Watercolor Doodles to Procreate Illustration: Bring a Hand-painted Feel to Your Digital Art | Cathy Hunt | Skillshare

Watercolor Doodles to Procreate Illustration: Bring a Hand-painted Feel to Your Digital Art

Cathy Hunt, Illustrator & Designer

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9 Lessons (47m) View My Notes
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Class Project

    • 3. Let's Get Inspired

    • 4. Paint Your Shapes

    • 5. Digitize Your Shapes

    • 6. Add Detail to Your Shapes

    • 7. Add Texture to Any Shape

    • 8. Do More with Your Doodles

    • 9. Thank You!


About This Class

In this class you will learn techniques to bring a hand-painted feel to your digital illustration! 

We’ll go from watercolor doodles to Procreate illustration in a few easy steps.


My process breaks it down into 2 fun parts:

1. Paint watercolor shapes and doodles. 

No experience necessary! The watercolor portion of the class is pure fun and exploration. Plan on about 20 minutes of stress-free painting.

2. Move over to the digital world where we will add all the beautiful marks that are so unique to you and your style.

SOME experience necessary. Most of the work we’ll do will be digital, and you’ll need to have some knowledge of digital creating. I will be working in Procreate but you could follow along in Photoshop or Fresco or the application of your choice.

Along the way I will share with you:

  • tips and techniques on how to incorporate the hand-painted feel into your digital art. 
  • a way of gathering a library of inspiration and how to keep your work original. 
  • bonus tips on how to tap into YOUR collection of doodles for future art to give it that hand-painted feel without pulling out the paints.

Not interested in the painting part? You’ll be missing out! But I get it. Check the resources for templates you need to skip the painting class.

Once you have learned the techniques in this course you will be able to apply them to many different projects—basically, anytime that you want to bring a hand-painted or hand-drawn feel to your art.

Don’t forget to post your progress to the gallery!

I’m excited to share this with you and I’d love to see your work. So if you’re ready to have some fun and learn some new techniques, let’s get started!

You can view my professional work here.

Or follow my work-in-progress on my Instagram account.


