Create your own Color Wheel with Watercolor | Andrea Merican | Skillshare

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Create your own Color Wheel with Watercolor

teacher avatar Andrea Merican, Visual Artist

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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

8 Lessons (40m)
    • 1. Intro to Color Wheel

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. Drawing and Layout

    • 4. Painting Primary Colors

    • 5. Secondary Colors

    • 6. Intermediate Colors

    • 7. Complementary Colors

    • 8. Finale

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About This Class


Join watercolor artist Andrea Merican as she teaches you step by step to create your own color wheel with watercolors. Understanding color theory and how to incorporate it into your paintings is an important skill and will bring greater variety and interest to your work.

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Meet Your Teacher

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Andrea Merican

Visual Artist


Andrea Merican is a true local Arizona artist. Her primary medium is watercolor. She is captivated by color and her works display this affinity. Her paintings reveal this obsession with color and light and show off her love of design.

Born in Phoenix, AZ, she started drawing at a very young age. It was in high school that she discovered her love of painting. She earned a scholarship to art school and after graduation, moved to Denver, CO to attend the Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design. She continues to learn, grow, and achieve new skills in her art career.  Andrea and her husband live in the Old Town Scottsdale area. They both love to travel the world and experience other cultures. Andrea gathers inspiration for her artwork with each new journey.

