Acrylics for Illustrators - A Contemporary Watercolor Style | Sandra Mejia | Skillshare

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Acrylics for Illustrators - A Contemporary Watercolor Style

teacher avatar Sandra Mejia, Illustrator + Pattern Designer

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

9 Lessons (1h 15m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Class Project

    • 3. The Basics - Materials

    • 4. The Basics - Surfaces

    • 5. The Basics - Techniques

    • 6. Painting

    • 7. Adding Details

    • 8. Watercolors -vs- Acrylics

    • 9. Bonus Video! Mounting your Painting on Wood

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About This Class



In this class I’ll show you how to create a contemporary watercolor style using acrylic paints. I will talk about the materials you need and the different types of materials available, I will show you basic techniques that are easy to implement in your illustrations and test different surfaces to paint on, and I’ll show you my process of painting one illustration.

At the end we'll compare two illustrations, one created with watercolors and one with acrylics and see what the differences and similarities are, and see if you can tell which is which.  Finally, in the bonus video, I’ll show you how to mount your painting onto a wooden cradled panel and you’ll have a ready to hang piece of art!

Acrylics are a very exciting medium and using them this way can create modern and fresh results, so join me and let’s start painting!

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Meet Your Teacher

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Sandra Mejia

Illustrator + Pattern Designer

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Hello! I'm a Freelance Illustrator. I was born in Medellín, Colombia (puedes escribirme en Español!). I create detailed, stylized, playful illustrations, patterns and characters from my studio in Ottawa, Canada.

I have very big eyes and I love animals. Most of my inspiration comes from nature and animals.

I love mixing traditional and digital media to create illustrations and patterns that I license to a number of clients around the world to use in home decor products, stationery, fabrics, kids products and greeting cards.

