Watercolor Crystal Clusters | Vanessa Lesniak | Skillshare

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Watercolor Crystal Clusters

teacher avatar Vanessa Lesniak, Social Working Artist

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

7 Lessons (48m)
    • 1. Welcome

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. Drawing Crystals

    • 4. Sketching Your Crystal Cluster

    • 5. Crystal Cluster Painting

    • 6. Crystal CLuster Details

    • 7. Class Project

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About This Class

Learn a quick, simple way to watercolor crystal clusters.  I walk you step by step through the sketching process with examples of how to sketch various crystals and how to put them all together to form a cluster.  I also take you through every step of the painting process in real time, giving you a clear and concise method for painting beautiful crystals every time. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Vanessa Lesniak

Social Working Artist


Hello friends,

My name is Vanessa, I am former Social Worker, mom, wife, watercolor paintmaker and artist.  I am weirdly obsessed with all things watercolor and have wrangled my family into my passion.  I have a small business - The Sprout Creative where I sell my artisanal handmade paints.

Our little business is named after our 5 year old daughter, who we nicknamed Sprout (her real name is Laura Eva, I'm not that cruel hahaha).  She loves to paint and create alongside me.  My family inspires so much of the work that I do.


Painting for me is quite intuitive.  Being a Social Worker for 16 years really has changed my life view as well as definition of self care.  Intuitive painting came out of the need t... See full profile

