Watercolor for Beginners: How to Create a Negative Painting | Gabriela Benke | Skillshare

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Watercolor for Beginners: How to Create a Negative Painting

teacher avatar Gabriela Benke, Watercolor With Gaby

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

11 Lessons (28m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. What is negative painting?

    • 4. Warm up

    • 5. Sketching: first layer

    • 6. Painting: first layer

    • 7. Sketching: second layer

    • 8. Painting: second layer

    • 9. Sketching: final layer

    • 10. Painting: final layer

    • 11. Thank you!

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About This Class


Hi, my name is Gaby and I’m so excited because today I’m going to teach you one of my favorite watercolor techniques: negative painting. I love this technique because it’s simple, it’s so relaxing, I can spend hours and hours on it, and the results are stunning.

In this class, you’re going to create a negative painting from scratch. I’m going to explain what negative painting is and how it's done; then we’re going to do some practice exercises to develop the skills you’ll need to create a good negative painting and finally, we’re going to jump into our project, starting with the sketch and adding each layer of paint step by step. 

I created this class with beginners in mind, so you don’t need any prior experience with watercolors. In fact, this technique is very beginner-friendly and it was one of the first techniques that I learned when I was starting out. You don’t even need to know how to draw, because I’m going to provide you with the template.

For this class all you’ll need is eager to learn and the following supplies:

1) Watercolor paints

2) Watercolor paper

3) A round brush nº 4, 6 or 8

4) A rigger brush nº 0

5) Two jars of water

6) A paper towel 

7) A ruler

8) A pencil 

9) An eraser

10) A protractor (or any round object)

By the end of this class, you’ll have a finished negative painting and a new skill that you can apply to any future watercolor painting. 

So what are you waiting for? I see you in the first lesson! :)

Music: Redwood Highway by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) Artist: http://audionautix.com/

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Gabriela Benke

Watercolor With Gaby


Hello! My name is Gabriela and I'm an illustrator. I live in Brazil with my husband and our two cats.

I have been drawing since I was a little kid and I'm always studying and improving my art. My goal is to share my knowledge and passion for illustration with you.

