Watercolor for Beginners | Elena Fay | Skillshare

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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

10 Lessons (43m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Art Supplies

    • 3. Brushes

    • 4. Basics of Color Theory

    • 5. Color Wheel

    • 6. Play with Water

    • 7. Mixing Colors

    • 8. Blending Techniques

    • 9. Fun Project / Dipping Technique

    • 10. Final project

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About This Class


Hi everyone!

Welcome to my new watercolor class for beginners!

In this class, we’ll start with a basic introduction of watercolor tools. I’ll walk you through the color theory, and how to create, blend and shape colors with brush strokes. Then you’ll put it all into action by creating your own dreamy watercolor painting.

Art materials that I used in this class:

Paper: Fabriano hot press, Fluid hot press

da Vinci Watercolor Brush

Round Brush

Mijello Mission Gold Watercolors

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Elena Fay

Watercolor Artist & Fashion Illustrator


Hi everyone, welcome to my creative playground:)

I'm a self-taught fashion illustrator, dreamer and explorer.

I started my blog in March, 2012 to share my passion for art and fashion. Over the years this space evolved and became a creative outlet to share things I love, my inspiration and everything creative.

Creating art for individual clients and big brands is a dream come true because every day I can play with my favorite paints and call it a job!

Creating is my biggest passion and I'm so excited that I can share and inspire you to create as well! I hope you enjoy my classes and have fun making some colorful mess!

You can find me on

Instagram / Blog / Pinterest

And subscribe to my blog for freebies and fun updates.

