TATTOOED WHALE - An adventure in watercolor | Janet Asbury | Skillshare

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TATTOOED WHALE - An adventure in watercolor

teacher avatar Janet Asbury, Watercolor Artist and Teacher

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

9 Lessons (53m)
    • 1. Tattooed Whale Intro

    • 2. Tattooed Whale Supplies

    • 3. Tattooed Whale Masking Fluid application

    • 4. TattooedWhale First Salty Washes

    • 5. Tattooed Whale Belly O' the Whale

    • 6. Tattooed Whale Fins & Mask Removal

    • 7. Tattooed Whale Details

    • 8. Tattooed Whale Bonus Background, Globe

    • 9. Tattooed Whale Bonus background, Gold Circle

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About This Class


This class is project-based and interactive. You're invited to post your questions, comments, and work in progress, at absolutely every step.  

Whether you're a beginner or an advanced watercolorist, you can jump in and enjoy this class.  I provide a printable to trace and step-by-step instruction for the beginner  The advanced artist will find inspiration to add their own style to their project.     

In this class we will cover and apply the following:

  • Art supplies I recommend, including paint brands, paper, and brush types.
  • Application of resist medium and a little secret! (shhhhh...)
  • Wet on Wet watercolor techniques.
  • Using sea-salt water mix
  • Color mixing on paper to create blended color effects.
  • Creating a soft gradient with three colors
  • Wet on dry watercolor technique for detail work
  • Bonus Lessons for creating your own background

Our goal is to create a fun and whimsical whale where you will enjoy some creative play with watercolors. I hope you learn a few things along the way.  And I hope this class brings you joy as it has for me!  

Don’t forget to follow me here on Skillshare. Click the “follow” button and you’ll be the first to know as soon as I launch a new class or have an announcement to share with my students.  If you enjoy my class, I would love it if you left me a kind review!  And....PLEASE post your work, your project and share with everyone!  I would love to see your paintings! 

Supplies List:

  • HB lead pencil 
  • Art Eraser and/or kneaded eraser
  • Painter's Tape or artists tape or washi tape
  • Three professional or student grade watercolors in Prussian Blue, Payne's Gray, Windsor Violet
  • Arches 140# Cotton Watercolor paper, 9" x 12" (my recommendation for best results)
  • #0 Rigger brush (small details)
  • #4 Round watercolor brush (small details)
  • #8 Round watercolor brush (larger fills/washes)
  • Small 'junk' brush such as a 0 or 1 for masking application
  • Cut up credit card or similar card
  • Masking Fluid/Drawing gum
  • Mixing Palette or white plate
  • Water x 2 (one for rinsing brush, one for clean water)
  • Paper towels
  • ***Optional -- Dr Phil Martin's Bleedproof White
  • ***Optional -- Candle and music for ambiance ;)

After previewing the options for background, you will need the following for our optional bonus lessons--depending on which background you choose.

  • Finetec Gold
  • Ruling Pen
  • Two additional colors for water--ocean blue and a green (your prussian blue will work!)
  • #12 round or mop brush