1. Introduction: There's something kind of magical about watercolour. It's almost as if the paint has a mind of its own. And I'm just along for the ride. And once the paint has dried, There's a quality that is just so unique to watercolor. I also love to paint digitally. It gives me the flexibility to explore different directions. Just kind of play around with it. And I can look at options. See what feels right. Hi Cathy Hunt. I'm an illustrator and designer. And today I'm going to share with you my process for combining the best of two worlds. The beauty of hand painted watercolor with the flexibility of digital illustration. I designed and illustrate. art that appears on textiles, stationery products, greeting cards, calendars, scarves, product packaging and more, and sold in major stores. such as Target as well as smaller boutiques and museum shops. Once I developed this way of creating, I found I was working more confidently and having more fun doing it. My process, breaks it down into two parts. First, we will have fun playing around with water colors, shapes, and doodles. This portion of the class requires no experience. It is pure fun and exploration. Then we will move over to the digital world, where we will add all the beautiful marks that are so unique to you and to your style. Most of the work we'll do will be digital. And you need to have some knowledge of digital creating. I will be working in procreate, but you could follow along in Photoshop or fresco, or the application of your choice. Once you've learned the techniques in this course, you will be able to apply them to many different projects. Basically anytime that you wanted to bring a hand-painted or hand-drawn feel to your artwork. I'm excited to share this with you. And I'm so glad that you're here. So if you're ready to have some fun and learned some new techniques, let's get started. 2. Class Project: I started working this way because hand painting, as we know, does not have an undo button. But nothing beats the character of the hand painted brushstroke. So I personally find it very relaxing to sit down and get started with real paints. But they're always comes a moment where maybe it's not going well. And then I get very discouraged. Or if it is going well, then I get nervous that I'm going to mess it up. So I'm kind of a scaredy cat that way, but I'm working on it. But in the meantime, I thought I'm gonna turn this weakness into a strength. And so now I tap into the part of the painting that I really love. And I just enjoy the unpredictable and playful nature of it. And then I move on to an easier and more efficient way of working, which is digital. So that's what I'd like to share with you today. For the class project, I will walk you through the steps to incorporate hand painted feel into your digital illustration. Follow along as I create beetles and moths. Or you could choose from this list to work from. Just make sure that you choose a subject that has a simple yet recognizable shape. If you cannot decide right away that's OK, because our first step is to gather inspiration and reference material. You may find that you're drawn to one or another through that process. For this project, we're going to keep things very simple. Each step has its role. No need to overwork or worry. You really can't do it wrong. Here are the steps I'll be walking you through. First will get inspired. We'll paint some shapes. Paint a few more doodles. Just for fun. Move over to the digital world. Add some design details and explore ideas. And before you know it, with just a few simple steps, you'll have a finished piece of art that you can turn into a greeting card. wall art, add to your portfolio or post on social media. You will post your progress in the gallery and if you want to share how you felt throughout the process, I would also love to hear that. I find painting relaxing, but maybe you find more joy on the digital side. If you want to make things even simpler, you may want to go to the resources and use some of the templates I've provided. There's also some supply recommendations for the word colour portion. Now that you know what's ahead, let's move over to Pinterest and start getting some ideas for what we wanted to create. 3. Let's Get Inspired: Inspiration can be everywhere, so they say, and I think that is true. I also know that when I need inspiration, I sometimes don't know where to look. Some organization and some dedicated time to gathering inspiration can be very helpful and fun. It can be a way to explore what you're attracted to, what calls out to. For the class project we need to gather to types of images. First, we will search for beetle and moths shapes to refer to during the watercolor lesson. During the lesson, we will just be focused on the shape or silhouette of the beetle. And the second thing we will need is design inspiration for adding our details in the procreate lesson. This is where you will bring your own aesthetic to the art. Let's start with the shapes and silhouettes. I'm pinning MY shapes to a board called butterflies, beetles, and moths. So start by searching for beetles and moths. And then what I do is I just start getting familiar with the shapes. Just kind of studying when I'm looking at seeing which ones interest me. I don't have to pin every single one. I kind of let the process lead me. There's some beautiful ones here. Yeah, I love that one. Nice. Another thing to try is to search for beetle and moths silhouettes. Look for the simple yet identifiable shapes. Once you've pinned