Watercolour 101 - A Beginners Guide to Watercolours | Denise Comeau | Skillshare

Watercolour 101 - A Beginners Guide to Watercolours

Denise Comeau, Painter . Printmaker

Watercolour 101 - A Beginners Guide to Watercolours

Denise Comeau, Painter . Printmaker

Play Speed
  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x
10 Lessons (32m)
    • 1. Watercolour 101 intro

    • 2. PAINTS

    • 3. Brushes

    • 4. Paper

    • 5. Dry paper brush control

    • 6. Wet on wet

    • 7. Masking gum + gouache

    • 8. Inktense blocks

    • 9. class project watermelon

    • 10. Final thoughts

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels
  • Beg/Int level
  • Int/Adv level

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

You would like paint with watercolours?

You’re interested but don’t know where to start?

You’ve heard it’s a difficult medium. Is that right?

Well look no further, this course contains all the information you need from purchasing your supplies up to and including getting that gorgeous colour flowing from your brush onto that beautiful watercolour paper.

Watercolours are so luminous and I will show you how to start.

From here you’ll be able to follow all my other classes, no worries.

Once you finish this class you’ll be equipped with all the information you need and, as my registered student or follower, if you have any questions at all just shoot me a message, I’ll be glad to answer.

Painting with watercolours, this is where you should start.

With that said let’s get started!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Denise Comeau

Painter . Printmaker


Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • Exceeded!
  • Yes
  • Somewhat
  • Not really
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Your creative journey starts here.

  • Unlimited access to every class
  • Supportive online creative community
  • Learn offline with Skillshare’s app

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.



