Watercolor: Painting a Potted Cactus for Beginners | Ashley Triggiano | Skillshare

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Watercolor: Painting a Potted Cactus for Beginners

teacher avatar Ashley Triggiano, Artist + Designer - ashleytriggiano.com

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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

4 Lessons (39m)
    • 1. Introduction & Supplies

    • 2. Getting Started: Outlining Your Potted Cactus

    • 3. Painting: Creating Depth with Shadows

    • 4. Finishing It Together: Final Touches

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About This Class

In this class, you’ll have the option of tracing or drawing your own outline of a potted cactus. From there, we’ll look at color choices, and blending colors for beautiful watercolor cacti. We’ll explore the concept of shadow and adding depth to your painting, as well.

If you haven't checked out my other Skillshare classes, be sure to!

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Ashley Triggiano

Artist + Designer - ashleytriggiano.com


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1. Introduction & Supplies: 2. Getting Started: Outlining Your Potted Cactus: so to get started today we are going Teoh sketch our potted cactus illustration. I created this digitally and printed it out. It is in the hand out section in the class project down below. You can print one out yourself or you can choose to draw this. It's pretty simple as I'm tracing it. For example, I'm refer demonstration. I will talk a little bit about how I drew this so that if you do want to create your own or design your own, um, you can do that. So, for this class, I am going to be using, um, a light box for tracing something I use often when I'm tracing you. If you don't have one, you can use like a tablet with a bright backlit screen, Um, and place your paper on top of that or honestly, the good old fashioned way that I've used plenty of times before. I had a light bucks or light pad waas just to put it up against the window. Um, on a clear day and any source of light, really, that just eliminates This drawing will be perfect, because all you do is put your watercolor paper on top of it, and we're going to simply trace it. So for those of you who might be drawing, um, and not tracing, I wanted to tell you a little bit about maybe the best way to do that. What's turned it off? There we go. So the best way to draw this is to start with this central part of the cactus right in the middle. I'm someone to take my pencil and generally this particular cactuses that, you know, oval shape. So keeping the bottom open because you know you'll have the pot coming in front of it. It's just kind of on a simple level shape, so you'll make one big Oh, I'm not being perfect about this and just getting my outline in general, you're just gonna make an oval right with an open bottom. So kind of like if you were to make a funny in lower case and it's really bubbly, whatever, however, you wouldn't think about it. Point is, start with this major central section here and for this illustration I have two branches of the cactus. I guess you could say and again all they are is ovals with little open bottoms. So they don't, you know, it's not gonna come all the way down. They actually end right here on the surface of the cactus below it. So again, it's just a novel. Um, overly shape that connects to the cactus blew it, and they gradually get smaller. Um, as you go generally, when you see a cactus like this, you'll notice that it's, um, sections get, you know, smaller and smaller as it grows outward. So you can keep that in mind They don't to be perfect remembers can I mean, they're not always perfectly round. So give yourself some grace on that, and I like to do it personally in odd numbers. Um, even though I didn't appear kind of so back to the section in on numbers because it the rule of threes rule odd numbers, it just looks visually more appealing when you kind of have things broken up in tow. Odd numbers, they just look better. Um, unless you're doing something super symmetrical. But in this case is nature. This is a plant that grows, how it likes to, and this is one of the best ways to depict that. So on the right side of the cactus you're gonna grow. It's gonna be growing upwards, right? And so we're gonna do a arm. I guess you could call it an arm over. Arm out to the right. Perfect Remembering. You don't make you a complete oval. Attach it. You're gonna leave an open bottom and attach it to the one below. And so going up even further, Another small, open oval attached to the one below it. And this one also. Technically, it's what I was saying earlier. This is four, but I kind of thought of it as this is its own one branch. And then on top of it, you've got 123 and so visually, that looked good to me when I was creating this. Add the's ovals, one on the right and a small one on the top, left for balance. And then you'll notice back over here on this left branch. I have a little flower. I think flowering cactus is a really pretty. So I just added a little flower. Um, feel free to do that if you want. Teoh. I just did pedals. If you've done my floral bouquet class, um, which I published before doing this one you'll know a little bit about making flowers. You could do whatever kind of flower you want, but I just do a very simple petal flower right there on and then to do the base to finish it. So you've got your body of your cactus. What you want to do is think about, um, the top of a pot, how it would come from behind the cactus and go to the left and come back around the front and cross in front at the base where it's cutting it off visually and come back behind, Um, and then to do the lick of a cat looked over pot, not the lip of a cactus, the lip of the pot. Just gonna come down on both sides and draw a little bitty line, and you're going to do a parallel line to the line Udrih right here at the top. Um, so right below it, it's just a matching line that parallels the one above it. So that's the lip of the pot, and then