Painting Watercolor Botanicals with Water-Based Markers | Charlotte DeMolay | Skillshare

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Painting Watercolor Botanicals with Water-Based Markers

teacher avatar Charlotte DeMolay, Art | Writing | Nature

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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 (48m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. Vivid, Saturated Color

    • 4. Beautiful, Transparent Color

    • 5. Using Two Colors

    • 6. Try a Custom Color

    • 7. Light and Shadow with Three Colors

    • 8. Your Project

    • 9. Bonus: Pine Needles

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About This Class

Use your water-based markers, like Tombow Dual Brush, to create easy, beautiful botanicals. This is a great technique for sketching on the go or those who are learning to control water media.

Got water-based markers sitting around in your crafting, lettering or stamping supplies? Let’s make some easy, watercolor paintings with them! This class will demonstrate how to use water based markers like watercolor paint. We’ll explore several techniques that are quick and fun. We’ll conclude with ways to use your mini-masterpieces.

This class is designed for beginners. No previous painting or art experience required.

If you enjoy this technique, try these classes as well:

Painting Watercolor Tropicals with Water-based Markers

Coffee Break Art: Brush Marker Watercolor Hollies

Meet Your Teacher

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Charlotte DeMolay

Art | Writing | Nature



*I'm taking a break from Skillshare for a little while...if you need to contact me you can fine me on the sites below* 

click Facebook or @charlottebdemolay

click Instagram or @charlotte.demolay

click for my website, email list and blog


I don't just see the world as it is, I see the possibilities.

Part of my passion for art is teaching others. I have taught students of all ages for over 25 years. I love teaching the creative soul who thinks they 'can't' do art as well as the advanced student wanting to push their work to a new level.

I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. I work in acrylic, wa... See full profile

