Sketchbook Fun with Gouache: Exercises to improve your Art and Creativity | Viola Maria | Skillshare

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Sketchbook Fun with Gouache: Exercises to improve your Art and Creativity

teacher avatar Viola Maria, 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.



    • 3.

      Monochrome Sketchbook Page


    • 4.

      Sketching Thumbnails


    • 5.

      Play around on a Page


    • 6.

      Use a limited Palette


    • 7.

      Combine Gouache with Colored Pencils


    • 8.

      Paint something from Life


    • 9.



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About This Class

Welcome to this class!

Gouache is a very fun and wonderful medium. It's the perfect medium for starting your creative journey.

Painting is all about practice. In this class, you'll learn to fill your sketchbook with creative exercises and I will share all the techniques I learned over the years, so everyone can benefit greatly from these classes.

I'll explain everything in detail so also as a beginner you can start your sketchbook journey. The best way to learn is by doing, so join me today in these easy exercises that will help you level up your painting skills. No painting has to be perfect, this class is all about having fun while also learning to improve.

By the end of the class you will be able to paint your own sketchbook pages.

So, what are you waiting for? Let's fill some sketchbook spreads!


Various brushes: round brush, flat brush, fine brush for details (the brands I use are Craftamo, Pittello - look for synthetic brushes)

Gouache paints (I recommend Arteza Premium Gouache, Schmincke, Miya Gouache,...)

Sketchbook or watercolor paper - I recommend Moleskine A5 Watercolor Book. There is no need to buy anything extra. Regular watercolor paper is also an option. Always use what you have!

paint palette and paper towel, two jars water (one for washing out the brush and the other one for adding water to the paint)

Meet Your Teacher

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Viola Maria



Hello, I'm Viola. I am an Artist from Austria and I love to work with all kinds of mediums, mostly with gouache. I also draw digital! As long as I can remember, I have always had a passion about painting and art. This passion is what I want to share with you.

I am a strong beliver that anyone can paint. My goal is to make people happy with my art and encourage them to create art on their own. Art is such a beautiful way to express yourself and I want to bring the joy of painting to you!