1. Watercolour 101 intro: Hi, I'm Denise. I've been told you'd like to paint with watercolors. You're interested, but you don't know where to start. You've heard it's a difficult medium. Is that right? Well, look no further. This course contains all the information you'll need from purchasing your supplies up to and including getting that gorgeous color flowing from your brush onto that beautiful watercolor paper. Watercolors are so luminous and I will show you how. From here, you'll be able to follow all my other classes. No worries. Once you finish this class, you'll be equipped with all the information you need. And as my registered student or follower, if you have any questions at all, just shoot me a message. I'll be glad to answer. Painting with watercolors. This is where you should start. That said, let's get started. Okay. 2. PAINTS: Let's start by talking paints. You can buy watercolor paints in tubes or pans. Pans are very convenient if you wish to paint outside. This is a personal preference and you will figure that out for yourself eventually. I find that the pans are small when I need to get a large brush loaded with color. But I myself have a tendency of painting on large pieces of paper. If you prefer painting small sizes, then maybe the parents would be best for you. That will be for you to decide. This is my little palette of Penn watercolors for when I wish to do small works on the go, I just throw it in my purse. You can purchase student quality paints or artists quality paints depending on the price. I strongly suggest that you go straight for the artist's quality. They are more expensive, but go a lot further. With artist quality, paint should get darker, richer colors. To student paints have fillers in them. They are a lot chunkier and tend to break off of your palette. While the artist's quality ones remain tacky. You can start with a few color choices. Possibly the tree that you see here, or you can go for, let's say one permanent rose, one blue, ultramarine, and eliminate yellow. That would be nice to start with. And every now and then go out and purchase and extra tube of color. By mixing the three primary colors, you can come up with a variety of new colors. There are quite a few choices as far as brands. Then you'll Smith, Winsor, Newton, since LEA to name but a few. What my paint of choice is Holbein, not because I think they are better. I liked them because I know them. It's what I've always used. And a bit of a creature of habit, I guess. My personal preference is watercolour in tubes and I squeeze them out in a palette. So what works for me? I have a Robert, what's palette that has 24 deep wells. But you can use a white plate or platter to start. Don't go out and spend too much money till you are sure you want to continue working with watercolors. I start by squirting water in my palette to activate my colors, and I'm ready to go. I have a Rich palate of beautiful, tacky watercolors that are ready to take me in any direction. 3. Brushes: Let's look at brushes. You can easily tell the difference between oil or watercolor brushes simply by the length of the handle. Watercolor brushes have shorter handles and have softer bristles that are made to hold large amounts of water. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Rounds, squares, rigors or liners, and ovals. Every one of these serve a different purpose. When painting with watercolors, you have to think of it as painting with colored water. And that is why your brush is designed to hold lots of water. The trick to watercolors is controlling the right amount of water and the right amount of paint or pigment on your brush. It's not easy, but it's certainly not an insurmountable. It requires time, dedication, and discipline. I was told that once I would have painted 500 paintings, I would start stirring the technique that about sums it up. But don't despair. I will guide you through it. As far as what brand. There are many as well. I've always used the synthetic brushes rather than the very expensive sable brushes. Although some watercolors swear by them. I've never wanted to put that kind of money into brush. So I can't speak as to how well they work. The cheaper synthetic brushes have served me well. When you go out and buy your first brushes for watercolor, I'd recommend three round brushes, maybe one small, but three or four. A medium, 56, 57, and a large 12-13, give or take. Because of their versatility. There'll be all you need in the beginning. And every now and then, you can go out and pick a new brush. Only you'll be able to decide what sizes you would need as you progress. And nonetheless, note, your Russia's need to be taken care of and they will last a long, long time. Every now and then, you can give them a good cleaning with soap and water. But never, never, never let them stand in water and always dry them flat. 4. Paper: Let's talk about paper. Today we want to color. You need to use a lot of water, of course. So this means you'll need to buy watercolor paper. Makes sense. If you use sketchbook paper or printer paper, it will just not work. Neither paper that can absorb water and lots of it. On a side note, your painting may buckle once it dries, but there is an easy fix for this. Simply put the painting upside down and slightly damp in the back with a square root of water. Then put a heavy book or rather flat object over it overnight and it will come out flat. Water vapor comes in, hug breast, cold pressed and rough. Hot press to smooth like Bristol paper or printed paper. My personal favorite. And rough hasn't even to thier texture, cold press is like an in-between. I would suggest you start out with cold press paper. You can even start with block, and that way you will not have any trouble with your paper buckling. You can experiment more once you've comfortable with the medium. We all have different styles and technique. And over time, only you'll be able to tell what kind of paper you prefer. 