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1. Introduction: I loved playing around with art supplies and trying new techniques. I have soooo many supplies for the different phases of my explorations. Like brush lettering. No, I never really mastered it, but I have lots of pretty markers. Lots and lots. How about you? Do you have a set of water-based brush markers laying around waiting for you to create something beautiful? How about a watercolor painting? My name is Charlotte DeMolay. I'm a creator and writer and a little bit of an art rule bendor. Welcome to painting watercolor botanicals with water-based markers. In this class, we'll create beautiful watercolor paintings with just a few supplies. This is a great technique for getting comfortable with water media, painting or sketching on the go, or just trying something new with your supplies. We'll start by talking about supplies, spoiler alert, they don't have to be expensive. Then you can grab some markers and paint along with me as we learned saturated and transparent painting techniques and explore how easy it is to create a painting using just one or two or three markers. So let's have some fun and create some beautiful artwork in painting watercolor botanicals with water-based markers. 2. Supplies: Hi, thanks for joining me. Let's go over some of the supplies you'll need in this class. First as some sort of paper because we'll be using water on our brush markers. So you're going to need watercolor paper or mixed media paper. I do some of the projects and this mixed media sketchbook. And otherwise I use a pretty inexpensive watercolor. I can usually find this at Michael's. But you don't need something very high-quality just as long as it is made for watercolor or mixed media. And of course you're going to need markers. I use a variety in this class. The absolute most important thing is to make sure that they're water-based markers. If you have some markers that are out of their box and you're not sure because they're not marked. Run a test really quick. Just make a mark on a paper and paint over it. If it doesn't bleed, it's not water-based. My favorite are Tombow Dual Brush markers, water-based, of course not the alcohol based. I have a big collection of these, as you can see, I use another set of markers for the demonstration as well, from Stampin' Up, these are also water-based. I'm a scrapbook so I've had this set long time. I don't find the colors are quite as saturated, but that just, that could just be because of the age. If you don t have a special brush marker set, you can raid your kids. You're gonna be shocked at the beautiful project we're going to create just using a basic black Crayola marker. Next, you'll need some sort of water source. You can either use water pens that keep the water down in the handle. Or you can use a container of water with regular brushes. Onto inspiration. I take lots and lots of photographs to work from. I have thousands. But sometimes even with my collections, I don't have exactly what I want to paint from. Fortunately, there are two great websites I use for inspiration images, and Why use these instead of just a Google or Safari search? Copyright. I rarely copy a photo, even my own. But if you do, you don't want to violate another photographer or artists' copyright. With Unsplash and Pixabay, the photographers are allowing consumers to use the images freely. Even so, I do encourage you to use the photographs as inspiration and not try and make an exact copy. I put the images I used in the demonstrations and the project section of this class also have a link to more botanicals that I collected on And of course there's nothing like real life for inspiration as well. For my final demonstration, I'll be sitting on my back porch painting a tree instead of using a photograph. Okay. Let's get started. 3. Vivid, Saturated Color: I'm going to get started by going to Unsplash and my botanicals for illustration collection I've created, I'm going to do this monstera leaf. So I'll set this aside and I'm not going to do a base drawing, I'm just going to start with marker, but feel free to use a pencil to draw. If you do though, do go over it with an eraser to lighten up the lines so they're not showing up prominently in your watercolor. If you struggle withdrawing, don't let that stop you. You can either print out your inspiration and tape it in your watercolor up to a window to see if you can see through it and do a light tracing or if you need to print it out, go over it heavily with a pencil on the outline, and that'll make an impression into your watercolor paper. And then you can outline it with pencil and start in with your marker or just try it and go for it, you may surprise yourself. So now we're going to add pigment for the darker areas of our monstera. Now, this isn't precise shading or doing an exact illustration. All we're doing is laying down the pigment that we need to use with our watercolor. You can look at your inspiration to see where the darkest areas are. And that's where you'll want to lay down the bulk of your pigment. And I remember where this is going to be a very saturated leaf, so go heavy with it rather than light. And all these demonstrations, I actually speed up my drawing and painting. Each one except for one usually takes me about ten to 12 minutes, but I speed them up so that you can see the process that watching it in real time. If at any point if you're following along with me and I get ahead of you, just pause it, rewind it, whatever you need to do. But don't feel like you're doing something wrong if you're not working as fast as I am, because I'm not working that fast either. I'm going to use a regular watercolor brush for this and water, if you have one of the watercolor handle pens, please feel free to use that, use whatever you have. And I'm