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1. Intro to Color Wheel: Hi and welcome. I am so glad you're here today. My name is Andrea American, and I'm an artist living in Scottsdale, Arizona. I have a passion for helping others explore more creativity in their lives. And that's what we're going to do today. We're going to create our own color wheel in watercolors. I use a ton of color in my paintings. I use it in some fun, unexpected ways in my figurative work as well as in my desert botanicals. When you have a good grasp of color, you can really punch up your paintings in a variety of ways and add a lot of interest to them. I'm gonna guide you through our projects step by step today, and I just want you to have a lot of fun and learn something new. When you're done, please post your final color wheel image to our project page so I can see how amazing it is . If you're ready, let's get started 2. Supplies: here, all those supplies that you're going to need to complete your color. Real project. Ah, bull from your kitchen. A ruler, a paint palette, watercolor paints a spray bottle, pencil and eraser. A bucket. The hold water, some paper towels, watercolor brushes on a quality piece of watercolor paper. Please see the links in the project description for where to purchase any of these items. You'll probably only need about six colors to work with, but if you have more, that's great, too. 3. Drawing and Layout: - you're going to start drawing your color wheel on your sheet of watercolor paper. Mine is approximately 11 by 14 inches. Grab a common bowl from your kitchen and use this as a tracing tool. You can freehand it if you want, but this just makes life a lot easier. Draw a circle with your pencil and then said the bowl aside when you're done now, we're going to create the wedges of our color wheel. We're just gonna draw. He's in with our pencil and a ruler. Start by drawing a line down the center of the circle and then again turn your page and draw another line to divide it in half again. Great. Now we're going to add a few other segments, so this is actually going to be in 12 wedges. I kind of just marked these off by eyeballing where I thought the wedge would start. So just do this all around your page. Doesn't need to be exact measurements, just a rough idea of where you want to create your cross lines. And now we'll take the ruler and just choose a place to start and keep dividing. - Now , with the drawing of our last line we have are laid out color wheel. Let's label each area so we know where we're going to paint each color. We begin with our primaries, and we'll just mark on our for red at the top, Then count four spaces over and a wife for yellow. Four more spaces and blue. Now our secondaries count two spaces from red for orange to from yellow for a grain to more from blue for violet. And now the intermediates We have red, orange, yellow, orange, yellow, green, blue, green, blue, violet and last red violet. For the last step in our drawing, grab a small cup and draw a small inner circle in the center of your color wheel. At the end, we will add some complementary colors to finish off our project, and now it's time to paint. 4. Painting Primary Colors: we're going to start with our primary colors red, yellow and blue. So we're gonna choose a cadmium red or cadmium red light for our red. This is a really true red color Swiss you watercolor brush in your water. Get it damp but not soaking wet, and we're going to do a wet into wet technique. Brush water into the first wedge that we're going to paint. That's right. It's just clear water, obtaining it in not saturating the page but making sure that it has a decent amount of water on there. Now dip into a cadmium red or a cadmium red light. Get your brush pretty full, and then I want you just to throw it into that wedge. Just throw it into that nice, wet area that you created. The fun thing about water color is to let it do its thing. So rather than dabbing and stroking and forcing water color paint onto the page, just add it into the water and let it kind of move around on its own. You'll have to do a little bit of adjusting, like you see, I am doing here to refine your edges and things like that but you'll notice that mostly I just kind of threw color into the water and let it do its thing. That is truly the key. We're going to continue working in our primary colors red, yellow and blue. We're gonna move on to yellow. So in the space that we have designated for that again, just using Clearwater paint in your wedge, make sure you try and get it up to the edges. That will help you a little bit later again not saturated but fully wet with water. And then I like to you is a cadmium yellow or a cadmium yellow light. Just load up your brush with your color, and then again, just drop it into that wedge I had use as little brush strokes as possible, just throwing that color in there. And then, of course, you will have to do some refining, cleaning up areas where maybe the water didn't quite meet your edges as I'm doing here, just kind of making some corrections as you go along. If you get an area that has a little too much paint, you could do a little trick where you rinse your brush out and dry. It off, sometimes on a paper towel or a towel, and then just dip the corner into it and then brush it off on a towel. And it's basically extracting that extra puddle of paint out of there. Now, sometimes you'll get your palate a little messy. So have a spray bottle handy to be able to clean this up to make room for your next color that you're going to use, I want to clean our brush in between each one so that we don't muddy the color. We're going to start working on the blue now for blue. I want to use an ultra marine blue. This is a really beautiful true blue that'll look great on our color wheel, so you have using our wet into wet technique. Just fill in this space designated for the blue and load up your brush with ultra marine blue and pop that color right into their letting it bleed and move all over that wedge that we've designated for our blue spot in our color wheel. I love this color blue, and I use it in almost all of my paintings. It's really versatile, and it makes great darks, too. I'm using my trick to get some extra puddle of paint out of there. So just again, using a clean brush, it kind of drinks it up and move that out, and I brush it on your towel. And now I'm just cleaning up my edges to make sure they look nice and sharp. And now we have our three primary colors looking great. The reason they call these your primary colors are because nothing makes a red, yellow or a blue their primaries there, the standard loans. What we're gonna learn next with our secondaries is mixing primaries in order to make secondaries. 