“I’m very passionate about what I do and believe that through my art I can impact the world in a positive manner.  This is why I teach online and why I create fun, colourful and happy w... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Sandra Bowers. In this class, I'll show you how to create a contemporary watercolors style using acrylic paint. I will talk about the materials you need and the different types of materials available. I will show you basic techniques that are easy to implement in your illustrations and test different surfaces to paint on, and I'll show you my process of painting one illustration. At the end, we'll compare two illustrations, one created with watercolors, and one with acrylics and see what the differences and similarities are, and see if you can tell which one is which. Finally, in the bonus video, I'll show you how to mount your painting into a wooden cradle panel and you'll have a ready to hank piece of art. Acrylics are very exciting medium and using them this way can produce modern and first results with Byron colors and interesting effects. Join me and let's start painting. 2. Class Project: For the class project, you're going to create a print. It would be a great exercise if you want to create two of them and paint one in water colors, and then paint the other one in acrylics. Just right to use the same colors, so you don't have to be exactly the same, but these will be fun, because you'll start understanding the differences and similarities. For the subject matter, you can choose plants and add some bugs or birds, or you can choose whatever subject matter you want, just do something that makes you happy and use a limited color palette, especially at first, maybe using three or four colors is the best thing. Then adding muting light color like buff titanium and then burnt sienna, for example, for muting darker colors. Share your sketches, share your process, share your practice exercises and pulls into the project gallery and I can see what you create. In the next lesson, I'm going to talk to you about the different types of materials. You don't need to get them all. You basically only need certain colors, a paintbrush, watercolor papers, some water and paper towels. You can create paintings with that, but I'm going to show you all the materials that I have available and then you can choose whichever as you like best, and use them for your artwork. 3. The Basics - Materials: In this lesson, we're going to talk a bit more in depth into the acrylics, types of acrylics, mediums, varnishes, and why they are an option when you want to create a watercolor effect. But you don't want to use watercolors. For example, I did this in acrylics. It looks like water colors. I could have done any watercolor, but the watercolors have their limitations. Watercolors are a bit more delicate, they need to be protected from the UV rays because they're a bit more light fast, you can use colors that are very good and different brands are very good at being light fast, which means they will be preserved from light for a longer time, but they're still a bit more fugitive and they can only be applied onto paper. You could use watercolors on wool and maybe different surfaces, but they will never behave as they behave on paper. The advantage of using acrylics this way is that you can paint acrylics in a lot of surfaces, so this will be a great way to take your illustrations and artwork to water surfaces. Also, acrylics are waterproof once they're dry. So if I were to drop up some water on this, it's not going to get ruined but if I did this with watercolors, this would smudge. So that's also great. This also has more options for finishes. I can use mediums on, I can use different types of varnishes and with water colors it's a bit more limited what you can do. We'll go into depth with those differences a bit later, right now I want to show you different types of acrylics. The first thing you need to choose is the viscosity of your acrylics. Now, acrylics come in heavy, the regular acrylic consistency, soft consistency, and high flow or inks. So you have more options. I do not use the regular or heavy body acrylics because they're too thick for what I'm trying to achieve with my style, but you can give those a try if you want. For this class, we'll be concentrating on using these types of acrylic that are a bit lighter. They're a bit less thick, and I will show you the consistency, and I mean it. Here we have the most liquid ones, which are the high flow, this is golden high flow, there's also Liquitex acrylic ink, they're basically liquid, and their colors are very concentrated. Then we have the fluid acrylics, which are a bit thicker, but still very liquidy, these are also golden and here we have liquitex soft body, which is still a bit more liquid than the regular acrylics you are used to. These are the regular acrylic colors, I'll show you how thick they are. These ones come in matte and regular, which is a bit shinier, maybe satin, and finally we have craft paints. Usually if I'm creating something that is to sell or that I want it to last longer or you want the to paint to be very concentrated in color, I will only use professional-grade, artist-grade acrylics, which would be these ones, the liquitex professional range, and the golden artist colors. If you're doing something that you're going to scan or you're just practicing, these are awesome. In liquitex the value series for student grade is called basics, it's basically the same paint but with less pigments. These craft paints are awesome and I really like these Martha Stewart ones, and actually, I have not tested how these wear with time and stuff, but this is supposed to cure and even be safe in the dishwasher. So I guess they're very, very resistant and they're so nice and such nice colors. What I'm going to do now is I'm going to show you the different consistencies. We're going to start with the craft paint. It's a bit thick, and that's the coverage. They have metallics, they have all different types of finishes. This one is satin, so it will dry with a bit of a shin, they also have matte ones which will dry totally matte. Then we have these basic student grade from liquitex. See it's also thick. This one's, thicker than this one. Now, we have the liquitex soft body, this is the professional grade. See that the coverage is so great in the professional grade and it's still a bit thick, but not too thick as this one. Then we have the fluid acrylics, this one's also artist grade. See, this one's so much more liquid, but it's still not totally liquid. Finally, this one which is what I'm going to be using for the class, which is all dense high flow acrylics, they are like an ink, and they are super pigmented. Now let's talk about mediums. The good thing about acrylics is that you can use mediums to change the consistency or to change the appearance of them. Here I have golden mediums, this one is a soft gel gloss. You can use this to attach collage to your paintings or to make your surface glossy and you can apply this with either a brush or a sponge or a