Watercolour Greenery Part 1: How to Mix Greens | Sharone Stevens | Skillshare

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Watercolour Greenery Part 1: How to Mix Greens

teacher avatar Sharone Stevens, Watercolour, Illustration & Lettering

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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

6 Lessons (42m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Colour Theory

    • 3. Experimenting (Part 1)

    • 4. Experimenting (Part 2)

    • 5. Colour charts

    • 6. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

This class is part 1 of my series on watercolour greenery. It will focus on how to mix a variety greens with your palette, allowing you to add movement, depth and dimension to your work.

We will start by looking at colour theory, so we understand how to make different greens, covering the basics of colour theory, hue, chroma, value and pigment characteristics that can affect the appearance of our greens. We will then start experimenting with our palettes - making warm, cool and the more neutral realistic greens that we see in nature. Finally we will look at how to make colour charts which you can use as a really useful reference guide for your future work.


The class is aimed at beginners to watercolour or anyone that wants to know a bit more about how to mix their greens, and is a great foundation for people wanting to know more about botanical painting, which we will be looking at in the rest of the series. I hope you find it useful and enjoy experimenting with your palettes!

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Sharone Stevens

Watercolour, Illustration & Lettering

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I'm Sharone - a watercolour artist, illustrator and modern calligrapher. Welcome to my little corner of Skillshare, I'm so glad you're here!

My biggest passions in life are creating beautiful artwork and lettering...and sharing all of my knowledge with you so you can do the same! 

I find painting and lettering to be both fun and also incredibly therapeutic, allowing me to calm my mind by focusing on each pen or brush stroke. And throughout my classes I hope to share that with you. Most of my classes are in real time so you can paint right along with me as I explain exactly what I'm doing and give you tips to help you progress.

I'm always learning myself and welcome any feedback and suggestions for future classes and would love to ... See full profile