5. Secondary Colors: Now let's speak in with our secondary colors. They are orange, green and violet. The secondary colors are named this because they are a combination of the three primaries, mixing together to create three secondary colors red and yellow combined to make orange. As you see, I've cleaned my palate. I've started with a fresh bucket of water. I'm using my wet and wet technique to paint in the section designated for orange. You certainly can mix your red and your yellow to create orange. I am going to use a cadmium orange in this instance just because I think it's a great color orange. I will look really good on our color wheel. So again, just dipping in with the water, first painting the area and then loading up the brush with some orange pain and popping that color right in there. Now we'll do a little refining of the edges so that it's fully saturated with color and looks great in our color wheel. Clean our brush. We're going to get ready for our next color, which is green, yellow and blue combined to make green. Now there are many green paints out there, and you can certainly select anyone, but I'm gonna show you what it would look like to mix your own green. So let's take our cadmium yellow and a civilian blue, and I'm mixing them on the palate here just so you can see what those to make and how easy it waas to mix them. There's two options you can mix on the palate, or a more vibrant, beautiful way is to actually mix on your page. So that's what we're gonna do on the color wheel. What can I use are same wet into wet technique. We'll paint our area designated for the green with water. And then, instead of mixing this first on our palate and putting the mixed color on, we're gonna mix directly within this wet area. It's a really fun way to get a lot more variations and vibrancy when you're mixing a color . So throw some cad yellow into your wedge here and then some cerulean blue kind of alternate . Where you wanting to put this so that they'll mix together nicely at a little bit more yellow In here? It's definitely a process you just kind of get a feel for, but have fun and experiment and see what you like. I think we need a little more blue balance this out. And now, for my favorite part, just pick up the page and let gravity work. And look how magic that IHS, yellow and blue, just combined beautifully to make green. This is a little SAB green that I have been have one of my favorite green water colors, so I'll just pop a little bit of that in here just to make it a really true green for the sake of our color. Okay, let's rinse everything out and clean up our palette as our next color is going to be violet , red and blue combined to make violet or purple, however you like to call it, and again we can use a premixed violet watercolor. My absolute favorite is called Mineral Violet, or you can certainly combine a red and a blue to create your own. So, whichever you prefer, have fun and experiments, we'll use our wet into wet technique again and fill in our wedge that's designated for Violet. Make sure you paint all the way up to those edges. Get enough water in there to work with. No, I'm just gonna dip into my mineral violet, which is my favorite in watercolor colors of violet. There's a ton to choose from in colors can get overwhelming, but I really like the earth Penis of this one. I use this a lot in my paintings, especially if I'm mixing up a dark. I'll often use a blue and a violet and a brown to make a really pretty black color. Now, just for fun. Let's make some ultra marine blue and some Eliza in crimson. Well, just mix that on the pallets. You can see what that looks like. It's very similar to the mineral violet and so easy to make with just two colors that you already have in your palate. And there you have it. You just created your secondary colors orange, green and violet. 6. Intermediate Colors: Now it's time to work on our intermediate colors. Red, orange, yellow, orange, yellow, green, blue, green, blue violet and read a pilot thes air the six colors that are made from the primary and secondary colors we've just painted on our color wheel. Now make sure your primaries and secondaries air dry. First, get a fresh bucket of water and clean your palate up of it. This part is really fun. We're gonna just use are seen wet into wet technique and start painting one area at a time . The fun part is we get to use gravity again to mix all of these beautiful blends. So for red orange, we're gonna use some cadmium red and throw that into our first area. Here, rinse our brush and pick up some orange. I'm using cad orange. This will create a really warm, lovely blend that we call red orange. Pick up your paper and use a little gravity to help these blend and move together. See how fun that is Now you definitely have to use your brush and decide if you want to add more of red or more of orange to get the color that you're after and then you'll have to use a little more refining as we go. Now. This one, we're going to start making yellow orange in exactly the same way. We just did our red orange, but we'll be using a blend of the cad yellow and the cat orange. This one should be a little softer, but still on the warm side of our color wheel. Well, throws and yellow in there. Next, some orange, and then we'll swish are paid around again and let these move and blend. Looking great on a refined this red orange a little bit, you saw that color run up there. That's okay to just don't get too crazy or it'll run down your whole page. All right, now we're moving on to our yellow green. As you can see, the color wheel is divided pretty much 50 50 into your warm colors in your cool colors. As you explore more of painting and color, theory can use thes temperatures of color to really say what you want in a piece. If you want something happy and joyful and bright can use a lot more warm colors. If you want something maybe more moody or or at night, Or just having that cooler feeling could move to the other side and use more of those blues and violets. And some of the cooler greens really is a lot of fun. To be able to use color in this way are yellow. Green is mixing nicely. We just used a cad yellow on a little bit of sap green just to make it quick and easy for you guys. And we're gonna do just a little bit of refining from some of the previous ones we did. The red orange is bleeding a little bit, and it hasn't quite hit the edges of the color wheel. I'm gonna go back and refine this a little bit. That looks better, just kind of clean that up. Paint all the way to the edge just so it looks more complete. A lot of water color is learning your paint toe water ratios, and I'll be honest. This is an ongoing learning process. It changes with every brush with every type of paint you use and even the paper, so be patient with yourself. It's a long process to really understand how much water do you need, How much pigment do you need, but you'll get there. Overtime just really requires a lot of experimentation. Got a puddle here. So I'm gonna get that out of there and then kind of use that to refine this edge of my yellow orange. That looks a lot better. Definitely. Allow yourself dry time in between these. You don't want to get it. So what? That colors air bleeding into one another. So just relax. Kick back, take a break on, uh, let it dry. And right on cue, I just caused that orange to bleed into my yellow green. So don't stress out there's grab a tissue or a paper towel, and you could just stab that. And, uh, it'll stop that bleed that we can go in later and refine that area later. Just mixing up a little bit of that yellow green on the palate now trying to stay out of that very center. So I don't keep causing the bleed there. That looks