palette knife. I'm going to use a palette knife so you can see the different consistencies. This one's soft gel, so you can see how it is like a soft gel. It will still hold some texture lines, but not too many. Then we have the heavy gel matte. These mediums come in satin, matte and glossy. Satin would be an intermediate between matte and glossy. This one is the heavy gel, so see how heavy it is? You can create really thick applications with this, and this will hold your knife marks. This will dry totally clear. We'll let that one dry there so you can see. Now, this one is just gloss medium, so it's actually a fluid. We'll talk about this one later in surface preparation also. So you can see this is very liquid. So this one will just flatten out and since it is gloss, it is going to be the one that's going to create this shiniest, brightest color underneath. Here we have liquitex airbrush medium. This one is to dilute your paints. So if you have a paint that is very thick and you want it to be thinner, it won't dilute your color, which is what happens when you add water, and it will not dilute the binders. This is very important because depending on the surface you are painting on with acrylics, you need to be very careful not to dissolve the binder in the paint. The binder is what makes it stick and not crack. Since we're going to be painting in a watercolor technique that's very light, there's not going to be any thick layers, and it's going to be in watercolored paper which absorbs the pigments, then it's okay that we're adding water and we will also coat it at the end. But if you're painting on a canvas or something, you don't want to be adding too much water to your paint. Depending on the brand of your airbrush medium, you can add water also, or you can't. With the liquitex, it says, "Do not add water". So you just add this and then this behaves like a fluid or even high flow acrylic. You can also mix paints with all of these mediums and if you have this liquid paint for example, and you want to make it thicker, you could mix it with this medium and then make a very thick paint. Finally, we're going to talk about varnish. If you're painting with watercolors, you need a fixative in spray or a finishing spray. So for water colors, I use this matte, low odor clear matte klyron. I will spread very lightly. But three or four coats on my watercolor and then I can apply a varnish with a brush or something else. You do not need to do that for acrylics. This is a mark-able varnish also works for watercolors, but you should always test in a little piece of scrap paper that you don't care about. Test all these things before so you know how they react with your paints and that way you're not ruining your regular painting. So this one is Golden Archival Varnish, it contains ultraviolet light filters and stabilizers UVLS, providing archival protection, reducing light damage. I'll need through mobile wall for conservation purposes. It offers excellent dirt, dust and moisture resistance in a flexible film. You need to be careful with this, use your safety precautions when you're using this, follow the instructions and you just spray this. If it's a watercolor, start with very, very thin layers and know that they will change the appearance of your watercolor because you're adding a sheen on top of your paper. I got this satin one. The satin and matte ones are recommended for final layers because they might start to cloud your painting a bit. So if you're worried about this you should always spray the glossy layers first and then one last layer with your satin or matte. I really like using these brush on varnishes. They don't have a smell, I'm very sensitive to it, so that's why I like acrylics also because I can use these brush on varnishes exclusively. These are liquitex varnish is they go on as a final coat. They help you protect against UV damage and they are permanent, non-yellow, flexible and water resistant when dry. You should not mix this one with water and if you're looking for a vanish, always look that it's non yellowing and it has some UV protection. Acrylics are usually very good at being mythos, especially we choose the lightest color, but you always want to add an extra UV protection. So this one again comes in matte, satin and gloss and again, if you want to add a lot of layers, you should be using gloss first, and then your last layers should be either satin or matte. I usually only add one or two layers, I'm not too picky with the colors. I actually like the results of that if I want it to be matte, I have a satin varnish coat first and then I will add them matte. If I want satin, I'll just have two layers of satin. Let the layers dry. I think it's three hours in between layers and make them very thin. I'm going to show you that varnishing process at the end in my bonus video, but now you know all of this. I'm really not picky about brushes, my brushes tend to die very fast. So for water colors, I use better brushes. For acrylics, I use whatever I have at hand. I actually like color store, very cheap brushes that, the ones that have a shape. Some of them are all over the place. Now and you can't paint with those. There's some like these ones that actually have a nice shape and that way I'm not too worried that they're going to get ruined. These ones are from a craft store. They're a bit better, but again, they're all flared now I keep running them. There's really good acrylic brushes you can try. You can try with the cheap ones. You can use these sponges to apply mediums, to apply varnishes, to make effects. I suggest for varnishing that you get a very soft brush and depending on the size you're working on, you want to have a good size brush. So you're not going on over and over because you might ruin your surface. So I really like this one. Palette knives are great for applying mediums that are thick. I also like using this brush cleaner. It's called The Master's brush cleaner and preserver. It really helps washing brushes with these. Depending on the surface you're painting on, you're going to be able to use masking fluid as in watercolors and I found the best way to apply masking fluid and not ruin your brush is I have this aqua brush, this one's a Kuretake, I don't have it filled with water and what I do is moistened the tip, I rub it against my soap and once its all coated, I will just wipe it off a bit and then I can use my drawing gong and at the end, I just wash it with a bit of water, add a bit of soap, close it and it'll never get hard. See, I've been using this one for a long time and it's still so soft and I can get really, really detailed with it. So I found out that's the best way to use the drawing gong or masking fluid. Finally, I like to add details to my illustrations. You might like detailing a lot or not, depending on your style. I do all of this with a nib pen. I got this one so long ago. It says "Imperial Ciro" but they sell this at art stores and you buy several ones and just try them out and see which one you like the best. I love this one, it holds a lot of paint and I like using that one on my