Watercolor Illustration: Transform Daily Objects Into Whimsical Characters | Hélène Baum | Skillshare

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Watercolor Illustration: Transform Daily Objects Into Whimsical Characters

teacher avatar Hélène Baum, Illustrator

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.

      The Project


    • 3.



    • 4.

      Gathering Objects


    • 5.



    • 6.



    • 7.

      Color Choices Pt. 1


    • 8.

      Color Choices Pt. 2


    • 9.

      Watercolor Basics


    • 10.

      Watercolor Techniques Pt. 1


    • 11.

      Watercolor Techniques Pt. 2


    • 12.

      Painting Pt. 1


    • 13.

      Painting Pt. 2


    • 14.

      Painting Pt. 3


    • 15.



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About This Class

Want to learn how to paint unique and original illustrations? Learn how to transform everyday objects into inventive characters and bring them to life with watercolours!

Artists, illustrators and designers are valued for being able to project a personal or different view of the world. In this class, we will practice drawing inspiration from small things and looking at our surroundings with an imaginative eye.

I will show you the process of transforming daily objects into whimsical characters, greatly inspired by Japanese art. Using our imagination and creative eye but also surprising colours, textures and watercolour tricks we will create an unusual visual story. We’ll learn how to:

  • Observe what's around you and create initial sketches 
  • Draw & paint with precision using a Lightbox
  • Transform objects into creative creatures
  • Make unique and surprising colour choices
  • Use watercolour techniques to achieve a unique look

Whether illustration beginner or seasoned artist, this class should be a fun exercise for the imagination, facilitate creative thinking and give the impulse to explore the watercolour medium in a personal way.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Hélène Baum



Hélène is a French/German  illustrator and designer who lives in Berlin. 

"There are no lines in nature, only areas of colour, one against another"
said painter Édouard Manet.

This quote evokes a principle that is strong in Hélène’s life and work.

Coming from a diverse cultural background, what defines her universe is a sense of “collage” and kaleidoscopic identity. She creates vibrant spaces where through humour, magic and idealism, elements from different cultures coexist in peace and diversity is celebrated.