just going to start painting. I like to go over the outline just slightly. So instead of it being the harsh marker line, it lightens it up to more of that watercolor look. Especially down when I get to the tips up, pull it down even further so it's lighter and more transparent like watercolor. So the heavy areas where I've put down the marker, that is our pigment base. That's where we're pulling our pigment from to create the watercolor painting. Instead of dipping our brush into pigment, we're pulling it off the paper where we've laid down the brush markers and I'm scrubbing a little bit. You don't typically do that with actual watercolors because you don't need to, the pigments in your brush, not on the paper, but with this being in the paper, you scrub it just a little just so that you get the pigment onto your brush to pull it around on the different edges. And this is what creates a lighter and the darker all over the leaf. You see, I keep going up and over the edges where I've already painted. That's basically because I don't want it to dry as a harsh line before I get there. Whoops, I went over, that's okay. I'm using a little bit of paper towel to blot it up. Then I'll just keep getting going over it until I have it incorporated into the leaf the way I'd like. So mistakes, they're just other ways to add creativity into your painting. And if you get areas you want a little bit darker, dip back into the places where you put down the marker the heaviest. For this monstera, I decided to do an eight by ten format. So I took a mat board that I had that was eight by ten and just traced around it. You can see it faintly on the edges and that creates the borders for this painting. You'll see the edge goes off a bit and that's fine because I'm going to cut it down to put it in a frame. I find tracing like that on a larger piece of paper is easiest way if you have a format in mind, like eight by ten or eight by eight, something like that. And you can see the different tones and colors in the painting. That's because the pigment of the green is not a pure green. They use different blends of colors the same way you combine different colors to get what you would like. Brush markers do the same. They combine different pigments to get different ranges and tones and different colorings. And that shows up when you add water to it. So even though you're just using the one marker, you're getting beautiful blues and greens within the painting. Here's another version that did the same way. I actually painted this first and thought I was recording it and, no, all I did was take a picture of it. That's okay, now I have a matched set. So this is the saturated version. Next, we'll move on to a more transparent style. 4. Beautiful, Transparent Color: I'm going to use this fern picture. It has a nice moody look to it that I think will work well for this, I'm going to grab plain old Crayola markers. There's nothing special about these. I'm using a plain black just to show you you don't need a lot of expensive supplies to do this technique. This is absolutely beautiful and you'll be stunned to see what this simple marker can do. Now for more transparent watercolor, you simply want less pigment on the paper. So instead of drawing each and every leaf of the fern, I'm just gonna do a basic drawing of lines. And of course I'm not going to draw every fern that was in the photo. I kinda like to pick and choose my own composition. That's one of the fun things about this technique is you don't have to have a very precise drawing style. You can do a loose, easy drawing and turn it into a beautiful watercolor. I have kinda the basic outline and I'm going to go back and just put the base down for some of those ferns stems. Again, I'm not drawing each leaf. I'm just putting a little bit of a mark down at the beginning of each leaf just to give my brush some pigment when we get to the watercolor part. And I'm not even going all the way out to the edge just a little bit at the base where the leaves would be longer. I'll be able to use the pigment from the base for each leaf of the fern branch. Alright, I'm gonna pick up a pretty thin brush for this because it's kinda precise work. This painting took me longer than any of the rest of them. It took me probably about 20 minutes or so. So I have this sped up to 200 per cent. If you're doing the demonstration along with me, you need to pause or rewind or catch up, please feel free. So I start at the base of each stem, pick up that pigment, and draw out the leaf, pulling the pigment from the base out through the rest of the leaf. Now I don't want an exact, precise leaf. You know how I am, keep it easy and loose. It also gives that watercolor painting style by having a bit darker pigment in some areas and lighter, more transparent pigment, especially towards the end of each leaf. Sorry, my hand is blocking some of these at the beginning, but as I move out, you'll be able to see a little bit better. Treat that marker ink you put down at the base as kind of almost a pool of ink. So if you're going out along the branch into a leaf and you feel like it's a little light, just dip back into the base and then go back out. It's almost like you have a well of ink or pigment right there to paint from. Don't worry about overlapping with other branches. Just continue painting as each of your strokes and merge with what you've already painted, it gets wonderful blooms and different transparency effects. Again, the look we're going for with this is transparency. It's not as saturated as those Monstera leaves. So you pull out the leaves and branches much further than what you drew Down here in the small leaves we'll get a lot of overlap. And I just ignore what a painted before and paint a new one, in the way that it all blends together es just beautiful. What amazes me with these