See full profile

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1. Intro: Hi, Emily in the fleet, especially people straight them workout artists and creative off in the way that what a color has always been my favorite medium to work with. Some of the things I love about watercolor is how fluid, versatile and sometimes unpredictable it is. There are many ways to use water colors. It can be intimidating at the beginning, but with some tips. Intrigues. You understand how to work with this medium. How to use different rushes, create our layers and textures and also makes it was different. Medium. This is a great beginner's class because we're going to cover a lot of different things. We'll go through basic color theory. Color mixing. You will learn how to use your brushes, and we'll cover different techniques, such as blending and dipping. By the end of the class, you'll be able to create your own beautiful watercolor illustration and most importantly, aren't you creative confidence If you never held the brush in your life, don't worry. I will show you fund and simple techniques that will make you to fall in love with water colors. And if you're not the beginner, but he want to improve your skills you are in the right place I get with show. You have to put a unique twist, your water quality illustrations. So get your breakfast waiting and let's go This 2. Art Supplies: before we get started, I want to know. Sure, you have everything we need. This may look like a lot of art supplies, but we're not gonna use everything that you see on my table. First, I want to show you the variety of forage materials, and then we'll get back to the basics that we need for this class. We'll need what color paper. What her pains happens can be in soups or pan set different brushes to jurors, off water, paper, toe and color palette. So let's start with paper. There are a lot of different types and brands off the paper out there, and these three brands are my favorite. It's fluid for Briana and Arches comparing two arches. A fluid and Fabbiano are more affordable, and the quality off the paper is still amazing. So if you don't want to spend too much money on your art supplies, I would recommend thes two brands. Also, when you go shop for the paper by a cash into little labels like this one and what it says on the cover of the paper in general, um, I have this too hot press fluid. What I call a pads and when we touch the paper, it feels pretty much the same. But when you start working with watercolors, you will see the difference. The paper that is 100% cotton absorbs water much better than this one. Here I have two types of what a color paper, hot press and cold press. Hot cross is very smooth, and it's great for illustrations where you need to add a little details and cold press is Ralph. It has some kind of texture, so this type of paper is great for less capes, florals or abstract work. When I paint, I don't use a lot of border, but when I do, I love working with watercolor blocks like this one. You can see that all the pages are kinda collude, and this go layer protects each page from boxing. So when your artwork drives, um, it stays nice and flat. To separate the ships, I use palette, knife, credit card, the warm bone folder, and now let's talk about what a color, please. My favorite Browned is Majella Mission Gold Office pains calm in tubes on, and I just with them on my palette when I need to reveal it and when the Charles it looks just like a ban set. If you never used water colors before, I recommend getting a pan set, so it will be a little bit easier at the beginning. And if you love painting while you travel, this travel set by Winsor and Newton is a great option. It has a little water container, tiny brush and a little plane pallets where you can makes your pains when it comes to brushes. Over the years, I've tried different brands and sizes just like paper and pains, and I found a few favorites that I use all the time and other brushes I use from project to project when I really need them. So while you practice, you will find your favorites as well. That will be perfect for your art style. To meet. The perfect brush is a brush that is a versatile, the one that can make from very seen lines to think and reach brushstrokes. So these two brushes are really loved and used them all the time. But again, it depends on your style. If you love painting abstract work, so maybe big round brush would be better choice for you so to start working with watercolors. We're gonna need watercolor paper, Spain's brushes to a job as a water and pained ballot, and that's all you need for this class. 3. Brushes: when it comes to brush is there is a very big variety of sizes, shapes and are types of the brush here. And it may be really overwhelming when it comes to choosing the right one. When did you starting off his watercolors? Having the right tools can make your job a lot easier so that this cost of the brushes that I have here, for example, this angle brush is perfect for strayed Ages. What I like about this brush is you can make very thin lies with one side and very fix. Chokes are with the full body off the brush. When I buy new brush, our usual play around and paint the whole page with it so I can see how versatile it is, how much water can it hold and what kind of lives can make another great brush? And one of my favorite is a round brush. Ah, this one has very fine seep, which is perfect for small details. When you hold your brush like this towards the ceiling, you get very seen lines. But when you put some pressure and the whole belly off the brush touches the paper, get her thick on smooth lines, So I'm just gonna play around and see what kind of lines can they make with this brush? Working with watercolor requires the use of water, and nice brush should be able to hold a good amount of paint and water in its belly and then give it back to the paper when you paint. That's why acrylic and oil brushes are not good for working with watercolor paint, because those brushes did not hold water. So don't try to paint with them because you'll be quite disappointed with the result. Another great brush is a fan brush, and you can make very interesting texture and pattern with it. But I would rely on it as on a daily basis. Stole it. Just a great addition to your collection. Be precious like this. One are great for painting landscape, for example, when you need to paint sky also for backgrounds and big watercolour washes. And finally, my absolutely favorite mop brush. This brush is made off red sable hair. It can hold really good amount off paint and water has very fine seep, which is perfect for small details, and I can paint with his brush all day every day. So this is my choice. Number one. It's great to have different shapes of the brushes, but depending on your style, you go need only a few that you're going to use on a daily basis. Instead of buying all the brushes in our store, just get two or three brushes. Experiment with them. Try to see the full potential each brush and you will find your favorite. Your brush is just a tool in your hands. The perfect brush for you is the brush that creates the lines or strokes that you like and also the brush that feels good in your hands. Make his brothers. It was watercolor is really fun and easy. Just gently tap on the brush and the points brothers will make your painting more interesting and dynamic. 