Watercolor Masterclass - from beginner to intermiediate | Class 1 - The basics | Shamila Boffo | Skillshare

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Watercolor Masterclass - from beginner to intermiediate | Class 1 - The basics

teacher avatar Shamila Boffo, Teaching drawing and painting techniques

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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

15 Lessons (1h 2m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Project

    • 3. Art Supplies - which and why

    • 4. Getting started

    • 5. Brush practice

    • 6. First washes

    • 7. The 4 main techniques of watercolor

    • 8. How to fix mistakes

    • 9. The "lifting" technique

    • 10. Swatching our paints

    • 11. Values

    • 12. Edges

    • 13. PROJECT - part 1

    • 14. PROJECT - part 2

    • 15. Bye!

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About This Class


Are you new to watercolor and you're really craving to learn it in a well-structured way?
If so, this series of classes is for you. 

"Watercolor Masterclass - from beginner to intermediate" is an 8 classes long course designed to learn watercolor painting. It's a journey where we'll explore the most important aspects of this medium one at a time, class after class in a progressive and less intimidating way.

This is class number 1, and today we’ll get to know the materials, we’ll make some brush practice, we'll start to know the main techniques of watercolor, we’ll talk about values and edges, so anything you need to get started, even if it’s the first time you hear about watercolor! And we'll wrap it up with a fun project which consists in painting some monochrome birds. 

Let's get started and have some fun! 


Music tracks used in this class: 
"Danse Morialta" - Kevin MacLeod
"Twinkle twinkle" - David Mumford
"Night without sleep" - David Mumford
"Mockingbird" - David Mumford
"Aretes" - Kevin MacLeod