Crayola markers is, as you saw in the monstera leaf, where they use different colors of pigments to create a color and that comes out when you add the water to it. It's the same with the black and the Crayola. In the black and really in any, it's combination of colors. So you're using one marker, but you're getting this beautiful array of blues and grays that are built into the pigment itself. At this point as usual, my tablet is timed out. I'm pretty much painting just how I wanted at this point, filling in whitespaces, leaving some areas thicker and thinner. I'm making this my own artwork at this point, not just copying the photograph. And I really encourage you to do that and put your own creativity into this. Add branches, leave out branches, overlap, make them big or small. And even in the subsequent demonstrations, use whatever colors you'd like. Bring your own creative, artistic touch to it. Here we have the finished painting. Again, these colors are just exquisite. This one I think, is my favorite of all of them. And it just blows me away... this is done with an inexpensive Crayola marker. And this was another quick sketch I did, just practicing with the black. Okay, let's move on to using two colors in our paintings. 5. Using Two Colors: I'm going to choose a succulent plant for these two colors. And I'm doing this in the eight by eight format. I'm just going to zoom in on one succulent for this painting. The succulent has some greens and pinks in it. So I'm gonna kinda play up that pink, to make this to color. I will sketch this out first because this is a little more complicated. Again, don't get caught up too much in drawing exactly. In fact, I'm makeup a lot of leaves on this because I want it to fill the entire frame. If the drawings are holding you up, you can try a variety of different tracing methods to put this on here. One that I've taught students before is to take a clean sheet of paper and cover it in the softest drawing lead that you have. And then you can use that in-between a printout of your inspiration and your watercolor paper putting the lead side down, trace over your inspiration. And then when you've lifted up, there's a drawing from the lead underneath. So there's a variety of ways you can get your drawing down, but I encourage you to give it a try free-hand. My drawing's fairly light on here, but it's essentially just triangles connected together. And while it looks fairly light, on video, I still go over and erase all my lines. I can see them while I'm painting. They may not show up so much on the video. But if you do this, even your lighter lines, if you erase them, you'll be able to see them while you're drawing. It doesn't bother me having lines of my watercolor. So if you need to leave them in there and not erase them, that's fine. Just part of the art. Okay. I'm not quite sure what combination that I want to use for this. And that's the nice thing about having this drawn out as an 8x8. All the extra around it I can use to test colors. So I'm gonna put down a mark of each of these greens to see which one I liked best, and then which pink I liked best. And I'll pick those two to do this painting. For this project, I'm using Stampin' Up markers. Again, I have a big set from scrap booking. They're little old so you'll find the paint is not as saturated as I'm doing the demonstration. I'll be honest, I'm not quite sure if that's because of the age of these. There are well over ten years old or if they just don't have as much pigment in them as Tombow markers. But like we saw in the previous demonstration, you don't need expensive markers. Grab a set of Crayolas and play with those. And I'm going to start the drawing. Again. You can see this much clear now that's just a lot of triangles and then the triangles go into curves for the leaves. It's not very precise, and my inspiration photo has already timed off on my tablet. I don't worry about it. I'm kinda going by my lines that I drew and even kind of go astray a little bit at the end. So that can get this to fill the whole paper. Now I'm just filling in some of the whitespace with some leaves, some additional leaves. So it goes off all the edges. Now it's time to kinda darken up some of the areas Remember we're laying down the pigment to use in the painting. So it's not exact, it's not exact shading. I'm adding marker down to use as pigment in my painting. The style is very reminiscent of those kid books that the page was already on the paper and you just handed them a paintbrush and some water and let him paint. We're creating our own adult versions of these. Now add the pink the same way. In inspiration photo, the pink is all up around the tips, but I don't want it to go right on top of the green I've already drawn. So that's why I'm dropping the pink down just a little bit and then I'll actually use the outline of each leaf that I drew as the base of the leaf that it's on top of instead that the leaf itself, I'll show, you'll see this as a start painting. I'm still using a paint brush for this. If you have the water-filled type, with the water and the handles, you're welcome to use whatever you're more comfortable painting. But I tend to use the water brush style when I'm traveling or sketching or not in my studio. In mystudio, I almost always have a bin of water somewhere. So I grab the paintbrush more here. But when I'm sketching or doing these kinds of drawings elsewhere around the house and especially like my back porch, then I'll use the water handle brush. So like the other paintings, you're using, the mark you put down as a pigment for your painting. And like with your regular watercolor, you want to start with a lighter colors into the dark. If not, then you lose those light colors. The darker colors will overpower them. So that's why I go to the end of the leaf. And use the pink and