4. Basics of Color Theory: when you're just starting out, it's important to know the colors that he working with. So let's start with the basics. I have a colorable here I look splitting how to use it on. We're going to create our own because it's great to have it as a reference. So we have three primary colors red, yellow and blue, and you can't get this third colors by nix in any other colors. But by mixing them together in different proportions and adding different tomorrow, the water you can get all the colors he want. If he makes two primary colors, you will get the secondary color by mixing red and yellow. Get orange by mixing blue and yellow. You get green, and by mixing blue and red, we get violet. We also have tertiary colors, so if you makes secondary and primary color, you will get one in between. So, for example, if you mix orange and yellow, he will get yellow orange. If you makes orange and red, you will get red orange so it will be like closer to the primary, and you can just continue mixing so it applies to the rest of the colors, colors that are located across each other on the color wheel are contrasting colors on complementary colors. What it means of these collars are complete opposite, for example, that there is no red within the mix of green or there is no below within the mix off orange . It's great to remember because these contrast in collars or complementary colors they complement each other. If you put two complementary colors next to each other, for example, yellow and purple eagle silvery strong contrast and the colors will stand out so complementary colors bring the most of each other. But when you mix them together, they kind of neutralize each other so you'll get brownish or greyish neutral shades. Don't be afraid to experiment with complementary colors because he can get very nice grayish and brownish shades. At the beginning, When I didn't know this trick, I would add black paint to my color mix to get raised collars, and it looks OK while the paint is about. But when the dries, it just looks very Marty. And to find a warm and cool colors, you can do this trick by putting your hand next to yellow so collars on one side will be warm and colors on the other side are cool colors 5. Color Wheel: this color bill was made with only three colors, and the knowledge of mixing primary colors can really save you some money. You can get on the three tubes off nice beings and mix all the colors you want, and you don't have to spend a lot of money on expensive plane sense. So let's play with primary colors and create our own color wheel. I have a circle here on on this circle. We're gonna find 12 sections for our primary secondary and tertiary colors. Let's find the center of the circle. Draw a dynamic there and instead of trying to divide the circle into 12 sections on, is gonna divide this part in six. And now I will draw more diameters by connecting. This marks with the center of the circle. I will raise a small circle in the middle, but you can live it like this. It's not really important. Also, I'm gonna put numbers from 1 to 12 so it's easy to navigate, and now it looks like lock. And now I'm gonna take my primary colors and screws them on the color palette. When you worked with pains, use clean, cold water because of warm and especially hot water will ruin. The Abrash is one of the primary colors. It will be right on top. I'm going to start with yellow yet a good amount of pigment and just start painting in this little segment. And now I will paint red and blue. So now I'm gonna mix yellow Internet in the same proportions. And if you feel that you took one pigment more than another, don't be afraid to mix it up a another pigment or at some water. Now, to this mix of orange, I will add just a little bit off our yellow pigment and we'll get yellow orange color and it will be our tour share color. And by adding red pigment to this orange, I will get red orange, and it will also be your tertiary color. And now I'm gonna do the same steps by mixing yellow is blue and then blew. It was a red. Clean water is very important because if you worries, muddy colors will lose this tightness. And the artwork will be Marty as a ball. And the one more teeth are about working with your paint palette. Before you start painting, dip your brush and gag very good amount of water and added directly to the plains. It will wake up the pigment and paint will be fluid. Don't try to deep your brush in the dry pains because it will ruin your brushes. Well, working with watercolors, just remember that water is your best friend. When we see a paint battle like this funk, you can easily remove it with paper towel or your brush. I actually love how it looks around pedals like this dry, and you can see it on my yellow green. But sometimes you need your paint toe look even, and in this case, just use paper, towel or brush. And here you have a your collar will that will help you to find complementary colors, colors that have cool and warm tones. It will also great to have it as a reference so you can find colors that look really balanced together. 6. Play with Water: And now we're gonna do a very quick exercise where you will see how you can create different shades by using just a little bit of for I'm going to dip my brush in clean water , add a few drops to the paint so it's more fluid right now. And now I get very good amount of pigment. You can see that the first brush choke eyes, very pure bride collar. And now I'm gonna deep the brush in the border. I'm not gonna ruins the pigment just deep it very quickly and then go back to the page and do another stroke. And I'm gonna do the same step just dipping the brushes water, not raising the pigment many, many times until you see that there are still some pigment on the brush. Now I will try doing the same, but with another color. And now we got the gradient from very bright OPEC color to very light and chancellors and color. And what I love about what a collar is home logical it is. I mean, you don't need Teoh. Mix it with white collar or any other colors. Just had a few drops of water and you will get beautiful, radiant. The first brushstroke is very deep and bright, and now I will continue adding some more water to get very light and delicate shades. It's one off the easiest exercises, but it will really help you to understand how protocol works. 