Watercolor Details: Learn the Basics of Watercolor | Giulia D'Andrea | Skillshare

Watercolor Details: Learn the Basics of Watercolor

Giulia D'Andrea, Skillshare Teacher - Artist

Watercolor Details: Learn the Basics of Watercolor

Giulia D'Andrea, Skillshare Teacher - Artist

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10 Lessons (35m)
    • 1. Welcome!

    • 2. The Project

    • 3. Supplies

    • 4. Inspiration and Sketch

    • 5. How Watercolor Works

    • 6. Colour Gradient Exercise

    • 7. Different Techniques Exercise

    • 8. Painting the Sketch

    • 9. Adding Final Details

    • 10. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Join me in this class in which I will guide you step by step in creating an illustration while learning the basics of watercolor.

I will tell you:

  • What supplies I like to use
  • How to get inspired and sketch your illustration
  • What are the basics of watercolor
  • What useful exercises you can practice with to improve your waiting skills
  • How to make layers
  • How to add the final details.

This lesson is packed with load of personal tips that I use on my everyday work.

In the resources section you will find a Booklet with all my recommendations about supplies that you can buy + three Pinterest board that I created for you.

Supplies I used for this class

  • Paper: Arches Hot Pressed Paper - 100% Cotton, 300 gsm
  • Watercolour: Winsor&Newton Cotman Watercolor Emerald Green Pan. Winsor&Newton Professional Watercolor in Cadmium Yellow, Alizarin Crimson, French Ultramarine and Vandike Brown
  • Brushes: Round n.12, n.8, Preciso n.1 Borciani e Bonazzi
  • Mechanical pencil Pentel Orenz 0.5
  • Staedtler HB 2 pencil
  • Windsor&Newton kneadable eraser + KUM eraser


Did you enjoy this class? have a look at Watercolor for Beginners: Create a Magical Illustration

Meet Your Teacher

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Giulia D'Andrea

Skillshare Teacher - Artist


Hello! I am Giulia. I live in Milan, Italy and I love to create art and share it with others.

I create delicate, whimsical illustrations for editorial, publishing and surface design.


My work incorporates soft, sweet colors and a mix of hand painted watercolors, gouache and digital art.        I paint magical illustration that attract people and invite them to discover new details by having a closer look.


My inspiration comes from anything that amazes me: I truly enjoy observing little things and details from anywhere around me, from patterns to nature... See full profile