Meet Your Teacher

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Janet Asbury

Watercolor Artist and Teacher


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1. Tattooed Whale Intro: Hello, my name is Janet Asbury. I'm a watercolor artist and teacher. This is my third class here on skill share. I hope you'll join me for my third class. It's called tattooed whale. It's a whimsical adventure and watercolour. And we will be using a resist technique, very simple, using a masking fluid to obtain the look that we're going for. And if you're a beginner and you've got this, just come along, join my journey. And I will take you from a sketch to background finish. And I know you can do it. If your intermediate or advanced. Jump on in. It'll be fun. And you can add your own touches and your own background and put your own flavor on it. And who knows, maybe you'll pick up a technique along the way that you hadn't thought of before or haven't practiced before. So I hope you'll join me in my third skill share class, tattooed way. Let's jump in. Supplies are annexed. See you in the next lesson. 2. Tattooed Whale Supplies: For our tattooed with project, you're going to want some good-quality watercolor paper. And I use the arches cold press, 300 GSM or I'm 140 pound paper. And I did cut that down a little bit. You're going to need of course, your paper towel, your palate, some painter's tape to tape your paper down on to appear surface if you're wanting to do that. So only on Speed setting, good smelling candles, water reservoir. I actually used to one because my water gets dirty and one because I like to have clean water for the washes that won't get painted in. The only three colors I've used in this without adding a background. Our blood pressure in blue. And I've used the art philosophy, Prussian blue and windsor violet, which came in a kit that I have. The palette. And Payne's gray, which are using the Windsor and Newton. These are all professional grade. Wasn't sure about the art philosophy, but honestly, I really like it. I think it's, it just performs very well, very professionally for those mistakes and for cleaning up your edges. I loved the Dr. Phil martens believed proof white. I have masking fluid. There's a few good ones I do like this that came with that tip that was supposed to apply very fine lines and that lasted all of one time. So I apply it with a jump brush. And I just have this old fine brush here that I use for applying. And I also have a little Dawn soap, which I don't have out here, but that's what I coat my brush with before putting it into the masking fluid. Otherwise, your brochure will be ruined forever. And then for my painting, I used a number 12 silver valve. It mostly for the water application, more of a Mopti brush. The number h for larger areas, it has a nice find point and a number four, which is even smaller and has a really nice point to it for more details. And getting into those little places, I did use a rigor brush, which I need to put out here and let me grab it. It's still Windsor and Newton rigor brush I used for the details on the eye. So 0 Kaufman River. And I loved ask for details. But you could get away with a wealthier for if it's got a really nice fine point. And I think that is all for yet you should need. For the background. I have a few different applications you can do. If you wanted to do gold leaf, you could make a circle open or even a full circle around your Whale in gold leaf. You could just do some splashes behind it. You could make a false. I thought about doing the globe behind him. Thought about doing a gold moon. So I'm going to probably have a few different options for you. And you can do nothing, then leave your way of just flame. Or you can pick up that brand. What I'm going to offer. So that's all you're going to need and see you in our first lesson. Last I forget. Of course you will need any racer. I love a kneaded eraser for lightening of the lines of my pencil sketch. And this is a pickup squared. It picks up the masking fluid that you lay down after it's dry when you're all done using air resist, it's gray. I care about or what they're called on Amazon, but I will include a link or a picture of that. Had that for years and that's how enhance literally lasted for years. I've worn in corners down. And then just a credit card cut up. And this is to score the lines of the whale on the throat. And that's it. 3. Tattooed Whale Masking Fluid application: Okay, we're going to apply our masking fluid, which will give us our resist to paint over. The blue that I have here in this little dish is some Dawn soap. I've coded my brush with it and then dip into the masking fluid that will keep my brush from being caked with the masking fluid and hopefully keep it from being ruined. But I do suggest you use an old brush for this step. It's going to have to be a small one to apply these little dots. But you can also use a toothpick. You can even use a pin which you won't need the Dawn soap for. You'll just wipe it off when you're done. You