Paint a Watercolour Space Seal Using Salt and Masking Fluid | Charlie Proulx | Skillshare

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Paint a Watercolour Space Seal Using Salt and Masking Fluid

teacher avatar Charlie Proulx, Watercolour and Textile Artist

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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Your Project


    • 3.



    • 4.



    • 5.

      Masking Fluid


    • 6.

      Light Layer


    • 7.

      Seal Markings


    • 8.



    • 9.

      Finishing Touches


    • 10.

      Wrapping Up


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About This Class

Explore using salt and masking fluid while painting this squishy space seal! We’ll use wet-on-wet, wet-on-dry, and layering to create this fun, loose piece. This class is perfect for beginners who want to play with texture, explore water control, and practise a variety of watercolour techniques.

You will learn:

  1. How to use colour to guide the viewer’s eyes where you want them
  2. Using wet-on-wet to create colour blends
  3. When to use wet-on-dry for detailed work
  4. The effects of masking fluid and salt on watercolour paints
  5. A few tips on cleaning up mistakes

Meet Your Teacher

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Charlie Proulx

Watercolour and Textile Artist



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Hi there!

I’m Charlie, a watercolour and rug artists who specializes in colourful animal portraits. I also go by SquidTarts on social media and around the web. I absolutely love animals and color!

I'm a self-taught artist and have been a professional artist since 2019. I've sold prints of my paintings all over the world, and I currently sell custom rug portraits as well.

In a previous life, I was a dog trainer, and I absolutely loved teaching both dogs and their families how to communicate with each other clearly. I hope to bring that level of two-way communication to my classes here on Skillshare. Please feel free to reach out if you ever have any questions about my lessons or work.