Meet Your Teacher

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Shamila Boffo

Teaching drawing and painting techniques


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1. Intro: Welcome to watercolour masterclass from beginner to intermediate. Hi, I'm Shamila Boffo from Italy. I'm a painter and art teacher. And I made this series of classes to help beginners to dive into watercolor, which is such a magical material it really has a lot of potential. And not surprisingly, a lot of people find it fascinating too and want to learn it. But at the same time it can be quite intimidating for many reasons. So I thought about a way to guide the student to gradually face all the important aspects of watercolor in eight different classes. So each class will be dedicated to one relevant aspect of watercolor painting. And by the end of this course, you'll have an extensive knowledge of this material and you will no longer be a beginner. Today will get to know the materials we're really starting from absolute 0. Like we'll see how to correctly hold the brush, how to activate the colors. the main techniques of watercolor, we'll talk about values and edges. So anything you need to get started, even if it's the first time you hear about watercolor. And we'll end this class with a fun project, which consists in paintings some monochrome birds. In the second class will see how not overwork watercolor painting, which is a very common problem. So we'll learn how to keep it simple and fresh and spontaneous with a series of nice and not too long projects. In the third class, we'll learn how to make even washes and how to approach a subject such a landscape. In the fourth class, the protagonist will be wet on wet. Why it's so important to use it and which effects we can achieve with it like for example, a beautiful misty forests. In the fifth class will see how to layer again why and in which cases layering is a huge helper and we'll paint a beautiful soft peony. In the sixth class, we'll see one of my favorite techniques, which is the negative painting technique. And I know what you're thinking now, I won't be able to do this. It looks so advanced, but I swear if you follow and practice all the classes, you will get there. The seventh class will be about dry on dry and how important is to know it to make some interesting textures and lightening effects. Finally, we'll close the course with a class focused on mixed media. So how to combine other materials with our beloved watercolors And we'll also talk about different styles. So just a few more words about how to approach this body of classes. If you're watching these in fall 2020, it's possible that you don't find all the classes already available because I'm releasing them once per week. But even if you're watching this later, I suggest you to not consuming them too fast altogether because if you really want to make the most out of this, give yourself some time to practice each lesson, and digest all the informations. So I would say that one class per week is a nice pace. But it also depends on the amount of time you have to practice each lesson. So think about what works for you. And you can follow me on skillshare, to be notified when I publish a new class. In that way, you don't miss any of them. So yeah, you can find all the other classes on my profile page as long as I publish them. That's it. If you are excited about starting this watercolor journey, just continue watching and I'll see you soon. 2. Project: The structure of these classes is similar for all of them. They are composed of a series of exercises to practice the topic of the day and one or more bigger projects. So this is the list for today's class. It seems quite a lot. And it is because when we start with watercolor, we need to cover many little subjects. But don't worry, I'll guide you through all of them and feel free to post whatever you want. You can post all these exercises or just the bigger project at the end, it's as you prefer, just consider that I can give you feedback on what you post. So if you want a feedback on everything, include all the exercices in your project. To do so, go to the project section down here, and if you have any questions, feel free to write them down on the discussion section. 3. Art Supplies - which and why: Okay, let's talk about art supplies. I want to explain you in depth what materials you need and why I decided to use them for these classes. The supplies are very important because they are the tools that allow us to make our paintings. They should make our life easier, not harder, so they need to be appropriate. That said, I want to make a little disclaimer on why I decided to use a student grade materials for these classes and not professional, fancy ones. Professional materials are higher-quality of course, and make a better final result and they can also make all the process more enjoyable. So I totally understand why the majority of teachers use them, even if they are teaching to beginners. But in my opinion, we should sometimes consider that realistically, the majority of students that are just starting out are going to use student grade materials and not professional because they are quite pricey, right? So for once I want to be on the side of those who are starting with cheaper materials, that doesn't mean bad materials, just cheaper and more basic. I'm doing that because in that way it will be easier to follow along if we use the same kind of materials. So my process will be more similar to yours. Because for example, a 100% beautiful cotton paper will take much more time to dry. So it can be frustrating to do exactly what the teacher does and having a very different experience and result. Not because you're doing something wrong. That said if you prefer to use professional materials, you are totally welcomed to do so. Just consider that it