Watercolor Night Skies in 4 Designs | Kolbie Blume | Skillshare

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Watercolor Night Skies in 4 Designs

teacher avatar Kolbie Blume, 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

14 Lessons (1h 40m)
    • 1. intro

    • 2. materials

    • 3. techniques

    • 4. monochrome gradients

    • 5. multichrome gradients

    • 6. landscape recipes

    • 7. grip + water control

    • 8. classic night sky tutorial

    • 9. twilight night sky tutorial

    • 10. textured night sky tutorial

    • 11. galaxy night sky tutorial

    • 12. bonus: tape tips + satisfying tape peels

    • 13. bonus: lettering on the sky

    • 14. recap

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About This Class

Welcome to the updated version of my most popular class! Join me as we learn watercolor basics, including the wet-on-wet technique and how to make a gradient. Then, we'll put our skills to the test to paint four stunning night sky landscape pieces. 


Here's the link to the freebie Landscape Recipe one-pager.

Meet Your Teacher

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Kolbie Blume


Top Teacher



If you're pretty sure you're terrible at art...

...you're in the right place, my friend. 



Hi there! My name is Kolbie, and I'm a full-time artist, writer, and online educator -- but up until a few years ago, I was working a 9-5 desk job and thought my artistic ability maxed out at poorly-drawn stick figures. 

In my early 20s, I stumbled on mesmerizing Instagram videos with luminous watercolor paintings and flourishing calligraphy pieces, and ... See full profile