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Level: Beginner

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1. Welcome!: Are you new to watercolor? And I'm wondering where to start, where maybe you've been on your watercolor journey for a little while, but you're interested in branching out and playing with texture. And this is a class for you. Hi there, I'm Charlie. I'm the artist behind Squid tarts Art. I'm a Watercolour and textile artist and Atlantic Canada. And I specialize in rainbow Animal Portrait. This class we're going to paint a colorful space seal. We're going to use the wet on wet technique as well as introduce the use of salt and masking fluid to create a variety of textures. If you don't have masking fluid, that's not a problem. You can also use opaque white paint. And this beginner level course, we're going to focus on using simple shapes, minimal number of layers, and a loose technique to create a FUN, loose and expressive Watercolour Painting. Thank you for joining me and my Watercolor journey. And I hope you enjoyed the class 2. Your Project: The project for this class is create a space inspired Seal Using a minimum number of colors, just three or four. And we'll focus on creating depths Using contrast, using a minimal number of layers, usually a wet on wet technique to create very fluid shapes will also use salt for creating texture, as well as masking fluid. If you don't have masking fluid than any opaque white paint work. At the end of the project, you'll have a Portrait of a squishy space seal. When you're finished, please be sure to share your project to the class. I'm really excited to see it 3. Materials: Materials, one for this class, or a good quality cotton based watercolour paper. Preferably you want to use a 100% cotton watercolor paper because that'll allow you to make the most washes, use a large amount of water without worrying about buckling or the paper refusing to absorb it, and also give you more vibrant colors. I also recommend if you're a beginner to use a cold press paper. So let's say paper that has a bit of texture to it. And this allow your paint to lay down much more smoothly, more easily, and will also allow your colors to blend together more easily. Extended mean it's Watercolor brushes. I used to Brushes for this Painting. The first was a round brush, and the next was a small size zero liner brush. You also need at least three colors of paint. You want to colors that are fairly similar. So for mine, I used fellow turquoise and fellow blue, red shade of blue is of course a blue and turquoise is right next to it on the color wheel. If you don't have the turquoise color, you can add a little bit of yellow to your fellow blue and produce an absolutely stunning turquoise overall. You also want to contrast and color for the space areas to help guide the eye and add interest. For my pop color. I'm using quinacridone rose, and then just read a little bit of added interest. I'm also using a little bit of an extra colour, new gamboge around the seal eyes. And that's what really helped them pop because orange or blue or complimentary colors are really stand out against the background for creating texture. Your knee, a little bit of salt. Any regular Table salt will do. Actually use the salt directly from my salt shaker for this one. And you'll also want some masking fluid or white paint. Masking fluid that I'm using is by ashmem K. And I find this masking fluid or moves from a paper really easily. Of course, you also want a reference photo and a sketch, and I've included both of those materials for you. 4. Salt: Before we begin, I wanted to discuss a few properties of salt and how it interacts with Watercolour. The first thing to keep in mind is that not all watercolours will react to salt. In general, synthetic colors like the quinacridone and fellows tend to react very well as something natural pigments may not react as strongly or even at all, definitely interested your pigment before you begin painting to make sure that it actually reacts with the salt, the way that you'd like. Once you know that your pigment to react to salt the way that you like. There are two other considerations you have to keep in mind. So one is the amount of water and the second is the size or coarseness of your salt. When your watercolour paints are extremely wet, so they form a puddle on the paper. You tend to get these really large blocky shapes around your salt. Find salt is going to make smaller shapes, while coarser salt is going to make larger shapes. Cnc here in the puddle section, where the Fine salt has created some smaller shapes along the edge here, but mostly large shapes that all move together. And when you look at the core salt, you can see that it actually has combined to make more or less one large shape. We use less water. So if papers glossy, but there are only puddles, you tend to get more well-defined shapes. You can see here with the Fine salt, you have bunch of small dots with a bit of feathering at the edges. And with the course salt. Actually may have had this a little bit too dry because of the amount of salt. But you can see that you get a very, very small pattern and some of the salt actually barely relax at all because the salt was too large for the amount of water on the paper. This is just an example of how you might want to experiment with the amount of water and also the salt size. And it's final section, I resolved a bunch of salt in water and just mix that directly with the paint as I would normal water. When you do this with some paints, you can get a bit of texture. So you see along the edges of the swatches, there's a bit more of a cauliflower effect, but you don't get the dramatic dots like you do with adding the salts directly to the paint. Loose piece, I'll be using Fine salt on a glossy wet level of water. But you can use whatever you think looks best. 5. Masking Fluid: The first step for this painting is an elective one. So in order to create stars, I'm going to splatter the surface with some masking fluid. So here's masking fluid I use. It's by shaming gay energy. This I can use a stiff bristle brush. So I'm using a dog toothbrush and I'm applying the masking fluid, I'm thinking about where the stars are going to be. So I know that I want the star clusters to form bit of a sweeping ARQ. So I'm trying to make the main cluster around the seal is body. This high level of contrast. Seal will help draw the viewer's eye. If you get any large blobs like I did, just wait for them to dry and then you can peel them write-off. If you don't have masking fluid, then you can always add the stars the end using white paint. So we're gonna wait for this to dry and then we're gonna move on to the Painting Steps 6. Light Layer: Now the background layer is dried. We're gonna move on to the body. First thing we're gonna do is apply shadows to all the light areas. We're going to start with just the body. So again, we're going to pre wet this area and I'm going around the shape of the head so that egg shape is going to be excluded. And the body of the seal is going to be nice and damp. And again, I'm using a large brush just to get this all filled in. Actually be doing this entire painting in this brush. But you can use a smaller one if it makes you more comfortable. And this time I want to use a fairly light color so the seal is white and we want to maintain that feeling of whiteness. So over here, going to add bit of my pink to this