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1. Intro: Hello and welcome to this class where we will fill in a few fun sketchbook spreads together in these easy exercises, we will be using the medium gouache. We will talk shortly about the sketchbooks I use for my artworks. And I'm going to show you some ideas on what you can bend in your sketchbooks. These exercises will help you improve your art and creativity. I will cover the basic concepts and things to keep in mind. No matter if you're a beginner or if you're a little bit more experienced, you will greatly benefit from this class. I'm going to take you through the exercises in an easy and understandable way so you will be able to create your own paintings in your sketchbook. Just this perfect to have fun while also becoming a better artist. I hope to see you in this class. 2. Supplies: Now I just want to talk quickly about supplies. Of course, you need gouache paints. Any kind of gouache or brand will do. You can also paint along in another medium. If you want to use a sketch book, I'd recommend using a watercolor sketchbook because they have thick enough pages to hold some water. A few ones I can recommend are the Moleskine watercolor sketchbook. It has high-quality pages. Other sketchbooks that I love using are from Hanhnemühle or the more cheaper ones from Arteza. Especially if you're a beginner, I would just use what you have. This class is more about having fun and improving and less about having the perfect supplies for the exercises. If you don't have a sketchbook yet, just use some watercolor paper and let's get started. 3. Monochrome Sketchbook Page: In this lesson, we're going to paint these beautiful monochrome sketchbook pages. You just need one color for that plus black and white for creating different tones of the color. The enter artwork is executed in varying shades of blue, ranging from dark to light. You can begin with a monochrome value scale, it just helps you recognize your tones more easily. For the sketchbook spread, I'm using washi tape to make some frames and borders. I set up my palette with some blue paint. Next to it. I'll just add a squeeze of white and black paint. I use my gouache very watered for the backgrounds, just like I would with watercolor while waiting for the painting to dry, I started working immediately on the other one. On the next painting, I want to create layers of mountains. I decided to make my color lighter by mixing in water. In the meanwhile, I started adding grass on top with a darker shade of blue. You can mix in just a tiny touch of black and also use a less watery mixture for that, it's a great way to practice a different consistency of your colors. Working in monochrome is a great way to focus using a single color. It let's you work without having to worry about the other colors. It is very important to let your layers dry in-between so nothing messes up. And then I painted a second layer on the mountains. Each mountain layer has to be a bit darker than the layer underneath. As we work our way forward into the painting, we can add a few more details like trees on the mountain with a damp brush. You can blend out the base of the mountains to create the illusion of mist. For the last layer of mountains, I'm using, again a bit darker mixture and then I started working on the next painting, which will be a seascape. Blue colors naturally remind us about the sky and also about water. So I left out some areas for adding in clouds. I went in with a pure white color for the clouds, and then I use the darkest shade of blue for the As you already see how painting just in blue gives this artwork a very dramatic effect. If you paint i in orange, for example, you would feel totally different about this painting. Be careful to paint your horizon line straight. As I go down to the bottom, I add in more water for creating a nice gradient as a base for to see the mountain painting dry it in the meantime. So I wanted to add two more layers of trees here. I leave this first layer to dry and can work more on the clouds. Now, I'm going over with a pure white color to make the lightest area of the clouds really stand out. With a pure white color. I add in lots of tiny lines and curves to add the waves to the sea. You can paint any subject in monochrome. It is more difficult if you're a subject contains a wide range of colors. And if you want to use a reference for monochrome painting, it is easiest to take a picture of your choice and then turn it into grayscale on the computer, on your phone. This way you can recognize the different values and the subject. This is all about the lightness or darkness and painting. It is good to keep in mind that you don't need to detail everything in your painting because instead you're focusing on the sheets. Looking at seen, you always have to ask yourself which area gets the most light. Whereas the darkest shade and the strongest contrast, painting in monochrome will get easier with every piece you create. The final layer of trees is now painted and the darkest shade again. And as a final touch, I added some birds. I think that makes this painting really interesting. The first page is finished now and we can now continue working on the other page. On adapt painting. I'm using a light wash for the background. There's no need to wet the paper, but you have to work really quick because gouache paints dry super-fast. I waited for this to dry and then with a little bit of a darker blue, I went in and add distant tree trunks. Then I added more tree trunks in an even darker shade. And this way, I'm working my way forward and forward a final layer, I went for an almost black color. Also notice how did we trunks get bigger as I work my way forward in the nearest layer, I also decided to add some branches here and there for the gaps in-between. So I added grass and just shades of flowers. Some little dots of white in-between the trees can create a really interesting for us, and it has an almost magical touch to it. For the last painting, I'm creating another light blue gradient that gets lighter as I came to the bottom. Blue colors always remind me of the sky. So this is what this painting is all about. I'm going to add in clouds. Clouds on top are the largest ones and they get smaller down to bottom. The color mixes in a little bit with the background and that is okay because it makes the clouds look more natural. I'm also adding shades on the downside of the clouds to make them more realistic and interesting. So what do we learn when painting in monochrome? First, the process is simple. You don't need to worry about choosing a color palette. You learn how to mix different values of your paint. You can create interesting compositions and learn about light and shadows. Monochrome paintings turn into a harmonious result. You'll also improve your skills of layering and learn to use different consistencies of your colors. The most important part is having fun. That's always the most important thing of all. So I really hope you like these ideas and that they inspire you to create your own monochrome paintings. Be sure to share what you make to inspire other students. 