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1. intro: Hi, my name is Kolbie and I love painting watercolor night skies. I am so excited to share this class with you. Painting watercolor night skies is what brought me into painting landscapes in the first place because, with just a few simple techniques, you can paint a really stunning piece. This is my classic night sky piece. If you follow me on Instagram, I've painted variations of this design for years. So many people have developed a love and passion for watercolor because of this piece and it makes me so happy. In this class, we're going to learn how to paint my classic night sky watercolor design and, we're also going to learn how to paint three more. With that, we're going to learn how to paint this design, and this design, and this design, all in this class. All of these designs you can paint using my simple landscape recipe method, which I'm going to talk about throughout the course of this class. If all of that sounds right up your alley, I would love for you to join me. 2. materials: Before we get started, let's go over all of the materials you'll need for this class. First, let's talk about paintbrushes. When I'm doing watercolor, I like to use paintbrushes that are round-shaped. The brushes I'm using for this class are this size number 10 in the Princeton Neptune Series. You recognize it by the brown wood handle and the gold ferrule. It has this series, the Neptune series. It's Princeton's most similar to a real sable hair paintbrush, but it's synthetic, so both of these are synthetic sable hair, meaning no animals were harmed in the process of making these brushes. That's round number 10, and then round number 0. This is Utrecht brand, their Synthetic Sablette series. I really like this series. You'll recognize it by the black handle and the silver ferrule. I think it most compares to Princeton Heritage, probably, and some of my favorites. I'm only using these two paintbrushes. Then paint, I have an assortment here. This is my own compilation of some Daniel Smith, some Winsor & Newton, all artist-grade paint, but you can use whatever paint you have on hand. Honestly, whatever you have on hand is going to be fine, but I just thought it would be helpful for you to see what I'm using. For the individual projects, we're doing four night sky projects. I will talk about the specific paint colors I'm using in those projects, but for now, just know that I have a mix of Daniel Smith and Winsor & Newton, but you can use whatever you wish. Then also for paint, I'm using this Dr. Ph. Martin's Bleed Proof White for stars. You can use whatever white gouache you have on hand or a white gel pen. This is a Sakura Gelly Roll White gel pen. Next, paper. For practice, I always like to use student-grade paper, so I'm using some Canson watercolor paper. It is 140 pounds, which means that when you have a ream or 500 sheets, it weighs 140 pounds, and it's cold-pressed, which means it has a little bit of tooth to it. Whenever I am using watercolor paper, I always like to use at least 140 pounds in weight just so that it can hold water a little bit better. Then for the final projects, this is professional watercolor paper. It's Blick Premier watercolor paper, so that means it's made of 100 percent cotton and also 140 pounds. I'm going to be using this paper for three of our projects. Then for one, I thought I'd bust out my round watercolor block. This is Magnani 1404. It's made in Italy. I got it from Blick online, and I thought it would be fun to show you a night sky in this round form, so that will be one of the [NOISE] project videos. Next, I always like to have a few Q-tips on hand just to mop up some water and masking tape for taping down your paper if you don't have a watercolor block and a mixing palette, in case you need to mix colors in a non-diluted way. It's nice to have a mixing palette. This is a ceramic palette that I picked up from a small business owner, and then two cups of water off to the side. I always like to have one cup that's clean and one cup that's dirty, especially when I'm doing gradients like we're doing with these night skies. Gather up all your materials, and let's move on to the next video. 3. techniques: Let's go over some of the techniques that we're going to be using in this class. The basic techniques that we're going to use in this class and in every watercolor piece really are called the wet-on-wet technique and the wet-on-dry technique. The wet on dry technique happens when you paint with wet watercolor, that's the wet part, on a dry surface. That's the dry part. So when the paper is dry and you paint with your watercolor, that is called the wet-on-dry technique. The wet-on-dry technique is characterized by crisp lines, clear boundaries. So where you paint with your paintbrush, that's where the paint goes. The wet-on-dry technique is useful for details and painting subjects that are meant to have a very specific shape. So I think the wet-on-dry technique is what a lot of people think of when they first start painting. But the real magic of watercolor, especially when creating gradients, is called the wet-on-wet technique. That is what happens when you paint on a wet surface. So if you get the paper that you're painting on wet with paint or wet with water and then you start painting, you see how the watercolor blooms wherever it's wet. That's because watercolor is activated by water. So the pigment wants to move wherever it can find water. When you get your paper wet first, the pigment doesn't have to stay restricted wherever your paintbrush goes. It can move about freely. So depending on how much water you have on your paintbrush and on the paper and in your paint and depending on the quality of paper you're using and the quality of paint you're using, there are granted a lot of variables. The paint will move in a lot of different directions and at varying speeds and varying looseness. So one thing that I recommend doing before you start painting, especially before you start painting, your final project is to experiment with the wet-on-wet technique, especially to see what happens when you use different amounts of water and different amounts of paint to water. Just to get a feel for the way that watercolor reacts with water. Especially how using the wet-on-wet technique, how different colors react together on a wet surface. Just a hint, that is what we're going to be focusing on in the next video where we learn about gradients. But if you want to head start, you can mix together different colors right on your paper using the wet-on-wet technique. Personally, I think that this technique really is what makes watercolor so magical because the watercolor just blends by itself and does its own thing. You really are more of like a guide to let the watercolor explore its full potential by allowing it to move around in the water. So I am in love with watercolor and the wet-on-wet technique, and I love using it to make magical gradients, especially for night skies. So I'm really excited for the rest of this class. In the meantime, keep practicing the wet-on-dry technique and the wet-on-wet technique. Now let's move on to the next video. 4. monochrome gradients: We've learned about the wet-on-dry technique and the wet-on-wet technique, and now we're going to talk about how to use the wet-on-wet technique to create gradients. Gradient is what happens when you move from one color to another color gradually. It's like you can't even see where the exact change happens. Gradients with watercolor are especially fun, and the wet-on-wet technique is very important to succeeding in creating smooth gradients. What you do is you lay down some water, clean water if you have it. That's why I like to have two cups of water, one to stay clean, and one to wash off my brush in-between. Lay down some water, and then we're going to practice first a monochrome gradient, meaning we're only going to use one color. I'm going to take some Payne's gray. I'm using Winsor & Newton Payne's gray which is like a navy or a dark blue. Starting from the top of this wet space, I'm going to move from edge-to-edge on this wet space and go all the way down my paper. Once I've gone all the way down, I'm going to pick up even more dark pigment and do it basically again. The key with gradients and keeping things from light to dark, is remembering that you can always make something darker if it's too light but you can't always make something lighter. It's tricky with watercolor, because you don't really use white to create light things, you use the white space of the paper. You really need to pay attention to, especially for monochrome gradients, how light the bottom of your paper is and how light you want it to be. If I want the top of my gradient to be a lot darker than the bottom but I want the bottom to stay the same, then I would put my pigment up on the top and while it's still wet, I'm doing all this fairly quickly because gradients really only work while the paint is still wet with