acrylics and for the white details, you can use white acrylics. But I found this is the most opaque white and I love it. It's a copic opaque white. It has this built-in little brush which is ruined now, but you can just use your brush with it. Having a spray bottle of water like this is handy. I like using gloves every time I'm using paints. You don't need all these, basically you need one brush, you need your acrylic paint, maybe get the high flow ones and some watercolor paper. That it, you don't need anything else. I'm going to talk about the surfaces in the next video. So let's go. 4. The Basics - Surfaces: In this lesson, we're going to talk about where to paint our acrylics and there are several options. With regular acrylics if you're using them like normally, you can paint on a canvas, on wood, on any surface that will take acrylics. For our technique of using them as watercolors, we need some special circumstances so it looks the best. The obvious one is using watercolor paper. I will be using 140 pound, a 100 percent cotton watercolor paper due to cold press, you can use any type of watercolor paper. There's also something called aquabord, it is made by ampersand. This is a board that comes with a surface that acts like watercolor papers soared up. It's an absorbent surface. This is how it looks like when and I painted on it with my acrylics. This is how it looks like in watercolor paper. These I prepared a surface of watercolor paper with two coats of gesso. This is how it looks like. You can see they're very similar. This two because they're absorbent, here in the washes you can see, how the colors merge and then may be on the gesso they move a little bit less, but they all look really good. Acrylics can suffer of something called supporting those discoloration or a seed, which is that the support interacts with the acrylics when they're drying and they might change their color or appearance. The best thing to do is any surface, except watercolor paper or aquabord that you are going to paint acrylics on. You prepare with two coats of this, its Golden Gloss Medium. You just use a brush and apply two coats. For the Absorbent Ground, I am using two coats also, always read the safety directions in your materials. I'm applying the first layer to one side and then I'm letting that dry for 12 hours, and then I'm applying a second layer going to the other side and I'm going to let that dry. I am going to sand softly in-between coats. Make sure your previous coat is really dry before applying the next one. Here's the Gesso. I'm going to apply that to the other side. I'm sanding softly in between coat. With the absorbent ground you might be tempted to add more and more layers. But if you have too many, it might crack. In the bonus video I will show you how to mount your watercolor paper onto wood panels. That way if you prefer to paint your acrylics on watercolor paper, you can have them mounted on wood panels, which looks really nice. Or you can go directly on the wood panel with the absorbent ground or the gesso, whichever surface you prefer. In the next lesson, I will show you how this works with different types of techniques. 5. The Basics - Techniques: In this lesson, I'm going to show you the basic techniques for using acrylics. I'm going to show you the same techniques on the three different surfaces so we can compare. I'll be using these two colors, I'm not going to explain the regular acrylic techniques. I'm going to explain how acrylics can behave like watercolors and how you can achieve that more modern and fresh and young effect with them. That's what we're we going to do here. If you have seen my class water color illustrators, you'll see that these exercises are very similar and that's actually a good thing because by the end you'll be able to create paintings and people are not going to know if it's acrylics or watercolors. Trust me, I've tested them with an illustration, I'll show you later. The first technique is going to be wet on wet. For wet on wet, I'm just going to create a circle here and I'm going to grab one of my colors and just drop it in. The water seems to drive very fast in these absorbent ground. So I'm just going to let it flow, but I'm going to guide it a bit, and I'm going to add up beat more here. I'm just going to let it sit, do the same with a watercolor paper. Just adding enough water for puddle and I'm going to drop my coloring. I like how it behaves in watercolor paper because it moves around so much. I want to try to guide it softly into here. I want these to be the lighter side, so I'll try guiding the paint away from there and making it darker here. Here you can see the paint flows more smoothly, flows more along the page in watercolors. It wouldn't bleed as much because this doesn't have that much water and this paint is spreading really fast. Here it doesn't, it puddles but it doesn't spread as much. Now let's try the gesso. The gesso is going to be more of a plastic like surface that does not absorb the water, so the water is sitting on top of it for a longer time. See that's how the paint moves, I find it seeps in a bit here and it will follow the cracks on lines your brush made, I'm going to guide it to the edge a bit. But this has a totally different effect on surface. Now are going to try the wet on dry that means my brush is a bit wet. It's not puddling water it's just a tiny bit wet. I'm just going to grab some paint and paint on the surface directly. If I want to go lighter, I'll add some more water to the brush. I'm going to let that dry. Do the same here. Add some more water to the brush so it can create a lighter area. You've got to be fast because see, it doesn't leak like watercolor same with the gesso. I am going to dry these and I'm going to show you something that happened, I want to show you because you don't want that to happen to you. When I brought out that drier, this happened. That means I had put too much water on my wet on dry technique and this happened because the gesso does not absorb the water so it puddles and it stays like this for a very long time. So you have to be very careful when you're painting on a gesso surface. These layers are dry so I'm just going to go back in with a little bit of water and my paint will start darkening the parts I want to make the shadows in. Then just wash my brush and dry it, and first go in and blend. Here in the absorbent ground, you can even add water and lift as if it was a watercolor. Let's try it here in the watercolor paper. Add more paint to this side and then clean your brush, and blend it. Let's try to lift the paint using water on your brush. I'm doing it really hard and it's not lifting. It does not lift in the watercolor paper, it does in the absorbent ground. This one where you can blend the easiest because the paint is just sitting on top. Let's see if it lifts, it doesn't. We're going to add one last layer. Here, I have a clean and not too wet brush. Here it's a bit drier so I can blend, I'm drawing my brush so it can blend. Remember, you have to be really fast here in the watercolor paper. What we can see