5. Dry paper brush control: For this first project, you'll be working on dry paper. This will be in order to practice brush control. Check that your tools are handy. If you're right-handed, usually you'll have these to your right and vice versa. If you're a lefty, I'll be using a number for round brush for this, a five by seven rough Fabriano watercolor pad. But like I said previously, use what you have and you'll be fine. For this first exercise, we'll start out with a simple shape. I usually get my students to start by tracing a small pair of scissors. Trace them out on your pad with your pencil. Once you've done that, activate your paints with a spray of water. This will work whether you have a pallet or a plate, no matter. This assures that every color that you'll be using will be ready for you. When you want to apply that certain color to your paper. Load your brush with water and paint any color. Remember this is an exercise. Now, think of this as pushing a puddle of colored water around. The color has to flow without struggle. Like water would. It's basically colored water. Reload your brushed. Often. Repeat the same thing for the handle of the scissors. Here I'm using a little bit of purple and a little bit of pink. But again, use whatever you have on hand. At this point in time, color is non-important. Same idea as before. Think of it as pushing a puddle of water around. Remember to reload often. And let's say you've just created your very first watercolor. 6. Wet on wet: In this video, we'll be working on wet paper and you will be able to quickly see the difference. In the previous video, we worked on dry paper, giving us hard edges. So again, draw out your shape. Check your tools are ready and activate your paints, which are squirt bottle. But also this time we are going to squirt our paper with water before we start. That said, it does not have to be completely covered. The squirt bottle allows for little DR. spots on the paper that adds interesting little details. This will come with practice as to how you can maximize the benefits of this. Start the painting the same as we did before. Again, using any color. If you find that you have too much water as I do here, you can remove some with your brush or also bloated with a tissue or paper towel to remove the excess. Work your way around and don't worry about it running. This is one of the best carries characteristics of watercolor. Again, plot the extra water if you feel the need to. And as you apply color, also be aware that watercolors dry, 20% lighter. Therefore, don't be afraid to go to dark. Now's a good time to take a break and let it dry while it does its magic. Or if you're like me and want to keep going, just take a hair dryer to it. But important point is that when you apply another layer of color, be sure the previous one is 100% dry. This is very important. Go ahead and add some details. Reload color often. Have fun with this. So now we have dry paper. Therefore, we will have dry edges or hard edges, but the two layers blend really well together. And there you have it. Your second watercolor, applying two different techniques. 7. Masking gum + gouache: As you probably figured out by now, if you want to have some whitespaces in your work, you have to either paint around it or use a masking fluid when painting a watercolors. Every now and then, I will use some of paid quash that is an opaque white, but very rarely, I may use it to do little white flowers. Like in this field of wild flowers. You can see this being done in my class, paint a field of wildflowers in watercolor. But I would say 99% of the time the paper is lift white. Well, R sh is only used as a last resort. There are many brands of masking tool it up there, but the one that I prefer is PBL masking Gulf. I've tried different brands, but I always come back to the conclusion that if i ruined my brushes when the masking fluids fluid dries on them. When using the masking fluid, what your brush and then dip it into the bottle. Rinse out your brush often so you don't allow it to dry. Do so often and you'll be okay. Procedure your painting. And after it is completely drive, the last king is removed and voila, it's like magic. Okay. 8. Inktense blocks: What a color 101. Working with ink tense blocks. If you are just turning out and are just purchasing your supplies, then these are in no way necessary. I've only discovered these in the last year or so, but I enjoy them so much that I've decided to share them with you. And I'll let you decide whether or not they are worth the expense for you. At this time. I start out by activating my watercolors on my robert wood palette. I also with my paper, with my squirt bottle. You'll notice here that I'm wearing a latex glove. I do this because the ink tends block stain my fingers when they're wet and we have to be careful with certain pigments getting on our skin. I just prefer to be on the safe side. Start by adding color onto your paper. I've chosen a floral shape, but go ahead with any shape or color you wish. Remember, this is an exercise in market-making. So try to have fun with it. Now choose one of your color blocks and start making marks into your color shape. Have fun with this. Stay loose. Don't try to follow the outlines quite the opposite. Having wet the paper will allow you to make marks with the dry block. But as well, you can dip the color block into the water and you'll see how intense the color gets when water is added. You can, of course, go back over these with the watercolor brush and vice versa. The possibilities are endless. Isn't that just beautiful? So just run with it. Explore. Try different colors. For variety is the spice of life. But least of all, don't be afraid to experiment. Ink tends blocks by Darwin's. I'll let you be the judge. 9. class project watermelon: For the class project, I will show you how to paint this cute little water mountains slice. So not complicated. Just follow along. You can stop the video or slow it down and paint along with me. Let's give it a try. Okay. Okay. I 10. Final thoughts: I certainly hope you've enjoyed this class as much as I've enjoyed putting it together for you. I will be adding little extra videos when I think of something that could be of benefit to you. That said, if there's something that you'd like me to show, you, simply leave me a message and I'll try my best. Watercolour is a beautiful medium. I started painting with a 35 years ago when I started my family. It was the ease of it that I appreciated. There is hardly any clean up and you don't need a huge space. Although I do large oils and abstract and some printmaking, I truly believe watercolor will remain my favorite medium. You'll will get out of it what you put in it. But please don't give up. At 1. You will pass a tipping point. And I assure you you'll fall in love with it as well.