watercolor anyway. I'm going to wash off my paintbrush, and then starting from the bottom with clean water, I'm doing the same edge-to-edge movements, but instead I'm going from the bottom-up so that I don't get any more dark pigment along the bottom, but I'm able to smooth out the colors from top to bottom. I'm going to do that one more time, starting from the bottom, to smooth out the colors and create this gradient from dark to light. Then I'm going to go from the top again and stop before I get too close to the bottom, wash off my paintbrush, and do it one more time. I say one more time, but really what I mean is keep doing this until I'm happy with my gradient. I am pretty happy with that. This process that I did just now, starting with Payne's gray and then making a monochrome gradient, so I'm only using Payne's gray from very light and watery to pretty dark, is the process for creating the first night sky that we're going to do for our first final project. Keep this in mind. But, this is how you create a monochrome gradient. It's clean wash of water, starting with the pigment on top and going edge-to-edge, smooth all the way down, and doing that until you feel like the bottom is as light as you want it. Then back-and-forth between using a clean brush from the bottom, going up, and then more pigment from the top going down, over and over again, top to bottom and then bottom to top until you feel like you have a nice smooth gradient. That is the monochrome gradient. The next video will be a multi-chrome gradient. 5. multichrome gradients: Now that we have done monochrome gradient, let's move on to how to create a gradient with multiple colors. First, I'm going to start with duochrome, meaning only two colors. It's going to be the same, and I'm actually going to turn this around and do it this way. A very similar process as the monochrome gradient, meaning we're going to start with a clean wash of water. I'm using clean water to prep my paper, and this is where my paint is going to go. The reason I start with wet-on-wet is so that the paint doesn't dry before I get a chance to blend it together. Sometimes I paint night skies without doing the wet wash, but you have to move very quickly in order to move the paint, and blend it together in a watery blend so that you don't get any dried paint lines in order to do that. I think it took a lot of practice for me to get to that point. But not to say that you shouldn't try. I just believe that it's easier to start with this wash of clean water. The two colors that I'm going to blend together are turquoise color and a purple color. I know that sounds like it wouldn't be a pretty blend, but its actually is. Will show you how that goes. This is phthalo turquoise, Winsor & Newton. I'm starting from the top. Then I'm getting lighter and lighter. [NOISE] That happens naturally with watercolor because the farther you go down on the paper, the less pigment you have on your brush. The water also helps all of that blend naturally, where is darker at the top, and lighter toward where I stopped. That's just because there's less and less pigment to move around. Before I move onto my next color, I'm just starting from the bottom of the turquoise portion like I did in the monochrome gradient, starting from the bottom with a clean brush, and moving up just so I can smooth out this bottom portion so that it's blending nicely in with the water, but I don't get too much of this dark pigment down in this portion. The next, I'm going to take up my purple, which is perylene violet. I'm going to start from the bottom, and do the same process. I'm moving into the turquoise a little bit. Now that I've laid down the initial color, I'm going to do just one more little layer of perylene violet and honestly of each color so I can get a darker bottom and a darker top of the turquoise. Then we're going to blend the two colors together. [NOISE] I'm doing all of this while the paint is still wet. The paint being wet is what allows it to be malleable enough to blend together. If this was dry, then watercolor when it's dry especially artist-grade watercolor does not reactivate, it stays put. You have to do this while it's wet or you'll get dried paint lines. Now that I've put a bunch of pigment on both sides, I'm going to again, starting with a clean brush from the bottom, work my way up, and then clean off my brush, and start from the top and work my way down, and then stopping in the middle. Multi-chrome gradients is just a practice and going back and forth and back and forth until you create that middle layer. That's a mix of the two colors. When it comes to turquoise and perylene violet, the mix of the two colors is this dark blue color, and that's going on in the center. You want to go back and forth until it's smooth from one side to the other. Just like that. Creating gradients with watercolor really is a practice in patience, definitely. It requires you to also know when to stop, and know when to put on more paint. The more you practice it, the better you'll be. But ultimately, it's starting with a wash of clean water, one color on top, one color on bottom, and then going back and forth from bottom to top until you create this smooth transition from one color to the next. That was duochrome. Now I'm going to do a quick multichrome. I have another separate sunset class, and I talk a little bit about this in that class as well. Instead of just using two colors, we're going to use three. I'm going to start with indigo at the top. I'm just going to brush a little bit of it on. Then I'm going to use some yellow at the bottom. I'm going to brush a little bit of it on at the bottom. Then I'm going to leave a third of this spot clear of paint and put in some queen rose, which is pink, and blend that in with both sides. When I blended it in with both sides, it was starting in the middle of the queen rose, and then moving either up or down. Make sure when you're creating gradients, especially multichrome gradients, if you're going to switch from one color to the next, to wash off your brush in-between so that you don't accidentally paint unwanted color onto a section that you don't want. Now I'm just going from bottom to top all the way. Going all the way from bottom to top works with these colors, especially because I'm starting with the lightest color at the bottom and it's slowly coming off of my paintbrush as I move up. I'm not putting yellow really at the top in the blue. By the time I get to the blue, the yellow is pretty much already gone. That's the process that I use to create multichrome gradients. It's very similar to monochrome gradients, just probably a little bit more blending, a little bit more washing off of your paintbrush so that you have clean water, and a clean paintbrush that doesn't accidentally mix colors that you don't want mixed. Like I said before, the wet-on-wet technique is very important to this process. Now that we've practiced gradients, let's move on to what I like to call landscape recipes so that we know what we're going to be painting, and we can figure out what to paint for our four projects, and then we're going to put all of this into practice by painting four different watercolor night skies. 6. landscape recipes: Before I start painting, I like to make a plan. I don't always make a plan like a sketch, but especially if I'm doing a series or if I'm trying to learn a new technique, I like to map out exactly what I'm practicing and exactly what I'm painting so that it's a little more of a process rather than haphazardly putting paint on paper. Which by the way, I am definitely not against haphazardly putting paint on paper. I think it can be really fun to free paint and let loose of control and let loose your inner mess. But for this class, for these night skies, I find it really helpful to break down the subjects and the parts of the painting so that you can take the different parts we've practiced and paint all kinds of night skies that aren't exact copies of mine so that you can look at colors and you can look at subjects or photos of night skies and know exactly how to mix and match and create your own landscape recipes. First, I like to break down particularly this night sky where it's really just like a simple night sky with a few subjects into two different categories. First, the type of sky. When I create simple, nice skies, gradient night skies they're always in a gradient and that could be either monochrome gradient or a multi-chrome gradient. Multi-chrome can also encompass dual chrome. Monochrome, meaning sometimes I'm only using one color like we did in the monochrome gradients lesson where I only used Payne's gray. This Payne's gray is probably if you've looked at my Instagram before, Payne's gray is one of my classic night sky colors. Though a monochrome gradient can look very beautiful and so can multi-chrome with lots of different colors based on if it's Twilight or some weird things are going on in the sky, sometimes skies can look lots of different colors at night. Monochrome