either eyeball this or Marika doubt if you have trouble eyeballing it. But as long as you get like a 0.25 by 0.5 inch border, it should look good. So here I am using my tape as a reference to mark down the horizon line. Let's now begin by prepping our palette. So I'm going to be using the yellow-blue and integral for this entire ocean painting. And I will be using a little bit of acrylic weight, but that will be at the very end, so we'll come to that after awhile. But for now, let's begin by starting to paint the sky and using a medium-sized flat brushes and reading the entire first half of the paper above the horizon, which will be our sky. This technique is referred to the well-known where technique, where you apply paint onto a red canvas. Make sure to not over pool your papers. Just a light sheen should be enough. Using the same flat brush, I am now giving my paint into the tailbone and using a flat wash at the very top. The goal here is to get a nice gradient moving downwards where it is darker at the top and then lighter as we move downwards towards the horizon. So you wanna gradually keep adding in layers of paint little by little, starting at the top and then Lightning awash as you move down. You can do this by dabbing your paint onto your paper towel or Washington or brush-off lightly and then starting over. Another tip is that you can also use your paper towel to block any excessive pain directly. This will pick off a wet paint fairly well. I'm going to be repeating this step one more time until I'm satisfied. And then when you're ready, take off your tape that you move towards horizon line on to the next step. Alright, so now we are going to be painting on a forest base layer to the ocean. So this time we will have a reverse gradient where it'll be darker at the very bottom. And then as we move upwards, we're gonna get lighter towards the horizon line. Ok. Now using the very small thin around Russia we have, I am going to be likely kind of marking my horizon line using paler blue. And it doesn't have to be dark or anything right now, just so that you have a distinction as to the sky and the ocean meet. This is just for you to kind of keep track of what's going on. It'll be easier to paint moving forward. 6. Second Layer: You may notice your paper getting slightly wrinkled or warped in certain sections, especially if you use the technique of light, this is normal, but if you use a heavier watercolor paper, you will find that the page will get back to normal once you remove your tape off, sometimes repositioning or people like, like soul can help. But please do this only once your paint has completely dried. Another good tip is to place your people under some heavy books overnight. Once you're completely done with their project, that often students at out immediately. But yeah, I find out he's a watercolour paper straightens out right away. Once I remove the tape, I have linked below in the materials section. If you are interested to check it out. I do recommend this paper a lot for everyday purposes. I do find it in a very reasonably priced for the quality, and I really do like it a lot. Alright, I'm now using my medium sized round brush to begin painting appears. Now this is a lot easier than it looks, and I'm gonna walk you through it step by step for taking some IndieGoGo. Let's begin our forest where think of these as a stretched out mountains. This is the easiest way I can explain it. So using the tip of your brush, begin making a thin line, elongated while you hit a peak and then stretch it back down again. Also, I quickly want to note that the technique that we're using at the moment is referred to the red on dry technique. Because remember we let be allowed the pain to completely dry before we moved on to the waves section. So here I'm just repeating these mountain sheep to BFS again. And notice how I'm connecting them this time, some waves can be left by itself. Some should be connected. Just keep them random and simple. These are tiny ripples and waves you see in the ocean. We aren't focused on getting those big ones yet. You know, the ones with the foam and the and those big bite bills. That will be a class for another time. But this is just for you to gain a practice on painting the ocean. Also feel free to look at a reference peak or just look at images of oceans and keep them handy next to you. Just so that you can kind of visualize what these little ripples and waves look like. One important step to keep note of is that as you move towards the horizon, your views should get smaller in size. So be very intentional about keeping those strokes thinner as you move upwards. So some of these waves have the zigzag motions weighed. So you've got these mountain peaks. Some of them connect, some of them don't. And then you've got these zigzag motion waves. So think of the letter z, but it is stretched out exaggerated way. I'm switching back to your My Fen rationale so that I can be intentional of getting ten strokes as we move upwards. To get the right perspective. You want them to be light and small and we'll Ethan to give the notion of it being far away. So here I'm making tiny little strokes and blending the color out by from the edges so that you don't want it to stand out too much, right? You wanted somewhat faded. So as we move further back, you shouldn't really be seeing too much of the waves anyway. See what I'm dipping the horizon line by using indigo. Just to recap, we have been using indigo for the entire