here, is that the shading might not be as soft as in watercolor if you want a very smooth, seamless blending. But you can get the interesting techniques, especially in the absorbent ground. Watercolor paper works well too and definitely, the gesso surface does not work well for me. Now, we're going to create washes. I'm just going to wet a strip here, add some color here and I'm going to start pulling it. As long as you keep the edge wet, you can keep going with this. Let's try the same here with a strip, add some paint, and then we're going to add water to continue that wash here. In this one, it works too, as long as you keep it wet, you can add to it. Here goes the gesso, I want to show you that gesso because I want you to see the difference between having an absorbent ground and not having it. Because when I started experimenting with this technique, I felt like, well maybe it works on gesso. Well, now you see the difference. I really like these washes because they get some effects, you can also see a bit of your brush strokes from when you apply the absorbent ground and in the watercolor paper, it behaves more like watercolor. I'm going to show you two ways of blending colors. You can blend colors in your brush, I picked up two different colors. One part of my brush, one color and the other the yellow. Or you can mix the colors in your palette, you can use the wet on wet technique to mix the two colors. I'll apply water and I'll drop in one color here and then drop in the other color here. This one's not moving so much so I'm going to push it. I find that if I don't sound it or there's a place that has more ground medium, it might bleed. Or if I only make one layer, make sure you have two layers. Also, adding too much water might cause that. See that it didn't happen here where there's less water. Try to be careful if you're doing one-on-one, not putting too much water and sometimes you have to encourage them to mix, let's see with the gesso. Finally, you can just paint with one color and then grab some of the other color and paint so they touch and that way they mix. Then you can even go back in and blend them. Again, that's still wet so be careful, I'm going to repeat that here using less water and you'll see that there's not so much bleeding. I'm going to show you three ways of permuting colors. We're going to use the same red, and the first one is using black, any type of black. Be very careful because the black is very overpowering, I'm going to grab some red here, and I'm going to rub a tiny bit of black and add it. Then there is using a neutral color. I love creating neutrals with Burnt Sienna. I think it creates way prettier earthy tones and they maintain the richness of the original color. When you're doing these exercises don't think about making it pretty or anything, you're just understanding how your paint works. We're going to make it pretty later. Finally, there's these color called Neutral Gray and it will neutralize your color. We'll see the difference of using that. So there it is black, Burnt Sienna and the Neutral Gray. I will add the real color here so you can compare. I personally like neutralizing with Burnt Sienna because I think it maintains the brightness in a prettier way than the other two but depending on what you need to do, you can use either the black or the neutral. There are still options for lightening your colors and while the normal one is using Titanium White and one I love is using Titan Buff. I like the yellowish tint. I'm going to show you those, see this is why I use gloves because it's so much easier than getting that paint on your skin. I'm going to add some red to the Buff Titanium and now I'm going to do it with the white. See the difference, white makes the color brighter but the Buff Titanium gives it a vintage look and I love it. I want to show you some cool special colors so we have eerie-descent these are metallic ones, this is the gold, we have fluorescent ones, this is Fluorescent Pink, this one has health warnings, and these ones are not graded for light fastness, so have that in mind when you're painting. If you're scanning your artwork, you can use whatever you want because it doesn't matter if it lasts or if it doesn't. Look at that pink, not that this scanner is going to pick up that bright pink but that looks so pretty. Finally, the Interference-colors; they have excellent light fastness and I absolutely love them. These ones are called Interference Orange and I'm going to paint a bit on buff, not this little apple here so you can see how they work on buff of a color. There you can see them glow, they are amazing. With acrylics, you can also do glazing, that means after one color has dried you can paint with another color on top and create different effects. What about leaved thing when these has dried for so long? I'm going to go and try to lift something here and that lifts very well, after it's dried for a long time because we tried it here but it was recently applied. Those two definitely don't lift. I have applied some masking fluid here, we are going to paint over it, we're going to use a dark, red and black here and we're going to let that dry while I show you something else. I love adding tiny details and for that I use either the brush or the nip pen. You can use the nip pens with any color you want by just loading it with paint. You should always test this in a scrap piece of paper to make sure it doesn't have too much paint underneath and it's not going to puddle on you so then you add detail in any color you want. Let's make this look like little fruit. Practice with your nip pen before you go into your real original painting, so you know what you're doing. For nip pen, I'm going to have to rotate these. I didn't want to because for recording it's better this way but it's too hard to work with the nip pen that way. Some exercises are making straight lines, making circles. You're going to have to learn to move your fingers and your hands in a specific manner. You'll feel that if you go like that, it's dragging smoothly, but if you go like that, it's not dragging smoothly. You can just practice this again and again until you feel more comfortable with your nip pen and try to move it in different directions and you will feel what I'm talking about. There were surface for this is the gesso because it just get stuck in the groups. I'm definitely not using gesso for this. I'm just showing you how covering these white is and that's why I like it so much. I'm just doing these really fast to show you how adding little details, even little simple ones, can bring your illustrations to life. If you don't have a lot of control with your brush, just practice, any exercise like this where you practice vertical lines, horizontal lines, corners, see how hard that is, but if you rotate your paper you'll get much more control. Don't be scared to rotate your paper. Circles, see the difference? You can always try to go around completely. If you try these exercises, you'll see you'll get much more control of your paint brush as you go along. You can also use sub micron, any archival