or multi-chrome are two options for the sky and then within those options, you can either have a textured night sky or a smooth night sky. What we practiced with gradients is more like a smooth gradient night sky. Actually let me pull up this multi-chrome gradient picture here so this is actually a pretty good representation. I like to say textured is when different colors infiltrate a section that is not their own. This dual chrome gradient that we created with turquoise and perylene violet, you can see the violet infiltrating the turquoise over here and vice versa. That wasn't necessarily on purpose, I probably just stopped too soon in order to create a smooth gradient, but it could have been on purpose. If you want different colors to infiltrate different sections, it can look really cool and for skies like almost like there's clouds in the sky that's hindering or fog or chemicals, which is not fun to think about but sometimes skies aren't always smooth like this, sometimes they have a little bit of texture. That's one category, one thing to think about when creating your night sky. Then you can also have a smooth night sky where it more seamlessly moves from one color to the next and each color really stays in their own section. The way that you get these smooth gradients is like we practiced just going back and forth and back and forth with enough water and pigment and then stopping at some point, maybe even before you think you should stop. But being very careful, going edge to edge and making the same movements. You can have a textured night sky or you can have a smooth night sky. Once you've figured out what you want for your sky, the next is to figure out what you want for your silhouette. I really love night skies because of this simple process, you really just have to pick your sky and then pick whatever subject you want and paint it in black or a really dark color. My typical go-to's are like a line of trees at the bottom or a little mountain range or even a couple rows of mountains, or some sharper mountains like cliffs. You can even try your hand at painting some humans or drawing in little tiny human silhouettes or flora botanicals like I've done desert botanicals before in a gradient sky like this where I've had cacti and succulents up against the sky. Whatever it is you choose, paint it in a dark color like black or highly pigmented Payne's gray it's going to look very cool against the gradient night sky and that's partly because of these constants. This is the last thing I want to talk about in this landscape recipe video. There are two constants in my recipe for this night sky landscape painting. First, the gradient always goes dark at the top, too light at the bottom. Dark at the top and light at the bottom creates the contrast that makes these night skies look so cool. Because of the light at the bottom, the silhouettes are going to pop and really accentuate the night sky, and they're going to accentuate the stars. So you're going to sprinkle and we're going to practice that in the actual final projects that we do, but we're going to use white gouache to splatter white stars all across the dark of the top of the night sky. These contrasting things, having dark and light things together, the light at the bottom night sky with a dark silhouette and the dark sky with the white stars create just a really cool wilderness kind of ethereal effect. I've found that this recipe of using different skies, silhouettes, and having maintaining this constant contrast creates just a stunning landscape scene every time. With that, you can download my landscape recipe handout, I created a little free version of this that looks a little better on my website and pick whichever ones you want and then we'll move on and you can watch me paint my final projects. See you there. 7. grip + water control: I wanted to do a quick video on grip, on how I hold my paintbrush as I'm painting gradients for these night skies especially, because I think it can be tricky if you're not exactly sure how the paintbrush is supposed to go. To demonstrate this, I'm going to do two little mini night skies on this paper. For the first one, I'm just going to do a mini night sky here and then grab another piece of paper for the next one. After you've laid down your wash of water on your painting the gradient, it might be easy. You might be painting the gradient like this. You're going edge to edge but it's still a little bit streaky. The problem when you're doing it this way is that you're not, or rather let me say it this way, when I want to do my night skies, instead of going like zigzags far apart like this, I'm using the whole of my brush. I'm putting enough pressure on it that all of the bristles on my brush basically are on the paper what. When I'm doing it that way, it's a lot easier to maintain this smooth layering all the way down. You don't want to put too much pressure on it though, because if you put too much pressure on a brush, like if you jam the bristles into the paper. A, it's going to probably ruin your brush and it's going to stop. You're going to create enough friction that your paintbrush won't move. Another reason why your gradients might not look as smooth as mine are if you're not using enough water. If you don't have enough water either on your paint or on your paintbrush or on your paper, then the paint isn't going to move anywhere. All of those three places that I just said are important places where you get water for painting with watercolor in your palette, where your paint is, on your paintbrush, and on the paper. On the paper you can tell that there's not enough water because the paint isn't blending together, it mostly stayed in this zigzag effect that I was using. Even though you can see the paper was wet enough that it blurred the strokes, so they still look a little bit blurry. Honestly this looks cool, but it's not the smooth gradient that I was initially going for. If you are trying to do your gradient and it just feels like you can't get the smoothness correctly, then you might want to pay attention to how much water is in the paint or on your paintbrush or on the paper, and if you are having the correct grip. Just to showcase these two differences where this is what happened when I use the correct grip, holding the paintbrush loose further down on the handle like this, and I like to hold it with my two pointer and middle finger but that's just my preference. I hold pencils this way too. Some people like to hold it more like this. If you just hold your paintbrush like this, loosen your hand, further up on the handle and straight almost like it's out of 45 degree angle from the paper. Then use all of your bristles of the brush to move your nice and watery paintbrush down the paper. That's going to be a recipe for success for these smooth gradients. Thank you so much and let's move on to the next video. 8. classic night sky tutorial: For our first final project, I'm going to paint my classic version of a watercolor night sky. Meaning it's going to be monochrome and the silhouettes are going to be trees along the bottom. First step is to get your paper wet. As you can see beforehand, I taped down my paper. This is professional watercolor paper. It's Blick Premier Watercolor Paper, 100 percent cotton. I taped it down and you can see a small hyper lapse of that process if you've never done it before as a bonus video, at the end of this class. I taped down my paper and now I'm just going to put the paint in here so you can see me picking up the paint. We're using Winsor and Newton's Payne's gray and I'm going to start at the top and going edge to edge. Remember I like to go edge to edge all the way down so I can get the pigment all the way on the paper. I'm just going to move a little bit from bottom to top here just to smooth out some of the textures here. Remembering our rule that you can always make something darker if you need to, but it's really hard to make something lighter. I'm going to take stock of whether or not I think the bottom could be darker. Meaning I don't really care if I get it darker or if I need to keep it as light as it is. I think that I do want it to be very light, but I wouldn't mind if it was just a little bit darker. It wouldn't ruin my piece if it got a little bit darker than it is. But now at this point, that's about as dark as I want the bottom, so I'm going to focus on picking up some very pigmented watercolor and putting it at the top and stopping about two-thirds of the way down. Then picking up more very diluted, not with water, that's tricky wording, very pigmented watercolor and just always starting from the top and painting down so I can lay the pigment down first. Now, I'm going to wash off my paintbrush. Starting from the bottom with a wet and clean paintbrush, I'm going to paint from edge to edge all the way up so that I can smooth out these sections right here. As I'm smoothing these out, I'm noticing that maybe I want my night sky to extend a little bit further, right there is