a bunch, go to your board and study it, what were you attracted to? I like that the legs kinda go in different directions. And I like some of these odd body shapes that I was not even aware existed. So I think I have a lot to work with here. By the way. Now, as I said before, we are really just gathering reference for the shape for our watercolor doodles. But I can't help but be interested in some of the patterns on these beetles. I don't even like bugs, but some of these are gorgeous. And since I have this board, I can use the pattern inspiration I have gathered for a future project that has nothing to do with insects. You know, like I can see this pattern here on a throw pillow or a scarf. That would be great for textiles. You might ask, Cathy, why don't you just paint the moss the way it looks? It has a beautiful shape and a beautiful pattern built right in. And you can do that If you want. But if you take a look around, you will find some beautiful, realistic mocks that artists have created and that look just like these moths. But for me, the way I look at it, this is an opportunity to create something that no one else is creating. So here's my tip. Make your work more original and more YOU by "mixing it up". Which brings us to the second thing that we need to search for, design inspiration for the procreate lesson. I have several boards already that I can refer to. And since I was gathering things, that really captured me. I have a lot of personally curated inspiration on hand that I can tap into when I need it. So for example, I might mix it up by using my vintage board as inspiration for the details on my moth. When I am using reference or inspiration, I am always very careful not to copy or derive my art from another artist. It can happen. I know I've been inspired by an artist and next thing you know, I'm mimicking her style. And I don't wanna do that. So I'm very cognizant of that. I do Pin other artists work, but I do not use their work for reference when I'm doing my own work. For example, on my folk patterns board, a lot of these designs are on products that were made recently. So some textile designer or fashion designer created the look of these. I will have a more original result if I look to actual historical or old patterns for reference and then create my own interpretation of that style. Use ancient or historical reference. You can also use reference from nature. You can even upload from your sketch books. For this project, I created a board called Design Motifs I also have a few other boards I may refer to. This ancient vases is one of my favorites. I may only use a tiny piece of this pattern, but it gets my juices flowing. And then my mind takes over and starts creating naturally and adding to the design. When I get stuck, I find another little mark that I like and just keep going. Again. I mix it up. I use pieces but not the whole design and I keep adding my own marks and always bring something of yourself to the process. Create a board for this project and start adding patterns, designs, details, marks that you are attracted to. When you feel like you have enough to work with. Again, study your board and look for the pieces that you can make your own. The ones that inspire you to create something which now we'll move on to the next lesson, painting your shapes. 4. Paint Your Shapes: It's time to play with watercolors. Were going to fill a page with watercolor shapes and doodles. Use your silhouette reference for your shapes. Feel free to add in some of your personal doodles as you go along. It will fill up your page nicely and add some fun to the process. While the extra doodles are not absolutely necessary for the class project, we may find a use for them later on. And it just adds to the fun. If you're an experienced watercolour artist, you probably have your own routine and methods for getting started. But if you're trying this out for the first time, I'm going to encourage you to take a moment, to settle yourself into this exercise. Get in the right frame of mind. First thing I do is to start putting some color blobs on the paper. I just do this kinda as a warm up. And just getting the paint on the paper gets my juices flowing. I usually let the color evolve as I work. We're going to be able to make some color shifts when we get into the digital world. So for this exercise, you don't really need to concern yourself with a color palette per say. But it's a good time to start choosing a direction and thinking about what colors you want to work with. You also do not need to worry about composition. You do not need to worry about shading or small details. We will do all of that later. All you need to concern yourself with is relaxing and going with the flow. And all we need out of this exercise, single beetle shape that we love. You should have your reference nearby. And we're just going to dive in and start making shapes. Add a little water to the paper and and then dab in a little color. When you first start laying in the shapes, I always feel that the first few are kinda blech, so I just ignore it and keep on moving and making shapes. I'm not working too hard on these. I'm just kind of getting something down on paper and playing around with how the colors are working. How much water I wanted to dab in there. I'm checking my reference. Because I wanted to make sure these beetles legs are accurate. Now you can choose which features of your subject you want to be realistic with and which ones you want to discard and just replace with your own personal