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1. Intro: Hi, everyone. I'm Sharon, from Sharon Steven's Design. I'm a watercolor artist illustrator and modern calligrapher. This class is all about how to mix your greens in watercolor. It is part one of my series in Watercolor Greenery, and it's aimed at anyone who just wants to know a little bit more about how to mix your greens, from beginners to more experienced watercolorists. To start with, we'll spend a little bit of time talking about color theory, so we understand why different combinations of colors make different greens. Including how to make them more realistic greens that we see in nature. Then, we'll take some time to experiment with the greens in our palettes. Finally, we'll look at creating color charts. I'll show you how to make a comprehensive chart, based on pigment ratios, which you can use as a really useful reference guide for your future work. I hope you're excited about this class and you'll find it really useful. Grab your supplies and let us start looking at these greens. 2. Colour Theory: Hi everyone. In this video we'll be talking about color theory. We understand the mixing that we'll be doing. We'll start by covering some of the basics of color theory, then we'll look at how hue, chroma and value can affect the color of our grains. Finally we'll look at pigment characteristics that can affect the appearance of our grains, including granulation and transparency. You don't need your supplies for this video, we'll be putting this theory into practice in the next lesson. Put your feet up, relax and just take it all in. First let's cover the basics. Let's start by looking at the color wheel. We have our three primary colors, red, blue, and yellow. They make up our three secondary colors, orange, violet, and green. If we draw a line down the center of this wheel, the circle divides into warm and cool colors. With the warm colors centered around the reds and oranges, and the cooler colors centered around the blues and greens. Now colors directly opposite each other on the color wheel are called complimentary colors. When these colors stand next to each other, they have the most contrast and make each other more vibrant. But when they are mixed together, they have a neutralizing effect. They darken each other and they take away some of that vibrancy and moves a colored towards a brown or gray. Now let's look at these colors in terms of water color paints. According to Winsor and Newton, the three primary colors are permanent rose, Winsor lemon, and Winsor blue, because they're the best and mixing up a variety of colors. If you only have three colors in your palette, this is what they recommend. With these, you can make the three secondary colors and all the colors in between. A quick side note here, if you're using the [inaudible] range of Winsor and Newton, then these primary colors vary and you can check these out on their website. Now let's look at hue. Hue is a distinction between colors positioned around the color wheel. Also known as color bias, which describes how a color leans towards one of the colors on the color wheel. Another way that this color bias is talked about, is according to its temperature. It's either warm or cold. If a green has more blue in it, it will be a cool green, as blue as a cooler color. If a green has more yellow in it, it will be a warm green as yellow as a warmer color. It's important for us to know the difference between the warm and cool colors and our palettes when mixing colors; because it can make the difference between a pure and vibrant green and a duller neutral green. Which we'll look at more in the next section. For now, let's look at some examples of these color biases. Here we have Winsor yellow, which is close to a primary yellow. If we compare this to lemon yellow and Indian yellow, we can see that the lemon yellow on the left has a green bias, so it's cooler. The Indian yellow on the right has an orange bias, so it's warmer. Now looking at the blues, Winsor blue is close to the primary blue. If we compare this with cerulean blue and indigo, we can see that the cerulean blue is biased towards green and indigo is biased towards violet. I find that it can be a bit trickier to identify by eye, some of these blues. The yellows and reds tend to be much easier. One thing you can do if you're unsure of how to tell what the color bias is in your paints, is to have a look at the manufacturer's website. Winsor and Newton have a spectrum color chart which shows you where each color sits. To find this just go onto their website under the "Discover tab", then under "Resources" you'll see color charts, find your palette. They have different versions for the professional watercolors and the cotton range. Then there'll be a PDF of the spectrum chart for your reference. With all of the purists colors and then the more neutral colors at the bottom. Next, let's look at chroma. Chroma refers to how pure a color is. The green on the left is a pure green. It's more vibrant, and the green on the right is a bit duller and more gray. Also known as more neutral. Let's look at these on the color wheel. Whereas hue changes as you go around the color wheel, chroma changes as you move towards the center of the color wheel. The purists colors are found in the outside of the color wheel. As I mixed with only one or two primary colors, and as you move towards the center of the wheel, the colors become more neutral, which is where you find the blacks, browns, and grays. Looking at greens, the purest and most vibrant green sits on the outside of the color wheel as they are mixed with the cool blues and yellows. When you start to add in the complementary color of red, so that mix now has all three primary colors. The