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1. Intro: Hi. My name is good buddy Alex, but you can call me God. I'm so excited because today I'm gonna teach to one of my favorite watercolor techniques Negative painting. I love negative painting because it's simple. It's so relaxing and can spend hours and hours, and the results are amazing. Unlike other watercolor styles, there more moves with negative painting, we have a greater degree of control. This is also a very beginner friendly technique because very straightforward, all you have to do is to follow the steps, and it's also a very resilient technique. You can mess up with it, but we can always fix it. Some help in this class logo were through what negative thinking is and how it's them. Then we're gonna do some warm up exercises toe toe, listen up our hands and develop the skills we need in order to create a good negative painting. And then we're gonna create a negative painting together. Step by stop story, missed the sketch and on H layer of paint step by step. So by the end of this class, you'll have they finished negative painting that you can add to your portfolio or share on Instagram and you'll have learned in your school that you can apply to any future pains. What are you waiting for? Let's just start to see you in the first lesson. 2. Supplies: Hi. I'm glad you decided to watch this course in this video. I'm going to show you all the supplies he'll need for this class, starting with watercolor paints. I'm using my Windsor and Newton. Cotman sat with 12 callers, but feel free to use any brand and any colors they're comfortable with. We're also gonna use watercolor paper I'm using multiple from cancel. But again, you can use any brand you like. Just make sure that your paper is at least 300 grams or £140. I also like having two jars of water instead of only one. One is for rinsing my brush, and the other one is clean water for mixing with my pains, we're also gonna need a paper towel or a piece of toilet paper to clean and rare brushes. And speaking of brushes, will need a round brush number six in the rigger brush off the smallest size A confined. I also like having these ceramic blades to mix my paints. We charge to the seltzer plates that I stole for make Ethan. You also need a regular pencil or a mechanical pencil and the razor a ruler and something to help you draw a circle on the paper. So these are all the supplies were going to use in this course. And to make sure you have everything you need. I've created a checklist with all the supplies listed that he can download and print. If you want. In the next video, I'm gonna show you what negative painting ISS and how it's done. 3. What is negative painting?: in this video, I'm gonna show you Web negative. Fainting is and how it's done. In watercolor, every image is made of two spaces. The positive space which is made off the main subject itself and the negative space. We just the area around and in between the subject in negative fainting. Instead of painting the subject itself, we painted the air around it, creating its contours. So how this technique can be applied to water Caller. We just escaped her subject in this case, believes and being to the background around them. Yeah, it's that simple. But wait, what if I want to add more layers to create a more complex painting with this beautiful depth effect? Well, as you may know, water color is transparent, and because of that, we can only paint from light to dark, never the opposite. So to create a negative painting in watercolor, we first start with the lightest caller, and we keep adding lark early years until we're satisfied. Don't add more than three layers, though, or your painting is gonna be too thick. And it's gonna look weird now that you know what thank to fainting is we can do some warm up exercises 4. Warm up: in this video, we're gonna do some warm up exercises, toe listen up her hands and develop of the schools we need for negative paintings. So I've divided my paper into three rectangles, always living a space between each rectangle. And I also divided the first rectangle into five smaller rectangles. And then the last worked angle. You can see that I drove some geometrical shapes because this is a beginner's class. I decided to keep things simple and use only one caller in this entire class. I know mixing and combining colors can be very frustrating, especially for beginners. At least it was for me. And this is why I want to show you that you can create an amazing painting with just one color. I want you to choose your favorite color. Mine is a Missourian Crimson, which is this beautiful, cool red here, as I talked to before in negative painting, we create layers of paint from lights too dark and in the water color. Instead of using white to like the caller, we just add more water. So to start, we're gonna practice the water to paint ratios so we can achieve values that we want So we're going to start by mixing a little bit of paint with a lot of water to creating very light tint and encourage you toe Always. I said always tester colors in a piece of paper before you start painting. I've lost count of how many times I didn't just ask my collars and it ended up being too dark, and it was a nightmare to fix it. Now I'm gonna paint the entire rectangle. This is a wet and right technique, which is when our papers right, and they're painters wet. I love this technique because it gives us so much more control, compared toe wet on wet. Now I'm gonna let it ride before I paint the second rectangle. Otherwise, the paint on this work single is gonna makes with the paint on that worth angle. And I want them very separate from each other and gonna wait for these to dry, and I'm gonna paint this just a tiny bit darker. So I've let me bring dry and I'm gonna end a little more pigment to the mix. This too much So I'm gonna end a little more war. See why it's so important to test the paint. This is really a thrill on their thing. Okay, this is perfect. I'm just gonna paint this entire rectangle. I can do that with the previous one, and then I'm gonna let it dry and do the same for all of the other