Illustrating with Watercolors on Wood | Sandra Mejia | Skillshare

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Illustrating with Watercolors on Wood

teacher avatar Sandra Mejia, Illustrator + Pattern Designer

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Supplies and Class Project


    • 3.



    • 4.



    • 5.

      Adding Details


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About This Class


In this class I will show you how to create illustrations on wood panels using watercolors and white acrylic paint.  Painting on wood gives your illustrations a totally different look and makes wonderful decorations or gifts.



Meet Your Teacher

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Sandra Mejia

Illustrator + Pattern Designer

Top Teacher

Hello! I'm a Freelance Illustrator and Pattern Designer. 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.

My art has been licensed by companies around the world for use in: Fabrics, Stationery, Kids, Editorial, Greeting Cards, Fashion, Puzzles, Gift and Home Decor.

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1. TRAILER: Hello, I'm Sandra Bowers. I'm an illustrator and surface button designer. In this class, I will show you how two create illustrations on wood panels using watercolors and white acrylic paint. Painting on wood gives your illustrations a totally different look. So join me and let's start painting. 2. Supplies and Class Project: For this class you will need an unprimed artist wood panel, you can find them at craft stores, watercolor paints, brushes, I'm using a Number 10 and a Number 2, water, paper towels and a pallete, a black ballpoint pen, magic tape or any tape that won't adhere too much to the wood, white acrylic paint, opaque white ink, a pencil, paper, and a white eraser. For the class project, you will create an illustration that you can hang in your house or give as a gift. Remember to share your progress on the class project area, and feel free to ask any questions you have. 3. Sketch : Here is my wood panel. Unless you want to paint directly on the wood, you will need a sketch. I want my image to be in the middle and not touch the borders, so I cut a paper to the exact size that I wanted my illustration to be, and I drew my sketch on it. Now I'm going to transfer it to the wood panel. This is my 1.4 mechanical pencil. I love the thick lead because it behaves like a regular pencil but without having to sharpen it. You can also use a regular pencil for this. I'm going to quickly outline the areas that I have to color in, so I lift my paper to the light and lightly mark them. You can skip this step and just color all the back of your page. Now, I'll start coloring the back of my sketch. I'm not making it too dark because we don't want it to show up too much on the wood. I'll lift it up to the light to make sure I didn't miss any areas of the sketch. Now, I'm going to place it centering on the wood. Make sure to center the sketch and not the paper. See, here there's more space on the right than on the left, so I need to place it more a bit to the right. Then, I'll tape it down so it doesn't move. Now, I'll start going over my sketch with my pencil. I'm not pressing too hard so that I don't create indentations on the wood. Just a light line. If tracing over with the same pencil you made the sketch with makes you forget what you have traced already, you can do it with a colored pencil. I'll lift three sides of the paper and checked that I didn't miss anything. If you forgot something, just lay it back down and fix it. If not, you can remove the sketch. 4. Painting: This is my watercolor polyp. I made these charts so I see their colors better. I want to make a brownish orange for the deer, so I'll mix this Venetian red, burnt sienna and French vermilion. I'll add a bit of maple yellow deep and I'll test it on a scrap of paper. I think it's too red, so I'll add a bit of raw umber and then I'll test it again. I like that color. If you want, you can write down the colors you use in case you want to go back and make more. Now I'll start painting. I'll dry my brush because too much water will make it bleed too much. Here I'm just painting a base color for my deer. I'll use a smaller brush for more detailed areas. Try not to overlap the paint because if you go over an area that has dried out, it will look darker where you overlap it. I'll let another coat mostly on the borders. Once you start going darker, you'll see how the paint bleeds in the direction of the grain. It gives it a very distinct effect and it will vary depending on your wood panel. Now I'll make a pink for the flowers. I'll add a lot of water to it so that it's light and I'll dry my brush a lot so that it doesn't bleed. The drier the brush, the smaller the bleed. I want the mushroom to contrast,so I'll use a dark red on them. Since the pencil outlines are so light, you can check your sketch so it will guide you if you don't understand what's going on in a certain area. Remember to rotate your panel so that it's easier for you to paint certain curves and angles. I'll keep mine straight so that you can see better but I'm usually constantly turning it. Here it's a bit trickier to add the darker color since I don't want it to bleed too much onto the deer, so I'll fill in the areas that are far away from the border of the deer with the big brush, and then I'll use this small brush with very little paint to paint the areas that touch it. I like how it bleeds on the bottom, so I'll keep that raw edge. I want to add a bit of shading, I'll make a darker red and add it to the top of the mushroom. Again, I'm using a very dry brush. Now the deer looks too pale,so I'll add some shadows with a darker brown. I'll paint the shadow and dry my brush more to blend it so that it doesn't look like an outline. I'm just dragging the paint around. I'll clean my brush and dry it so I can keep fading it. I'll do the same to the top of the head and neck, the tail, the ears, and the hands. I'll keep darkening some areas until I'm happy with the amount of contrast. To make lines that don't bleed at all, I'll use a ballpoint pen. Don't press too hard, just be patient then go over and over it until it's dark enough. Now I'll paint the cactus making sure that the brush is dry so I don't get green all over the deer's face. I'll paint all the leaves in the same way. I'll make them differentiates to create variety. To make the thin lines, I'll load my brush with thick paint and make sure it's very dry. I'll make the little dark leaves the same way. Finally, I'll paint the horns. I always like adding a bit of white to create more interest,so I'll use white liquid acrylic paint for it. I use a drop of it and add some water to make it flow and so it's a bit transparent and it matches the watercolors. I need to paint the bottom part of the mushroom,so I'll use a light brown. Finally, I'll paint the planter using the same technique as the mushrooms so it doesn't bleed. 5. Adding Details: If some pencil lines are visible, you can try to erase them with a wide eraser, but it usually just smears the pencil. Try it first on the back of your panel. If you must, then do it softly without dragging the eraser around too much. You see how it looks a bit gray here? That area is missing some leaves, so I'm going to paint over it and it won't show, but you don't want to have a smudge like that on your painting. That's why it's so important to make this sketch very light. I'll add a very light green here to create some grass. To add details, I'm going to use thicker paint and make sure my brush is very dry, and I'll go around adding little lines. I'll use these lines to cover some pencil marks that are left visible. I'm noticing that the hands are not very visible, so I'll add more shadows. I need to paint a tiny flower on the cactus. Since I want it to be very visible, I'll pick up paint straight from the pallet. It's very thick, see. I'll paint a flower smaller than it's supposed to be because it will spread. So I'll just dry my brush and soften the edges, and that way the paint will stop bleeding. You can add details over the acrylics too. Finally, I'm going to use these opaque paint to make more details. These are simply because it's thick. This is copic opaque white, and it comes with a little brush in the tip. I add lights to the eyes, little dots on the mushroom and a line on the plant. I will also add some thorns to the cactus with my pen. That's it. I hope you enjoyed the class. Remember to checked out my other classes here on Skillshare or on my website and follow me on Instagram at SandraBowersart.