where I still want it to be a little bit dark. Knowing that I'm going to put down a little bit of pigment over here, just down, so that's about three-fourths of the way down now. I'm not really caring about edge to edge at this point because I know that right now I'm going to go back with my clean water, clean paintbrush, and going from bottom to top, smooth out those sections by going edge to edge and making this gradient very smooth. This process of going back and forth and back and forth to create a smooth gradient is how we paint these nights skies. I'm just going to keep doing this until I think it's about right and you can watch that in this hyperlapse. [NOISE] Now that the sky is dry, I used an embossing heat tool to dry my sky, let's splatter on some stars. I'm picking up my Dr. Ph Martin's Bleedproof white and you can also use any white gouache you have on hand. I'm picking up some of this and using clean water. The trick with this in particular is to definitely use clean water while you're activating it and I'm going to make sure it's wet enough that it will come off of my paintbrush, but not quite so wet that it's very diluted. Practicing a few times would probably be a good idea. But the essence of what we're going to do is, I'm using my zero brush, hold the brush with your with your non-dominant hand and then with your dominant hand, use basically your whole hand, at least two or three fingers to tap the brush so that the paint comes off of the paintbrush. I'm going to show you that one more time at this angle and then again at a side angle just so you can see the stars coming off a little bit better. The reason that I start with the stars before the trees is because I don't want the white paint to get onto the trees and the reason that I splatter the stars instead of painting them on individually is because my mind just does not do random very well. Whenever I try to paint or draw on a whole sky full of stars, my mind wants to space them out evenly and it's just a lot more difficult to get this explosion of stars that I really like to see in night skies. Splattering takes away the human error of creating randomness and makes it random anyway. It is a little messy. I get a lot of questions about like, how do you not make a mess by splattering? The answer is, I don't. I do make a mess. But a few things to note, if you have too much water, like if you use more water than pigment, then probably is good. You might get bigger stars like some of these are the biggest stars I have on here and if you get them to be too big, they might look more like snow instead of stars. Which could be good, maybe you want snow, but if you want them to look like stars, I like my stars to look lots of different sizes, but definitely more this middle size and that just takes experimenting. A good rule of thumb is to know that the more water you use, the bigger the droplets are, and the less water you use, the smaller the droplets are. Water control also has a lot to do with how easy it is to get the stars off and on your paintbrush. If you have more water, it's going to be a lot easier for the paint to come off and if you don't have enough water, you're going to have to really pound on the paintbrush to get any to flick off. Those are my two cents about stars, and then I like to have a little shooting star on my night skies. For that, I like to use often a gel pen instead of a paintbrush. I just flick my gel pen out like that to create a little shooting star across the sky. Now, let's talk about trees. For my trees, I'm using the color lamp black, and I'm just going to paint a few clumps. I generally, the way that I paint trees, especially these little loose pine trees is by painting a thin trunk and just these loose brushy blobs on either side. I have a few classes on different kinds of trees so if you're interested in learning more about trees, then definitely check out some of my other classes but for now, I'm just going to paint these trees. But the thing for this specific class, for the night sky class is I don't really like to paint them all the way across the bottom. That's a preferential thing. I like to instead paint them in two or three clumps along the bottom. When I'm done painting clumps, I make sure that the trees are different heights and different widths. Some of them can be bigger widths like this, just because the variety there makes it more pleasing to the eye, I think. I like to paint one clump on one side and then another clump on another side. Usually on this side, it doesn't really matter, but I like to have like one fairly tall tree and then I also like to have to create depth in the piece, a few really tiny trees, not because a very tall tree would be next to a really tiny tree, but because the size is going to help your mind instead of looking at just one static tree line, you're looking down into a valley or faraway to trees that are at a distance. That's one trick when you're painting in silhouettes because you can't use color value or anything else to mimic depth is to use size. I like to paint just like three clumps, sometimes two, but often three clumps of trees and the clump in the middle often has the smallest trees that sometimes are just even little dots. Just like that. By painting these dots and varying sizes, you can create a lot of depth using very simple techniques. [NOISE] That wraps it up for project Number 1 of our gradient night sky watercolor class. This is my classic take on a night sky and I hope you like it. Now let's move on to project Number 2. 9. twilight night sky tutorial: Welcome to Project Number 2. For this project, we are going to do a multichrome night sky. The effect is going to be a purple that's kind of fading into an orangey yellow. But the colors that I'm using are gold ocher, these are all Winsor & Newton. Gold ocher, perylene violet, and Payne's gray. I'm going to start with a wash of perylene violet that goes at the top and stops about right here, and then gold ocher is going to come up from the bottom, and then I'm going to put some Payne's gray at the top of that perylene violet layer to make it a little darker. Let's go ahead and get that started. First, like always, I'm going to start with a wash of clean water, then I'm going to take some perylene violet. Let me just turn my palette so you can see a little better. Take some perylene violet and from the top go edge to edge, all the way down. If you don't have enough water on your paper or on your paintbrush, it's not going to be quite as smooth of a blend. I'm not going quite all the way down. I went a little bit farther down than I intended, but I think it'll be okay. You're going to stop about here when you do yours. More perylene violet from the top and making a smooth gradient down about two-thirds of the way down. Then I'm going from bottom to top again just to make it a little smoother. Now, I'm going to wash off my paintbrush, pick up some gold ocher. For this portion, we want to make sure that the gold ocher is darker at the bottom and then gets light toward the middle. We want some whitespace to show through, just to give it a little bit of contrast for when we paint the silhouette on top of it. I'm just going back and forth between these two sections like we did in the monochrome gradient practice video to create a subtle gradient. I'm going to pick up a little bit more gold ocher. Gold ocher is just like a golden orange really. I think that that is probably good. Notice how I'm not trying to make sure that it's a smooth gradient. I'm okay if there's a little bit of texture in here for this particular piece. Now I'm going to take more perylene violet starting from the top again and making sure that my paintbrush is pretty watery because as I was doing the gold ocher at the bottom, the paper may have dried a little, and so I want to make sure that I have plenty of water on my brush as I'm painting down. But I don't want to get too close to the gold ocher with my highly pigmented perylene violet because I want these colors to blend at their lightest. One way to blend two colors that might not look great together, blended outright, one way to avoid a muddy mess of a blend is to almost use white as a buffer section. If you blend into the white of the paper on both ends, then you can use watery pigments on both sides to blend the two colors together so it almost looks like there is this zone where the two are blended together, which creates this subtle gradient between two colors that might not necessarily blend well if you just blend them outright. That's one trick that I like to use for that. Now I'm going to take some Payne's gray and start it just at the top of the perylene violet and Payne's gray mix with perylene violet creates more of like a blue violet color that looks more like we're dealing with an actual night sky as opposed to a sunset. Right now, the colors as they stand could feasibly look more like a sunset than a night sky. But that's why I'm adding the Payne's gray at the top, blending it right together