you're gonna want to do like a tapering in line. You could dio, if you want to do like one of those modern pots that are kind of straight on the side. You can. This is up to you. I'm just following the tracing that I did earlier. Um, are the drawing that I did earlier? You could make your pot whatever you'd like it to be. But for this I'm just going to do tapered sides and bring it down and at the bottom, a curved base as well. And that's it. That's a simple as it has to be. When you're done, you just have your tracing. You can go back if you want to clean up your edges. I didn't need to turn that back on. If you want to clean up your edges, make demonstrator you can. I try to trace really lightly because in the end, I don't really want to see my pencil so much. Um, when you paint over pencil with watercolor, it tends to trap it. It's not a bad thing if you look closely at some water color paintings, Um, from some really great artists. Often you can see the, um, pencil marks underneath. And it's not a bad thing. Honestly, some of my favorite artists, um, if you look closely, it's full of pencil marks underneath. By the time they've added all of their layers on and washes ingredients, you don't really notice them unless you're seriously seriously looking for them. So just finished cleaning up your sketch, and then we will get into what is my favorite part, which is laying down the paint. 3. Painting: Creating Depth with Shadows: All right, let's get started with painting with my favorite part. Um, so today I am going to be painting with my size 10 brush. You can use a smaller one if you prefer, or larger one. I just think this one has good, um, control with a fine point tip and then a larger belly of the brush. So for the colors that I'm using today, um, I am choosing Teoh. Use a, um green. That's a medium like green. I guess I should say I'm using this light green and mixing it in with a darker one to get. Let's see if I can get the tone that I want. That's perfect. So I'm mixing a little bit of my darker green into a lighter green coming up here. I'm gonna swatch out this color for you, someone to use this, um, the screen. And I'm gonna blend it with a look like when you have a little bit of, um, like a teal ish blue. If you see the cactuses the kept I, um that have that teal blue tinge to them. I love those. So I am just mixing a little bit of a teal blue with a greenish blue together and I'm gonna swatch that that might be a little bit too bright blue. I'm gonna add, um, back some of that dark green into that city. No, it's too dark and tow. Lighten a dark color. We just add a little bit more water. Right? So see what I like that. May I add a little bit more and blue and see if I like that. Yes. There we go. Perfect. So that's going to my kind of cactus color. And, um, I think that if you look at a color wheel, let me see if I can pull one up for you. Actually, I can't. Since I'm not casting my screen. That's okay. I'm actually gonna use on a color that contrasts well with it, which would be like a red. Right. So on the opposite, your green and your reds go together. Um, but because I really like cool colors or like that muted pastel color, I'm going to do a bit of like a peachy color. Um, a peachy pink, red orange color. It's one of mixed this light pinky color with this pretty break. Orangey red Maxie's together and see what I get If I like that may do a little bit more orange. Yeah, pinky color like that. See, when I pulled it out, make it lighter. Yeah, I think that'll work. London flee. So those are my colors. I'm gonna Premier Li be working with and just start we're gonna do wet on wet and let's start with our biggest piece. So let's get a wet loaded brush and lay down some water. Keeping in mind the depending on what kind of paper you're using. If you're using this like a student grade paper, it's not gonna hold the water for a really long time, right? It's gonna start drying, so you'll need to work kind of quickly. Um, or lay down a little bit extra water just to really saturate the paper, get your water down, and then go pick up the green color that you want to start with. And what I wanted to show you today in this class was that when you used the darker shades , um, and moved to progressively lighter color, you can create some really nice shadows and deaths, um, depth with your painting. So if you think about the light coming down and hitting the right side of this cactus writes the light would be coming in and hitting this part. This left side is going to be kind of in the shade, right? So you want to make it darker to indicate that there is shade there. And so we just run that darker color, the more saturated tone here on the left side of that cactus. I just need to Since I'm using a student grade paper, I need to keep this kind of wet. I'm I want to add in a little more blue for my own personal reference A bluish green always keeping in mind that my darker side is going to be this left shaded side with the light coming in and being really prominent on the right side, where there will be more light and really depending on how around this cactuses, um, you could have a little bit of darkness here on the right side. To that is, it's curving around to the back. Maybe the light isn't hitting the back of the cactus. It's hitting this front right section. And so keep in mind that if you do happen to go, maybe too dark here. You can always rinse off your brush, dab it a little bit to dry off the belly and pull it on where you may be made it too dark so that you can get a highlight. And that also indicates that the sun is coming in right there on that part. So as that one is drying them to come up, Teoh one, that's not touching. Just major one. And I am gonna lay down water so I can do a wet on wet here. And I am going to pick up my paints for color that I'm interested in again. You don't have to do the exact colors that I do, but keeping in mind that the left side is the more colorful, more saturated side, Thank you. Thanks to the shadows. And I am going to pull that over and let that bleed over. I