Watercolor Masterclass - from beginner to intermiediate | Class 5 - The importance of layering | Shamila Boffo | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Watercolor Masterclass - from beginner to intermiediate | Class 5 - The importance of layering

teacher avatar Shamila Boffo, Teaching drawing and painting techniques

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

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

10 Lessons (1h 10m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Project

    • 3. Art supplies

    • 4. How to layer

    • 5. Petal

    • 6. Peony - the drawing

    • 7. Peony - first and second layers

    • 8. Peony - more layers

    • 9. Peony - final touches

    • 10. Recap and goodbye

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





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 5, and we’re going to explore layering, which means adding multiple thin layers of color one after the other in order to give more dimension and complexity to a painting.

Indeed layering is the best tool when you want to achieve a very realistic look. This method though requires time and patience.

The main project for this class will be a pony, which is a perfect subject to learn how to layer with watercolor. 

Let's get started and have some fun! 


Music tracks used in this class: 
"Chill acoustic", "#4", "Every little thing" - Oak Studios
"Dance of strings" - Whitesand

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Shamila Boffo

Teaching drawing and painting techniques


Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Intro: Hi, welcome to the fifth class of watercolor masterclass from beginner to intermediate. And eight classes long curse that aim to teach you the fundamentals of watercolor painting by make you focusing on one important aspect of it in each class. So by the end of it, you'll have an extensive knowledge of this fascinating medium and you'll be able to make beautiful paintings. If you missed the previous classes as always, you can find them on my profile page. In today's class, we're going to talk about layering, which means adding multiple thin layers of colors one after the other in order to give more dimension and complexity to our paintings. This method though requires time and patience. You can work in a very precise and accurate way. You don't need to care about big washes, especially in this case where we're going to focus on a single object. So from the lightness and spontaneity of class number two we'll go towards precision, slowness, and accuracy. In facts. Those are two almost opposite way of painting with watercolors. But it doesn't mean that we're going to overwork and overload our subjects. No, that's why our layers are going to be thin, very diluted and we'll always precede gradually. The main project for this class will be a peony, which is a perfect subject to learn how to layer with watercolor. Let's get started. 2. Project: As usual, here is the summary of this class. we'll start with a technical exercise to understand how to layer, then we'll apply this to a simple subject like a petal. And finally, we'll take our time to make a realistic flower, which is our final project. So as always, feel free to post everything or just the final work in the project section. And remember that practice is key for learning. 3. Art supplies: This is just a recap on the materials you need for this class. But if you want a longer explanation, I made it in class number one, art supplies: which and why. First thing you need is paper. It must be watercolor paper. And my advice is at least 300 gsm. I like the XL canson cold pressed, watercolor paper. For the brushes, 3-4 rounds, synthetic brushes in different sizes will be enough. But you can explore other shapes or types of bristles if you want. Any base watercolor set will be fine for this class. I am using Sakura Koi, the set of 12 colors. And if you prefer tubes, they are totally fine too. I suggest you to have a ceramic or plastic palette to mix your colors in, one or two jars of water, paper towels, and an hair dryer, to speed up the drying process. 4. How to layer: With this exercise, we'll see how to layer. And we'll do this with two different colors a dark and a light one. And the concept is to always start from the lighter value and then gradually adding slightly darker values. So I draw two long rectangles. And now I take my dark color. I'm using Prussian blue and I'm making the lighter value possible adding a lot of water. And for this exercise is crucial to let any layer dry completely before move into the next one. So this is not optional. Use an air dryer because we're going to do that multiple times. Now, I make a slightly darker value. And we feel all the rectangle except for a small section. I could use the same exact value than before. And it would work anyway because of the transparency of watercolor, but it would take much longer before reaching a very dark value. Two. Yeah. For the last little stripe of color, I'm picking the color from the pan without diluting at all, because I want to show you that when the color is so dense, it's quite hard to paint with it. And when layering, it's better to work with transparent and thin layers and not with those heavy ones. You see those first washes are much smoother than the darker and less diluted ones that tend to appear much chalky when so dense, especially if they are not professional quality. Anyway, we'll see that more in depth when we'll paint our project. So do this exercise and just observe how the colour you choose behaves when using a lot of layers. And be careful to not press, too much on the paper, to not reactivate the layers underneath. So this is a good practice to be gentle with your brush. And now I want to do the same, but with a lighter color. So I choose my warmer