pull it down and then blend it in with the green. Because the complexity of this plant, I'm leaving some of the marker lines in there as well. I'll put a light coat over them just so it's not like a harsh drawn line. But I'm not trying to blend in all of the pigment or else I'll lose the shape of these leaves and lose the shape of the plant. This is sped up about 1.5 times faster than I actually painted it. So at anytime, if you need to pause, catch up, rewind and take a look at how something is done, please feel free. And on these last leaves, they are outlined in the green, but I'm just rubbing it right around the edge. I'm trying not to pull it too far down into the leaf because I don't want it to overpower the pink. Now one thing I have noticed, as is starting to dry and I've gotten towards the end and some of the water is starting to dry. I've lost some of the edges of the leaves in there. And this is when I realized these markers weren't quite as saturated as the Tombow markers. So I'm going back over it and adding some of the edges back in. You can do this. Now if your paper is very wet, it'll tear the paper a little bit. So be very careful if you're going back adding pigment on the wet paper. I'm touching it lightly. In fact, I'm just barely touching it because as soon as you touch the wet paper, it sort of wicks it down anyway. But if you find areas as you're painting that doesn't have enough pigment, it's too light, you've lost some edges; whatever you see, you can go back and add some pigment and then pull it out again with your brush. I feel like this just adds more structure to the shape of leaves in this succulent. And the same with the pink adding a bit of pink here and there just to brighten it up just a little bit. And as I'm doing this, I notice just like with regular watercolor, when you add too much water and scrub too much with your brush, it will make your paper peel just slightly. I've noticed it in a couple of spots but it's not really bad. It's not really even showing up on the video, but it's something to be aware of. You don't want to overwork these just the same way you don't want to overwork regular watercolor because that's all about the paper, not so much about your pigment. So the same with the water base markers. If you overwork the paper is going to peel as well. And here it is dry. Now we're gonna move on to custom colors. 6. Try a Custom Color: These additional demonstrations just show you that you're not limited to the colors that you see in your inspiration drawings. You can use this method to do any sort of botanical that'll match your decor. For example, maybe you haven't existing color scheme in your house and you'd love the botanical look and you can't find the colors that you would like to go with it, create your own. This is another fern. I'm gonna do a light sketch just to put the basic down here. I'm not drawing each leaf, I'm just putting the outline of where I want the leaves to be so they can kinda keep the shape of this fern. And next, I'll lay down the pigment with the marker. I won't be drawing each leaf. I'm just going to be putting in the base of where it will be, and give my paintbrush spots to pull pigment from. These truly are watercolor paintings. You're not doing a complex drawing and then just painting straight on top of it. I'm just laying down the basis of the pigment that you need to do your painting. The water and the paint brushes where you're creating the art. I found some pencil lines to erase. It's not a necessity, but my drawing didn't quite line up with them. So that's why I thought and erase them because it wasn't quite on top of them. I started off using this water handle pen, but it was not given me the amount of water I needed so I switched over to a regular paintbrush. And just like the transparent fern with the black marker, again, I'm just using the drawing that I put down on the paper for the pigment. I'm painting the leaves with the brush instead of having a complete drawing of them. Now, if you did a complete drawing, it would give you that more saturated look like the Monstera leaves. They will be brighter and more vivid. By having just the base down. This gives us more transparent, light colored watercolor painting effect. And this is essentially a repeat of the demonstration I did with the black marker. These are ferns again, I'm just doing a pink this time. I'm going to speed this up because there's another demonstration after this one. Here it is dry. Now I'm going to use more of an indigo look and do this plant here. This one will be a little bit more saturated. I won't start with a prior drawing. I'm just gonna go straight to it with the marker and draw out the basic leaf structure. And even where it overlaps the stem, that's fine. I'm just going to draw it just like that. I'm fully drawing the leaves instead of just the base of the where the leaves will be. This sets the tone for more saturated watercolor painting instead of the lighter, more transparent one, like the pink. This time I found a water brush that was working and giving me the water I that want out of it. Both of these drawings I did in the mixed media sketchbook instead of a watercolor paper. And these are great if you are out doing sketches out and about. Like if you're doing them live maybe in a botanical garden or something. This is a great technique to use there, especially taking along sketch books with you instead of watercolor paper taped down to boards, that type of thing. And I'm letting where I put down the heaviest pigment and guide me in this. And where they cross through the stems or overlapped the stems, I can kinda leave those by just painting around it and leaving the stem in there. I think one of the really neat things about this technique is that because you're pulling the pigment on the paper with water, it's not loaded on your brush. The colors tend to bleed less into each other. So you can keep your edges sharper and you don't lose them as much as you do with regular watercolor paint. Here it is dry. OK, let's do a three color painting. 