4. Sketching Thumbnails: In this class we will sketch some thumbnails as a base for our artwork. Thumbnail sketches are quick drawings with no corrections. Spend a couple of minutes brainstorming your ideas for your artwork and then rough out some sketches with a pencil. They only need to be very small and require no detail. Because the idea of this is to get interesting compositions and figure out how to arrange them for your sketches, it is important to make it the same proportion as your final artwork will be. So first, sketch out a rough bucks, and then sketch in the major parts of your painting, like the horizon line, mountains, trees, or any big objects. This also works for any painting, whether it's a landscape like I'm doing here or something else. It is an official to simplify your work in the beginning. Sketch as quickly as you can and focus on the undermine parts of your artwork. I wouldn't spend more than just a few minutes on the sketch. Use only as much detail as you need for helping you find a great design. Thumbnail sketches are showing various arrangements and they help you decide on what you want to occlude. It's also okay if you want to move away from your first idea, just sketch out whatever comes to your mind and what ideas you want to include. Imagine your painting and just draw the roughest shapes and lines. That is really all you need for a thumbnail. There are no right or wrong ways for these quick sketches. And if you're unsure about how to draw or sketch something, look for references. I'm doing that all the time. And I always pick out the best things of these two. Combine them, do my own artwork. So I recommend to browse inspiration galleries to find the various elements that you like and want to include in your artwork. Sketching your ideas is a great opportunity to brainstorm ideas that will improve your paintings and getting the proportions and composition right before starting out. Sketching the thumbnails is just one method of planning a painting. But they can be really important for organizing your thoughts and ideas for your artwork. Make them really quick and simple. In a proportion as your finished artwork and avoid adding detail. That is really everything you need to know. Experiment with your sketches. And you will no doubt find yourself pleasantly surprised with your salt. Thumbnails aren't meant to be finished drawings. Instead, they will become your finished drawing as you pick what you like and remove what you don't. For my painting, I refer to the second son male, but I made the house on the right side. I just pick the color umbrella that I thought would work well together. And then I started layering colors from the back to the front of my painting. Another idea would also be to use the colors on the thumbnails. First to decide on a color scheme was to somebody else catches. It's definitely easier to start and do a painting with much more confidence. So let's summarize what we learned about sketching thumbnails. They help you brainstorm your ideas and they force you to think about what you're creating. They are a great way to simplify your artwork from the beginning. Thumbnails are truly versatile and a must-have in your workflow to save your time and frustration because they allow you to test ideas and plan ahead. They're also helpful for generating even more ideas. Because here I think more than one thumbnail would make a good painting. I hope that these tips help you create your own thumbnail sketches. Please share your artwork in the gallery. I'd love to see the ideas you came up with. 5. Play around on a Page: For our next exercise, let's fill out our sketch book page with random things like patterns or everything that comes to your mind. Here I just divided my spread randomly with some washi tape. Practicing patterns is a great medidative way to increase your hand eye control and develop the focus you'll need for more ambitious paintings. You can look for patterns around you sketched them first, or even take a photo and add them to your next practice session. Play around with your gouache paints. Learn how they behave, do different strokes and give yourself room to mix the colors. This exercise is also great when, you know, there might be a day that you want to paint, but just struggle with inspiration or motivation. Or you might even have a creative block. Your imagination is really the limit for this exercise. So just play around on this page with different textures, practice strokes or techniques. It's a simple and easy way to improve your basic skills without having the pressure of creating a masterpiece. I'm really sure that your creativity will recharge with this exercise. Be sure to share what you make the gallery. I would absolutely love to see your creations. 6. Use a limited Palette: Limiting your color palette can be a fun way to challenge your creative process. For this exercise, use three colors of your choice, plus black and white. Using a limited color palette is the ideal solution to improve your color mixing skills. It forces you to think more about the color you're using without selecting colors randomly. I would suggest to start with mixing colors. See what colors you can mix by adding white, mix the three colors together and see where it leads you. For my painting, I was going for a lemon yellow, crimson, red, and deep green. As you can see, I already mixed a lot of colors that give me summarise censored wipes. The colors are mixed on my palette. Immediately reminded me of fruits and said and colorful summer scenes. For my first illustration I painted on Apple. The goal we have here is to fill out the whole page with different paintings or illustrations inspired by the color palette we just created. I'm using a wet in wet technique to layer the colors of the apple. And I immediately blend them together a bit. Gouache dries fast, so you always have to work quickly. But even if you're someone who is a bit slower and painting, gouache colors can be reactivated, so it's always possible to blend them again. Next, I decided to paint the flower. I kept it really simple and out of my imagination, so I painted a few petals around and started adding a bit more detail by adding a yellow color on the top of the battles. For the center, I just used the dark green mixture in depth in some tiny dots to create some texture. For the final touches, I used the details brush with a red mixture and edit in some tiny lines to finish the flower painting. And of course, I also wanted to paint a sunset. These colors are just perfect for a strong sunset scene. For the sunset, I layered quite watery mixture of yellows, reds, orange, and on the right side, also, a lovely violet color. Blended them together a bit with a damp brush, with some pure white on my brush, I began immediately to add some clouds to the sky. The color