first base layer of the waves. So once you're done with this sort of base layer, you're satisfied with how you'll be x look. We will move on to the next step. 7. Third Layer: I have left my pen to dry and now using some paler blue, I am simply adding a layer of that underneath all of my existing waves. This is done to build some dimension and depths to each wave. Makes sure to not cover up the very light initial forest based layer that we did. So the way light loops that you see you should still be showing through as well. So you'll want to basically have your very dark tones, your mentors, which is your payload blue. And then you'll very light based on debuted in the very, very first tab. So all these three colours should be showing through. Remember to keep it light as you move towards the horizon. So make sure they are painters Leiden also your strokes should be smaller and thinner. I will be using my thin brush again for the entire painting moving forward to gain more control. So now it is time to build up on those waves even further. So I'm taking the integral to darken up the dark tones. I'm simply going over each initial BFS will be made at the very beginning and keeping them up. Remembering to keep it light, thin and small as we move towards the horizon. Right? Right now it's time to build up on the mid tones a bit more. So using pale blue, Add in a layer underneath those dark tones, like we did before. Or simply repeating these steps until we're happy with the outcome. Here I'm going in again with indigo to darken up those initials, sort of waves of it more. As you can see, watercolor is all about sort of building up those layers slowly and achieving those dimensions and depths as you move forward. So it requires a bit of patience. But once you get the hang of it, it's pretty much, I mean, at least in this project, it's pretty much the same sort of technique and the same steps that we do over and over again until you are happy with how you have Hatch Act has turned out. I'm giving my Oceana one last final finishing layer before we add some few details. Also something to keep in mind that watercolor obvious dries a shade or two later. So if you want your results to be darker or your dough tones to really be dark, I'm just realized that it will lighten up one's dried. So you may need to build up a little bit more in that case. Okay, so just to recap, your dark tones are your colors that you're making with indigo. So all these little initial shaped waves that we made in the mountain shapes and dizzy shapes and kind of outlining it with indigo and then blending it out. Okay, so those are your dark tones. Then your mid tones are your tailored blue colors that are right underneath. Indie goes, I'm going to point that out right here. Okay. And then your low lights are remembered that initial wash that we did in the ocean, right? The baby for a space wash. Those are your, your extreme low lights, the light colors that you see in the background. Right? And then your highlights will come at the very end if you haven't come to that section yet. But I will show you how to add in your highlights at the end. So generally a painting should have a combination of all these tones. Your dark townsmen tones, no lines, highlights. Just to kind of build on some dimension and some depth to a painting. Right? 8. Final Details: I wanted to break up the composition a little bit, and I decided to add in a couple of words. Just sort of far away up in the sky. Just so that your eyes can float around the painting. I'm bringing out some white acrylic paint and adding little specs to that, to the ocean and waves as highlights. So using the same thin brush and using its tip, just make little specs and dots, see little lines and just stay thin lines across the center of the painting. Now for the part we've been reading for the most exciting part of it has to take off the tape once you're completely done and your paint has dried, remove that tape off so that you can see how your final project flux. Does anyone else find this tape removing process those satisfying. I just loved the sound that it makes and also the excitement that you build up while you're painting just to see what your final project looks like. And you can only really only tell hop once you take off the tape. Just really does look so clean. At the end. I hope you found this watercolor big interclass, youthful. And now I can't wait for you to try this out and do not forget to share your results with us are also feel free to follow me so that you do not miss out on any future painting classes from me. And I also post updates and some few giveaways every now and then, So yeah, make sure to follow me so that you do not miss a thing. 9. Thoughts & Class Project: Thank you all so much for watching and I really hope you guys enjoyed today's watercolor ocean painting for this class project, I would love for you to try painting this landscape with me if you are a beginner, definitely go through the warm-up exercises I showed in the very beginning. So make sure you practice that before you begin. And once you're done, like always, please do not forget to share your results with, as you can post to your projects in the project tab below, feel free to leave this placer review. And also don't forget to follow me so that, you know, when I upload and then you don't miss any updates from me in the future. And again, thank you all so much for watching and for completing a class. Well then I will see you very soon.