yellow and I proceed the same way. The last layer. We can notice that with this specific color, I can't get darker than that one. So of course we can layer to get darker shades, but any color has its own limit. And if I want to make it darker, I know that I need to mix it with another color like a brown or a blue, or a neutral tint. 5. Petal: Before to jump into our big project, I want to show you all the steps on a simpler and quicker subject like a single petal. I draw an oval shape And I need some pinkish tones and an orange one. For the first layer, I'll go wet on wet, so I'll get nice gradients and only smooth transitions. Now I start with this orange and help the color flow. and I can also add a diluted light pink. it’s better to start with light values and add up, this is very important. I leave the center very light, and I add some darker paint dabbing the color in. I can do this movements as long as the paper is still wet. And now I let it dry completely, erase the pencil marks. And I want to leave it this light at the center. It's a bit like this first light value. Even if I'm going to add more layers, that middle area will stay like that. And instead, I'll make darker layers on the edges of the petal and down here. Now I could make the second layer wet on wet or wet on dry. So I'll do the left part wet on wet and the right part, wet on dry. So you can see the difference and decide which one looks better, which one you want to use. I would use wet on wet on everything. But I want to show you both ways. I only dabbed the color on the edges, so it flows naturally. And the bottom part, I add some more orange to make it darker and more defined. So I have more control on where to darken. Always using a moist brush to soften the edges. Now, this part all wet on dry. And remember to not have too much water on your brush or the result will be very messy. Clean it often. For the final details, I want to add some veins as I see them on my reference photo. And so I need my smaller brush and I use the dry on wet technique so I wet all the petal. Then I take this color and I create those fine lines. It's important to do these with a lighter value first, and then use slighly darker ones, or there will be too much contrast. This subject is delicate So with dry on wet we get soft edges and at the same time the color stays pretty much where I put it. I want to define that part a bit better. To make this petal even more dimensional, I'm going to add another wet on wet layer to darken the sides and again I’m dabbing the color in so I get smooth gradients. 6. Peony - the drawing: This project is going to be one of the most challenging until now. It's long and complex, but I'm sure that you'll do amazing, especially if you followed the previous classes. All you need is patience, really, and you'll make it. We’ll paint this lovely peony, to explore in depth the potential of working in layers to achieve a great realism. First of all, I work on my sketch, and this time we need a very neat and precise drawing, not sketchy lines, because we need to have a clear vision and understanding of where each petal starts and finishes. If I have an hard time reading my drawing, the painting process will be tedious and not so enjoyable. So my advice is to put a special attention to your drawing this time in particular. If you want to jump right in in the painting part, I really suggest you to either trace your drawing, you can print the picture I'm using as reference or just use my sketch. You'll find it in the resources section, as usual, print it and transfer it to your watercolour paper. So either you take care of your drawing, either you trace or use mine, but just don't rush it. Okay? So I leave you to the rest of the time lapse and I’ll see you later. - - - - - 7. Peony - first and second layers: Before to start painting, I think for a minute about my strategy, how I need to proceed. Looking my photo reference, I can tell that there isn't any pure white, so I don't need to leave any white of the paper inside the flower. And about the colors we'll need a warm yellow for the pistils and a pinky orange red for the center, and then various shades of warm pink, some darker purple red so I get a feel for the colors I need to mix. And also I think how to begin. I'll start with the first wash of a very light pink to set the base tone and then I’ll use the lifting technique where the highlights are. So look how diluted my first wash is I wanted to be very light. Before it dries, I leave some areas that should stay almost white. And let's dry it now. Now that we've set the general tone we'll start to think petal by petal because in this photo reference, you can see how each one of those is distinct and have quite a lot of contrast. First of all, I want to paint the pistils with my small brush after mixing a dark yellow and I'll do it wet on dry. Now I choose a petal and it shouldn’t be next to what I've just painted or the color will flow there And we don't want that. so I can paint this one. And I see that there is a very light part in the middle and the darker one all around it. So I mix some color and I can always check it out on a piece of paper. And here I can see there is a well-defined edge between the white and pink. So I'll go wet and dry for now. Now I'll go up here. And I notice that there is a gradient darker at the bottom. So now I need to work wet on wet and with a purply tone I wet only that petal and being careful to not go over the edges and I dab the color in at the bottom. I won't paint here because it's too close. So I go here and I need more blue in my mix. But as you can see, I prefer to start with lighter shades for the first or second layers. This down here though is way darker so I can make a darker and more intense color already. I'm mixing a little magenta with an hint of