might have a masking fluid applicator, which is kind of a silicone end and it will not stick to it. So if you have that, you are ahead of the game here and you probably a professional illness. So let's go ahead and apply the masking fluid here. I'm going to actually cover this entire area of the eye because we'll come back later and paint in the detail. And I want to have a lot of white left here. So that will be able to add highlights and a rim around the eye and white without going back over it with a white pen or any other white application. So we'll leave it blank, will block it out and it will be ready to go for the detail at the end of our class here. So I'm just gonna go ahead and speed up through this process here. You can take your time with it. Watch the process if you want first, and then go ahead and complete yours. But it's really pretty basically just going to fill in your outline. Make sure your pencil lines are nice and light at this point because once they've been painted over, you will not be able to erase them. If however there inside the resist area, after your Wales completely dry, they will erase. Whoops, hello, fuzz there. Okay, so let's go. And please be the salt size. Joe, fade away. Giving isn't. Just one answer. Is huge. Is this theory means you are in the melanie. Just the dry match. You can know. Here I'm taking my kneaded eraser and I'm just going to tap on somebody's pencil lines that are a little too intense and if I paint over them, I won't be able to lift them. So I'm just kinda cleaning up before we lay down our first layers of paint. So if you don't have a kneaded eraser, You can use any eraser to do this. Just be really careful around your masking fluid because it will lift it off and you don't wanna have to reapply it. So this is our last step of prep before the paint, et cetera, et cetera. 4. TattooedWhale First Salty Washes: Now that our masking fluid is all dry, and we've got all our markings den and he used some saltwater. And I've just made warm water with some finely ground Celtic salt to make a saltwater. And I'm going to start wedding him. I've got some painting, my brush obviously. So I'm not getting pure water. And I'm gonna do his upper body. And I've gone ahead and blocked out his whole eye. And I'll work on that later. Avoiding the fin at this point, which will treat separately. And let me go ahead into the entire body here because I want a nice gradient to flow from the top to the bottom. The entire San tail fin will be what? Okay. Go back over this. It's pretty dry or any and I'm really laying down a lot of water here. And I've got my I unmasked so I can put that on there. And if I want it lighter, I can lift out. And I think like kinda over shot my sketch here at the tail. And I don't really want that painted. Alright, and this is oppression we blew from art philosophy. And I'm going to start with that. And I'm gonna kinda do a mixing of colors or wet on wet. And I want to start with this and just let it kind of bleed down into the salt water. Content a little experimenting with saltwater and I honestly, as opposed to fresh clean water. And it will find a whole lot of advantage to using saltwater. But it's just kinda fun. So why not Hayes, the salt water creature, let's create them in salt water. Now to add some other color, if you want, you can use a little turquoise, you can use Payne's gray. You can use even a windsor violet and deep purple color. This one. And I'm going to take a little Payne's gray to the top of that and drop it in because that's the bright blue. I'm not sure I want it that bright papers kinda buffering there. So I'm gonna take a little of this Windsor violent. And just that it mix right here. Some there and here and there. Careful around that fin and draw that down. Kind of draw those coders together. More. Payne's gray here. Oops, we hit the fan. We're going to help this out a little bit. Bring it down. And I want my bottom to be a little lighter than the top. So I've got a real water down, kind of just a mix from my brush from up here for the bottom. Kind of going to wash that out too. So if I want to lift anything, just take a clean brush. I'm still a little water on it and lift it out. And this is really bright here. So I'm gonna drop in a little Payne's gray kinda around the edges and that I've got a rumble in my paper right here so the paint wants to settle. I should had taped it down. So that's a little helpful hint from my mistake here. If your paper using this much water is going to want to, this is a 140 LB. So if you paper wants to buckle on you like that, taping it down to your surface beforehand really helps. If you didn't do that like I didn't, then just putting some books on top of it, put it back in the paper pad, put some books on top of it, and flatten it afterwards. Tends to work kinda overdid that little dorsal fin there. And I might be happy with that. It's pretty dark, but it's gonna give me a nice contrast when I take off the masking fluid. And I'm going to let the dark running along the top