while the perylene violet is still wet to create this gradient. From the top of the sky that goes blue to purple and change the perylene violet to be more of a blue violet color that's probably more akin to what a night sky would look like. I'm going back and forth between blending in more Payne's gray, washing off my paintbrush and then blending it from the bottom up. [NOISE] I want to make sure to wash off my paintbrush so I don't get any of this super dark pigment by my gold ocher because I want that gold ocher at the bottom to give a subtle glow behind the silhouette that we are eventually going to paint there. I'm going to finish this up and then we'll paint the silhouettes. Now that we've finished the sky, splattered on some stars, I'm going to switch it up a little bit, and instead of just one shooting star across here, I'm going to do three. Just to have a little meteor shower. I think those can be fun. One thing that I do, if I draw multiple subjects, I always like to try to do odd numbers. I don't know why I think that I've read somewhere the odd numbers are more pleasing to the eye, but it could also just be preferential thing. There are my three shooting stars, and now for the subject on this piece, I'm going to paint a little sloping mountain side that has some trees on top of it. I'm going to use some heavy pigmented Payne's gray for that, and I'm just going to go right on top of this gold ocher here. Leave enough of the gold ocher peeping out from the top of the mountain side so that it looks like there's this subtle glow from the sun that it has just barely gone. Some dark Payne's gray right on top here. [NOISE] Then while this is still wet, I'm going to take my small paintbrush and just paint some trees right along the mountain ridge. The way that I paint these mountain ridge trees is by painting a bunch of tiny little trunks first of varying sizes, like I've talked about before. Then I'm going to go through the trunks and paint lines across them to turn them into trees. Just like this. It doesn't have to be perfect. They can be messy. I just want to make sure more than anything that they blend down to the bottom of the mountain ridge so there's not any awkward spots. I want the trees to essentially cover the whole mountain ridge. Instead of like a sloping mountain where you can see the actual hill. All you see are these trees. One tip with trees, especially in this style, is when you're painting with the lines to make some of them look wild and crazy like they're going every which way because that is what is going to make them look more realistic, believe it or not. Trees are sometimes super ugly and they have sticks that are just jutting out everywhere. That's my trick to making these loose pines look realistic and to add some easy texture to a silhouette like this is to make some of these lines jut out so that you can see these crazy lines individually. It's going to make the silhouette look extra cool. There we have it. Final Project Number 2. We did a night sky starting with a wash of perylene violet and then going into this gold ocher. So you have a nice little twilight glow here and then topped off the gradient with some Payne's gray so we have a nice smooth gradient from blue to violet all the way down to gold of the sun. Then this fun little mountain ridge tree line silhouette with a few shooting stars. I think this one looks super cool. Now on to Project Number 3. 10. textured night sky tutorial: Welcome to the night sky project number 3. For this night sky, I'm going to use phthalo turquoise. This is Winsor and Newton phthalo turquoise and also Payne's gray. We're going to start with a wash of phthalo turquoise, just like it's a monochrome phthalo turquoise and then to make the top a little bit darker and a little bit more blue, we're going to add some Payne's gray. Similar to in the final project number 2, where we added Payne's gray to perylene violet. That's one of my tricks, if I'm ever using a different color for the night sky, but I still want to get that dark almost black and blue look at the top, then I just do some heavy pigmented to Payne's gray a little bit and blend it in right at the top. Let's get started. We are going to start with a wash of clean water, just like all of the other night skies. Now, let's put our wash of phthalo turquoise starting from the top and going down from edge to edge, just like we've done in all of the other night skies, except this time we are going to go all the way down. Basically, we're going to start with a monochrome gradient of phthalo turquoise because the light bluish green of phthalo turquoise is what we're going to use for the light part down below. Just like that. Then another, just to get a little bit more pigment on here. Start with some more phthalo turquoise at the top going all the way down and then I'm going to purposefully create just a little bit of texture by, instead of using my brush flat going all the way down, I'm going to take some pigment, start at the top and just do a little zigzag to create some lines of white on purpose all the way through. I'm just making a little zigzag motion, just like that. Now, I'm going to put my Payne's gray right at the top, and probably do a few washes of this Payne's gray to make the top pretty dark. As I'm putting this Payne's gray on, I'm going to keep doing those zigzag motions at an angle just like this to create even more texture in this night sky, but not go too far down with the Payne's gray because I still want the bottom part to be light. I don't want the Payne's gray, which I know is very dark, to go all the way down to the bottom. I only want it to go a little bit down. Then once I have enough Payne's gray and phthalo turquoise, then I'm going to clean off my brush and do those zigzag motions starting from the bottom as well. There's a little bit more of Payne's gray and now I'm going to get some more phthalo turquoise and just keep with the zigzag motion all the way down back and forth. Now, I'm cleaning off my brush. With clean water I'm going to do those zigzag motion starting from the bottom with our gradient techniques just to smooth out some of the sections, this light section and this other zigzag section. Just to smooth everything out so that there's not quite so stark difference. We have this textured gradient going on with the colors intermixing, but we still want a smooth transition, that doesn't change. Now, we've splattered on the stars. Instead of doing a shooting star this time, I'm going to do just a little twinkling star, just wet on dry. I have a few different methods for twinkling stars, but for this one, I'm just basically going to do a tiny cross in the corner right here. The way to do that without getting too thick lines, because I find that that's usually my downfall if I have too thick ones, is when you pick up your paint right here, just slightly brush it against your palette or in this case the inside of my lid to take off any excess without taking off all of the paint. I'm just giving it a few brushes because I want the tip of my paintbrush to be very pointy. Now very carefully, I'm going to put just my tiny cross right up here using very little pressure. I'm barely even touching the paper, very little pressure. I'm going to extend it a little bit further down here and then I'm going to do longer up top and shorter across. That is just my little cross that I'm going to do and maybe again, I like to work in threes. Maybe I do one more tiny one right here but using very little pressure, just a tiny little cross right there, and then one more right here. Thin lines. When I find I do these crosses with thick lines, I don't like them as much, so I try to do as thin as possible. There are my stars, I've finished my stars and now let's move on to the silhouette. For this silhouette, I'm just going to do a little layer of a silhouette mountain. Instead of using my small brush like I've done for most of the other silhouettes, I'm going to take some lamp black with my number 10 brush. You can't see it because I'm off to the side. But I'm going to take my lamp black with my number 10 brush. Starting down in the bottom corner right here, I'm just going to move my brush using the side of it upward and I'm moving my wrist just slightly so that I can get these crags that are in our rock. So I don't want it to be very smooth and sloping. I just want to be a little bumpy and then I'm going to move up like this so that it's like a mountain peak and then back down just like that. Then I'm just going to fill this in with black. Here is our final project number 3, where we did a little bit more of a textured night sky and we did some twinkling stars over here instead of a shooting star and then for the silhouette, just this plane stark mountain peak. Once again, using that simple night sky landscape technique where we decided which subjects and which variations to use. Even though every step was pretty simple, I think this looks very beautiful, so I'm pretty happy with it. Now onto the