rectangles. Always painting each rectangle a little darker than the previous one. Yes. So it's got to the last worked angle, and for this one, we need almost pure pigment. Uses leader water as you can. So we finished this exercise, and you can see that I have a perfect color. Gray didn't from light to dark. So when we jump into her painting, I'm gonna use thes lightest pink to paint the first layer in this darkest red to paint the less layer and the next exercise. We're going to practice British control in their this painting with things around the objects. So we need to be really careful and precise in order to paint the contours accurately. We're gonna hold our brush in kind of a 45 degree angle and start painting a very thin line using just the tip off her brush and then gonna do this until the end of the rectangle. I'm gonna be some lines with my rigger brush to you can see that you can create very thin lines using both your rigger brush and a round brush. The rigger brush just gives you more control, and that's why I like it so much. You can also change the direction of your lying. I personally prefer painting and growing lines in this direction. You'll have to find the direction you're most comfortable with, and you can always rotate your paper to paint in the same direction. So in the last exercise, we're gonna practice creating and negative painting. All we have to do is to paint the background around the shapes. There is no secret here. We're gonna paint using wet and right technique. You can see that I'm using my rigger brush to bank the contours as it gives me more precision. I finished painting this and you can see that my background is very imperfectly with ah lot of hard lines and these weird looking things that we call cauliflower fact or booms. The hard lines happens because when they started painting this area, this area here had already right. So there's a hard line where these two areas meat. Normally, this would be a problem, but in negative painting. This isn't because we're gonna add more layers to it and all these imperfections, they're going to be covered. We will also have the opportunity to polish the counter off the shapes in the next layers. So what we've done here in this exercise is basically what we're gonna do in their painting . But instead of using geometrical shapes, we're gonna use leaves. And we're also gonna add more layers to our painting instead of only one. But this is basically the whole technique. So if you feel you need to practice more, do it. I recommend you do these exercises 3 to 5 times, or until you feel confident enough to move to the next steps. When you're ready, come back here and will start sketching or painting 5. Sketching: first layer: in this video. We're gonna do this catch. So first, I'm gonna take my roller and find the center off my paper. Now, I'm gonna take my protractor in place it right in the center to dry circle. If you don't have a protractor like me, you can use any circular object like a cup or a small plate painting inside a circle instead. Off Using the entire surface off the paper is an easy way to make your painting stand out. I think circular paintings looks so, so beautiful. Now I'm going to start sketching the leaves. So I need you to pay attention here because there's a catch when it comes to sketching for negative painting because we painting late years, Oregon's catching layers to otherwise everything is gonna be too messy and it's gonna be too hard toe work. So first I'm going to sketch Onley beliefs that are going to be white. And in the next video, we're gonna add the first layer off paint painting around these leaves. She won't follow me template open the file sketch, lay your one, and if you're following my template, you can print it and trace it using a light table or a tablet or even a sunny Windle, because I want to make sure you can see everything in the camera. I'm gonna sacrifice my painting a little bit. I'm gonna press really hard on my pencil when sketching, so the pencil marks are really strong and dark, but in watercolor, we can't actually erase a pencil mark after we paint on top of it. So in your painting, I want you to sketch as likely as you can so you can barely see it. Otherwise, everyone's gonna be able to see the pencil marks in your final painting, and it's not gonna look good or professional. And I want to remind you that you can always rotates the paper as many times as you want to make it easier for you to to paint and draw. So when im sketching life second er stamps, I first overlap the main stem and then curve out. It's a very common beginner mistake to just draw the secondary stamps as if they're perpendicular to the main Stam and everything end up looking like a stick figure. Also always draw the second ER stamps, hurting out from the main stamps. Instead of in otherwise you're painting is gonna look like it kept this figure. Okay, now that we've finished our sketch, we're ready to start painting. 6. Painting: first layer: in this video, we're going apply our first layer off paint. So I've mixed my paints Great ever lights Ping using a lot of water and just a little bit of pigment. So this collar is just like the one we started with in the warm up exercises. I'm going to start with my rigger brush painting. Very careful of this system. Throats. This painting I'm gonna use may work your brush to paint it the's in for kids contours and my around brush to cover the larger areas Oops on Darren as he So this happens a lot of with me. No problem. If this happens to you, just quickly take a piece of paper towel and absorb it. I could have just added this out, but I decided to keep its to show you that these things happen in watercolor And that's okay. Part of learning watercolor is learning to deal with these tiny little accidents too. No need to panic or to discard your entire painting. I'm right handed, so I'm going to start painting from left to right. What I want to avoid here It's resting my hand on wet paint because I grew into so many paintings this way. But if you're left handed, you should start painting from right to left. Okay, you can see that and