7. Light and Shadow with Three Colors: I am not in my studio doing this drawing. I'm actually sitting out on my back patio. I'll show you at the end my view that I'm drawing. So instead of having an inspiration photo, I'm drawing from life this time from a palm tree that's right outside my porch. I'm going to start off with my medium color. This is a medium green and I'm indicating where the leaves are. Then I will pick up a darker green do the stems. And I'm keeping this dark color sort of towards the center of the palm because that's where it's darkest in itself with the shadows and everything. So I'm not gonna put down this in every leaf. I'm actually using the fine tip on this instead of the brush so I can put it right on top of the leaves I want. And then I'll use yellow for the highlight where the sunlight's hitting this plant. So instead of going all the way to the center, these are gonna be out on the edges of the leaves. This is a very, very quick sketch. I'm not drawing every branch of the palm tree. I just did a composition, I think, interesting, going off the edges. And this is where the water brushes come in handy because they don't have to have a container of water with me. It's all right there, they're contained. I'm not having to dip and I am pulling out the dark up to the edges and not always including the yellow. I'll kind of go back, pull the yellow back into the green to keep that highlight in there. And the pigment I laid down was not for every single blade of the palm tree. I'm using it and then pulling leaves in-between. See how I'm filling in in-between each leaf given indication of a full leaf, not just the outline of each and every stem. As usual, the is sped up. So pause if you need to slow it down, whatever you need to do if you're painting along with me. This is a very loose, vibrant painting. This is kind of how my style is on whatever medium I'm using. I think that's why I enjoy this so much. This is just fun. It's easy. I can use a few colors and a little bit of water. And create a vibrant sketch. I often sit on this back porch and do this technique. I'll upload in the project section some sketches when I was working out this class that I did using this very technique, sitting on my porch and just looking at some reference photos on my phone and sketching them out in a multimedia sketchbook with Tombow markers and a water brush pen. It was easy, it's fun and a whole lot less mess. This is a great portable sketching technique. And this is a view I was painting. I had it sitting on my lap. I was looking at the palm tree right off the edge of my porch. And there we have botanicals with water base markers. Next, I'll talk about your project. 8. Your Project: I hope you enjoyed watching the magic you can create with water-based markers. If you painted along with me, you've already completed your project. If you haven't, now's the time to try it. First, pick out an inspiration photo. You can download any of the ones I use in the demonstrations in the resource section. I also have a link to the botanical photo collection I curated on Unsplash in the project description. After you've picked out your inspiration photo. Make a light sketch on watercolor paper. Then decide, if you want to use one, two or three colors, if this is your first time trying, I highly recommend just using one or two. Before you add marker. Decide do you want the more saturated look or a transparent look. That will determine how much marker you put down on top of your drawing. Next, add your water and create a painting. Remember the photo is just your inspiration. This is where you can let your creativity flow along with the water. And the final step, please take a photo or scan your finished painting and uploaded here in the project section. I can't wait to see what you create. If you enjoyed this class. I head over to my bio and explore my other classes here on Skillshare, and then hit the Follow button so you know, when I release new ones and please consider leaving a review for this class. I read all of them and I use them to help create my new classes. Thank you for joining me and have fun creating your botanical art. 9. Bonus: Pine Needles: This is a bonus painting using two markers. I'm going to do some pine branches and I'm only going to use brown for the branch in green for the pine needles. One thing I'm doing differently as I'm not speeding this up. Both the drawing and the painting is me working in real time. For the first two branches, I'm going to use the brush side of the marker and lay down kind of a thicker base since these will be in the center and more focused. And for the other branches, I'll switch over into the fine point marker on the other end of the Tombow marker. And like the other paintings before, the photograph, is just my guide. I'm definitely not drawing every needle of these branches. So when I start painting, I'm going to paint over the marker strips that I made, and this will let me gather pigment on my brush. And then I'll paint in-between to give the illusion of a fuller branch. When I go over the brown of the branch its to spread it out. So it looks more like a watercolor than a drawing. The dark opaque lines from where I did the initial drawing, combined with the lighter transparent areas where I've spread the pigment thinner not only fills out the branch, it gives a lot of different value tones within it as well. Like with the other markers, it looks like there's more colors involved in just two. This is a very easy little painting. It would make great holiday cards or sketching in nature. Here it is completed.