here just to kind of ensure that gradient is nice. And I think that's a rat. We're going to let that dry and see how it goes. If I want to layer over it, I can do that or I can leave it as it is. 5. Tattooed Whale Belly O' the Whale: We're going to do our belly. Now. What I'm going to wet and I'm going to leave a little separation between the top part of the whale and this bottom part. Then again, avoiding the fan. I'm sure all this water down. So that's not enough to get a little more. Can it nice and watery? Before applying our cover? You can use a combination here of your Prussian blue and do a Payne's gray. Or you can have the Windsor violet even if you want. I think what I'm going to do here is a little Payne's gray. So I really don't want this dark. I'm dropping in some Payne's gray here. I'm just going to this is not a real heavy pigment either. It's a yeah, I'm just kinda rewetting what I've got here. Not even very sick. And dropping it in here, kinda help it down a little bit. And so I get to the bottom because the bottom is of most shaded part of the whale and kinda miss this edge here. I want the bottom actually to be a little darker. And we can always come back and add a layer of that. But I kinda like to get it as close as I can't or I want it at this point. And then behind that fin, now I'm not adding any more pigment to my brush and we'll just kinda streaking that in. And I want to add just a touch of our other colors in here. It's all going to blend together like it did up here you see a little bit of the Windsor violet, but really it's, the colors aren't really distinct. So once it all blends, it's gonna, I'll kinda look more like this. So there I just dropped in a little Windsor violet. And now I'm just going to kind of blend it up because I don't want that distinct color. This is all still pretty wet. So I'm going to come back. That's gonna dry light or to sell. I think I'm okay on color there. Even then it come back with my credit card while it's wet. And I am going to begin scoring. Void my I have some resists there. We wanna avoid that. And I'm just gonna score till I'm pretty happy with the outcome. I think I'll follow this through the back and let those colors just absorbed in there. And I'm kind of like in that little variation that may kinda just blend together and not be as noticeable on and leave it like that. And then we will come back and do the fins when that is dry. 6. Tattooed Whale Fins & Mask Removal: Okay, now that are finished dry and this one didn't water spots too much. But this one did. I like it. I'm just gonna go back over this fin to define the edge here with a really light line. I can find this more. And I'm going to take this edge down. And they're pretty lumpy, bumpy saw you can I kind of imagined some of those lumps and bumps along the way. You feel like that's the edge there. Because I don't want it quite that sharp of an edge. I'm just going to soften it or the wet brush and let that run inward a little bit. Then that defines the Azure are spin. Also. Oh, this back edge and you know, little more Payne's gray. Conquer this back edge right here. My ball fine tip here. And again going to soft unless one. So it's just a wet brush to feather this line out. And there is one more thing. Get this shadow better too. Very Light. Soften it. Alright. That does the fin of fins. No, it doesn't know what kinda make this little more shadowy. And just putting our really, really light washes Payne's gray, I mean, are really light on the edge of the fan. I'm not like and how wide it is. And that's all. And you don't have to do that if you don't want. But I just wasn't like in clay that white. This is going to be really white when thus comes off. And then we're going to define the eye. And we'll move on to that shortly. Okay, the reveal moment. This is called a my a few things, a pickup square. And I think they were originally made for removing rubber cement and then had this for years and corners are worn off of it. But they're available on Amazon and I will put a link in here somewhere under resources perhaps. So this little guy will now remove our masking fluid. Now, you don't have to buy one of these. Because if you buy decent masking fluid, you're masking fluid will come off like this. Of course it'll leave little bits of it all over year painting, but it can be done without it. This is just easier, cleaner and it's gonna gather a bunch of the goop on the edge and I'm gonna have to pick it up. But it's a great way if you're going to be doing this technique while using masking fluid for any project. It is a must have and it's under $3, I believe, on Amazon, so forth. Worth the purchase. But don't have one. Never fear. Just use your fingers and rub him off and to get it really clean, just keep Robin and it'll make a little looks like a little bugger of masking fluid. Okay. Moving right along here. I'm going to speed this up here a bit. You don't need to watch me remove this masking fluid in real time. A few tips. If you go in one direction, it seems to come