final project [LAUGHTER] of this class, final project number.4 11. galaxy night sky tutorial: Welcome to the final project for my night sky class. For our last night sky, I decided to use this fun circular watercolor block. It's a watercolor block, meaning it has multiple pages all glued together, and this is Magnani 1404. It's Italian, I ordered it from Blick.com. That's the paper we're going to use. This night sky is going to be multicolored. Honestly, it's going to be like a galaxy ask night sky. I let this would be a fun way to end our class. The colors that I'm mostly going to use color wise are this Daniel Smith, Quinn purple, Winsor, Newton, Phthalo turquoise, and cenelia Quinn red. These are the colors that I'm using, a purple, blue, and a red. Then Payne's gray to round it out and capture the top dark edges of the night sky. We'll go from there. Let's start with our wash of water. Now that we have the block wet, I'm going to start with Quinn purple. Just toward the top of the block up here. Quinn purple is like this blue-purple, blue-violet, kind of color. Honestly, it's probably a little more red violet, but it feels like it has a cooler tone to it. Anyway, it's a cool color. I'm going to start with some Quinn purple right at the top and then bring some of that down. But instead of bringing it all down like we did, like we've done with the other gradients. I'm going to add some Quinn red right in the middle there. Now, I'm going to take some Phthalo turquoise and add it right there. I kind of messed up. I was supposed to add the Quinn red after the Phthalo Turquoise. I'm adding some Phthalo turquoise right in the middle here and blending it in. Now I'm going to add the Quinn red right at the bottom, right there. These are my layers of color. I'm just going to add more Quinn purple around the sides and see when it blends right on the paper, the Quinn purple and honestly all the other colors turn into a different color, which I think is a really cool effect. I'm just going to add a little more Quinn purple, but I'm not going to go all the way down to the side because the silhouette of our night sky is going to be along the bottom right here. Just going to go back and forth. It doesn't have to be exactly even. The layers of color don't have to match necessarily. That's what makes this a little more of a galaxy than a straight gradient. It's definitely textured. We're looking for a textured night sky with lots of colors. I'm just picking up the colors individually and adding them on. Now I'm going to take clean off my brush, and with clean brush, just bring down this Quinn rose down to the bottom of the block and blend it in with the Quinn purple up here. It's okay if a little bit of the purple comes down here, the key is to make sure it's watery paint. We're not trying to get very pigmented paint down here, because we're still maintaining the light to dark or dark to light from top to bottom, because the light at the bottom of the painting is what's going to, once we put the silhouette on there, make the sky look like it's glowing along the bottom. Then if you find any spots where maybe the paint is pedaling, that's where it's a good idea to get out your Q-tip, and just mop up the puddles because the puddles could drip, and generally, when watercolor starts to puddle, it becomes a little unwieldy and not quite the effect that you're looking for. This night sky because it has all these colors. We're going to do the night sky in two layers. This is the first layer. I'm going to let this dry, and then do a second layer of colors on here just to make it a little more luminous, and make sure that we get the dark blue of the Payne's gray along the top. Hold on just a sec. This is dry, and I'm just going to add another wash of water on top, and now I'm going to add the same colors again. I'm going to start with some Quinn purple just right on top. Because watercolor is transparent when you do multiple layers, especially if you're doing multiple layers with color, you can get really cool, complex from luminous skies and luminous layers. That's one really cool thing about the transparency of watercolor. I added some Quinn purple right on top there, and now I'm going to add some of this Phthalo turquoise just underneath the Quinn purple. I'm just moving my paintbrush around, making sure to blend in with the colors, and blend in with the water. Now, I'm going to get my Quinn red and blend it in again, and blend that light and bring it down just a little bit. I still want to keep the bottom part white here. I want to keep the white space of this painting down right there. Now to round out this painting, I'm going to take some Payne's gray and just go around the edges of the sky, and adding the dark blue for me is a big part of what makes this guy actually look like this guy as opposed to two colorful wash of colors. The dark blue and then eventually one-way splatter on the stars. Those two things are really what pull it all together. In my mind. I'm not really going for a smooth gradient here. I'm really looking for that more textured blend of colors. I'm just tapping my paintbrush all around to blend the colors together and adding more colors. So I added the Payne's gray around and now I'm just adding in Quinn purple and some turquoise. So I can make sure that those colors are represented. Even if only, I only see flashes of them. That's okay. Last but not least, some more Quinn red over here. Now I'm going to take a wash of water, clean brush, and just bring some of this pigment down. Just to blend it in a little bit downward. Making sure I'm doing that with clean water so that I'm not pulling too much pigment away. Then starting from the bottom like we've done before, just make sure to blend it all together while still keeping the bottom part, that light white space. I'm just moving some of the pigment around, blending it altogether. Honestly, at this point, it's anybody's guess as to when I'm going to be done? If you're painting along with me, I think that this is probably a decent place to stop. I'm going to let this dry and paint on some stars. I splattered the stars, and I tried when your splattering, you can't really control where they go. But when I want to try to cover the whole of the sky that I'm doing. I'm also just try to hold the paintbrush over where I'm trying to splatter and sometimes I get it and sometimes I don't. It really is just experimenting and seeing where it goes. One thing to remember about splattering is that the first tap is almost always the most and heaviest. So that's where you get the biggest stars. That's why I tried to move my paintbrush around and make sure the first tap is not always in the same place otherwise, the same spots can have the biggest stars. I tried to just move that around a little bit just to even it out, and I usually do somewhere between five and 10 taps going back and forth, adding more paint until I have a sky full of stars like this. I like to have lots and lots of stars in my night sky. Now that we've finished the stars, let's move on to the silhouette. For this silhouette, I'm going to use lamp black again, and I'm going to do similar to the mountain ridge. Not the mountain peak, but the ridge with a bunch of trees on it. We're going to use a similar technique where instead of just painting the trees, we're going to first paint just a little blob, I guess, of black, just to fill in the bottom here. But then we're going to paint bigger trees that are going into this. Because we're doing a circle, the trees are going to all point toward the center. it's I don't know if maybe a fish-eye view is what that is, I'm not up on all of those film term, I don't know exactly what this perspective would be called, but it's not just going to be like a flat. That's the fun of using the circle, is that it doesn't have to just be like a flat view. We're going to use a circle to our advantage. I'm starting with just this layer of black that rings around the bottom of the circle, and as I'm painting, I'm going to remember to keep the some of this lighter space as much as possible. Because remember our rule that the contrast between light and dark is really what makes night skies look really stunningly beautiful. I know I'm going to cover up some of this white-space with my trees, but I'm going to try to remember to keep some of it. I'm going to start with one tree here. They don't have to be directly pointing necessarily toward the middle. This one is going to be a little bit angled as you can see, and they don't all have to be exactly straight up either. That's something important to remember. But it is good to keep, have some focal point. Just to keep the angle in mind, and I'm just my focal point is just the center, it could be this star, one of these stars up here. For the most part, I'm just trying to make the trees be tilted a little bit to keep that angle and that focal point. I'm just going to paint these in real time if that's helpful for you. You might hear my son in the background. I'm