may be some differences from time to time, but it wont be difficult to follow along any way, okay, so which materials you need? The paper: I am using XL canson watercolor paper. This is one of the best cheap watercolor paper in my opinion. And of course you can choose any other brand, but it has to be watercolor paper. And I suggest you not less than 300 GSM. And this is cold pressed. For the size, I believe that it's better to start small because it's easier to handle the brush, the water, etcetera, if you don't paint too big. So I recommend an A4 size. For the brushes. I am using synthetic round rushes in three sizes, small, medium and big. This is the shape a watercolour brush should have ideal to hold the water, but also with a fine point. For the paints themselves. I'm going to use mostly this little set here, which has the primary colors and a few more, but any small set will be fine. The best would be to have two yellows, two reds, and two blues. But it's usually like that when you buy a pre-made set, you can also use tubes if you prefer. But in my experience, beginners find the pans easier to use. I'm also going to use this palette for mixing the colors because it's easier for filming reasons. But I suggest you to not do the same and get a ceramic plate or palette, a bigger one so you'll have more space, it will be easier. You're going to need a water jar, and I suggest you to have two of them. So one is for cleaning the brush and the other one stays clean for when you need to wet the paper, or in general, when you need clean water. Don't forget to have paper towels or clothes on hand. And I'm often going to secure my paper on a hard board with some tape. Finally, it's very useful to have an hairdryer to speed up the drying process. So I highly recommend to have one. 4. Getting started: Well, now that you have all the materials with you, let's see how to use them. Like how to simply activate the colors. If you use solid watercolors in pans like those, all you have to do is to put some water on it. So I'll take my big brush and I wet this color. Then I recommend not to go straight away on your paper, but to put it on the palette because in that way, you have more control on how much water and color you're using. And like that with this movement, I am distributing the water and the color mixture into all the bristles. So this is the right consistency. See how shiny it is. It shouldn't be drier than that. Now, you can put it on the paper like that. How to hold the brush? Well, generally, you shouldn't hold your brush too close to the tip because you need to have some freedom of movement. And we'll see that in a following exercise. But yeah, you should hold the brush around the middle. Otherwise, if you're using your detail brush and you need control, like for example, for creating some very fine lines, that's when you want to hold it to the tip. But if I do this with my bigger brush, my freedom of movement is very limited. And I'll create many little strokes and you're supposed to do the opposite and spread the paint with bigger movements. Now let's see what happens if I don't use the right amount of water, like too little, for example. So I dry my brush and I pick some paint. Can you see the difference? There is no shine. And the color is hard to spread evenly and has already run out. So this is how it looks. It's not even like this one, but instead, it's very patchy and uneven and dry. Now let's see what happens if I use too much water. So I am using this color here on the palette, but I'm going to add much more water to it. Here. Do you see that thickness of the water? Well, this pool effect is going to give us a very washed out color and with a sort of darker edge when it dries. 5. Brush practice: Now we'll do some exercises to understand how to move the brush and in general, how to become familiar with it. First of all, we're going to create some strokes to practice precision. So hold your brush, close to the tip this time and draw a line, try not to push too much on the paper. So make multiple lines close to each other, but not touching. Like that you learn to be more precise with the brush, which is not a pencil. and that means that it's way harder to control. And repeat this exercise with your other brushes of course it will be more difficult with your bigger brush But take your time, you don't have to do it that quickly. You can also make wavy lines and try not to work with a dry brush, pick some new paint and water when needed. Now we can experiment with the shape of the brush and the pressure. I start with the tip and a very light pressure, but then I press down and lift up, press down and lift up. So the more I push, the more the bristles will open and the wider the line would be. Do it again with your different brushes. I'm just gently touching the paper and press down and repeat. Let's do this with a smaller brush, which is going to be more difficult because you see it has less bristles and the paint has going to run out quickly because these kind of brushes are more appropriate for details and not to cover big areas. So yeah, with this exercise, we are also testing the possibilities of our brushes. What they can do, what they are best for. And another thing that you can do to loosen up, it's just to make brushstrokes on a piece of scrap paper just to see how they look. Try to move the brush in different ways, very fast or slowly. Just play with it. You need this space to try different things without the fear of making mistakes, without judgment, this is you're free and experimental space to get to know your brushes. 