off much better. If you're using a pickup square. If you're using your finger as I demonstrated before, if you don't have a pickup square, kind of a circular motion is the best way. My masking fluid edges are not real clean because this fine line masking fluid no longer has chip that works. So I use a brush as add demonstrated, and it's not a perfect application, but I'm happy with the way it came out. It doesn't have to be perfect. And I'm gonna give you a few tips if you want to perfect it and have really clean lines. If your brush lines didn't come out perfect, you can use my tip. Then I will show you here. Another option is my Citigroup app and bleed proof White, Dr. Phil Martin's ink. It comes super sick so you have to kinda water a bit of it down. And I like to use the cat. And then you can use here leak-proof white if you want to fix those edges. Which honestly, I don't care about these edges so much. I just want to show you what you can do. A kind of like the reflow. But that's it. And so with the bleed proof white, if there's anywhere that you to get enough masking fluid and you really want to write it out. It is a fantastic tool to have in your watercolor toolbox. So here I kinda ran over the edge and I hit it was simply proved quite smooth that out. And where you get some paint on your paper that you don't want. Stuff is fabulous. Refine this edge here. Don't put your hand in it. Ok. So little secret. Fill Martens, Dr. Phil Martin, pardon me? He didn't get that PhD for nasa. Bleed proof, White. The magic. Alright, so we've removed are masking fluid and our next step is going to be moving on to finish the eye. And then we'll do our background. 7. Tattooed Whale Details: Welcome back. We're going to work on the hub Ax Ay, and I've pretty much to use my four and my eight silver black velvet brushes for the bulk of this project. And now I'm going to switch to a Windsor and Newton rigor brush, which I love for fine details. If you have a favorite that you prefer for fine details, go for it. So I'm going to do this in a Payne's gray rather than a black. Just to kinda keep with the same color scheme that we've been working with. And I'm going to start by painting inside pupil. And I'm gonna kinda outline and here leaving a little white on the outside. Just a little tiny rim of white is when I want to be left with and I also want to leave a little sparkle in his eye. So I'm not going to fill the whole thing in. I'll leave a tiny little white speck there for the light in his eye. I'd like to make that a little bit Paper, working it outward slowly so I don't completely consume that white space. And I think I'm gonna stop right there. Now for the area around the eye inside of these white lines and want to dark in it. Again with my Payne's gray. So I've just watered it down a little bit. And I'm going to darken this area around his eye. Sometimes you see humpback and they look like they have a little lid here. But I'm not giving him one. And I'm gonna give this a bit more of a point. And you can do a search if you want. You can follow along as mine and you can do an image search for humpback and find and that she would like to paint. Otherwise, just follow along with this. And we have a humpback. I kinda let that bleed, right. They're not intentionally, but I'm okay with that. I could come back and let that dry and come back with my bleed proof White and correct it or not. I think I do want to just kind of feathered this L. Too much water, a little bit of water on my brush. I just want to blend this and not really have hard lines. But I do want that darker. Payne's gray here. I think I may even come down here with a bit, come back from that outer edge with the darkest really thick pigment to give this i the depth that I want it to have. And that's pretty happy spot for me right there. Happy little back. I OK. Now another thing we can do if you wanted to do more details, but because of the weight on this, I don't think I'm going to do it. These, I forget what they're called, these little spots on the whale that usually have kind of a bump like this. A dark bump. They look wide above it. And I'm not really fail in it. I'm just gonna, Because of the White on everything else. I I'm not gonna do that, but if you wanted to, you could put those little protrusions or whatever they're called, ran up on my whale terminology today. So that's it. Let this dry. And then we can work on our background. And I'll see you in the next lesson. 