green becomes more neutral, becoming duller or darker, and taking away some of that vibrancy. This is really useful to know when mixing your greens. Particularly for creating realistic colors like in botanical painting. Because these purists vibrant greens and some of the premix greens in our palettes can sometimes look quite manufactured and fake, not often found in the real world, particularly in nature. You can also use this mixing method, adding a complementary color and you mix to make your green darker when you want to adapt or shadows to your work. Now we understand hue and chroma. Let's look at some examples. Let's mix lemon yellow and cerulean blue. Both cool colors biased towards green. They make a pure vibrant green. They're both quite light colors too. The green they'll make is also going to be quite light. Now let's mix our primaries, Winsor blue and winsor lemon, they also make a pure, vibrant green. But because these colors are a bit deeper, we also get a bit of a deeper green. Now let's make some warmer colors. Let's mix Indian yellow, which is biased towards orange and our Winsor blue again. This green is now much more neutral and less vibrant because of that red in the mixed from the Indian Yellow. Let's look a bit closer at this Indian yellow and Winsor blue mix. With any blue and yellow mix, there is a range of greens that can be made depending on the ratio of the two colors. This range of greens is even greater with a mixed like this; because they're further apart from each other on the color wheel. If we start with Indian yellow and at a touch of the Winsor blue and we get a muddy orange green. Adding a bit more and you get a yellowy, neutral green. Then you start to get the deeper greens biased towards blue until we get back to the Winsor blue. Looking at these three in the center a bit closer, they're quite different. You have your warmer yellow green on the left and your cooler blue green on the right; with a fairly unbiased neutral green in the middle. Bear in mind that just by varying the ratio of pigments you're using. Having a touch more blue or a touch more yellow, it can transform your green quite a lot. If you're not getting the green you want straight away, just keep varying that ratio in your mix as there may be some lovely greens hidden in there. Going back to our color chart, let's look at this pure secondary green in the center, made with our Winsor and Winsor blue. Now let's just add two more swatches of this at the top and the bottom so we can make some comparisons. Now, if we had more of the yellow into the mix at the top, it will become brighter. If we add more of the blue into the mix in the middle, it becomes slightly darker. If we add our complimentary color, permanent rose into the mix at the bottom, it will become darker and take away some of that vibrancy. Again, here are three very different greens that we've made. Just by adding a touch more color into the mix. That top two are pure greens, one warmer, and one cooler, and the bottom green is more neutral and much more realistic. Let's have a little closer look at the bottom greens. To make this more neutral green, I only added it a very small amount of the permanent rose. Any complementary colors should be added in sparingly and gradually, particularly with the lighter green mixes as it can overpower easily. You want to make sure that the blue and yellow remain a dominant colors in this mix, because if the wreck becomes dominant, the mix will turn brown. Hopefully now you have a good understanding of how hue and chroma can affect your greens. Let's move on to looking at value. Value refers to the lightness or darkness of your color. With watercolor, the darkest color will be when it's at its most concentrated. You would make this lighter by adding more water and diluting the mix. This can be a really effective way of adding contrast your work, creating lighter areas and shadow without changing the mixture you're using. Now let's look at some pigment characteristics which can affect your green mix without affecting the color. One of these is granulation. Granulation is when the paint settles onto the paper with a mottled effect. Here is an example of cobalt blue, which is a granulate paint. Compare this to Winsor blue, which isn't granulated and you'll see it's much smoother. Now if you mix a granulated blue, like cobalt blue with a granulated yellow, like lemon yellow together, you'll get this green with a lot of texture in its appearance. Again, comparing this with a green made from Winsor blue, and Winsor yellow, which is much smoother because neither is granulated. This is something you can bear in mind if you want or don't want this extra texture in your painting. Finally, let's look at transparency. How transparent or opaque a pigment is, affects both the appearance of the paint as well as how it mixes with other colors. Opaque paints will turn down your color mixes and make your greens appear flatter. They also won't be as good for when you want to layer and glaze over your work. Here's an example of lemon yellow mixed with cerulean blue, both of which are opaque colors compared with Winsor yellow and Winsor blue, which are more transparent. The green on the left looks much flatter, and the green on the right appears a bit more luminous as the paper is coming through a bit more. Now you may not get the full effect of this from the video, but it becomes much more apparent when you're using it in your work and want to create certain effects or a painting on a larger scale than the smallest watches. [inaudible] to be aware of which of your paints or opaque and which are transparent. Now we've come to the end of this color theory video. I hope this has been really helpful for you. Before we move on to the next video, I would recommend that you take some time to identify what the color biases are within each of your blues and yellows. By painting swatches and comparing them, or by having a look on the website of your manufacturer for their color charts as I showed you earlier for Winsor and Newton. You may also find it useful to note down which of your paints or granulated or which are transparent or opaque. Again, you can do this by looking at your swatches, or if you have Winsor and Newton paints, you can refer to the color charts on their website which contain all of those details. If you have any questions about this video, just drop me a message in the discussion board and I'll see you in the next video where we'll start experimenting and mixing our greens. 