flare. But I did want to get those legs. Right. I just like to keep adding water as I go because that, that really pushes the color to the edges and gives you the nice crisp edges that we like. Some of these shapes, make sure you're keeping a few of them simpler as far as color and texture. And then have a few more where you play around with mixing it up. And you'll know later which ones are right. But for now, just play around and have variety. So you have a lot to choose from. When I get bored of doing these shapes, then I just jumped to something else, some little doodle. I always loved flowers. So those always end up on my page or just whatever, whatever comes to mind. You may have particularly marks that you love to make, whether their dots or stripes or what a lady bugs or whatever it may be. Just keep your brush moving. It all comes together. This watercolors, some of the ones that when I'm painting them look gorgeous. Then when they dry, they're not my favorites for whatever reason. It has a mind of its own. And other ones that don't look like they have much potential at all become these beautiful magical surprises. So just keep moving. Don't pause to look back. Don't pause to ponder. Other than if you get stuck, look back to your references. Is there a new shape that you missed? Is there something new you're seeing in the silhouettes that you could capture? Let's move on to the next lesson, where we will digitize our shapes and doodles. 5. Digitize Your Shapes: By now the paint is dry and we can really take a look at what we have to work with. I love the moment when I returned to my pages and I see what happened while I was off doing other things. Scan in your page or pages at 600 DPI. Now let's move over to procreate or you can follow along in the application of your choice, open up a file that is eight inches by ten inches and 300 dpi. The first thing we're gonna do is bring in our scans. That one, yeah, I love this one right here. I want to do something with that So what we wanna do is isolate each of these shapes, or at least choose the ones that we really love and isolate them so we can work with them. So we're going to try and do this kind of globally first and see how it goes if it doesn't work, that's okay. We can do with them individually. So first, we will go to, oops, wrong one, go to the selection tool and we will go to automatic. Keep selecting white areas until you think you have a pretty good outline. And you can also get in closer and look. You can just There's some specks floating around but that's okay. Okay. That looks pretty good to start. Can always tap with two fingers if you want to undo. Ok. Press clear. Now, if we want to check this, we can darken our background just to make it easier to work with for now. Now what I wanna do. And I want to isolate some of these individual beetles. So I'm going to go to the free hand. And I definitely want to work with this one. Okay, So we click Copy and Paste. And then we can see that that beetle was copied over here. And we're gonna go back to that layer and let's turn that off for a second. Go back to that layer. And what other beetles do we want to choose? I actually like this moth a lot. So click, select tool again, select that copy and paste. We can come back and get a few more later, but this is pretty good to start. Okay, so let's turn off that layer and let's put the background back to bright white. And let's see what we have here. So we have four pieces. Good. Already I'm getting excited. I like it. So now I would like to work with these four and let's get them a little larger and maybe arrange them. Maybe they'll end up in a layout together or maybe there'll be used separately. Just for fun, I want to get them looking a little better. You can address your color at a later point, or you could address it right off the bat. So I'm not loving this purple guy. I love these pinks and oranges and this aqua green. I feel like he is a nice accent, but I don't want them to be quite so purple. So I'm just gonna go ahead, use my adjustments. And I always use hue saturation brightness, just so fun to play with. So let's see, let's make him a little bluer and less purple. I think. Actually it's really fun to play with this tool. So we could go in and say, what if he were Pink? I'm going to go right about there and maybe brighten him up a little bit. And I definitely want to lighten him up and you'll see if you go a little lighter, you get a little bit more of the character of the edges of the watercolor. As you go darker, it gets a little heavier. We're going to be drawing on top of this. So we want to have a very light transparent kinda feel. So this just lost a little. And there I'm going to use my favorite watercolor brush. It's a Vivi, watercolor brush, Watercolor Hard Edge. And, I'm going to select a color by tapping and holding. And just to show you, I'm going to start a new layer. Just to show you this brush. It looks so much like watercolor. I love it. But again, it does not have the edges and the character of the hand painted, but that's okay. It's still a beautiful brush and we're going to use it a lot. So let's clear that because we don't need what I was just doing. And then I think I'm actually gonna go a little pinker. And a lot of times you need to go a little darker than you think because these are so transparent. And I'm gonna make the brush a little smaller. And we're just going to strengthen this a little. Ok. That's good. 6. Add Detail to Your Shapes: I kind of like the flatness of these shapes