ink and then use that to do add details to. You see how well it covers and works with the acrylics. It makes sure this is very dry. If you're using a blow dryer, make sure you're not using hot air because the hot air at least with my masking fluid, it seems to make it stick more to the paper, so just use cold air. I'm going to use a color shaper to lift my masking fluid. Masking fluid works great with all of the three mediums. This is a great exercise because this makes you understand the properties of the paint and the properties of the ground you're going to be painting on before you commit to making a huge miss or a huge wonderful piece of art. I will definitely not work in gesso with this technique, I'll do it if I'm working with traditional acrylic techniques but definitely not for this. I love working on water color paper, it's very easy. I don't have to prepare the surface this way. If I'm going to make something that I want to scan or I want to mount on wood later, I'll use the paper and definitely I'll use this absorbent ground to paint watercolors on different types of surfaces. Well, you can use it for watercolors too and you can use it for acrylics as water colors. That is great. This absorbent ground also works on watercolors and they behave pretty much the same. The good thing is that you can put this on different types of surfaces. You have to remember it's a flexible ground. It has to be applied on a rigid surface. You couldn't put it on fabric for example. There it is. Now I'm going to scan this and I'm going to put it in the class information so you can download it and you can look at it more [inaudible] , [inaudible] check everything out. 6. Painting: In this lesson, we're going to make her pink. I start by adding some texture to the background by using very diluted paint and an old sponge. Just keep in mind that unlike watercolors that get lighter as they dry, acrylics get darker. So always have less paint than you think you'll need. I'm using FrogTape to keep my paper flat. You can use any tape that won't damage your paper when you tear it off. Here I'm using this very simple round paintbrush. So you can see that you don't need any fancy brushes to paint with this. I always keep a scrap piece of paper to test the colors before applying them to my painting. Here you can see my water so you can see how much I'm adding. I'm going to make this very liquid and test it. That might be too strong so I'll add a bit more water, and I'll dry my brush a bit because I don't want to make a big puddle of water on my paper. Depending on the climate and humidity of where you're located, it will behave differently. In some places, it dries so fast. Now I start mixing other colors just by dipping my brush into different colors and letting them blend in the leaf while it's wet. If this is starting to dry, just add a bit more water. Unless you have just laid it down, you'd only use your paint as much as in watercolor. Here it's already dry. So I'll add a bit more water. I'm dropping in some little dots of cobalt fill to add some subtle texture. I don't want to paint this leaf next to this one so that the colors don't bleed amongst them. But if that's the effect you're going for, go ahead and let them bleed. I want to add a bit of Golden Green now. So remember to shake the paint before you put up drop in your palette. This color is very bright so make sure you add enough water to it. You can see that all my colors start to touch and mix on my palette and I like that. For this part I'm going to use a smaller brush. It must be like a number one or a number zero brush. I didn't wet this surface before adding the colors. I'm just letting different tones of paint as I go and adding a bit of water to blend them. This is a technique I use the most. So going around and picking different colors from my palette to get different variation. I can even go over areas already painted and glaze them. I love using Buff Titanium to mute light colors and not make them muddy, and it sort of gives them a vintage look. You could also add neutral gray which is used to neutralize. But remember how that looks on our practice exercises. I personally don't want that effect these paintings. If there's a part of the leaf that is standing out, go back over it with a bit of water and then a bit of color so that it blends it altogether nicely. I'm going to keep painting every area in my painting the same way, adding more different colors in different branches and leaves to make them pop. I'm using the indigo and dropping in green gold. Here I can also add lots of water and then dropping more colors to create a shadow and then add another tone. This starts creating effects like in watercolor. I'm mixing all the techniques here because I find that way you get a more interesting painting that is not so flat. But you can stick to any technique that suits your style. Just have fun with it and experiment. Since my Buff Titanium is not high flow and the rest of my paints are, a Buff Titanium is a bit thicker so you need to add more water to it. It's a good idea to have a spray bottle with water and add a little bit to your paint so they don't dry so fast. Painting with a limited palette like this will give you a more cohesive final result. Since you are not using any colors straight from the bottle and sort of mixing them altogether, you'll get lots of variety. Remember that if you're painting on a canvas with thicker paints, you shouldn't add water like this to your paint or you'll lose the binder. Since this is watercolor paper that will absorb the paint and we're using very light washes and it works. Since we're varnishing it all at the end, that'll help keep everything together. If you see that an area doesn't have enough gradient, you can go back in and add more paint. Being able to turn the paper around as you paint makes the angles easier to paint. So it's a good idea to tape your paper down to a small surface that is movable, something like a clipboard. I taped mine to this so I'm not tempted to move it as I record this video and then I'm like UDC. But it's way harder this way. I'm going to keep painting like this all around. So I'm going to speed it up and basically just go around filling in every shape with different combinations, aiming to create contrast amongst the leaves. Here I started adding some Burnt Sienna to create some neutrals because everything is looking too bright, and you always need neutrals to let your eyes rest. See how I'm painting alternating leaves. This is so not all of them are touching and just merging into a blob in the bottom where they touch. I do let them get that effect because I think it's pretty but not all of them. If you don't want the areas to bleed into each other let them dry first. My brain tends to try to make everything very tidy and organized in the painting. By painting random leaves breaks up the pattern so they end up being different and not so stiff and boring. Remember you cannot layers of colors on top of previous layers to build up the shadows or create different colors. But this way, you'll start losing the