3. Experimenting (Part 1): Hi everyone and welcome back. We've talked a lot about Hugh Kramer and value in the last video. Now let's start looking at our palettes and experimenting with mixing some greens. When I mix my greens, I often like start with a premix green because it's easy, convenient, and very predictable for the result you're going to get. I have two premix greens in my palette, sap Green and olive green. Olive green is much one neutral green. It has red in the mix Venetian red, I believe and it's a much browner mix. I do like to use it. It's a nice green and I either tend to use on its own or perhaps with some yellow. But because it is neutral, it doesn't make a great baseline from mixing with other colors. Sap green, on the other hand, is a much purer green, slightly biased towards yellow. But it does make a really good base for mixing with other colors. Grab the purist and least five greens in your palette and let's try out some mixes. I'm just going to start by adding this sap green to the center of this left side of my page. I've just divided it into roughly a third. I just want to add this in as a baseline so I can compare it to the mixes that we'll be doing. I'm going to start with some yellows so adding in my lemon yellow. Let's start by looking at some of the purer greens. Because I want the yellow to be dominant in my mix, I'm going to start with that first and then just add a tiny amount of this sap green in, and I want a very small amount. Tiny bit more and just add this, it makes a really nice light yellower green. Let's do the same with the windy yellow, which is much more vibrant. Again, just adding a small amount of this Sap green in. This has made a really nice vibrant yellow green. Now let's at some of the blues in. I'm going to add some sawerian blue. This is a really delicate blue, it's very light compared to the other blues in my palette. Again, you just want to add a small touch at the Sap green. Much cooler blue green. Then finally I'm going to add some Parisian blue. This time I'm going to start with the Sap green so I want more of the sap green in this mix because the Parisian blue is a very strong color. It's a really deep blue so it will overpower it. We only want to add in a small amount. It's dark and it has made a much cooler green. Now let's start adding some of the warmer colors to this sap green to neutralize it. I'm going to add in my yellow icon now. You can see that it's already naturalized there and that was just a small amount I added in there. Just going to add my sap green in a couple of places because I want to add some complimentary colors in now. You can play around with these. Some of the browns work quite nicely as well as to neutralize the greens. I'm going to add a little bit of permanent red to this one. Again, you want to be really careful here of how much you add in. That's probably a bit too much. It's got a bit too much red in for what I want. I'm just going to try that again so add in a small amount here to this. That's probably better, so somewhere in between there it has made it darker. But you can see you have to be really careful with these complimentary colors because once the red starts dominating, then it takes it away from your green. It does become this red brown neutral color. Then finally, I'm just going to add in some of my bad umber. Again, sparing with this I'm just going to add this in gradually. That's made a really nice neutralized green. There you go. Just by adding a touch of another color to this sap green, you have the potential to make a wide variety of different greens with these pure, vibrant greens at the top and the more neutral greens at the bottom, which contain the warmer colors. I'm going to wait for these to dry and then I'll label these all up so I can refer back to them at a later date. I'm just going to change up my water and then on this side of the page we're going to start looking at blue and yellow mixes. I'm going to clean my palette quickly first I have enough space to make some on mixes. Now grab one of your primary or cooler a yellows. I'm using Windsor yellow and add it to the page as a baseline. Now choose one of your pale blues to start with, so we can make some of the lighter pure greens. I'm going to use a William blue for this. I'm just going to add it next to the yellow on my palette. There's quite a lot of paint on my paintbrush so I'm going to wash it off so I can control how much blue I'm adding to the yellow. What we want to do here is create a spectrum of colors that go from this yellow to the blue with all the different greens in between. We want to start with only a very small amount of the blue in this mix to make the most kind of yellowy green that this mixture can make. Then add a bit more blue into the mix, and keep adding more. Now we start to get to the cooler greens but towards the blue. We have quite a big range here between these warm yellowy green to the cooler blue greens. They're all light and vibrant because of the yellow and blue we have chosen. 