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1. Welcome: Hi, Vanessa Lesniak here. If you are brand new to one of my classes, welcome. And if you are coming back after seeing some of my other ones, welcome back. Today we are going to learn how to paint watercolor crystals. I am super excited to show you my techniques. Of course, there are tons and tons of different ways to paint them, but I'll be showing you my techniques, which are a very fun, simple, and quick way to paint your own watercolor crystals, we will be adding a few flares and embellishments at the end. But most of all, we'll be having a great, great time. So grab your supplies, grab a cup of coffee or a cup of tea. I'm a coffee drinker myself. Sit back, relax and enjoy the class. 2. Supplies: For this project, I will be using a block of Stonehenge Aqua cold press. And a block is glue down on all four sides. And that means that you don't have to tape your paper down because it'll stay straight. And this is 100% cotton watercolor paper. I also have a jar of water, and this is just an old candle jar that I've repurposed for my water. Just because it's really cool. I also have my paints and I will be using turquoise green by finale a Magellan mission goals bright, clear violet, and helium's purple by CALEA. Those are the three main colors that I'll be using for this piece. You're going to need at least two brushes. I'm showing you three, but you don't need three. You just need to, I prefer for my crystals to use the smaller brushes, I'll be using a size 2 and a size four. If you're more comfortable with bigger brushes, then you can use those as well. I'm also going to be using a pencil to sketch a white gel pen to add some finishing touches at the ends. Now pictured here, but also needed is an eraser, so we can grab one. That will be great. You'll see me using a kneaded eraser during the process. A paper towel, always important to blot off any extra water and any extra paint. And also I will be using some copic opaque white. If you do not have any Copic opaque white, this is just my preferred white because it's so bright and so white. But if you do not have this particular co-pay, co-pay quite feel free to use whitewash, white water color, white acrylic. Any white medium that you have will work just fine. So grab all of your supplies and let's get painting. Actually first, let's start sketching. 3. Drawing Crystals: Let's start off by taking a look at an actual crystal cluster. As you can see with this cluster, there are shards of crystal shooting off in all different directions, all different sizes and all different shapes. I have one other one to show you, and this one is quite a bit smaller than this, then the first one. And you can also see that the same factors still apply. There are different sizes, different shapes, and they're all jutting out of a base. So when we start painting, these are some things that we're going to keep in mind. No two crystals are alike. They aren't precise. They are made up of triangles and rectangles. And we're just going to build off of that premise. So I'm just going to grab a sketchbook. Feel free to just grab some paper. It doesn't have to be a sketchbook. I'm going to grab one larger crystal. And with this crystal, we are going to use it as an example to start off our sketch and we are going to build off of this crystal. So one of the first things that we notice when we are looking at this crystal is that there is a point on top, and the point is made up of small triangles that encircle the entire top of the crystal. So we're going to start off using that first triangle or drawing that first triangle that is facing us. Now, my has a little imperfection. So instead of drawing it straight, straight triangle, I'm going to add that little imperfection to my crystal. And you'll see it's completely made up of straight lines. After that triangle. It juts down and we have a rectangular shape. And again, it ends with a triangle that is not perfect. This one as well is just a little bit imperfect. So it doesn't have to be, it doesn't have to be perfect. Remember, this is an interpretation of what you're seeing and your piece does not have to be perfect. So now I'm taking a look and we're going to draw the sides. And again, we're starting with the triangle on top. And we are working our way down the crystal, which the body of the crystal is a long, thin rectangle, and it ends in another triangle. So take your time drawing what you see. Let your hand become used to the strokes. As you can see, none of my lines are straight. And really it doesn't it doesn't bother me at all. Your lines don't have to be street. They don't have to look a certain way. You can always just go back in as I'm doing here and making it a little bit more pleasing to the eye. As you can see, mine is not perfectly symmetrical. The top is a little bit thicker than the bottom. Again, perfectly fine. Now here is a, another crystal. And we're going to apply the same principles to it. So the top starts off with a little triangle and working our way down, it ends in a rectangle. Now this one doesn't have a triangle at the bottom. It ends, it's just blood so that you can stack it on your desk or stands it up. So we are going to joy just as we see it. Okay, Makes sure it to draw the sides. Whatever is visible to the naked eye is what we are going to be drawing. Remember, it doesn't have to be perfect. The beauty and painting crystals is in the painting and not the sketching. Now I'm going to grab another crystal and continue practicing it just as I see it. So for this one, I'm going to zoom in a little bit more so that you can take a look at the crystal a little closer and you practice sketching what you see. As you can see here, my sketch is far from perfect. However, as I said earlier, the beauty is in the painting, not so much the sketching. So now let's take some of our crystals and add a little bit more a character