and I'm going to draw on top of them so they don't really meet any more depth. But let's put some in this moth just to see what happens. So if we add a layer and we make that layer transparent, we're gonna do color burn, I think, maybe Linear Burn and choose a dark grey. You'll see what we can do and we have our watercolor brush. So we can kind of create some depth between the wings. Now if you don't, if you brush and don't lift up, you'll have very little overlapping. If you lift up every time you go over it, there's more overlapping. So that's why I did that in one stroke. Now if we go back and change that to Color Burn, it'll actually be less of a shadow and more of the color just darker and it also doesn't show outside the edge. So I kinda like Color Burn. So we're going to leave that. We can always get rid of it later if we decide after we put our decorations on there that we don't need that, that's fine. So for now, just a way to add a little depth and more reality if that's what you're looking for. So now we're ready to start drawing some detail and adding some design or some personality to these shapes to make them more unique, more our own. And the first thing I want to do is, I think add some antennas and eyes because it's going to start to feel like it has personality before we even go to town on our designing parts. So I have a new layer and i'm going to choose, I think, like a dark brown, almost black color. And my pen will be my favorite inking ink bleed pen. And I'm just going to add, now we're going to add some decorations. Now I have my reference off screen, and I'm looking at some of the things I've pinned, some of the design motifs, and I'm also looking at my ancient art and vases board for some different kinds of motifs. As we discussed before, I don't necessarily want to make these look like traditional moths or beetles. I want to bring in more of an unexpected design. So that's what I'm gonna do. So let's see what I'm going to do here. And go with dark pink. Now I wanna use a hard brush. I don't want to use a watercolor brush. I want this to be more graphic, more Design-y. I'm going to use tinderbox is another brush I like a lot. I don't know why. See, now we're gonna keep going. But every time I do a new mark, I'm not sure about I add a new layer. And one thing that really helps this is if you make your layer transparent. And then there's a lot of character going on down here, so I don't want to overdo it there. In fact, you don't want to really overdo it at all. You can get carried away and fill up this whole thing and that's really fun to do. But you're going to want a plainer background if you're gonna do that. So for this one, because there's so much character, we're gonna keep it really simple. And I think I want to put something on each of these wings. So let's go back to this color. Okay. So I don't want to overdo it. I'm just going to stop right there and we can always go back later and add more. But we've got our moth done and then we'll move on to the next one. So we're going to work on this little one here now. And I just want to play around perhaps of putting some beetle shaped to it. Like so I'm going to grab my watercolor brush. and I want to see what happens. If I give it a little and because of watercolor brushes so transparent. If you want it to be darker, you can just duplicate it and it kinda doubles its strength and then you can merge that down if you want. But I'm going to do a little bit more here. So let's see if something about that I think is kind of interesting. So let's double the strength and merge it down because remember, you can always make it lighter. And then I want to definitely do a Color Burn yeah, that looks good. Okay. Now I like that. Okay, so once again, in areas where there's a lot of character and we kind of want that to stay beautiful. I'm going to put very little graphics on top of them. And whatever I do, but keep it pretty simple. But I think what I might wanna do is just decorate the legs and let this be a focal point. So I'm gonna grab some black and I'm gonna go back to my ink bleed again. And then I think I'm just going to... forgot to add a new layer.... This little highlight here is kind of bothering me. So I'm gonna go back and see if we can just do that really easily. Just kinda fill that in. Yep. Okay. Now, I do love this the way it is, but I think I do want some decoration on her body. So I think I'm going to go with a white or maybe a light pink, but we'll see. And I'm going to go back to my other inking pen. This is one of my favorite little shapes to do. A little five petal. And just a little bit down here. And I think I want that to be a little bit more transparent, but we can't do multiply or one of the others because it'll disappear. So keep it on normal, but we can pull back a little so it's transparent Just to mesh it in a little bit more with watercolor, I think. And I think she's done too. So now we have our moth and our lady beetle. In the next lesson, we'll, we'll move on to another technique which is also a lot of fun. So let's go on to the next lesson. 