The colourful images draw inspiration from her environment and personal life but also largely from mythology, black history, art, ... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hi, everyone. I'm Ellen Baum and I am a Freelance Illustrator based in Berlin, Germany. Originally, I am a graphic designer. I was mainly a graphic designer until three years ago and I quit my job and decided to do illustration. I've always drawn and that has always been my passion. I hadn't practiced painting in a long time, and I've had to teach myself again. In my work, I use mainly two techniques, which are: vector art and watercolor. In this lesson, we're going to focus on the watercolor aspect of it. As you can see in my work, it's super colorful. Colorful to me is the beginning and the end of everything. I think it's really a symbol of life. I see everything through color. That's why I love using very bold and vibrant color palettes. Another super important topic in my work is diversity. A lot of my clients ask for my work because I make a principle of showing people of color and different origins in the paintings I make. I do a lot of still lives and the objects that are around me and my books and things just turn up in them. This is also partly going to be what we are going to do in our class projects. It's going to be about, not making still lives, on the contrary, we're going to collect objects from our homes and transform them into living musical characters. We will do that drawing inspiration from Japanese culture and art. This class is not going to be about classical watercolor painting, it's going to be more about me teaching you some things that I've learned, techniques that I use that make my work so specific, and just encouraging you to create your own style, to experiment with whatever medium you love using, and the importance of finding a way of painting that is your own. So if you like my work, you can follow me on Instagram or check out some more things on the websites. Both links are on the screen right now, and we can move on to our projects. 2. The Project: So our class project is going to be about transforming daily objects into whimsical characters that look like they've just sprang to life. To do that, we'll draw inspiration from Japanese art and culture. So after having looked at some inspiration, we'll go through our homes, look at the objects we want to paint, and once we've done that, we can sketch them using a lightbox. I will show you some basics and color theory and watercolor, we'll look at the watercolor effects and then go into the painting process. So the two big learnings we want to get from our class are one technical one with sketching and painting and a bit of color theory and watercolor basics. Then the second one, and maybe even the most important one, is training the creative eye. As an artist it doesn't matter if you're a professional or just hobbyists. The capacity of seeing something else in the world around you, of seeing things in a different way and with a creative mind is what will make your art really special, and it also makes life really interesting. Let's move on to looking at which tools we'll need. If you're someone who already paints and draws a lot, there's not so much new things you'll need. I think first, pens, sketch with eraser and of course, sharpener, paint watercolors. They come in a wide variety of brands, which can be very cheap, very expensive. I'll leave this up to you what you want to use, how often you paint. I use mostly shrink a brand, they come in these no pens or in tubes. If you're going to paint a lot, you can buy tubes, which you can refill your pens with or just use directly from the tube. You also don't need as many colors of course, if it's not something you do every day, most importantly, a yellow, a red, a blue, a black and white you would need, and from these we can mix any color actually. Anything else you want to add on top is up to you. Make sure you also have mixing wells or some support where you will be able to mix colors, but also extra mixing wells. Make sure you have some tissue paper to dab your brushes with and some water. I like having it in a jug because when you don't use it, you can close it. Doesn't spill. Some tape, which we'll use to attach our sketch to our watercolor paper when we paint. Then of course brushes, I use most exclusively round brushes versus the flat ones which are more square. This is the biggest one I own, and then middle-sized and I like having really small ones for details, liners. This brand is royal langnickel majestic series, they've worked well for me until now, but up to you to see what suits you best and to experiment. Paper wise, this is just normal recycled copy paper, which we will use for sketching. We don't need anything more fancy for that stage. Then paper for painting, I'm really used to this brand now, I've been using it for many years. It's not technically watercolor paper but, I don't know, I just like the feel of it and how the paint spreads. You can, of course, also use watercolor paper, which is usually more grainy and rough. Make sure you get something that's not too thick. These are 200 grams, which will help when we use the lightbox. If it's too thick, we might actually not see the sketch that's underneath. Now the lightbox lit itself already, we will need a lightbox. This is an A4 format, which is totally enough for what we're going to do. You can get it really cheap online, I got this one for €18 and you just plug it in. This one, you can actually modulate the light, which can be helpful. So now that we know what tools we need and we've gone through our class project, I want to encourage you to share and upload what you're doing as we move along. Let's move to our first lesson, which is going to be about inspiration. 