transparency that makes it look like watercolor so don't overdo it. You don't have to follow your sketch exactly. Just let your brushes flow and create their own shapes. It's much the paint here. So I'm just going to use a bit of a darker color and cover those smudges. In acrylics, I can't leave them when they're dry. So you need to learn to work with the mistakes and incorporate them into your design. If you're going to scan this you can fix it in the computer. If you're creating an original, then you can cover it or add more textures to make it look like it was meant to be. If your mistake is too obvious, then you might have to start over. When I'm making these ones, I'm letting some of them blend into each other. I'm losing a lot of my brightness from my green gold, so I'll wash my brush to create lighter leaves. Jumping all over the place like this also allows some leaves to dry and that way, I can paint without having them blend. If you use a lot of water and very little color, you can get more transparencies and very soft textures. Here I'm going to use some indigo and burnt sienna, to darken some of the leaves. I'm using very little water for this. Use this technique to differentiate some leaves if they have become a big blob and you can't tell what's happening. I'm mixing some teal on a bit of indigo, to add a very light layer to the butterfly. Then dropping some more teal to create a gradient and I'll add a bit of indigo too. I'm going to let that dry. Here I'm mixing the black with some indigo and use this with very little water, because I want it to be dark. If you see these jagged edges, you'll know your brush is too dry, so you need to add a bit more water for it to glide on your paper. I'm just going to paint the wings. Don't paint an outline and then fill it in. Start painting on one side and keep adding to it until you finish each wing. I'm holding the brush very close to the tip. Maybe this is not the best way to hold a brush, but this gives me more control and precision. You see that when I'm doing all this detail, I'm grabbing the paint and then drying my brush, it's because I don't want to have a big blob dark paint where I laid down the brush. We're going to add some highlights to these later, so you can tell the wings apart. You could also make the back wings darker and paint the front wings lighter, if you wanted. Now we'll wash our brush really well because it's black and I'm going to paint these leaves. We need some teal on blue for these, but my indigo has been contaminated by the black, so I'll put another drop on another place with my palette. Now I'm not even following my sketch exactly here. I'm just letting the brush flow guide me. I'll be using a bigger brush for the base, this is a number 10. I'm going to get it wet. I'm going to tint my water with some titanium buff,. so you can see what's happening. Since this is a very transparent wash, it doesn't matter if it gets onto your leaves. Just work fast and if you see it start getting dry, go back over that area, adding more water. Make sure the bottom is straight and we're going to start dropping in some mix of teal and titanium and making it very watery. I'm going to let it puddle a bit and then cover it with some more titanium and guide it around so it's not so spotty. I'm painting in between the shapes with the tip of my brush. As it's still wet, I'm adding some burnt sienna with lots of water to create a shadow and I'm going to let it flow. I can also add more teal if I want. I'm using these Q tips to touch the leaves that got covered by this wash, so it doesn't dry on them. Then I'll go in with my little brush and guide the water into the tiny gaps between leaves while the wash is still wet. Make sure every edge is crisp. I'm not using the hairdryer for this, because I don't want the water running, because that way the paint will move around as it's drying and it'll create more unpredictable effects. Now because of the magic of video, this is dry. We're going to create a muted background for it, so it doesn't look like it's floating. I'm just going to add a lot of water and create irregular edges. I'm adding a bit of indigo and teal and letting it flow. Remember that these will dry darker, so don't go too dark. Now I can use this little brush to guide the water into some area, or create some effects on details. I think I should also add some darker paint here to make it stand out more. I'm adding more water so it's not dry and it still blends in with the previous wash. I'm going to let this dry and once it dries, we're going to use the nip and you'll have the details in the next lesson. 7. Adding Details: In this lesson, I'll show you how I use the acrylics on my new pen to add details. I use one of these little containers and I'll prepare my color in there. I'll add one drop of teal and some Python buffed to mutant. With this big brush, I'll add some water and mix them to make it a liquid that has enough damping power to paint. I just deposit the paint on my need with the brush, making sure you cover the little hole. You should always test these first. Because these happens a lot. It means I put too much paint on it. Once you've tested it, then you cannot be your painting. I want to make it a bit darker so I'm adding indigo [inaudible] I can reveal my [inaudible] Ben and tested again. That way I can pick the excess paint out of it. I love creating lots of details with the pen, you can add as much as you want. If you never used an ink pen before, or you want to learn more about it. Check on my other class pen and ink florals. Where I go in depth into this. I'll keep adding more paint and test it every time. Even if you test, these can happen, Dry it with a paper towel. At a layer of a similar color like the teal and buff titanium and let that dry. I'll keep doing the same thing all around my painting and speed it up because I'm sure you get the idea. For my wife details, i like using this copy opaque ink. You can use white acrylics tool, but I find these one is very opaque, it comes with a brush, but now mine is dense. I just put it on my palette and use my brush to add white highlights. If you see it's getting hard to control and it's not gliding over the paper, it means you should get more paint and maybe what your brush with a tiny bit of water. It will glide easier. I'm adding some highlights to the wings to separate them from the back ones. They were done. In the next lesson, we'll convert this painting with a similar watercolor painting I created and see what are the similarities and the differences between them. 8. Watercolors -vs- Acrylics: Here we have our paintings. Can you tell which one is water colors and which one is acrylics? This is the one we just did, and this is the watercolor one I had done previously. I tried to make the colors match as much as possible, but it's hard when you're mixing the colors in your palette as you go on grabbing different colors. I asked 10 people, which one they thought was watercolor. Everybody chose the acrylic one. That's a good thing. I'm going to talk about some differences and some similarities