better. Just mixing it and a little better to get a little more even. Look in that color. All right, now it is time for our blue green. I like this combination a lot. Reminds me of the ocean, so paint our area just with some water. I'm trying to stay out of those other colors so I don't cause any bleeds here. And I'm using a little bit of sap green just because I used that in my green area of my color wheels trying to create that consistency and some ultra marine blue just throwing that and they're trying not to overwork it. And I have a little bit of this fun color called manganese. So if you happen to have a fun other blue green that you want to throw in there, go ahead and do it just mixes in So pretty when you use this gravity technique to make the paint move around really drives very pretty in the end, right, we have only two more to go. Are blue violet and red Violet blue Violet, of course, is made with our ultra marine blue and our Windsor Violet. So just painting in this area with our water, Then we'll add our ultra marine blue and our Windsor violet usar fun gravity technique to move those around blend together. This is an interesting combination because I would definitely identify it as a cool color, but Violet does have some warmth of a red, so you can kind of push this in either direction you want. He's to blend so nice and you'll love it when it dries to make such pretty new colors just kind of refining these edges here. But being careful, not bleed into the other spaces can always go back and refined later, just making minor adjustments here in there as I see the need now, one final wedge in our color wheel have are red violet. We're just gonna do a combination here of some Windsor violet and our cad red, so this is definitely an example of a cool color that's moving towards a warm color. We'll just throw in some of that violet there and then pick up some of our red. Merge those two together in a really fun way. Move our page around just a little bit. Let those colors bleed and blend and create our new color. And that's the fun part of learning to blend and do. Color mixing is the amount of colors that you can make is limitless. You could try combinations of every single thing on your palette and just see what new colors they create. And then you'll have so much fun using them in your work. All right, that does it for intermediate colors. Just do a few more refinements here on this one, and then our next step is going to be adding some complementary colors. Be sure to let this dry first before you begin the next process. 7. Complementary Colors: now that our color realist dry, we're going to take some time and learn about complementary colors. We drew our inner circle before during our layout process, and we're going to use this to create a complementary color wheel in the center. Complementary colors are the opposite Hugh on the color wheel, so across from red is green were just painting green into this tiny little wedge in the color wheel. And now we'll use our red and paint that on to our green. We're just gonna move around the wheel and paint the direct opposite into our inner circle . And as we do that, we'll talk a little bit about complementary colors and how amazing they are to use in your artwork. Complementary colors are two colors that are on opposite sides of the color wheel. No, we, which colors are complementary toe one another, can help you make good color decisions in your paintings. Complementary colors can make each other of pure brighter. They can be mixed to create neutrals. They can also be blended together to create deeper, more interesting shadows when you place a complementary pair next to each other, for example, an orange and a blue. Both colors will appear brighter and pop off the page. To really grab your viewers attention. You could also layer ah complementary pair one over the other, which can also create a lot of vibrancy. Maybe not on the surface, but it's there. That energy is there of the two colors playing off of each other. When you're mixing paint, you can mix to complement trees to create a really beautiful neutral. It's also a great way to expand your palate. If you don't have a color, you can certainly mix it. Adding a red to a green will often create sort of a sienna or brown color. Another great way to use complementary zis is to use a complementary color in a shadow by having a little bit of that other colors pair there. It creates more of the vibrancy and interest than it would if you just used a neutral for a shadow. Instead, we have now completed are complementary colors of our primaries on our secondaries again, we're just moving around the wheel. We did our red and green or yellow and our violet are orange and blue. We're going to do the exact same concept and process for our intermediate colors. So we're just mixing this blue green here and directly across is are red orange. Feel free to allow time for these to dry in between each one, so that you don't bleed into each other. It's a lot of patients involved in painting in watercolor. Trust me and feel free to change your water as often as you need as well. It's always good to have a nice clear tub toe work with and a clearer palette. So now I'm creating some red orange and that will be painted on its opposite. The blue greens, and you can already see is you're creating this, the inner color real of complementary colors that were painting. They're kind of creating a neutral tone. Overall, it's it's toning down some of the brightness, but yet there's still a riel beauty behind it and almost a richness versus if you were just using a brown out of a tube. It's interesting how much more depth and beauty that you could create by adding color to color versus just purchasing a new tube of paint, a new troop of color. So I really encourage you have so much fun with this an experiment and just see what other colors you can create as you go along with this process. All right, and now painting the red violet into its complement. Yellow Green Way just got the last two to go. Are blue violet on our yellow orange? Clean up this palette a little bit. It's getting a little dirty. Here's our yellow orange mix. Paint that on top of our blue violet. This is also a great way to introduce you into the beauty layering such an essential part of watercolor painting. The more layers you create, the more variety and depth and interest that you will have in your paintings. Here is our final piece painting a blue violet into our yellow orange. You look so good you have just created a beautiful color wheel with an inner complementary color wheel, and now just let it dry and enjoy. You're amazing Project 8. Finale: Congratulations. You did it. You created a color wheel using watercolors. I hope you had a ton of fun today. I hope you learn some new things about watercolor. As a medium. Hope you learn some new things about color and are excited to incorporate it into your work . Don't forget to post your final image of your color wheel to our project page so I can check it out and see how awesome it is. And I just want to say thank you so much for allowing me to be part of your creative journey. That's truly an honor for me. I hope we get to work together very soon. Thank you.