3. Inspiration: This lesson is about inspiration. Looking for inspiration is an essential part of the creative process. It makes our work richer because we connect with things that already exist or the experiences that other people have had too. We are part of the world and anything we make in the present is connected to the past and to what other people have made or are doing at the moment. The important thing is that you don't copy, but that you transform this inspiration into something that's your own. Inspiration can come from many, many sources from anywhere actually. It can come from your hobbies, from your music, from reading, from other people, from experiences you've had traveling, really anything in the end that makes you tick and that just inspires you to create something new out of it. As I said before, the inspiration for this project is taken from Japanese art and culture. More specifically, we're going to look into the phenomenon which is called Tsukumogami. So what is Tsukumogami? It was a medieval belief in Japan that once tools had reached around a 100 years and the people discarded them because they thought they were too old. These objects would come to life and they would be quite angry because they had just been discarded on the edge of the road without any thanks or regard for the services they had rendered humans for so long, so they would jump to life and come and haunt humans. We can see in this material that the objects that have transformed to Tsukumogami have grown faces. Sometimes the faces have been added on the object, but sometimes it also looks like features that the objects already had turned into eyes and mouths, same for limbs. Some have new legs or like animal limbs, but some just transformed appendages they already had into legs or arms or just seem to hobble along. If the Tsukumogami and Yokai topic in general is something that interests you, you will be able to find all the references to the books that I'm showing right now in the resources section. So why this inspiration, I think the theme will help us to be really playful and use our imagination and our creative eye. We don't need to make it as spooky as Tsukumogami , we can just make fun characters out of objects from our home if you want a more local inspiration. I think we've all seen in our childhood the beauty and the beast from Disney, just think about the cups and the teapots and all the objects in the castle which come alive too. Then Japanese art is also beautiful in itself, which will also give us inspiration on this di-listicle level and on a technical level. To recap, we have established the importance of inspiration and we have connected with an old Japanese belief and Japanese arts which will inspire us and help us transform the objects into whimsical characters. The next step will be to find these objects in our homes and let's move on to the next lesson. 4. Gathering Objects: Now that we know what the project is about, we have our inspiration. We can go around in our home and collect the objects we need. We're going to collect three of them just because I think it's nice to have some variety. If you just choose to sketch and paint one or two or if you want to do more, it's up to you but I think three is a nice number and just get some objects with very different shapes to play around with. This being said, I'll let you go through your house. I'll go through mine, and we will reconvene with the object that we found. When you're going through your home, try to already look at your possessions with an imaginative eye, what always helps me is to create little narratives in my mind like what if my slippers had faces or what if my toothbrush runoff with a toothpaste. Objects with which shapes can of course be obvious choices because they're already look funny, but can you imagine even your most basic belonging coming alive? I've gone through my house and found the three objects that I want to turn into characters. I've chosen my teapot because it's something I use every day, and it's a normal teapot, it still has some nice features, but I think it's going to be fun to just imagine it turning into something living. Then I've chosen my Afro comb, which is also a daily use objects. I really thought that these already looked like teeth or legs, and it's like the general shape also with the hole here, could be something like an eye. I really like that object. The third one is really small. It's an incense burner; incense holder. It's a bit old and battered, but I thought this already looked like foot and something you could do with the holes and slow tip here and the fact that it also opens. I'm curious to see what you've chosen at home. Now that we have our prime material, we can move to the first phase of transforming our objects into whimsical characters. Let's proceed to the next lesson, which is sketching. 5. Sketching: Sketching is the foundation of the artwork. Technically, it is the act of translating what we see to drawing. I always feel it's a moment where we get quite intimate with the object that we want to draw because we have to look at it intently, look at its shapes and specificities, and really get to know the character of it. Although I wouldn't recommend anyone skip any part of this course, even if you are a beginner in drawing and sketching and that you may feel uncomfortable if it's really necessary you can also find my own sketches in the material section. You can download them and then continue in the next lesson. So we will proceed in two steps and sketching, first, we'll do a very rough sketch and then we will start refining it. So a few tips before we start. It's up to you how detailed you want to make your sketches, especially if you're a beginner and you want to keep it quite general to start, it's fine if you want to go for in and have as many details as possible, that's also great. It's up to you. Keep elements that make your object unique. While you're already drawing, you can get to know your object and find out what kind of character it's going to become. So I've now taken in the object, looked at the general shapes like here, it's quite round and here too. Here the curve goes in. Then the specificities is like this kind of neck, these openings. I think I'm going to keep the patterns for later just in case. Remember, this is not a competition in drawing. So just take your time. Be really rough and general in the beginning. There will be time to make it look better later. This is what my really rough sketch looks like right now. Notice like I didn't mind just going over again if I thought I wanted the shape to be different. You can also do this as many times as you need until you're happy with your rough sketch already. Then once we have this, we can move to slowly refining. So keep this one. Now we'll also take the light box, place our rough sketch on it, take a fresh sheet of paper. Turn the light box on. So you see the lines through. Now we can start just choosing which parts we like and like slowly getting it to the place we want it to be. So now you can see it's already way cleaner. But I still found some things that I wanted to refine just totally fine. Again, keep this one and take a new sheet of paper. Turn the light box back on because it's not about drawing the perfect object. It's not a class on hyper-realistic drawing and painting. Just want to get a general feel of the object. We can then use to transform in the next class. It's really about training your creative eye and using your imagination more than being correct in how something should be. This is my clean sketch which I'll use in the next stage. I will do this for all the other objects and then we can move on. So to recap, we have made clean sketches of our object, and we have gotten to know our objects a bit better. So we are ready now for the next step of the transformation. We have now done the groundwork and we'll use the screen sketches to transform the objects into the whimsical characters. So let's move on to the next lesson. 