7. Add Texture to Any Shape: There's another fun way to incorporate hand painted elements into your digital work. We have here a digitally drawn shape of a vase. What we're gonna do is bring in some watercolor textures and apply them to the vase. Now I've already brought in a page of doodles and textures that I'd like to work with. And I'm looking at, this is really pretty because it kinda has a smooth soft look to it. But I'm really intrigued by what I might do with one of these shapes. So we're gonna start there. Just gonna grab this copy and paste. And we're going to move this layer on top of our vase shape. We're going to put the shape of the texture more or less covering. Just get it to a good size. We can adjust that in a minute. Okay, then we click on our layer. Click clipping mask and the texture is inside the shape of the vase. And this is fun because we can still play around with it. So we can move it around. You can enlarge it. Get it to that sweet spot, maybe stretch it out a little. I think that while this has added a little bit of texture to this shape, overall, it still looks a little flat to me. So just like we did with the moth, we can add a little depth and texture which I've already done on a layer. We can also start to add design which also kind of brings it to life a little. And then our little unique details, good. Now, if we go back to our beetle page for a minute, I want to see if we can apply the same technique of clipping mask to this aqua beetle. So there was a texture that I saw. Yes, right here that I think could be kinda fun to incorporate. Okay, so we're going to move that above the aqua let's get it into position. Kinda here. Let's multiply. I think I wanted to be more green. And then clipping mask. There. That's kind of a sweet spot for me. I like that. Let's pull this back. I like multiply, but I think I want to pull back a little bit. Okay, so there's using clipping mask. Although this already had a lot of watercolor texture, adding even another layer is just a fun thing to play with. And if we wanted to, I've already added some details. And then we have another beetle. 8. Do More with Your Doodles: If you take a look at your doodle page, you may see a few doodles or sections that you did not get a chance to use. And that's great because you can save this page. And if you build a practice of painting pages, you'll start to build a library of assets. I have stacks of these pages. This is my sketchbook, these are my explorations. And I can access and use these pieces whenever I want to bring a little bit of hand painted feel to my digital art. Your doodle pages can also be a great source of inspiration, a good reference for color, and a way to study your style as it evolves. I'll show you a few examples of how I've pulled from my pages. We're gonna go back to our vase. I have another page of doodles that I've been wanting to use some of these flowers. So I'm going to grab these flowers right here. Let's turn our vase back on, and let's move that layer up here. And we can rearrange those to fit in the vase. I've already gone ahead and arranged the flowers. And then once again, we can add some fun details where we need them. And then I also went ahead and added some branches. Another cool thing you can do with your watercolor textures is to bring in a background. So let's take a look at doing that with our vase. I'm going to go back to this page we were looking at. And I think I want to grab this one. Copy and paste. And let's bring this all the way down to the bottom. Turn that off. Okay. So now we have a watercolor background for our vase. I wanted to do one more thing. I want to add a drop shadow here just to ground it a little bit. And there's some great brushes we can use, which the beauty of bringing in these watercolor textures is that a little bit of the procreate brush just looks very natural when it's combined. When you combine the two, I'm going to use one of my favorite brushes. Let's get a new layer. One of my favorite brushes, Kyle Webster's brushes, are all really awesome. I love them all. This one in particular I love because it's kind of got that hard edge watercolor kinda feel and makes great drop shadows. I could even do Linear Burn. Nice. So there we have it. Sometimes I'll see on my doodle page a pattern emerging and that's kinda fun to play with as well. So I have this scan, actually, this is a photo. I don't always scan. Sometimes. If I come in real close and take a photo, it works just as well. And you can play around with whether that quality is good enough. So if we were to isolate that section right there, which I've already done, and I colorized it. And then we just add in, copy and paste and add until we have a pattern. And that can be really fun. Just another, another way to use your doodles. Okay, so I have a page of my finished beetles and moths. And I went back to my doodle page and just found a couple little accents to add these tiny little moths. And I think they add a little flavor to the overall page and we're done. I hope you enjoyed the class and I hope you learned a couple of ways to bring your hand painted feel into your digital painting. And I hope you explore more ways because truly the possibilities are endless. 9. Thank You!: Well, we're done. Congratulations. I hope you enjoyed the class. Thank you so much for being here. I really had fun putting it together and I hope that you guys were able to relax and enjoy each step along the way. Please post to the gallery. I would love to see your finished piece. I'd also love to see the steps along the way. And if you want to share how you felt during each step, I'd love to hear that as well. If you're on Instagram and you would like to share, please use the hashtag #skillsharewithCathy and I'll be sure to look for it. And if you'd like to stay up to date on my future classes and news, just follow me on Skillshare. Again. Thanks for joining me and I look forward to seeing you in the project gallery.