grayish area. I'll add just a light wash of teal here. Looking at our reference photo, it looks like the seal gets a bit lighter underneath. So I might actually just leave that completely white, just creating the fold around the seal the neck by adding a little bit of shadow there and coming on the other side of the seal with the teal. And then switching out to my blue, I'm going to do around the flipper here, this areas and a bit of shadow. So I'm gonna make it a little bit darker. And same with this other flipper, show a little bit of that darker blue. They're going to bring this blew up into the teal under the chin here. There's a bit of a phone here. We'll add some color there, just using a clean damp brush to soften off the edge of this blue because it got a little bit hard. So maybe the water didn't go as near the edge as I would've liked. I think that's pretty much it for the light areas on the body. The seal has quite a light body except for it's markings on its back. We're gonna add those in a separate step. I'm gonna wait for the body to dry off. And then I will go on to adding the light colors on the face. With body dry, we can now add light colors on the face. Again, I'm presenting this area, so I'm just using some clean water here and being careful to go around the eyes. So I want those to be a different color than the body. Again, looking at our reference photo, you can see that there's actually a quite a strong shadow here just along the gels. So I want to get to that in hard edge of where that water ends will also help create a stronger shape around the seal space. Again, going in here with a bit of teal, looks like there's a bit of a stronger shape around the side of faces. Well, here's this little shape under the jaw and around the eyes. Some bit of a shape near the ear as well. So let's try to get that in. And again, just looking at my reference photo and adding in the shapes that I see. If you miss the shape early on, can always be added in later. So don't worry too much about being perfect at this point. All right. And I think that's pretty good for our first wash. I'm going to wait for this to dry off and then we're going to go in with our first layer of our darker colors 7. Seal Markings: With the face and body dry, it's now time to go in and add some darker colors, this seal. So we're gonna start with the body again. And again. We're going to Proulx wet it. You don't need to worry so much about the flippers this time, we're mostly going to be painting around the back. And if you look closely on your reference photo, you can see that there's a phone here just over top of the head and in keep that area dry for right now. So I'm just going to carefully paint around that. I'm just gonna go around the basic circle that is the seals body. So again, I'm gonna go in with my pop of color and I'm going to follow basic pattern of the seal that we see in the reference photo. And we're also going to follow the pattern of the colors that we already have in the background. So I want this pink to connect with this other pink over here. That looks like it's areas a little bit dry since you have paint is not moving. So I'm just going to went around that with my brush, just clean water on my brush and dab at the area going in with my teal next and just adding it to this area up here. So the two things are paying attention to are the colors that we've already established in the background and the pattern on the reference photo. You don't need to worry too much about either of these placements of colour because steels will have a variety of different patterns and spaces, of course, not uniform. So you wouldn't expect a space seal to fit in perfectly. Just using a clean, damp brush to soften the edge of this here. Fluid out a little bit more. And then while that's still damp, I'm going to take a little bit of Table salt and just poured over the back of the seal. There's a fine grain Table salt and it's gonna help create some of that spotty texture on the seal. I'm going to wait for that to dry before moving on to the next step with backdrop, we're gonna go ahead and add a little fold of flap over the seals head. So again, I'm just pre wedding that you have any excess water in my damp brush. Just going to dab the color where we see it. So it looks like this area is lighter as it moves back towards the heels back. So we're going to try to keep that true to form and just keep a nice sharp edge around the seals face. So I'm just going to add little salt to that and latch dry. And then we'll move on to the darks on the face. With that last little bit of the body all dried off, we're going to move on to the face. Again. I'm pretty wedding the face with some clean water. I'm being careful to go around the eyes if you're using salt, you also want to make sure that you've cleaned the salt off before you apply the water. And that'll just ensure that your wash is, even. If you leave salt on your paper, it'll just appear a little bit more texture. So it's not a huge deal either way. So seal has quite a distinctive pattern. So it's quite dark along the top its head, and it has quite a strong mask around his eyes. I'm using quite thick paint here around the top of the head to create that nice mask. I'm being careful to keep it a little bit further away from the eyes and where I actually want it to go. Because the water will carry the paint inward. Using a slightly more diluted color here around the muzzle. Just because this area has a little bit lighter. And again, I'm just using my clean, damp brush to soften out those edges a little bit. I'm pretty happy with that. So again, I'm gonna go in with a bit of salt just along with top of the head to create a bit of a spotty pattern. And it's going to wait for that to dry. And then we're to come back and do some details. 8. Details: The main markings are done. It's finally time to add some details to the seal. Since we're doing details, I'm switching to a smaller brush. I'm using a size eight round brush and I'm gonna start with the nose. So again, I'm just pre wedding the nose just to make sure that I get a nice smooth coverage of my color. And it looks like it should be a mid tone. I am going to use a bit of teal for this. Just cover over whole area for right now. Well, it's still damp. I use a little bit of blue into my teal and just dab that along the top because the top of the seal's nose is the darker than the rest of it. So adding this more concentrated color, well, just really emphasize that point. Next, I'm going to wet just under the seals mouth here, right down to the chin. Learning needs a bit of blue and just carefully draw in under that mouth. It's going to create that nice strong shape. Again, if you find your paint is spreading a little bit too much, you can just use your clean damp brush to pick that up over top of the nose. It looks like there's a little bit of a stronger shape here, just in front of the eye. I'm going to add a little bit of water and just tap in a little bit of a shape to clean that up a little bit. That's just going to make that shape a little bit stronger so it stands out around the eye. Now above the eyes, we have a few little whisker spots show I want to add in just making sure that the salt has been cleared away. And then I'll just dab in those little whisker spots. And same with, on the other side. We'll use teal because it's in a hilly area. Just dab in those three little notches. I'm over here. I'll draw