6. Transformation: Now that we have our objects picked and sketched, how do we transform them into living characters? Looking back at the inspiration of the Tsukumogami, what made them look alive and playful? They had faces with scary, funny, sad, or weird expressions. Some had limbs, human, or animal, and they looked like they were moving and talking. Now we'll use these attributes and the impressions we've made of our objects while sketching them to create unique whimsical characters. Let's precede. Choose which sketch you want to start with. Take your clean sketch. I will start with the incense holder again. Is there something in your object that already looks like a feature you could transform it into? Like for example, my incense holder, I think these already really look like eyes and this like mouth and I could imagine this being a foot or a leg. I'm not sure about this knob maybe this just stays there so it's recognizable, still what objects it was. Once you've decided what features you want to add, where you want to place many eyes and mouth and arms. If it's more human or animal, then you once again, please clean sheet of paper onto your sketch. Put on your light box and just already draw these features onto your object. Don't start with copying the object is underneath, start with the features you want to add. Making a mouth here. That's why I was saying like don't already draw the object that's underneath because you will probably change the shape of it. Place what changes first and then at the end, you can fill in the rest of the object. I want to add some teeth. Here I'm going to transform this foot in a literal lake. Now that I've added this, I know that I can finish drawing this part. These I'm transforming into nostrils. This is already my first objects, you don't always need to do a lot. Just few actions to change an object into a face. Moving on to the next objects, the Afro comb. Here, I kept these plastic parts because I thought they already looked like eyes and the teeth or core teeth. I was actually thinking of turning them into legs like some sort spider. I actually liked the objects having a mouth so I might just add a mouth here. Maybe this could be a third eye, I will see how that goes when I start drawing. We have made the teeth look like they're legs walking. I've added eyes, crazy eyes just staring different directions and use the edge to make little eyebrows coming out. It's pulling its tongue. Just to add a bit of variation from the other one. They already chicks that I want to add later, and I've decided to keep this as an opening just again, so the object also stays recognizable a little bit. Let's move to the last objects. The teapot, the shape already makes me think like of a bird, and so I'm going to use the beak, like literally it's a beak. This is the tail and we add the face in this region. I would really like to add some legs here. For this one really add a bit more detail than the others, which are more simple in that way. As you can see, I've added feathers and like the chicken legs maybe not so much chicken, but some form of birds and made this look really like a bird's beak too, I've added a third eye, which I think I've wanted to add in one of the drawings and also made the handle look like a tail feather. Now, we're ready to go to the next step. So to recap, we have used our preliminary drawings to turn our objects into characters. We have now clear sketches that we can use to paint with. Now that our drawings are done, we can move to the next phase of the transformation of our characters, which we'll be adding color and texture. Before we actually continue working on the characters though, we'll be going into more theoretical approach to color. We'll be looking at color palette, watercolor basics, and some specific effects. Let's move on to the next lesson. 7. Color Choices Pt. 1: So in this lesson we will dive into colors. Colors are always the main event in my art. I love them bold, vibrant, plentiful, and in unusual combinations. Every person has a unique relationship to color and is naturally attracted to different tones and hues, and that is how it should be. We will briefly go through color theory basics, but the aim here is to get you to experiment with color and find a palette that makes you tingle inside. Color theory is basically a set of practical guidelines concerning color mixing and the different effects that can be achieved by specific color combinations. We'll go through the basics of color theory using this color wheel, which we will fill up gradually. We start at the center. These are the primary colors, which are red, blue, and yellow. They are called primary colors because they cannot be obtained by mixing any other two colors together. You usually get them out of the tube directly out of the [inaudible]. This is yellow. This color combination is very bold. You may know it from the Bauhaus, for example, it makes for a very recognizable visual identity. Personally, I love the combination of these three colors. For some it might be a bit too much, but everyone [inaudible]. From these primary colors, we get next three which are secondary colors, also known as complimentary colors, and so the way they work is you obtain each one of them by mixing two of the primaries. So yellow and red, red and blue, blue and yellow. Yellow and red together creates orange. Red is quite pigmented. We need to add a bit more yellow, then yellow and blue, gives us green. It's a little bit messy, but you get the point. Then blue and red, which gives us purple. Depending on which primary colors you use, because of course, there are also different types of yellow, and red, and blue, the secondary colors will also change. Usually, when you obtain the secondary colors directly from mixing primary colors, they tend, in my opinion, to be less beautiful than direct tones that you can buy. But I think it's just useful to see just how the theory works. What is interesting about secondary colors is that they harmonize with the two colors that created them and they're in contrast with the third one that wasn't used to create it. So orange creates the biggest contrast