6. First washes: In this lesson, we're going to fill out some small areas. First of all, create some irregular roundish abstract shapes like these. And we'll see which kind of movement, which gesture is needed to get the best result in filling them. To do so, take your bigger or medium-size brush, pick some paint, and remember, it must be shiny, not dry at all. Hold your brush not to the tip about to the middle, because we don't need to be precise now, we want to make big movements like that. The least brushstrokes, the better. I am pushing the paint to fill the shape. And it's okay if I go over the edges. Because the most important is that you don't do this. I show you. I am holding the brush to the tip and I'm doing a lot of small brush strokes. Like I'm filling a coloring book. Like I'm using a pencil. If you do this, it's hard to get an even wash because in the meantime that I paint this part, this one is already kind of dry and it will create an edge watercolor is so nice when it's clean and consistent and without any dirty marks. So try to repeat this multiple times. You can change colors and remember few but big movements. And don't worry about going a bit over the edges. If you use tubes, just put a bit of paint on your palette, add some water next to it and add the paint little by little, so you'll have more control on how much diluted your color is. I'll show you also the tilt of the brush from another angle. So you are not supposed to paint like that, but with a brush almost in a vertical position to better distribute the paint evenly and without pressing too much on the paper. 7. The 4 main techniques of watercolor: Now we'll see the four main techniques of watercolor that are the result of the combination of a wet or dry brush on a wet or dry paper. What does it mean? The first one is wet on wet, which means that we'll paint with a wet brush on a wet paper. Dry on wet is a dryer brush on a wet paper. Wet and dry is a wet brush on a dry paper, and finally, dry on dry, as you can tell, a dry brush on a dry surface. And you'll see how different the result is going to be in all these combinations. For the wet on wet first thing is to wet the paper and do this step carefully. Check it backlight to see if it's all wet evenly. Now I'm going to wet the brush and pick my color. My brush is shiny again. As you can see, when the paper is wet, the paint tends to flow and you can't really control the way it flows and the way it's going to look once it's dry. But we'll get some really beautiful and cool effects. Like that, don't cover it all so you'll better see once it's dry, how the paint has flowed. Now, we wet again the paper and take your time for this. Do it well. And now I'm wiping the brush and of course, it can't be completely dry, otherwise, you won't activate the color at all. So when I say dry brush, I mean moist, not shining as before, okay? We need some moisture to activate the paint. So the main difference is that now the color doesn't spread as much as before. We'll still have soft edges, but the paint will stay closer to where I put it in the first place. And we'll leave it like that. Wet on dry. So I'm taking some water and some paint and I'll paint on a dry surface. As you can see, the pain doesn't spread at all. We won't have soft edges like in here. And we won't have this effect either. So we get hard edges. And the color is more vibrant because it's not watered down because the paper was dry. For the dry on dry technique. I am wiping my brush again. Pick some paint. And you're going to get those dry brush strokes where you can see the texture of the paper. And this is useful to create some very special effects. We'll see that in a future class. But other than that, you don't use this technique very often. Here. If you get those paddles, what you can do is to absorb this excess water with a towel or with a dry brush. 8. How to fix mistakes: Oh, look at that. This is the perfect opportunity to show you how to fix mistakes in watercolor, which is not always possible and it's harder than with other media because we can't simply put more paint on it and cover it. The watercolor is a transparent media, and we can only go from light to dark. So what can we do in this case, for example? Well, let's take some clean water and put it on the part you want to erase. Let it sit for a moment. Rub it a bit with the brush and then dab it with a towel Then repeat these steps multiple times, when the paint was completely dry and with such a staining hue like this red you can lighten it, but you can't really erase it completely. it's a different story when the paint is still wet, look. I dabbed it with a trowel and then you see it's almost gone. Then you can again add water with the brush like before and dap it again. 9. The "lifting" technique: So I just mentioned the transparency of watercolor and the fact that you can only go from light to dark when painting. So if I have this tone, for example, I can add more layers on, but it's only going to get darker. The only thing I can do is to use this technique that consists in lifting the colour with my moist, not too wet, brush to get back some of the white of the paper. And I rub just once, then I clean the brush and rub again. Now I'm going to dry it so we'll see how to lift the color when the paint is dry. This is completely dry and the difference is that my brush should be wet this time not just moist. So I put some water on it, I dab the brush and then rub it. But again, just a little and a clean my brush very often. Finally, I dab it, and you can see that it's lighter now but not as light as before when the paint was still wet. Be aware that not all the colours behave in the same way. Some are very hard to lift. So try this exercise with different colors. And it also depends on the paper you're using. 