just love watercolors and watching what they dio so fun. Um, just making sure that I keep the left side more saturated in the right and I'm gonna come down to the, um below it, and I've got a little bit of paint still left on there, but that's OK and so this one shaped a little bit differently, right? These two were long ovals. This one here on the right is more of a for treating up and right. Um so the shadows will be a little bit different on this one. Uhm, if the lights coming into the right you're gonna have the shadows are still on the same side, But it's just gonna be different than the large central. Um, when you just put together earlier is gonna be more. The left side's gonna be more down here where it meets the cactus below it. And maybe up this way. So thinking about that as you paint, um, I'm getting a little too blue. So let me mix up some you have an account, and then I'm gonna pull it down This way. Her. I think that there would be some shadow down around the edges where it starts to curve back towards the back, something in my pain. So you can just work that, um and you can go back and pick up some more color. If you want to drop in for shadow with, pick up little more and come back in over here. I am make a little bit more of a distinct mark from where it meets the one below it. Some were indistinct that the light would be right. Okay. And so now I'm gonna come back up a little bit higher and work on this little piece of the top and on the top left lady on a little bit of paint. It's a smaller space, so it's a little bit easier that the same time. It also means you've got to be a little more restrained with adding your, um, shadow. So did you. Don't want to fill up the entire thing with the shadow, right? You want to I just do that left back side so you'll pick up your pain and your tiller load . Your brush can drop some ed carefully on the science for shop. You can drop off your brush to dry it a little bit and come back into blend it and see my ought to like in the morning to come do the one on the top, right? And so, essentially, what we've, um, covered really quickly and easily. Here is that by thinking about your light source where the lights coming from in this case , it's coming from the right side and hitting the kind of mid middle right of each of these elements. The shadows would be on the left, Mostly back left, maybe a little bit at the bottoms. Um, but really thinking about where you drop your color in on this. Wet on what? So that it keeps that form that shadow that contour, Um, in each of your little elements. And so we are going Teoh menopause here, um, and let you work on this in case I've gone a little bit. I think I may have gone a little bit fast for folks that maybe, um, are doing this for the first time. Um, so in the next video, we will finish up and wrap up this project together and, um, yeah, do it together so you can see how we finish the pot below. Um, little flower over on the left arm and I went outside lights. Um, so I will see you there. 4. Finishing It Together: Final Touches: Okay, so we are going to finish up our painting together. Um, we've done the right arm. Now we're gonna come over to the left arm and drop in again, wet on wet, goingto saturate in this oval arm. And, um so with this one, we've talked about where shadows go. Um, quite a few times in this painting, it's the black left. Someone to start there, drop in my color for my more saturated color, I should say, um, but also, if this metal part is kind of forward in our three D rendering, that means there's gonna be a little bit of a shadow where it meets where the smaller part meets that bigger part. Um, just because it would be blocking the light a little bit. So we're going to continue a little bit of shadow down there at the bottom where it meets - you can. I'm gonna come up. Actually, while that one tries a little bit, I'm gonna come. Um, do this little flower here. Um, I'm gonna do it any similar pink toe. What? I'm using, um, forth e base for a little bit of color continuity, but I'm gonna warm it up a little bit by adding just a little bit more. Um, read with it so that I get a little bit of a deeper color. It's that way. I'm not to matching matching. So I'm gonna come in here. I'm gonna lay down my bright color where my flower is. I'm gonna let that actually dry. And when it's dry, I'm gonna come back and add shadows to indicate where the shadow is in this particular flowers. I'm just trying to get uneven wash, um, done. And we'll come back to this after its tried a little bit. So is pop back down to this left bottom peace. And I I'm going. I'm actually I forgot to do what? On what? So let's start with you know what? This, um, circle. And then I'm gonna come back and drop in my coat. Didn't. Similarly, this one would have a little bit of shadow right where it meets just because it might be tucked in a little bit, too behind the arm in front of it. And we'll go on to our last poem, your last cactus arm putting my water down. There's still a little bit of paint on my brush so it's not clear water I'm putting down, but it's okay. Um, at least gives me a good based work from, so that's nice and saturated. I'm gonna go back in a tick up my green blue that I've come to love And I am going to put some down at the bottom and to the left do a little bit on the sides to since those probably wrapped back blend that a little bit more water so great into little perfect So that's trying, um, let's come down and actually do the pot. So let's get our peachy pink We made I made with a little bit of this light pink in this bright pink Makes those together, and I'm just gonna actually do wet on dry for this. Um, I'm gonna since all of my paint is loaded in here, I'm going to start on the back left side, right. So, building shadow, this is where it would be darker. And since I need to make it lighter as it goes toothy, um, middle center right part of this, I'm gonna add my water and pull this paint. Um, pull it out a little bit. So adding the water play out. I was gonna keep water to the section. Just fuller the