8. Tattooed Whale Bonus Background, Globe: So I'm starting with a blue circle and I'm going to paint the globe over the circle with just some green. I'll use some sap green for the landmasses. Using my reference from the earth laughs in flowers as to where the placement and shape of each land mass is. So here we go, just a simple blue circle background. You can draw with your technical circle lid tool and put in your landmasses. I'm just using a little Sap Green over the blue that I used for the circle here. Bring it down over here. I get a little bit of Mexico coming out here, Florida pop and through, which probably isn't that long, but what the heck is and just drop in some more green and for not so perfect love. Pierre. Me. Okay. I'm going to drop in a level that well, let's say I'm burnt sienna come of our reddish brown color to us because, you know, the West over Harris dry. They get so dry areas and hair. And not everything is green and one inertial I hope sees china wash that out before it gets too heavy into my paper. I'm happy with that. I'm going to let that dry. And I did use a large mock brush for that, a twelv round from silver, the black velvet series. You could continue with your eight if you just have the, the four and the eight round or any monk brush would really do that and help you keep it really loose if you work with a big round brush. So there we go. There's the background option one and take you on then to background option two. 9. Tattooed Whale Bonus background, Gold Circle: Welcome back. Let's go ahead and do another bonus lesson here. This lesson is going to be how to paint a circle around your wail. And we're not really painting it. We're going to use these tools called a ruling pen. And these are usually used in drafting, but they are excellent for making perfect lines. And you can use watercolor. In fact, you can use these to apply your masking fluid if you want to. And they work really well for that, especially this little one here. For a fine lines and details. I'm going to use the biggest 1.5 because I want the thickest line that I can achieve with them. So I'm putting these two aside. And these are available on Amazon and art stores. They're just called a ruling pen. And I have a set of three in three different varying thicknesses and widths. So are another tool we're going to be using is the very technical lib circle. And that's going to draw our circle. It's going to be the guide for drawing our circle around the whale. And I'm not sure if I like the size of this one. I think that's what I want to use. I may go a bit smaller and use the circle ruler. Anyway, pick out your circle if you have masking tape and you want to use that, you can use that for your circle is that size suits you. For the larger painting, I think a nice lid like that would do this is a smaller copy of my paintings. So I'm going to go with this guy. And the, the ridge here that's raised especially on this is very helpful in using this tool. So that's my second tool that I'm using and the paint is fine tech. It's awesome. Metallic calligraphers used this and that's initially why I bought it. But this fine tech gold is just amazing. The metallic and this is so bright and shiny. It looks very much like a gold foil. And I do love this stuff. You can see F four and the gold out and need to replace that. The copper is awesome too. I find I don't use the other colors as much anyway. Enough of that, let's get on with our lesson of our circle. So you just want to whet your fine tip down in. There are some other metallic acts out there that are pretty decent. I just find fine tech two BCE so far superior. As far as brilliance and Jeff, and they amazing color and shine. You get out of this. So here's how we use a ruling tool. I'm going to first show you how to do this before I started on my project. And you see that this opens, lay that down, this opens and closes with this little wheel here. So that adjusts the size. And you can play with that a little bit honest piece of scrap paper, which is a really good thing to do is I'm going to close that almost all the way. So I'm wiping this fine tick in here inside that pen. Wipe off the front and the back. Flow out the side. And make it this light down here, a nice even flow as what you want. All right, let's move on to the project. Set this aside. You can play with that a little bit. Make sure your lines are coming out well. Make sure you've got a nice even flow and you get the feel for this pen. And then go ahead and create your circle around your way. And I may go with a bigger circle yet with my highly technical tool here. The ancient Tupperware lid. And think it's a ancient piece of equipment. If you're lucky enough to have one. Go for it. Alright, here we go. I'm going to start to remember keep your angle so that the ink is flowing out or the paint I should say. And I'm I've got the flattest side against my lead. And I'm just going to take my time and I think I missed. Cannot see if I'm still slowing. Reload here. If you can get your half circle dung. If one load is definitely preferable and I have to be able to see that here. Enjoying that half. Then stop. Don't lift your live reload. And part two, I'm going to start over here on the left and work to my right. Didn't go. Okay. Sometimes it takes a moment to get it to slow. That should flow evenly. I'm keeping my angle and I right now don't move the live reload. And it's not too hard to join where you left off because the application is pretty even. So I'm just going to pick up right there and continue my half circle to meet the body of the whale. And that is, it.