Watercolors & Masking Fluid Techniques | Sandra Bowers | Skillshare

Watercolors & Masking Fluid Techniques

Sandra Bowers, Illustrator + Surface + Creature Design

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8 Lessons (18m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. Class Project

    • 4. Masks to Create Backgrounds

    • 5. Masks to Protect Details

    • 6. Masks to Create Textures

    • 7. Masks to Create Layering

    • 8. Using the Techniques


About This Class


Hello! In this class I will show you two different tools and four different ways to use making fluid with watercolors to achieve different effects. I´ll also show you the process of creating a finished illustration using these tools and techniques. So join me, and let´s start masking!

Please note that I won´t be teaching how to actually paint with watercolors in this class, just showing you ways that you can use masking fluid with them. If you wish to learn how to paint watercolors, please enrol in my painting classes:

Watercolors for Illustrators 

Watercolor Florals - Orchids

Watercolor Succulents


1. Introduction: Hello, my name is Sandra Bowers, and I'm an illustrator and surface pattern designer. In this class, I will show you two different tools and four different ways to use masking fluid with watercolors to achieve different effects. I'll also show you my process of creating a finished illustration using these tools and techniques. So join me and let's start masking. 2. Supplies: To complete the class project, you will need a color shaper. I love using these to apply the masking fluid. They have flexible Point and they clean up really easily. This is optional though, you can also use a nib pen. Here I'm using a 707, but you can use any one you prefer. I prefer just using it for little details and not for big areas. You could also use an old brush, if you want, but generally masking fluid will ruin your brush. You also need masking fluid of any brand. I like the blue ones, because you can see where you've put them. You also need a brush and watercolors, a paper towel, and a sketch on watercolor paper. Sometimes the masking fluid sticks still much on certain papers, so test them before making a big painting. Hard paper works really well with this. You will also need an eraser to erase your sketch. 3. Class Project: For this class you will create a finished illustration using at least two of the different techniques I show you on how to use masking fluid with watercolors. Feel free to use any tool you want and to draw any subject you prefer. On my project, I use three of the techniques. Keep watching and I'll show you how I did it. Remember to post your project in the Project Gallery so we can all see it. Also, feel free to ask any questions that you have. 4. Masks to Create Backgrounds: The first technique is used to mask large areas so that it's easier to paint the background around them. Some artists use this technique in very large areas but I prefer to use it for smaller things, like the text on my project illustration. Dip the color shaper in the masking fluid just a bit so that it doesn't drip off, and start to spread it around your shapes softly. Here, I'll mask a heart. Make sure you cover all the surface. Try not to go over areas that you have already covered because this starts to dry quickly, [inaudible]. You'll know it's dry when it becomes very shiny like a plastic. Once it's dry, use water colors to paint the background. This is very useful when you need to paint backgrounds and don't want to go into very detail areas of your illustration. Once your water color is really dry, you can start peeling off the mask. You can do it with another color shaper, with an eraser or with your finger, and this is how it looks. 5. Masks to Protect Details: Over time, the masking fluid dries in your tool so you need to remove it. I like color shapers because you can just scrape it off and then put them in water and dry it with paper towel and they're clean. Brushes are harder to clean. Since I'm going to make tiny details, I'll use my nib pen. Fill it up to the middle only. If you have never used one, I recommend watching my Skillshare class, Pen and Ink Florals, where I go into a bit more detail about using a nib pen. Since masking fluid is much thicker than ink, you're going to have to press a bit harder to make it flow. Make sure that each line is complete and go back in to fill any gaps you left. It easier if the lines are always going downwards, so I keep rotating my paper to make it easier. Once that's dry, I'll use watercolors to paint the background of my little building, avoiding going inside the windows. Now, I can paint the windows without having to wait for the outside to dry because they are protected by the masking line and they won't mix. When all that's dry, I can start pilling it off. I like how it gives a very cool effect because the lines that are left quite are very thin and delicate. 6. Masks to Create Textures: You can also use a masking fluid to add textures to your art. I'm going to show you some. These are just little dots. Here, I'm just spreading it randomly, dragging the color shaper around so that it's uneven. In this one, I'm making quick swirls, and here I'm making a cross-hatching pattern. For this, you need to make sure you don't have too much on your dip. You can rub it against the border or just dab it once in a scrap of paper or paper towel before using it on your illustration. Once it's dry, you can paint over it. I'm using a bigger brush to go around it faster. Once the watercolor is dry, we can rub it off. These look very cool, especially when you use dark water colors on a white ground. 7. Masks to Create Layering: For this technique, we start with a base layer. This should be a light color. Now we add the texture mask to some of the places we want to mask off. I'm making falling leaves here. I'll make one with the nib pen too so that you can see how it looks. Once those are dry, I'm going to paint over the whole area with a darker color. It can also be a different color, so I'm making it green. Once a watercolor is dry, we're going to create another layer and add masking fluid to some other leaves. When those are dry, we will add a much darker shade of watercolor over all the area. The darker you make the last shade, the more visible the effects of the layering. You can create more layers. Just make sure that your paper is thick enough to take the amount of water and the layers. Once the paint is really dry, we can rub the masking fluid off. Here you can see the two differentiates; the light blue and the light green. You can also make it more obvious if you vary the shades more. 8. Using the Techniques: Now I'm going to show you how I incorporate these techniques into a complete illustration. First, I'll mask up the areas that I want to keep white until the end, so I'll make these dots all over the background. I want the lettering to be left white also, so I'm going to mask it off. I use a paper towel so that the tip is not too full and my letters are not too thick. If these were thinner, I'd use the nib pen. Here, I smudged a dot. To correct it, you just let it dry and rub it off very well. Then, you can just reapply it. Now I'll mask the stems so that I don't paint over them when I'm painting my flowers or the background. For the very thin lines, I'm going to use my nib pen. I'm going to paint the base of my background before starting to add the masking fluid for the layering effect, so I'll use a light blue. I'll go around the whole background making sure my edges don't dry up so that I don't get a very noticeable edge. Now, I'll paint the bushes. I'll start off with a light pink to build up on it later. After the background is completely dry, I can start adding the first layer of leaves. While that dries, I'll paint another layer of pink. Now that the masking fluid is dry, I'll add a darker shade of watercolor. I'll make this a bit more indigo to create contrasts in thorns. Here, my edge's dried up, so I'll add more paint, then go over it several times so that the translation is softer. I'll add a third layer of pink. The background is dry, so I can add my second layer of leaves now. My last layer is going to be a very dark blue with some violet mixed in. Since it's my last layer, I'll make sure that the edges are nice and clean so I'll go round the small details with a thin brush. I can start peeling off the masking fluid that's in the pink area because that's ready. I like taking it off as soon as I can, because the more you leave it in, the more it sticks to your paper. Make sure never to leave in more than 24 hours or you'll definitely ruin your paper. After I remove the masking, I can erase my sketch lines too. Now I can remove the masking fluid from my leaves. I'm going to paint the flowers. If you want to learn how I paint watercolors, you can check out my Skillshare class, Watercolors for Illustrators. I have removed all the masking fluid now, and I will start painting the character. I'm going to add some fine details. Here, you could add some textures with the masking if you wanted, but I'm going to make them with the brush. I'll add more details here. Now, I will erase all the sketch lines. Finally, I will add some detail with gold paint and a black pen. That's it. This is the finished painting. There are so many things you can do with masking fluid. You just need to let your creativity flow. Remember to check out my other Skillshare classes, and I'll see you soon. I hope you enjoyed the class. Bye.