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1. Welcome!: Hi, everyone, I'm Julia. In this Skillshare class, I will show you how to create an illustration while learning the basics of watercolor. I think details really make a difference in an illustration. So I'll show you how I take care of the final steps of my painting process in order to add a special touch to my work. I would guide you step-by-step through our process, and I will tell you what supplies I like to use. I'll sketch the drawing. Then I will tell you a little bit more about how watercolor works, and I will show you some simple exercises to improve your painting skills. Then I will show you how I make layers on paper and how to add the final details. In the next lesson, I will tell you more about the project. So let's get started. 2. The Project: For your project, you will need to choose a subject, sketch it, paint it, and then add the final details. You're going to have different option for your project. You can either upload just your final illustration or you can upload the illustration along with the exercise that we're going to do. Another option is to upload two versions of the same illustration. One is going to be the unrefined illustration and the other one is going to be the one with all the details put in place. This is an interesting thing to do because in this way, you can see both the unrefined illustration and the final illustration, and see which one resonates more with your style and mood. For this class, I created our painter's board with landscapes and scenes that you can be inspired by. You can find a link in the reasserted section. In the next lesson, we are going to get started and I will tell you what supplies I like to use and I will also share some tips if this is the first time that you are buying watercolor supplies. 3. Supplies: For today's class, you will need a sketching pencil, a regular one or a mechanical one, an eraser, I like to use both normal eraser and kneadable erasers, then you will need some brushes. If you don't have any and you're going to buy those, I would say that two or three brushes are enough. Make sure that you have a really thin one if you want to add small details. These are synthetic brushes. I will use around 10, around six, and a number zero for small lines. I like to keep the brushes and pencils in a cup while I paint to be more comfortable in choosing the equipment I need. There are lots of watercolor paint that you can buy. If this is the first time that you're using watercolor, a travel set with 12 or less [inaudible] will do. In fact for today's painting, I will only use five shades. If you use painting tips, you will also need the palette to mix the paint, and any plate will work. Or you could use the lead from your water color set. I have these cute ceramic palette in the shape of a flower, and I will use this one. There are so many different watercolor paper. For this class, I'm going to use that 60 percent cotton paper. This means that the 40 percent of cellulose in the paper allows me to correct mistakes by adding a blot of water into the mistake area and then lifting the color and the water with a paper towel. Last thing you need will be a fabric cloth, or papers towel and two cups of water. I would also use some regular printer paper, some paper tape, and some masking fluid. But you don't need to use them or buy them if you don't have them. In the next class, I will show you how I gather inspiration from Pinterest and how I sketch my subject from paper. 4. Inspiration and Sketch: Before starting painting or sketching, I need to decide what to draw and I will use Pinterest to get inspired. I collected some picture of beautiful places, and for this painting I want to paint a small house in the hood, with lots of trees, blue sky, and some clouds. For this creative part, I don't want to ruin my watercolored paper, and I will use a regular printed paper instead. I start by placing a frame and I'm really into brown flames lately, I feel that I don't get lost in the paper. In the lower parts, I will create the first line that is going to be the main hill on which the house is going to be. Then I will trace some fine lines just to have an idea of where the other elements will go. Then I draw the house and the trees in the foreground, the ones that are closer to my point of view so that I can start to have an idea of how the composition will be. It is easier to add all the other trees behind the house and make sure that everything is balanced in the composition. Finally, I will add some clouds in the sky. Once I'm happy with all the elements, I erase all the parts that I don't need anymore and I make sure I trace the lines in a very clear way. I like my drawing to be super clean and I want to see clearly over the lines. This makes much easier the process of painting later on. In the next lesson, I will tell you more about how watercolor works. 5. How Watercolor Works: Before painting on water color paper, I will tell you how watercolor works. I need to wet the water pans first. I just wet my brush enough to release a drop of water into the pan. I pull the color up into the mixing area. This color is really thick and when I drag the brush on the paper, it releases a lot of pigment. If I want to get a lighter color, I need to add more water to the green puddle. I'm going to use the transparency of water and the white of the paper to get the lighter shade. These really are the basics of watercolor. In the next lesson, I will show you how to do some exercises that will improve your painting skills. 6. Colour Gradient Exercise: I will now create six different shades of green with just one barn. I pick up very saturated green and this one is really little water in it, and I will make a swatch. To make a lighter theme, I add some water. You can see that the more water I add, the lighter the color becomes. My aim is to achieve six different shades, and each shade needs to be slightly lighter than the previous one. You can repeat this exercise with different hues and you can even achieve more density shades. I will repeat the same process with the red paint. I create five shades of this color getting lighter and lighter. If you see that two shades look the same, my suggestion is to focus on those two and paint them again until you get two different colors. I will then add some green to show you what happens if you mix two colors that are opposite on the color wheel. The red becomes darker, and you can use this strategy to get interesting color when you need to darken a shade without using black. In the next class, I will show you two different ways of using watercolor. 7. Different Techniques Exercise: For this exercise, I made this [inaudible] using watercolor paper and paper tape. I will go through wet-on-wet technique, wet on dry technique. I will go from color to color and then from color to white. I'm going to wet the surface on the first square with clean water and spread it a little. With the paper still wet, I apply some color. You can see that I am experimenting what I can do with this technique. This effect is a really good choice and not predictable. Let's see what happens if I add another color into the same section. The color blooms into the area and while it's still wet, I can work it around and see how it reacts, and now I can control it. For the wet-on-dry technique, I'm applying wet paint on dry paper. The brush strokes are really defined and I'm in control of the paint. This technique is great for achieving a very sharp edge and define a different section of the painting, for example. I can achieve really thin lines with this technique and I can practice for small details. In the third section, I will go from blue to red using the wet on wet technique. I wet the surface of the paper with clean water and spread it a little like I did for the first square section. If I add too much water, I collect it with the bristles of my brush. Then I remove the excess water [inaudible] the bristles into the fabric cloth. I use a very saturated blue with few drops of water in it. Now we start putting it down to make it lighter, until I get the shade that's almost white. On the opposite side of the section, now we start with the red paint and do the exact same thing. My suggestion is to practice with different colors to see how you can incorporate this effect into your illustration. To complete the last section, I go from green to white. I'll wet the paper only to the part that they want some color in. Then I make the color lighter by dragging it with clean bristles. I encourage you to mix the different color techniques we just went through and see what works best for you. Now that we know a little bit more about how watercolor works, we are ready to paint, so follow me into the next class. 8. Painting the Sketch: Before using any paint, I need to erase a little bit the pencil lines because the water will seal graphite on the paper once I use the brush, and then it will be impossible to remove. I will start from the sky. I'm using an ultramarine blue and I'm working it down. Trying it on a different piece of paper until I achieve the shade that I had in mind. To make it a bit more intense and give it a sense of depth, I will add a layer of the same light blue in the dark part. This will adapt with the first layer and it will become just a shade darker. I need some yellow for the window to get an idea of someone in the little house. If you don't want to use masking fluid or if you don't have it, that's fine. You just need to remember to leave the white part of the paper by just painting around these parts. I use the masking fluid to preserve the white color for the rocks. I will start painting on the green parts. Trying out the color as I did for the sky. I make a first layer painting everything with the exception of the sky and the small yellow window. To make the trees darker, I add a layer on top of all the trees, avoiding the ones that I want to keep lighter. I always try the color before painting and I add more pigment or more water, depending on the shade that I had in mind. Once I'm happy with all the trees, I start painting the house. Since I painted the house section in green, the red will be slightly darker than the one that they see in my palette. I have to keep this in mind and try the red on green on my scrap paper to see how it reacts. With brown paint, I fill the final section of the painting, that's the wooden house. I suggest that you take a picture of your illustration now so that you can compare it with the final one at the end of the class. We are now ready for the final steps of the painting process. In the next lesson, I will show you how I add details on paper. 9. Adding Final Details: In this lesson, I'll show you all the process that I go through when I add details. I always try the color before painting, so that I can see how it looks and how thick is the stroke. If the stroke is too bold, I release some water from the pixel into the color pallet or on the color. With the smallest brush I have, I add some shades at the bottom of the trees, and where the trees overlap to create a sense of touch. This is usually the step that takes the most time in the process, and it's hard to decide when to stop. I add some dark green on the bottom part of the stone to make them pop out. I like blurred branches all over the tree surface and small lines to represent leaves. I also use some thin lines to create the texture of the root of the house. I like to take extra care and maybe come back to paint few more details later on. Usually, I scan my watercolor and add even more details digitally. It really is a good time once you've added all the details to have a look in your illustration and see how details can really make the difference, and how it's nice to see all the care that it's put into their work. 10. Final Thoughts: Now that the illustration is completed, I can see that the details really make it interesting. In my opinion, this is because details make the difference and they are important. It's a way to see all the care, and work, and extra time that someone put into that illustration. I can't wait to see what you created, so don't forget to upload your project into the project section. It's been so much fun for me creating this class, and I hope you enjoyed it. Thank you for watching it and I'll see you next time.