7. Mixing Colors: the best way to get started with watercolor and get more comfortable working with it is the test. Your pains means different colors, creates watches and see how different pigments are work together. As I mentioned before, you don't really need a lot of colors of my pilot. I squeezed primary colors, I hope paint them on top of the page, and next you will see how they will play together. Let's start with blue and yellow, and now I'm gonna makes them together in different proportions. Next, I will play with the red and yellow, and I want to see how they played together in different proportions and different amounts of water. You'll be really surprised by the rights of colors that you can get by mixing on the to. You can mix colors on the palette and directly on paper. - I will do the same right than blow, and you can see that there are so many variations you can come up with. So what their command you to do is make some colors play around. Don't be afraid to experiment 8. Blending Techniques : in this exercise will try landing and depend technique once again. Don't be afraid, Teoh. Make a mass of your paper experiment and don't over think it. Just play with your callers and see how they play together. First, I e did my brush in the border get a lot of pigment and paint on dry paper so you can see that Beekman doesn't go where there's no water. Now I'm gonna quit my brush and while they're still water on the brush, I will put another stroke and you can see that pigments from the previous chokes followed with brush and further I pull away. It gets lighter and lighter and the gray dont get by. Adding some water is really beautiful. And next, instead of using Queen Brash, I'm going to use different color, and he will see how they will play together so you can see how two different colors bleed into each other and it's like a little explosion. And when the plane tries, it's gonna look very nice. I added a few strokes with a clean brush, and you can see how the pigment just flows around in a puddle of water. Now I will be in some circles and let them touch on Lee at the end, and you will see this little explosion again. You when you blend colors this way, sometimes it's hard to predict and control what's gonna happen because colors just way together. But the general rule is the seeker your color, the more pigmented has, and it's gonna push away another color. For example. Here I added more yellow color first, and it pushes green color away. But if I did my brush and get more green color, it gets stronger and pushes yellow away. It's a pure joy to which I would call it flows in the paper and creates this amazing texture with tries. Another fan technique is dipping its about. You get a good amount of pigment and dip your brush on the bed surface so you can see how pain spreads around on. Create this beautiful impact 9. Fun Project / Dipping Technique: I have a very fun exercise for you and you're gonna create these Kiwi Cleo cats. I'm gonna use cold press paper. It's not as smooth as ah hot press. It has some texture. And it's great to use cold press when you don't want water to breed a lot. First thing you want to do is to get clean water and clean brush. I'm gonna take my brush in border and without any collar and pigment, I will paint a shape off, get just with a bad crash For this exercise, I would recommend a round rash is a very fine t so he can make very tiny details like this one and I will continue deep in the brush in the border. And I want to finish the shape as fast as possible because if it dries, the big wind is not gonna explode. And if you feel that shape is already try, just add a few drops of water somewhere in the middle and it goes spread around. Now I'm gonna get some paint and slightly attaching this red surface with a brush, and we can see how pigment just explodes. And as I mentioned before the collar doesn't go where there's no water, so the pigment will stay in between the shape. I really love this about on bad technique because you can't really control the pain, and it's always surprised what it's gonna look like at the end. And also when the painting Jai's it's gonna have, like very soft and delicate edges and interesting texture. Now you can try adding more than just bomb collar. I would go with lead first and adding dark at the end. - For tiny details like whiskers, you can use other handle off crash after some practice. I'm sure you will love this technique, and he can try creating different shapes using different colors, and I would love to see what you come up with. 10. Final project: Now you know all the basics about the working with wear collars. You know how to make your callers stand out. So let's have fun and create colorful illustration together. I have a reference of beautiful flower crown and they're gonna create this photo before you start painting or sketching with the pencil. Think off where you want your composition to be on the page. So, for example, I want to exaggerate the floral design and I believe most most space at the top. Then at the bottom for this project, I would recommend working on the bigger size paper. So you have some room to work with Explorer and play with the A brushes and you don't have to squeeze the flowers on a tiny paper when you work with watercolors all of a stark like so for the skin tone, I mixed very light color, and I will applied first and then I will be just adding more layers is dark colors with some darker shadows around the eyes, under the nose and under the chin. If you are not sure what part of the face is lighter and what part is darker, just look at the reference and you will see the shadows. Sometimes I take my brush and kind of outline these areas, and then I will know over there to put those shadows on my illustration. The purpose of this video is not creating a realistic portrait or detailed, realistic flowers. What I want you to do is just do it go. Don't be afraid off mixing colors at some colorful splashes and just have fun. He can find this photo and more photos with beautiful floral designs on my Pinterest, and I will put dealing in the class description. If you feel confident you can paint with watercolor without passes cage. But I want to show you how I usually tell my illustrations so you can see step by step. If you are interested in learning how to draw face, please check out my previous class and you will find all the tutorials there when the first light layer is. Try my ed more color. And if you feel that this joke is too dark or too harsh, just Lindsey a brush in the clean water and go over with a clean brush or with his dark spot so it will pick up most of the pigment and will make the ages software way. Now let's be in some here. Try to make different brush strokes so it looks interesting and very expressive. - Add some darker strokes to create the contrast. - And now the best part of the flower crowns I started. We're light in some areas. I only weight with water, and then I will be getting more and more color. You can see that first, I created the outline off the flower by using just clean water. Then I dip my brush, got some pigment and gently touches outline, and you can see how caller just spreads around, creating beautiful effect. It's really important to remember that what coloring is best known through childs and arrows and a lot of experimentation. After some practice evil. Develop your own style. He will find your favorite supplies technique, even your favorite color combinations. My advice to you is just experiment and enjoy the process. I start with bigger flowers, and later I will add small flowers, little leaves so the peace will look on balanced and farm way way. - I didn't really add any details to the flowers, but what made some flowers to stand out is the combination of complementary colors way. I hope I convinced you that what color is a pure magic and it's a real joy to work with this medium. I also hope that I inspired you to grab your planes and brushes and make somewhat a columnist. Please share your work. I would love to see what you created with water colors.