to them. A few of the crystals that we are going to draw later on in our crystal cluster are going to be shooting off at different angles. So let us try now to practice drawing them at different angles. And again, we're going to practice joined the same exact crystal that we did earlier at a different angle and jutting off to the side. It's very simple. We're just trying to get our hand used to making the soft straight lines. However, my hands probably will never get used to it. Now let's try a different shape on one of our crystals for at least where the top. So if you can see here for this second crystal that we drew, we can make it a little blunt by cutting off the very tip of it. Okay, so it has a little bit of an imperfection. And these are things that you can do when drawing your own crystals. You can join the way that we drew it in the beginning and then add some imperfections to it by erasing some lines, erasing some angles. Feel free to do that, or just try sketching it out with those imperfections. Now you don't necessarily have to look at a picture of a crystal to do this. You can just kind of do it off the top of your head. Just remembering the very basic shape of them. Triangle on top, long, thin body ends, either a base straight across space or a triangle at the bottom, right? So once you have that basic shape, you can manipulate it any way you see fit. Okay, let's tackle one that has a chip on the top of it. So it's not going to be perfectly triangular. It's going to have little chip on the top. And as you can see, one side of it is a triangle, but we are making the other side a little bit more flat. Okay? So these are your basic shapes for it. And again, it doesn't have to be perfect. We're just going to go with the flow. And imagine that the top of the triangle has a chip on it. And there it is, right in the middle. Okay, so now that you have the very basics of drawing crystals, Let's just practice a few different shape. 4. Sketching Your Crystal Cluster: All right, Let's begin. So the first thing that we are going to do is draw a very, very light shape. So I'm going to draw somewhat of a diamond shape. And this is just going to give us a nice guide of where we are going to start sketching in the crystal. So we're going to sketch the crystals and have them be confined within this shape. Makes sure that you have an eraser handy because we are going to definitely need one during the sketching process. So once you shape is down now it's time to begin drawing in or sketching in the crystals. So remember from our previous lesson that all crystals in the crystal cluster have basically the same shape, okay? So it depends on what angle, angle you look at it and whether or not there are some imperfections if they are cut-off on top. So we are just going to use our imagination for this one. We are actually now going to look at a crystal cluster. We're going to use our imagination and start adding in some crystals randomly. You can feel free to follow along with the one that I am drawing for this practice piece. And then during your final projects, make up your own. I am also going to leave a copy of this sketch in the materials list in the class description. In case you are having a little bit of trouble, you can just trace this onto your watercolor paper and skip to the next part. But this will give you some really good practice. This will give you some practice in drawing the circles are sorry, joined the crystals within a confined space. Make sure that your crystals overlap each other. And that's why you're going to have your pencil handy. So not only is it's a fixed, a couple of mistakes that you may make here and there. I make a lot of mistakes when I am sketching because I am no sketch artists. But also when you are overlapping your crystals, such as now what you're seeing here, I'm going to be overlapping a couple of crystals and you will be able to use your eraser to erase the crystal parts underneath, just so that you don't confuse yourself if you want to leave them in. You can also do that. I like to erase them so that I don't confuse myself. So once I have the outline of my crystal, I will erase the background of crystal from, from the medulla back. So sit back, relax and finish up this sketch. All right. Okay. All right. Hi. Once you are completely satisfied with your sketch, you can go ahead and erase the initial guidelines that you made for yourself. I am so sorry for all of the camera moving. It's nearly impossible for me to erase without jiggling the camera a bit. So yeah, once you're done, erase the guide and then join me for the really fun part of this entire thing. And that is the painting. 5. Crystal Cluster Painting: Now here is where the fun begins. To start. I am going to take my kneaded eraser and lightly rub it against my sketch. So I'm just going to roll it against my sketch to pick up any of the extra pencil markings and to lights in the sketch just a little. Next, I'm going to take my smallest brush, which is in this case is a size two. And I'm going to take this crystal section by section. So the first thing that I'm going to do is put a light coating and light wash of water over one of the sections. And now I'm going to take my lightest blue. And in this case it is the turquoise green by Daniel Smith. And I am going to lightly trace around one of the corners. And the most important thing to take away from this exercise is to let the water do what the water does. So it's going to mix in with the paint and it's going to spread out on its own. If you are using 100% cotton watercolor paper, this is going to be a lot easier than if you're using regular wood pulp paper, you may need to maneuver in a bit if you're using wood pulp paper. So you can see here I went in with a second color and on the opposite ends, I added that color in. So if your paint is not mixing it on its own, what you can do is COX-1 and a little bit. So with a clean