10. Swatching our paints: In this lesson, we get to know our set of colors. It's important to do that because when they're dry, it's hard to tell how the colors really are, how they look, especially for those dark tones. And also each color behaves differently. Some flows more than others or are harder to pick, lesse or more staining. So we are going to swatch all of these colors to start knowing them and see how different they are from each other. I'll start from the yellow. The white isn't really helpful in watercolor sets because it's quite transparent. So you can't use it for highlights and to make a lighter color, we use water not white. So it's sometimes used for mixing to make like pastel colors. But honestly, I don't like to use it. I'll start by painting with my first color, wet and dry. But I also want to see a more diluted version of it. So I then clean my brush and put some water - not too much - down, until it meets the color. And I let it flow. And then I do that for all of my colors. In this set I don’t have a “purply” blue, so I added an ultramarine from another set. I'm swatching just the primary colors and the earthy colors. But I suggest you to swatch all the colors you have in your set. Now if you don't have those earth tones, I am going to show you how you can make them using the primary colors. I'm starting by mixing all the primaries together, but with apredominance of the yellow. This is like a golden ochre, if I want it more yellowish i’ll add more yellow in to my mix Here it is, this is more similar to that one. Same for this sienna color. Mix the primaries but put more red in it. If you want a more neutral tone like a raw umber, you can put more blue in the same mix. 11. Values: In this lesson, we'll see how to get different values from a color. I'll choose a dark color for this because I'm going from the darkest value to the lightest by adding water, I'm picking this Prussian blue, but you can choose any dark color you have. Now I try to get the darkest value, so I pick a lot of color and I'll paint a little square. Now I take some clean water, and I put it on the mix so it gets lighter. And I add more and more water for each square until I reach a very light value. This is how you create light values in watercolor, not with white paint, but with water. The more water in the mix, the lighter the color. 12. Edges: Now it's time to talk about edges and how to get different kinds of edges in watercolor. We'll create some lost edges, hard edges and soft edges. To create the first kind, we need to use wet on wet and I'll create a leaf shape. So I wet the paper, but not with too much water. And the brush is wet as well, but not too much. And if I want the edges to be not completely lost, I can guide the color with the clean brush so that it doesn't spread out completely. The more water you use in this process, the more your edges are going to be lost. In this case, I will say that those are something in between soft edges and lost edges because you can still recognize the shape. For our hard edges, we need to go with wet on dry. Like that. You see they are very sharp. For softer edges I'll start in the same way, so wet on dry. But then with my moist brush I gently touch the edge to soften it out. and I often clean my brush And don’t go from inside the shape but from the outside, like that. So that’s how you get very soft or lost edges, hard edges and slightly soft edges. 13. PROJECT - part 1: Okay, now it's time to put this all together in a little painting exercise, with some monochrome stylized birds. I'll put my reference photos on screen, but you can also find those on the resource section below. I'll make a simple sketch. and by the way, if you'd like to use my drawing, I'll put it in the resources as well so you can print it and transfer on your watercolor paper. I'm going to choose just one color. And I'm using the same one for all the birds to practice values more because it's a very important topic. I'm creating an intense and dark value, a medium and a lighter one just by adding more water. Now, I'll start with the lightest value and I'm avoiding what I want to stay white and paint all the rest except for the legs because they are too thin and dark. So I'll make them directly with my small brush later. Now I'm using the lifting technique to make some parts lighter. Then I dry, and I switch to my medium size brush and the middle tone, again avoiding what I want to stay light. And I want a softer edge here. I'm picking the light value to make some little marks to indicate the feathers. And I’ll soften that edge too. And remember to dry well between each layer. Now I go with my darker value and I start with the eye, avoiding the little highlight in it. The beak is dark as well and some other details. Now I need the medium brush and I keep on adding details, softening the edges from time to time. And our first little blue bird is done. Once it's completely dry, I can erase those pencil marks. I don't know if you can see them, but I always like to do this to achieve a more clean look. Let's repeat this process with the next bird. It may look boring to paint the same subject multiple times, but I swear, it's so useful to better understand and then remember the process. So I highly suggest you to make all of these five birds that I'm painting. The key points are: start with the lighter values. Dry between the layers. Add details only at the end. Soften some edges with the moist clean brush. Use lifting when you want to get some lighter value back. 14. PROJECT - part 2: Right? So this is one of z. Yeah. And for innovation. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. Okay. No. Okay. Great. Right. Just wait. 15. Bye!: Great, we made it. That was it for the first class of watercolor masterclass. I hope you liked it. And don't forget to practice to be well-prepared for the next class and post your exercises on the project section so you can receive a feedback from me. I'll see you in class number two, where we're going to explore some very loose and expressive florals and paint some lovely feathers to learn how to not overwork our watercolor paintings. See you soon and happy painting.