contrary. In the sketch, French Hall is leave the space between my paint and the pencil marks, especially in the stamps. The steps are so sand that on extra careful to not cover them entirely, you can see that I've attached to my paper to the table using masking tape. In this case, it just use the masking tape to make sure that I won't move the paper out of camera while I'm painting. But doing this is also a good method to prevent your peeper from working when you're using a lot of water in your technique, the key to minimizing blooms and other imperfections in this first layer is to always keep this small water puddle and keep pulling it around while we paint. This will keep her paint from drying and avoid hard lines with practice. You also paint faster so your paint won't write What as they told you in the warm up exercises. If you're painting has blooms or hard lines, don't worry. The next layers can cover these imperfections and actually blooms canete in nice texture to your painting in the next layers. It will be easier and easier to paint his motor background. You'll see white later. If you end up with these but holding our painting, just take a piece of paper towel and absorb the access water. Otherwise, these puddles will form hard lines, and they also right darker than the rest of your piece, which will be really hard to fix. Our first layer is ready now. We have to wait until it's dry, and in the next video we're going sketch reliefs. 7. Sketching: second layer: Okay, so now we're gonna catch the second layer of leaves to make sure your painting is completely dry before you draw on top of it to see if it's dry. Look at your painting from an angle and see if it's still shining. If it is, this means that you should let it right a little more. Never touch her painting to see if it's already dry, because if it is, you'll ruin it with your fingerprint. In my daily practice, I like toe work in two or three paintings at the same time. This way, you can keep working while await for a painting to dry. Now all we have to do is to add more leave if you're falling my template, Open the file sketch layer two. I decided to draw these leaves a little smaller than the first ones. This will enhance the depth, in fact, because as things get more distant, they appear to be smaller. You can see that I'm throwing on top of the white leaves as if I could see through them. This helps me to draw the leaves accurately and proportionally later. All I have to do is to raise thes marks. Okay, our leaves already. So in the next video, we're gonna fly the second layer of paint 8. Painting: second layer: Now we're gonna keep painting, and this time it will be a little easier. We have more leaves. So now we start having thes isolated areas in the background that we can paint without the worry that the bank will dry too fast and great hard lines or blooms. So I'll bank these isolated areas first and let the bigger areas to paint at the end. This time all makes my pain too great, a slightly darker pink. And the great tip is to always makes more paint than you'll actually need. If you have any leftover paint, you can always reactivate it after it's dry. But if you run out of paint in the middle of your painting, it's gonna be almost impossible to makes the exact same color that you were using before. Now all we have to do is to think like we did in the previous layer, and they're gonna start thinking from left to right again, but this time going to focus only in the isolated areas first, - because they painted the isolated areas first, I broke my own rule off banking from left to right. So now I'm gonna let this part right so I can pick this larger area here without smudging my paint. Now I'm gonna paint this entire area. You can see that I also have a little at the end. But now, instead of using a peeper tell to remove his excess water, I'm gonna using dry brush or what we call thirsty brush. Now, I'm gonna wait for this to dry, and in the next video, we're gonna add the last please. 9. Sketching: final layer: We're almost done with her painting. Just another layer and it's ready so you can see that ever race the pencil marks from the white, please. And now it's the trickiest part because we almost don't have any space left for the last Leaves. But I'm gonna look for blank spaces in my background, and this time my leaves are gonna be even a smaller to enhance that that effect even more. All I have to do here is described like we did before our sketches finished, and we can move to the final layer. 10. Painting: final layer: in this video, we're gonna finally finish her painting. This time we're gonna use a very concentrated collar like the ones we used in the last two rectangles in the warm up exercises. Try not to let the paint to think, though, or your painting. Will it have some glue brush marks at the end? This the last layer. So an extra careful when painting the contours. If you have any cricket Cold War, this is the time to fix it. There's no secret here. I'm just gonna paint following the same process from the previous videos I finished painting and now I'm gonna wait for this to dry, and then I'm gonna race thes Spence hallmarks and it's done. So this is how my painting turned out. I really like the result. And I hope you like to to and remember that we just used one single caller for this project . So I hope it proved to you that you don't need to have all the supplies in the world or be master in color theory to create a beautiful painting. And now I can't wait to see your painting. So shall your protect with me, because I always see in comment on each and every project to post. And if you have any questions or just want to share something with me, feel free to post on the discussion tab below, okay? 11. Thank you! : Congratulations. Your bridge at the end of this course. I can't wait to see your painting. So please share it with me in your project section. It's going toward this course. Please leave a review and follow me in the bottom here or here Or uh it somewhere. But follow me. So you will get notified every time I posting you. Video. And you in your course. So that's it for today by