in the shadow on the ear. This is pretty much just a curved line. And likewise, I'll come back to the ear on the other side and draw that in as well? Yes, when you can see a little bit more of it. So I just want to get that shape right. Well, the nose is drawing. I want to move on to the eyes. Are quite dark, so an orange and get that illusion of darkness around the entire eye, but still have it standout. Going to paint the whites of the eyes using a bit of orange. Let's still damp. I'm going to dab in a little bit of yellow just to give it a bit of extra dimension. Well, that's dry and come back to the mouth with some more blue. And just draw a little shape here that goes from the nose down to the mouth and really emphasize the lips by drawing a bit darker around that little seal smile. Next, I'm going to add in just some little whisker details. Make sure that you're paying attention to your reference photo when you're adding these. So every animal has a slightly different whisker pattern and you want to make sure that you're following it as closely as possible. If you want a realistic feeling. It's pretty good on that side. And we'll move on to the other side. I'm doing this with a very concentrated paint, but don't want to go anywhere. I want it to be nice and dark. And again, if you're more comfortable using an even smaller brush, then you can go ahead and do that. Whatever makes you feel most comfortable. The nose is still a little bit damp, but the eyes are dry. So I'm gonna go ahead and work on the eyes a little bit. For the black of the eyes, I'm going to use purple. And this is because we've used colors in the background that have mixed together to make purple. And also because purple is just a nice dark color, I'm just going to carefully draw in the pupils. So you see that my orange wasn't completely dry here and a little bit of the purple slipped in. I'm just going to dampen that some water and just dab up as much of that purple as possible, can wait for that to completely dry and then I'll recover that area. The meantime, while that dries, I'm going to add a little bit more detail around the eyes. So there are some pretty thick folds. And I want to make sure that I'm getting in these little extra details just help add to the general realism of the peace. Help with the believability. And again, you just want to look at your reference photo and include anything you see. Gonna go in here and add a few spots around the face. It's don't need to be perfect. Just a little bit about a personality to this little guy. And of course, you can switch up your colors to make sure that you're getting a nice variety of colors in there. I'm sure that the nose is dry and go ahead and pick up some of my blue that I used in the background. And I'm going to use this to draw into the nostrils using blue instead of teal because it's just a little bit darker. This is quite a dark area on the seal. Again, I'm using my size eight round brush, but you can use whatever size brush you like best. Just looking at the reference photo to make sure that I get the shape of the nostrils correct. But you don't have to be too perfectionist about it. And I'm also going to add in nice little ridge that runs down the center of the seal's nose. A little bit of shadow along the top of the nose there. And that's it for the nose of the seal and come back to the eye and fix my little loop c, suggest a new layer of orange light down there. If you look at your reference photo, you can see that the seals eyes actually have nice dark islands around them. And this will help you clean up any shape mistakes you've made. And also just darken around the eye. In general, darkness around the eye helps draw attention to the face there. So I'm using a bit of teal mixed with blue to just quickly paint in those eyelids. Again, you want to make sure that the eyes are completely dry before this step or else the paint will bleed into the eyes and affect your color. That's the basic detailing on the face complete, the next step is to remove all the salt and masking fluid that we've added to the piece. And then we'll take another look at it and see where we need to add highlights with opaque white paint. 9. Finishing Touches: Final step of this painting is adding some white details. This you can use any kind of opaque white paint. Most people like to pair gouache with watercolor because it feels very similar. And for this I'm using a small size zero liner brush and I'm just looking at the seal and where I think some highlights could improve things. So first thing to add a few highlights to the eyes, and I just find a few extra highlights. Really add a character. I had a little bit of white around the nose to emphasize that it's super shiny. And again, this is completely elective. So if you like the look of your piece without these white highlights, then definitely feel free to leave it as is. I'm going to add in a few whisker details up here and over on this side as well, you can also choose to make your paint more or less opaque. Some side whiskers. And again, I'm looking at my reference photo to make sure that I'm adding these in in a way that's consistent with the animal. So if you don't have masking fluid or you forgot to add masking fluid to the background to create stars. You can use the same method by dipping your firm bristle brush into the white paint and then splattering it along the background to create the look of stars. Just going to add a few more stars here up on the seals head. Just because I think that'll be cute. Maybe a few tiny ones here on the back, just in these areas where I feel assaults didn't quite add enough texture. While I have my small brush, I'm just gonna come over here where I didn't quite come up to the edge with my earlier layer and paint that in just to clean up that edge a little bit. And likewise, go around and clean up this edge a little bit as well. Keep in mind these edges don't need to be perfect because again, this is an animal and space. So having some nice loose edges and actually add to your piece a little bit. And this is where you want to take a final look at your piece. So if you can, you can photograph it and you can see where the shadows don't line up perfectly between Europeans and the reference photo. I actually just want to darken underneath these flippers just a little bit. And again, this is an elective. I just feel like there's a little bit too light. So I've pretty wet the area. Then I'm adding in, It's a little bit of blue, just to add a little bit more shadow there, just because that area is quite shaded in the reference photo and same with this flipper on the other side. Just wetting the flipper with my clean water, coming in with a little bit of blue. Just to deepen up that shadow. Camera around back here, clean up its shadow on the back of the head. These islands a little bit. And with that, our space CL is complete 10. Wrapping Up: During this class, we covered all the tools that techniques you need to paint your own space seal. We just got to use other wet on wet technique. How to structure your layers Using contrast, and how to create texture using salt and masking fluid or white opaque paints. Please feel free to leave any questions you have and the comment section down below, and I'll get to them as quickly as possible. And please be sure to share your projects. I'm really excited to see all your squishy space deals. Thank you for taking my class and have a wonderful day.