brush, go in and wipe your brush off, wipe it on a paper towel and just mix the insides just a little bit. You'll see me do that here. Every now and then. It is okay to have some whitespace in between your colors. It is okay if you have some whitespaces here and there, it just adds to the character of the crystal. As you see here. I am jumping from section to section. Also, what I am doing is I'm using three colors. As I said during the supplies section, I noted the three colors that I'm using. So the first one is turquoise green by Daniel Smith, bright clear violet by Magellan mission goals. And Helios purple, which is that pinkish color by smelly. So what I'm doing is I'm using those three colors, but I am adding different variations of each crystal just to show a little bit of separation and to show each individual crystal a little bit more clearly. So for the first one, I added blue and purple. For the second one, add a purple and pink. And here is another one that I am adding, pink or alleles purple, but it looks pink, so I'm going to call it pink and blue. And that's what we're going to do for all of the crystals. We're going to take it section by section, water down the crystal first the crystal section, and then lightly add to your color. You can add your color as dark or as light as you want. I wanted this one to have sort of an ethereal look to it. So I'm not going with two bowls of a color, but if you want to go bold Goebbels goal for what you're feeling. This crystal here, I am going to just leave it completely bloom. And since I'm limiting my color palette to just these three colors, the entire cluster is going to have a very cohesive look. If you start introducing too many colors, then it's going to look a little discombobulated. I love that word. It's going to legislate a little bit discombobulated. Isn't that going to look as puts together as if you use a limited color palette. Now, I encourage you to use as many of those limited colors in each crystal. So you'll see that in some of them, I use one color, in some I used to, and in some I go even a little crazy and I use three colors and that's okay. Tried to have a cohesiveness within each crystal. So if you're using blue and purple as I am using here in this one, then keep all of the edges are all of the sides with that same color scheme. Use blue and purple for all of them. When he move on to the next crystal, if you're using pink and blue, make sure all the sides are pink and blue. That way it will just give it a little bit more cohesion. So I am going to continue painting all of the sides, including the tops, with that same color scheme. I'm not going to worry right now about where the light hits it, where it should be lighter, where it should be darker. We're not going to worry about any of that right now. That's going to come in when we put the finishing touches it. So that's why this one is a fairly simple and easy way to make crystals. Right now, all you have to worry about is getting the colors down. Even if you make it dark, we can add some lightness in. What do we put in our finishing such as. So, get your colors down and take it section by section. Now you may, you may be wondering, do I have to wait for every single section to dry before I add water and color to this section right next to it. The answer to that is no. You can add colors next to it immediately if you want, and just kind of let the colors run them together or you can continue doing it this way. I encourage you to experiment with different ways of putting down the base color or putting down this section of paints. It. There's no wrong way to do it. If you want to paint the entire crystal at once, feel free to do it. Just throw in color, wet the entire piece. Throwing colors. Go with your instinct. I am a firm believer in following your instinct when you're painting. So if that's what you feel like doing, go ahead and do it. I guarantee you that once we start adding the finishing touches at the end, it will all come together and it will all make sense. So you don't need to wait for one side to dry before starting on the side directly next to it. You can if you want to. I have here I've done that here. But you're going to notice as we get towards the end of the piece that I get a little bit in patients. And I don't necessarily wait for each section to dry. Again. It adds character. You might get a few blooms here and there. And that's okay. Just go for it. Go with what you or your instincts are telling you. That's the way that I usually paint and I call it intuitive painting. And I just kind of go with the flow. There comes a points and I'm sure you have. If you have watched any of my other Skillshare videos, you will have heard me say there comes a point in every single painting specifically that I've done where I feel like it is not the best. I call it my ugly phase. And the important thing to do is to push through that phase. Don't let it discourage you, keep on going because no matter what you do, you'll be able to bring it all together at the end. And if at the end you still feel like this really isn't working, this is not my best. That's okay. Because with every piece that you do, you'll have learned something for the next one. There is no ugly piece, there is no wrong piece. You will take some lesson from everything you pains. So just go with the flow. This does not have to be stressful at all. Okay? Okay. Once you start painting the sections that are closest to the very bottom of your piece. So to that v-shape, you want to go in with any of the colors of your, of your liking. You can actually even go in with a mixture of colors and load your brush with that color. So make it as dark as possible and tap in as much of that color along the bottom, the very, very bottom as you can. You want it to look a little rough. We don't want a straight line at the bottom. Just tap it in and make that stand out more than the rest. Okay, so