and some things better about each one. I used exactly the same colors for both of them. I got the same colors in the watercolors as the acrylic. I have that cobalt teal, I have indigo, I have green gold, gold titanium, carbon black. That's the only one I actually used a different one in my watercolor. I used a lunar black. I chose that one because that one has a lot of granulation and I wanted to show you that difference specifically. I used burnt sienna. Even when choosing the same colors the acrylics seem to be way lighter, brighter. You can see that the teal maybe gets a bit more muddy here and here it's a softer look. To me, the watercolors achieved more texture. I'm going to show you the granulation on each one. I'm going to zoom in on that one. This is the watercolor and this is the granulation I'm talking about with the mars black. I'm using Daniel Smith watercolors and their granular. You see the textures here. You don't find those textures here in the acrylics. It's much more smoother, but I can still get these little color sheets and subtleness of the watercolor that I like. It might look as if it had some granulation just because of the way it dries. Acrylics also dry with a sharper edge. See here how the wash is softer and here it's sharper. When layering different colors you can also see a difference. Here, the butterfly ends up being clear and brighter because layering the black on top of the blue doesn't give such a smooth result. In watercolors, most brands you can erase your pencil marks even under the paint. You cannot do that in acrylics, so be careful. Here you can see my pencil line but covered and now I can't erase it. One thing I like about acrylics is that you can build layers one on top of the other and I'll just build a color up. Like here when I made that mistake, I just put a bit of buff titanium on top and you can't see it. If I would have done that with the watercolor, I may have lifted the previous layer. I think that's easier to work with here in the acrylic. Finally, as I said, this one's waterproof, this one would get ruined. This one I can brush on a finishing, this one I have to spray it first. I'm seeing a lot of benefits of working with the acrylics and they are extremely resistant, and I really like the colors. Now you can make your own decision and you should definitely try these. Now we're moving on to our next lesson, which is our bonus video. I'm going to show you how to mount these into this wood panel and how we varnish it. 9. Bonus Video! Mounting your Painting on Wood: In this lesson, I'll show you how to mount your artwork onto this wood cradle panel. I have coated this with coats of gloss medium to prevent the surface induced these coloration even if I'm not going to paint on it directly, so it doesn't affect my paper. Now that it's dry, you want to center your illustration, the board, because you won't have much time to mold it later. The best way is to lift it up against the line like this. You'll see where the cradle panel is. Then you'll see if it's centered. Once you like where it is, just turn it around, make some pencil marks. You can use this same technique to mount your watercolor paintings. Have a paper towel at hand. I'm going to use a soft gel gloss. This is really good for attaching papers and Indian collages, as I told you already, cover all the surface. Make sure you get the edges really well. Don't apply it too thin, but also not too thick, maybe at some work to the edges like this. We're going to apply our painting. Turn it around and make sure it's aligned with your previous pencil lines. You get to be fast about this, and then press on it. Use the clean paper towel to press on it because you don't want to get it dirty. Towards the edges, really getting in there in the corner, trying to get rid of any bubble in the middle. When you're working with this small sizes, it's easier. If you're working with a bigger size, you might want to use one of those rollers that you use for block printing. Once I think I have it, I'm going to turn it around in a clean surface. I'm going to put some heavy books on it. I'm going to let it sit overnight. It's dry. What do we have to do is cut off this paper I just keep my eyes free against the wall. We have all these jagged edges on, overlapping edges and we're going to fix that with a sanding block or it's on paper, I just find it easier with the sanding block. You're going to drag down on your paper in an angle. You don't have to apply a lot of pressure. I like going slowly. I go down and I lift, and I go down again and I lift. See, that's getting it smooth and flush. I'm just going to keep doing this on all the sides. Never do that. Never go up. See little fibers start to come off. Once I'm done getting all those sides flush, I'll just go back in with this soft part of my sanding block and do these into corners softly, so I don't have a pointed edge that might leave spit. Again, in on bit of angle. I'll go around everything just to finish it off. I'm happy with how it looks now. Now you can leave the edges like this or you can paint if you want. This is the last chance you have to sign your pee is because we're going to varnish it or you haven't done that, I suggest you do it now. Now I'm going to let that dry. I don't paint the border before because when I'm sanding, I'm just going to leave the paint. I like to paint it now, but to make sure it doesn't get in my painting, I like to varnish these first, and by the way, the paint gets on, it's very easy to wipe. We're going to do that now. This is my certain varnish. I'm going to use a soft brush. Make sure there's no dust from sanding and applied in one direction. Try not to go over the areas too many times since its acrylics, it's a bit resistant, so you have to go back, it won't hurt. I wouldn't touch it anymore right now because it's starting to dry and then you'll get a lot of brush marks. I'm going to let it dry for three hours until I can give it another coat. But first I'm going to paint the sides once this dry to the touch. Before you paint your edges, make sure you've summed it up any excess medium that could help sift out during the artwork or else it will look very ugly. I'm just going to do some white paint. I'm going to have a baby wipe at hand. I'm now painting the edges. I let it dry and I give it another coat of oil to the borders. Three hours have gone by, and I can just add a second layer of this all over and we're done. Now you know how to make acrylics look modern and what type of vapor or surface to paint them on? Now you know how to experiment from different types of surfaces to understand the paint on the surface. You have some basic exercises you can practice until you feel competent with them. Then you can tackle your own illustration, which I hope to see in the project gallery. You also even know how to mount it into woods. You have a finished painting. I can't wait to see your projects into project gallery. If you have any questions, you can also chat me on Instagram at Sandrabowersart. I hope you have a lot of fun. I'll see you in the next class. Bye.