blended in a bit with the background that was still wet. Mixing together some red, green, and black gave me a dark brownish color for the trees. And then I just mixed in some yellow color to create a nice warm green don't for the field in the front. After that painting, I struggled a bit with an idea for the next illustration. So I started painting a warm yellow orange background. And I just trusted the creative process here. So I looked around and saw a blend that I wanted to paint on this orange background. There is no need to just paint out of your imagination all the time. It can be really challenging, especially for beginners. Instead, I would just look at reference pictures and see what you can choose. You can paint anything and the colors of your choice. For my last illustration, I wanted to fill out the left page a bit more. I should have been happening a bit more on top, but it's okay. So I just use the space that I had left for creating a desert scene. The green that I used here is more on the bluish side. So mixing and white lead to a really beautiful darker color for this guy. Next, I layered some distant mountains and as I went forward, I used some stronger colors for the nearest mountain that I painted in red and the foreground was painted with oranges and yellows. I love to use limited color palettes for my work. It's simple and also you can discover so much by drawing out the colors, mixing different versions of them, and see what ideas you can come up for the color palette. But there are still things you need to consider when choosing your colors. Not every color palette works well together. You have to think about your color choices first. For example, if you want to create a strong painting, you might choose contrasting colors. While blue and brown tones together might be perfect for wintery paintings, whatever color that you chose, I would love to see your creations. Please share them in the project gallery. 7. Combine Gouache with Colored Pencils: For our next exercise, we will combine gouache with colored pencils. That means we will be painting our base first with gouache and where we want to add texture, we will use colored pencils to refine our painting. You can add colored pencil on top of the dried gouache color. I added the reference picture for this bird to the project gallery. So before you start painting, do an accurate sketch. The most important thing is that you have the proportions right. The colors I'm using for painting our orange ocher, burnt sienna, gray, white, and black. When I start painting something from reference, I tried to look at the picture often so I can place the colors right on my painting. In the first step, I've doing the base layer of the most important colors. And then I can go over it where it needs more color blending. There is no need to add details to our bird at this stage because that is where our colored pencils come in. All we want to do now is add a base color for Albert using colored pencil on top of gouache is great for adding texture. For example, for trees or pathways are buildings and landscape paintings, like in our painting for adding the feathers to the bird or for doing animal. It works better when your paper is a bit textured. We will add colored pencil on both the bird and the branch that we painted. I chose a dark brown color for this painting. What I did here is I started working out the details on the feathers a little bit more. If you hold the pencil crook, you can also make wonderful hedging for defenders in the front, I have said lots of small strokes. Colored pencils are also wonderful for the smallest details that are hardly possible to paint with a brush. With a black pencil, you can work out the shadows even better. I just painted the branch very easily with gouache and all the textures I want to add now, I do only with the dark brown pencil. This is definitely a nice way to broaden your horizons a bit when painting with gouache. So I really recommend to try this method out. 8. Paint something from Life: For our last exercise, let's paint something from life. What sounds like an easy task can get quite complicated. If you, for example, want to paint something that tends to move like a cat or a car? For this painting, I chose something on my desk, which is the char of paint brushes I have here. I started with a light pencil sketch that helps a lot for getting the basic shapes right. Painting from life is a great exercise because you know, you're painting subject personally, which connects you to the subject more than a photo would do. Observed or subtract carefully that you want to paint. Where does the light come in? What colors will you choose for your painting? This is a perfect exercise for everyday practice. Remember, the more you do it, the better you will get. It takes time to build a skill and the key is consistency and you will improve over time. Doing an accurate sketch is a very important step for every good artwork. It makes it so much easier to correct mistakes before you apply paint to your painting. For my illustration, I chose just a few colors in ochre, light and dark brown and gray. With gouache, it's easy to work in layers. So I started applying the basic colors and a thin first layer. You can always go over more afterwards. So color in the basic shapes first, painting something transparent like a glass can be quite difficult because you also want to make it look like a glass on the paper. So the only thing that you can do here is to paint the shadows and lights. For that. I'm doing in some strokes in a light gray and warm brown color. I also decided to outline my illustration, so I am using a black color for that. Then the paintbrushes dried in the meantime so I could add more color there. I'm also adding some light touches with some pure white here. And then I decided to color in the brush tips with different colors. I'm not looking at the reference anymore at this at this point because I'm not doing an exact copy of the chart. I did a little bit less brushes in the illustration. For the final details on the brush tips, I use the brownish color for the lighter ones and the other ones I did with a black color. And then I outlined all the brushes with a black color. And as a final step, it's time to add some lights. And I'm just adding pure white touches here and there to indicate some really light areas for the brushes that are inside the glass. I'm doing lighter outlines with a brown color. And that is it for the painting from life exercise. Don't hesitate to get going. Just grab your sketchbook and get started. 9. Conclusion: Thank you so much for taking this class. I hope you had a lot of fun. I also hope it inspires you to create something in your sketchbook and help you fill your pages. I can't wait to see what you come up with. Please share your projects to the gallery section. I would love to see what you create. And I would also appreciate if you would leave me a review for this class. I hope to see you soon again.