4. Experimenting (Part 2): I'm just taking my water. So with this same yellow again, let it down as a baseline and then pick up one of your darker blue. So a mid blue. I'm going to go for the blue which is the primary blue and add this next to where my palette. Again, I'm just going to clean off my brush to make sure I can control how much I'm adding to this mix. I'm just going to pick up a small amount. You can see that somebody made it much more vibrant than this cerulean blue did. This might be quite a big jump added quite a bit too much. So just be careful. You can get these really nice deep cooler greens with this. Again, much deeper greens than you would with this cerulean blue, so it really is dependent on the blue how deep or strong your green has gone to be. Let's do one more with this winsor yellow. Again, adding it as a baseline and this time I'm going to go for my indigo because it's a really strong blue, it's a neutral blue, it's got red in it and it's opaque so it's really deep and you can get some really lovely deep foresty green for them. With this one especially, I'm going to be really careful with how much I add. You could barely see I added anything there but I definitely did because you can see the effect it's had. Again, just using the tip of my brush to take the tiniest amount. If I had a much bigger page, you could really see the graduation here because there were a lot of greens that this combination makes. It's gone really dark now but I want to get to these really dark kind of bluey greens that this indigo makes which are really nice. With the tiniest touch of indigo, you still can get these really vibrant, bright yellow greens in here. It takes it through to these mid neutral greens, they're much of a neutral because of that red in the indigo and then these really deep bluey greens. So I've just refresh my water again so do keep making sure your water is clean particularly with these deeper colors that we're using because the water will get quite muddy and it will affect the mixes that were doing. Now I want to pick out one of our warming allies, so I'm going to pick up my Indian yellow. Again, I'm going to add it as a baseline on my page and I'm going to add my winsor blue to this. Again, just picking up my blue and adding it next to on the page. I'm washing my stuff off so I have control over how much I'm adding. Because this yellow is bit further around the color wheel, you will need to add a little bit more to start getting those greens in because it starts to become quite a muddy color. I've added in a fair amount there, we're making a big jump to start with and we start getting this really nice neutral green but there is a lot of muddy orange in between. As you add more blue and you start to get these really nice deep neutral greens with this mix. I really like this color, really nice. Enhance and gets something really blue and a bit too further, I think. Keep practicing with this, mixing up your yellows and your blue so you can see the spectrum of greens you can get in-between because can get quite a lot depending on whether the green is posed towards the yellow or the blue. Finally, let's just practice changing the value of your greens. Just diluting your green to get up bio-color, I'm just going to mix up a green quickly, so any green. This is winsor yellow and Prussian blue, this is just about practicing changing the value by adding more water. Keep practicing with the blues and yellows and greens that are in your palate and mixing in those complimentary colors, those reds and browns to see what greens you can make, there is a massive variety of greens that you can get out that depending on what you're looking for, biased towards yellow biased towards blue, biased towards gray, lighter, vibrant, deeper, darker so don't forget to label up this watch page because it's a great reference guide for future if you'd like, if you particularly like one of the greens and want to remake it but in the next video, we'll also be talking about color charts and looking at making more comprehensive guide that you can use with your future work. I'll see you in the next video where we'll be talking about color chats. 5. Colour charts: Hi everyone. In this video, we'll be looking at how to create a color chart for your greens. These are really useful to not only show you what options there are with your palette, but also to use as a reference guide for choosing your greens and color matching if you wanted to be really specific. So as a minimum, I'd suggest having a page of swatches like we made in the last video. Making sure it's all labeled up with the mixes so you can make these up again. You have a number of options of how to make your charts. You can focus on hue by varying the pigment ratios. You can focus on chroma by looking at pure and neutral greens. You could focus on value by adjusting the mixes with water, or just sheer quantity by including as many mixes as possible with just one example for each mix. For example, having the blues at the top and the yellows down the side. In my chart, I wanted to focus on the variety of greens that I can make with each mix. So I wanted to be able to portray that spectrum of greens from the warmer yellowy-greens to the cooler blue-greens. I also wanted to include greens that can be made from both my blues and yellows and also from the premix greens in my palette. So I started with the yellows on the left, moving gradually through the warm yellow-greens passing a visually 50-50 center point to the cooler blue-greens on the right. In terms of purity, I've started with my purest, most vibrant mixes at the top and worked my way down to the most neutral and darkest mixes at the bottom. So the way I made this