blue. I can paint this petal now to use the same color. and I wet only the upper part because there is an hard edge between the two parts of the same pedal in two different colors. It's okay to have a flat wash we'll make a gradient on the next layer. In this area, there aren't many separations between the petals. So I'm going to wet all of it and use a warm pink orange. Now I paint behind the pistols and I needed to wet a bigger area because the colors there, are blended. If I don't do it and wet just a smaller area, I'll get hard edges where I don't need them. I'm painting around the pistils, so be careful to not go over them. And if it's not perfect, don't worry, we'll add more paint later. If I go too dark too soon, I won't be able to correct some mistakes. It will be harder in general to have a very smooth and organic result. I keep on working on the petals like this. I prefer wet on wet for the first layers and I follow what I see on my reference and I don't care about any details only setting the general tone or gradient for each part. 8. Peony - more layers: Now look at those pistols there. We need to add more shadows to them. They look like a collage. Ok, so how do we fix it? Yeah, you guessed the right weight layers. So I'm waiting all this area and I placed some warm shadows in the middle, so over the yellow layer, but of course the uncovered them all. Just follow the reference photo much better and we let it dry now. More wet on wet for this part of the petal. And I make the gradient dubbing the color in only to the left. In this section, we'll go over the battles with another layer to increase the contrast and really make them pop. But it was very important to arrive gradually here to set the general donuts and shadows. All this bottom part needs to be dark and I also add some texture where I see it like those Leo veins. And let's do a layer more after drying it. Because as you can see, it's one of the darkest stones of the composition. And I find it convenient to stay on those data stacks because they allows us to have a clear vision of what to do next, what to dark and identify where to put the middle values. So I continue with those lower petals. You can see that the more layers you add, the more you're painting takes shape and gains are realized. Oh, if I think that I put too much color is not a problem. I clean my brush and I helping distribute, so it will dilute on the rest of the area that I've whet. The special needs another layer to, but it's too close, so I'll go with that one that is more pathways. So delivering also allows me to adjust the colors. I can barely see this petal here, so I'll make it slightly darker because my background is white. So I need to create contrast in some way. This part up here needs more vibrant. Again. With my work. Then going up, it does small magenta. And I'm still start fall to preserve my lights now cold and dark and everything. I actually want to lift up here a bit. Now look how white and that is that compared to the dark dawn next to it. And it's easier to see it now because I put my dark and values so I know what it needs to be darkened as well. Same for that here. Time for another layer behind the Pistols. So with my small brush, I pick this warm color that is magenta, makes the way a yellow. And I start wet and dry because I need precision and sharpness. And then I blend where needed. I'm using again for this battle because when there is a gradient, I find this technique more effective. As you can see, I'm darkening all the shadows, but I leave the lights. I don't want to lose the contrast. I'm still not a lot of color as you can see, because I wanted to be delicate and soft. And putting value overvalue gradually helps me to achieve this. Look. 9. Peony - final touches: - - - - This part is not readable, it's still confused. So I add more contrast. Starting from the top. I'm outlining this petal but every time I do it, I blend it towards the top. So I won't see a line, but two different tones. At this stage, I'm looking for any detail I can add and where to enhance the contrast again, to achieve more realism and clarity. This area is a bit confused. Even in my photo reference, I not really understand where the petals edges are. So in that case, I need to make a decision and establish where this petals ends, for example. So ask yourself, is this part clear enough or is it confused. How can I make it more readable? And usually you do that by outlining the petal and making the line disappear, softening just on one side. I hope it's clear. If not the remember that you can ask me questions below the video in the discussion section. I often go over to center because it's kind of the focus of this painting. So it's the area that needs to be more detailed and contrasted to catch the attention. Thanks. And then it took me almost two hours for this painting. So remember to take your time and be patient. I could continue like this forever. But I think I'll stop here and I'll make a little recap for you of this long process. 10. Recap and goodbye: Okay, so let's make a little recap because it was a long study. And so remember that it's important to have a precise and clear drawing to make a bit easier the painting part. Then start with the base tone or general washes and gradients of each part working section by section and mostly using the wet on wet technique. Used very diluted paint and make it darker gradually, make the image more readable, refining the edges and increasing the contrast. And for this, use mostly wet on dry so you have more control and use the small brush and most important of all, take your time. Thank you for watching this class. I hope you liked it and I can't wait to see what you've made. I'll see you in class number six, where we're going to explore the negative painting technique. Happy painting.