as we are coming to the end of this section, I just wanted to remind you that you should make the very bottom a lot darker and the top. So if you wanted to go over that again with the seconds dot-dot-dot of paints along the bottom. And you can feel free to do that at now and make sure that your piece is fully dry, 100% of completely dry. Before heading on over to the next step. 6. Crystal CLuster Details: And now it's time to put on the finishing details. So grab your white gel pen. And the first thing that we're going to do is we are going to outline every single line, pencil line that we made in the very beginning. So our sketch, it'll be very easy at this point. Outline it because you've painted each individual side of the crystal. And because of this, you already have that natural separation. So what you're going to do now is grab a white gel pen and just outline your crystal. Outline it every, every, every angle, every line that you visibly see outline. You don't have to do the outside edges. But if you're going to put a background to our border writing a paper, then I do recommend outline the outside edges, but for now, you don't really need to if your paper is just going to be cleaned. Once you have outlined every corner of your crystal, it is time to grab your white medium. And as I said earlier, it can be anywhere medium. I use Copic Opaque way. You can use white, gouache, watercolor, whatever you wish. So what you're going to do is you're going to pick one side of your crystal. As you see. I've picked all of the left areas of my crystal and I am going to lightly add some color to the corner of every left angle of my crystals. After I add the white, I am going to wet my brush, roll it on a paper towel to get rid of any excess water and blended into the rest of the piece. A few tips that I'm gonna give you now that will be, that will help you in this stage. One is don't add too much water because adding too much water will lift up the paint underneath and we don't want that. Also, adding too much water will have a blooming effect on the weights. And we don't want that at this stage blooming was fine for the under painting. For this stage, blooming is now fine. We want this to blend in and just make it look like the light is shining or sparkling on the crystal. So pick your angles and start adding in white. You get add them into every part of the crystal to some of the, some of the crystal. If you, if you have a dark spot and it just doesn't look right to your eye. You can add the white end to light in it. So what we're doing is lagging some of the areas and just showing a little bit of reflection of the eye. Once I finished in adding, once I have finished all of the light areas, I mean, my brush into my White media microbic opaque white. And I'm going to add a splatter. So I'm going to concentrate this bladder more heavily on one side than another or the other. You can add splatter across your entire piece, are concentrated in one area or just add it to the tops, that's completely up to you. The added some splatter to me makes it look like it's sparkling. So I really love that. And then I'm also going to add some bigger pieces. There are some bigger dots of white and I'm just going to be very sporadic with it and I'm not going to add too many. But this is the stage where we get to like add a little pizzazz to our crystal. Once that's done, it's time to add a bit of a heavier sparkle. So what I'm going to do is thoroughly clean off my brush. And I am going to take a paper towel and roll it along the paper towel so that I can get the point of my brush back. So you want your, your, your brush to be very pointy. I'm going to use my same white that I've been using the entire time. And I'm going to start adding some stars to parts of the crystal. So what I usually do when I'm adding star is, is I start with a diamond in the middle and then I do lines like a cross in the middle of that diamond. So depending on how big or how small you want it, it doesn't even have to fit within the confines of the crystal because it's making it look like a, like a flare, a sparkle. So it doesn't even you can make it bigger than the actual crystal. You can make the lines come out of the crystals, overlap the crystals. Hi. And finally, once you are satisfied with the amounts of sparkles, just go ahead and add a couple of lines with your whites. Medium can only just adding lines for radically around the crystals just to give it a little bit of texture, a little bit more lightness. And there is really no rhyme or reason as to why I'm adding this or where I'm adding this, just go ahead and add it wherever you feel comfortable, whatever side calls to you. Okay? And with these final touches, our piece is done. So I really hope that you liked this class. And I am so looking forward to seeing all of your projects with which by the way, is the max less than so. If you wanted to see what your project is going to be or have a little bit of direction. Just go off to the next lesson is short, and as a reminder, I've added a bunch of different crystal drawings in the materials below. 7. Class Project: For your project, I would love to see you incorporate the crystal painting skills that you learned today into your very own unique style. So now's the time to take the crystals and add some flair. I'm putting up a couple of pictures of other ways that I've incorporated my crystals with a moon, with some succulents, just, with flowers. Just, the possibilities are just endless. So let me know how many fun ways you can achieve your unique crystal paintings. How you can blend, add 1234 colors. Make sure it's cohesive, but the possibilities are endless. If you need a little extra help, I have attached today's sketch as well as a few other crystals to help you along the way. I am so looking forward to seeing your response and thank you so much for taking yet another of my class IV and I'll see you all next time.