using my small size zero brush and just painting right into the black that we painted first. That's one of the reasons why I like to paint this black part first. So I don't have to worry about filling in all the black space. The dark space along the bottom with the tree. I can just have that black part finish the tree, or let's finish the mountain or whatever else it's supposed to be. Typically, when you're painting these round perspective paintings, one tree should stand in the center and that's what this tree is doing. I'm painting at a little bit of an angle, but ultimately. It's always trial and error, I'm a self-taught artist, and the most important thing to remember is to keep them mostly turning around in this circle to keep this perspective. Again, they don't have to all keep exactly the same angle. I think that things in nature are imperfect. When you're trying to get different perspectives, those should also be relatively imperfect if you want to keep it as real as possible. If you find that your painting and it just doesn't look quite right, remember that paintings like this aren't supposed to be perfect. Because nothing in nature is and that you can always try again if you decide you didn't really like the way that you did something, you can always try again, and experiment to see if there's a different way that you'd like to do it just because you're taking my class and doing things the way that I'm doing them doesn't mean that that's what's right for you. Because I'm self-taught, I learned by watching other people on the Internet, and a lot of these techniques I'm teaching you now are techniques that I started to learn from other people and then tweaked to fit my style. I'm a huge fan of learning how someone else does painting, and then experimenting and letting yourself be imperfect enough so that you can figure out what really works best for you. Keep that in mind as you take this class and any of my other classes that I am definitely in favor of you testing out different methods, and if mine aren't, what works best for you, then I'm glad that you have taken the time to figure that out. As I was talking, I just did exactly what I've been telling you to do, which is paint these trees and paint them different sizes, different widths, different heights, but have them mostly painting relatively toward the center. If it's on this side then have them pointing this way, and if it's on this side, then have them pointing the other way so that it hugs the circle and completes this fish-eye zoom perspective that we've created, and that's really cool to create with this circular block. That concludes our final project of my Night's Sky class. For this project, I decided not to do any shooting stars because I think it looks really cool just with this giant sky of stars and colors and with the trees that circle around it. I think it looks great as is. But if you want to experiment and try different things with these landscape recipes that we have talked about, then you should definitely feel free. That wraps up all of our painting for this class. If you want to head on over to the last video for the recap where we look at all of the paintings and talk about what we've learned. Then I do have a couple of bonus videos at the end where you can learn some extra things if you want. Thank you for joining me for this class and for painting along with me. These night sky paintings are near and dear to my heart. They mean so much to me and I'm so glad that I get to share them with you. Thank you so much. 12. bonus: tape tips + satisfying tape peels: This quick bonus video is to show you how I take off tape from my taped projects. Sometimes it can be tricky and it depends on the quality of the paper you're using and the quality of the tape that you're using. I always use masking tape, or painter's tape, or washi tape, something that is nice to paper. I always take the tape at an angle and I move slowly. In case some of the papers starts to catch, then I can move to a different side. When I use Blick Professional Watercolor paper, it hardly ever catches, which is one of the reason I like using Blick so much. But if your paper does catch, let's pretend that it does. If it catches right here, if you notice some of the paper coming up on the tape, then I would stop and start again from the other side so that you don't end up peeling the paper even more. To help prevent that and to make untaping easier, I also put on the tape a specific way. I always do top, bottom, side, side as opposed to top side, bottom side so that the tape doesn't stick to each other. This way, if you do top, bottom, and then side, side, all the tapes are individually adhere as opposed to sticking from end-to-end. That's my quick video on tape. 13. bonus: lettering on the sky: For this little bonus video, I'm going to do a demonstration on how I use white gouache. This is Dr. Ph. Martin's Bleed Proof White to do watercolor calligraphy on night sky pieces like this. I pulled out a separate night sky piece that I have done in the past and I'm just going to letter right on this. The trick with using white gouache and painting with gouache is to get it liquid enough so that you can move your paint around so it doesn't just get stuck, but not quite so liquidy that it goes translucent. Right now, I like to use the lid of my paint as a little palette for this white gouache. I'm just going back and forth between picking up some paint from the bottle and then adding some water to it to get a nice little puddle of paint that I can use. Just mix that until you have a pretty good consistency where it's not paste, but it's not quite super liquidy either. It's a thicker liquid. Now, I'm using my Size 0 paintbrush. I'm going to take some of that white gouache and just letter right on the sky. I'm going to letter the phrase, dream on. Let me move this over here. Periodically, the thing about lettering with or doing calligraphy with gouache or any paint is that you frequently have to basically reload your paintbrush or whatever it is you're using. You can also use a pointed pen. If you do pointed pen calligraphy, I often do that on these night sky pieces. That can usually work if it's small enough. As you can see with some of these lettering, I didn't quite use enough paint in my ratio, so the paint started to fade a little bit. That is for sure the tricky part. You may need to like I just did, go over it again with the paint to get it to be as white as you want. There's my little white gouache calligraphy right on the sky. I'm just going to go over some of these letters again with my paintbrush to get them to be even more white. Be careful when you're doing that because you could mess up the letters. My recommendation is to just go slow when you're trying to get really white lettering. You have to do multiple layers. If you use thicker gouache, like if you don't have quite as much water in your mixture, then you can have more stark white lettering, but it's a lot harder to actually maneuver your paintbrush to form the letters. The paint immediately comes off and goes texturing and scratchy. It's just a give-and-take. There you go. That's my little bonus video of how I use white gouache and a paintbrush to do watercolor calligraphy on these night sky pieces. Here's one last angle of that, and I hope you enjoyed this bonus video. 14. recap: Thank you so much for joining me for my Skillshare class on watercolor night skies today. If you joined me for the whole class, we painted this design, this circle night sky design and this night sky twilight design, and this mountain textured night sky, and then of course, my classic Payne's gray night sky with a shooting star at the top. If you painted along with me and painted any of these designs or any variation of them, please feel free to post them to the project gallery. That is a great place where you can communicate with other students and see what other students are working on, and it's a place where I can provide you feedback for the work that you've done. If you have any questions, make sure to drop them there. You can also feel free to drop your questions as a discussion in the community portion of this class. I make sure to check those and I will answer your questions there as well. If you just love your painting so much that you decide that you want to share it with your friends and family and you post it to Instagram, I would love to see that. Please tag me, my handle is this writing desk, and I will show you some love and you have a chance also to be featured in my Instagram stories. Thank you once again for joining me for this class. If you really liked this class, if you had a great time and learned a lot, one way that you can really help me is to leave a review about this class and share it with your friends. I would love to share these techniques with as many people as possible because I love them so much. I think this is a great starter into the world of watercolor landscape. Thank you again for joining me and see you next time.