is, I first chose colors I wanted to include. I wanted four yellows and four blues that represented a range in temperature. So I chose my cooler lemon yellow, my primary winsor yellow, and my warmer Indian yellow and yellow ocher. For the blues, I chose my cooler cerulean blue, my primary winsor blue, and my warmer ultramarine, and my more neutral indigo. I also wanted to include my premix greens, sap green in this chart. To see the variations I can make with this color as well. It's completely up to you what colors you choose. But it's good to have a variation with some warmer and cooler blues and yellows to get those different greens. So with four yellows and four blues, that equals 16 mixes. So 4 times 4 is 16, so 16 rows. I wanted to mix my sap green with each of these eight colors. But I wanted my chart to look fairly harmonious and keep my yellows on the left and my blues on the right. So I decided to add the sap green down the center and have the yellow mixes on the left and the blue mixes on the right. That meant I needed four rows to include these eight mixes. So that's a total of 20 rows. It's quite a big chart. You don't have to choose this many mixes. I've got smaller chart here with just nine mixes. The choice is completely up to you. Then I decided I wanted seven boxes going across. I wanted the baseline colors on the left and the right with the yellows and the blues. I wanted a center point which was the visually 50-50 mix of green. I knew I needed an odd number. Then I wanted two boxes either side for the warm greens and cool greens. So that made up seven boxes. Each of my boxes is one and a half centimeter square. I wanted them to be big enough to really get a good idea of what the color was. Any smaller than that and it gets a bit hard to see. I had a two millimeter gap in-between. So I measured all of this out first. Next, I needed to label up my mixes. I started at the top with my purest mixes. So my cool yellows and cool blues. My primary yellows and my primary blues. I also included in my sap green for these mixes within this section. Then I started moving on to some of those warmer mixes. I started with my blues first because they have less impact than the warmer yellows do. Then I added in those warmer yellows. So at the very bottom you've got the most neutral mixes where you have both warm yellows and warm blues. I started by adding in all of my baseline colors. The yellows, the blues, and the sap green's in the center. I used a flat brush for this to get those nice sharp edges. I'm also using cold pressed paper here just to note. Then I started my mixes. I started with my center points, my visually 50-50 mixes. Now I say visually 50-50 because the mixes don't tend to be equal on how much of each color you need to get that unbiased green. Then I started adding in the warmer greens and the color greens within each mix. So you don't have to do it like this. You can just start from one side and then gradually move over to the other. If you're doing it this way, I'd recommend you start with the yellows first as they're the lighter color and start adding in your blues very gradually. Just be conscious of how the mix is progressing as it goes along. So you reached that unbiased green in the middle. Then you can start moving towards your warmer colors on the other side. Try and keep the value of the same for each of your swatches. So keep roughly the same amount of water in each mix. This will give you a better comparison across the chart for each of your greens. So now I have my chart. I find it's a really useful tool not just as a quick reference guide to see what my mixes can make but I can also use it to color match. So if I wanted to match the green in this leaf, I can just hold this up against it and quickly see which greens are best suited. Before you make your chart, think about what you want it to show you. Do you want it to show you options with hue variants, chroma, depth, or value? My final tip is that these can take a little while. This took me about an hour and a half, I think. So make sure you're prepared for that and don't feel like you need to rush it. They were pretty relaxing way to spend your evening and you get something really useful at the end of it. So I hope you found this helpful. Good luck with making your own chart and don't forget to share it with me and the rest of the students in the project gallery. 6. Final Thoughts: Hi everyone. Congratulations on completing this class on mixing greens. I really hope you found it useful and it helped you understand your greens a little bit more. I hope you'll share either your color swatches or your color charts with me here on Skillshare and the project gallery. If you're on Instagram, you can tag me on your work @SharonStevensdesign and use the hashtag, Learnwithsharone. If you found a new green that you absolutely love, I'd really love to hear about it, and if you have any questions to drop me a message in the discussion board. If you've enjoyed the class, please do give me a thumbs up and a review. It's really useful for other students to see and it's also really encouraging to me to let me know I'm on the right track with these classes. Remember this is just the first class in the series on watercolor greenery. We'll be using all of the knowledge that we've learned in this class as we learn more about botanical paintings. The next class will be focused on painting basic leaves and branches, and the final project will be painting array. Make sure you click that Follow button so you receive any news and updates about my classes and you'll receive a notification of when the next class is live. I'm really looking forward to it and I hope you are too. So keep practicing with your greens and I'll see you in the next class.