lip. We're not going to go all the way to the lip yet. We'll do that in a second, but let's just make sure we've got her paint where we want it. So, Dr Color, I'm gonna go back just like we've done with the, um, cactus. I'm gonna load up my brush. It's all wet and then going Teoh add in color. And also, um, if you think about it, the lip, usually of a pot, extends out, so there should be a little bit of a shadow underneath the lip. Um, so you want to drop in that color right there and I'm gonna blend mine out a little bit. Since it is a student grade paper, it tends to sit a little bit, and he needs help moving around. That's okay. Just gotta learn how to work with your supplies, not let them work against you, but work with them. Every single one is different. Every paper is different. So as you can see, we've got the darker color to the back, left lighter colors in the middle, and a little bit of shading again on the sides. And that really emphasizes the idea that the light's hitting this central part of these elements and that there's depths to them. So they come out a little bit while that's drawn drying, we are going to do this little bit back here of shadow. Um, this would be a really shadowy shadow for lack of better word, because it's the inside of the pot. And so for that, I'm actually gonna, um I didn't put it up here, but I'm gonna mix up a brownish black color, just a touch of black in it, but mostly brown that way. It kind of feels cohesive with the other colors that I have in this painting. I'm so I'm gonna just right above the lip and right below the cactus, we're going to drop that in. And I got I'm a little heavy on water here. Someone Dr my brush and try to suck back up so hot water. Okay, when it comes to the same thing on this side, just indicating where those shadows would be, it's a little bit too black, you know, - And then last but not least, I'm gonna let that dry for a second. And while that finishes drying, I'm going to go back to getting that bright color that I used on the flower. And so if you did the tracing with me, um, you'll notice that there are some pedals that are at the front of the flower and then some at the back, the ones that are in the back, we'll get a little bit more shadow to indicate that they are, in fact, behind the ones in the front. That kind of adds a little bit of debt. So they get some shadow back there because they are behind the front use and see how that works and then said It feels like an open flower back there. Um, all right, now I'm gonna go back for my peachy pink on the pot. And finally that in Careful, not Teoh disrupt the dirt or shadow layer that I just put down a minute ago. I don't want that blending in. And as I can tell, I was a little uneven on where the base of my cactus stopped, as you can see. So, like, the lip looks wonky right now. Um, what I'm gonna do is let this lip dry for a second and I am going to go back and bring my cactus down to meet the lip. I'm so I'm gonna wait for it to dry. And it seems I'm mostly dry, Um, already and on these parts. So what I dio and it's totally up to you if you want to leave it as as you can. Sometimes I'll go back and add. I lay down some more water. I might go back and add just a little bit more for some drama. Because who doesn't love a good bit of drama? So I'll take and come back and just a little bit more, making those shadows a little bit more dramatic because that is half the fun. Come and do that to this one of people too. Okay, so I think that I've waited long enough for the lip to dry down below. So what? I'm going to dio just like I did with the ones above. I'm gonna add some water. I'm gonna carefully bring that water down to where the lip would meet the cactus and I am going Teoh, pick up my color and I'm gonna drop it and down here because it would be darker at the bottom as well, because that the base right, So there should be a little bit of shadow happening down at the base blend that Allah prints off me fresh. And I have blend Blend up. This a drop of water here? Wonderful. Except that I just managed it with some green lemon. And you, the, um, same thing. Teoh his left section. I can't help myself. And there's my cat yowling. I don't know if you can hear her. She always has to add her two cents cinnamon Do a one appear. I just think, um, when you're adding shadows and highlights into a painting, it just adds so much depth, Um, and really makes it visually more interesting. So I hope that this has been helpful for exploring that concept and playing with it a little bit, but was from the technical aspect of how toe lay in shadows with watercolor and also just for being able to practice it with multiple sections. I thought that this cactus would be a good way to practice that because there's so many little bitty parts to it, and they just got this tie up here. You don't get more for him. This one. Terrific. So that's it? That's our super simple cactus painting. And if you want to go back and if you're like me, I tend Teoh paint quickly. I guess, um And sometimes I'll see you know, my messy lines and want to straighten things up. And so I'll go back and do you that. So if you want to do that, if you have, um, simpler experience, please. And that is totally fine. And you can go in and play with how the shadows are, um, and try it from different light sources. It doesn't always have to be, you know, back left as where all of your shadow comes from every time. Obviously, you want it to be consistent because it's not gonna generally seeking change within the single picture itself. Um, but for different pictures or different paintings, you can try it in different places and see how that works out for you. You might prefer to have your light source coming from the left so that there is a shadow on the, uh, on the right. Um, again, every situation will call for something just a little bit different, and that is totally fine. That is the beauty of water color and the beauty of art. And I hope that this has been fun. And I would love to see um, what you create, please feel free to share. That's me.