with blue, purple with yellow, because it was created of blue and red. Green is the biggest contrast with red because it was created with blue and yellow. This is a good thing to keep in mind when you're making an image. If you want a very strong contrast, you know that you can use these color combinations. If you want something that's more harmonized, then it makes more sense to keep the complimentary with the two primary colors that created it. We move on to tertiary colors. These are obtained by mixing the complimentary and the secondary. It will be easier to see it on the wheel. We have to add the colors we already have to the outer wheel. We've entered our primary colors and secondary colors on the outer wheel, now it will be easier to see how the tertiary colors are created. They will be created from the primary and the secondary. Here we'll have something between yellow and orange. Here we'll have something between orange and red, and so on. They basically just different hues of these two colors. More reddish purple, more bluish purple, and this wheel has only 12 steps, but you can, of course, make these intermediaries as small as you want and create as many hues as you'd like. We have now completed our color wheel. You can now see the tertiary colors, which are like hybrids of the secondary and primary. You may have noticed that we're not using any black and white in this. That's because black is considered to be the sum of all colors and white, the absence of all colors. So usually this pure color theory, it's left out. However, we do use it, of course. They are very useful to make colors darker and lighter. For example, if we take the orange, if I add white, I will make a lighter hue of orange. If I add black, I have a lot of black in there. It's become brown basically. If I had added less, let me just take some orange and [inaudible] , we would have different hues. Then in a general way, if you mix all the colors together, you will get something brownish and also if you mix all the primaries together, then we have with watercolor, specifically, another way of making lighter hues or color just by using more water. This orange, when it's very saturated, it's like this and by adding water, I can make it lighter and lighter. You can do this on your palette of course, not directly on your paper, just to be sure. Because adding the white paint also adds more pigments and it makes the color more opaque. If you want to stay translucent and light, then it's better to add water. We will see more of this also in watercolor basics. One more concept that's also useful is the notion of warm and cold colors, so anything that's on this side of the spectrum is usually seen as warm colors. Basically colors that are issued from yellow and red, and anything that contains blue is on the cold side of the spectrum. This is another element to take in consideration when you add color to a painting. In the same way that blue and orange are the biggest contrast also because they are hot and warm, you can create these effects. Juxtaposing colors of opposite side. If you want to make your own color wheel, I will be attaching the template in the download area. I think it's very useful to have to just refer to. I also have one for myself that I filled in with direct colors from my palette which makes for more brilliant colors. Yeah, it's useful just to have an overview of what you have and how it looks. Then something I find useful for myself is I also have this where I have all my colors cataloged with the names and numbers in case I need to buy them again. It's nice to have an overview because, of course, you can see them in your palette, but here, I've also diluted them halfway so I can see how they look when they're light and when they are dark. 8. Color Choices Pt. 2: Now, with our knowledge of color theory and our color preferences, we have a twofold mission. One, we want to play around with colors and find out what we each like, what our preferences are a bit deeper. Two, we want to create a color palette for our projects, which will be comprised of five colors plus not including white and black. Let's start playing around with our palettes, I'II be juxtaposing some tertiary colors with primary. This is yellow, but it's a bit more orangey, so I call it a tertiary color. Complimentary colors, you can also play with saturation and diluted hues, and just generally have fun. Just go wild with your palette, try all the colors out next to each other and just see what you like, what feels comfortable, what makes you you feel warm inside, or maybe also what you really dislike. So you can see if you're someone who likes warm colors more or cold colors more. If you're someone who likes the combination of these. If you're someone who likes more pastel or bold. You can really see how when you combine different colors the effect is very different, like ones next to a yellow it is quite similar. One next to a deep reds, it's a really big contrast. The pink, although it's not as red as this also creates a nice contrast and next to the blue gives a more cool impression. Because if you don't have as many pens, you can explore more with the mixing of different hues. Let's also see what happens when you do with, I've now mixed pink and green. It's also interesting, just makes a darker effier pink. I'm a very bold color lover, so I tend to use the colors quite directly out of the pane. I do mix, but the end effect is usually a very strong, but there is really a lot to explore in the mixing of colors like this. As you go along, you'II start having an idea of what you'd like to use for this project. I think for myself, I've decided to go for this darker yellow for a blue. Which I think is a cerulean blue, I'm not sure. For magenta pink, nice, earthy, nearly orangey-brown, and I won't add really strong red to the mix. The mostly warm tones and I guess the blue will be the contrast color. Then of course we also have the black and the white. In general, it makes sense to define your color palette before you start a new artwork. You don't always have to choose just five swatches, you could use as many as you want, all colors even or less. You can also go a monochrome, just use one tone and its different variations. It's always useful to define this beforehand, then you can really focus on the painting. By experience, I've spent a lot of time just thinking about which color to use next in the middle of the painting, which is not always the most productive thing. To recap, we have learned how color mixing works through color theory, and we have found our own unique palette that we're going to use when painting our characters. Now, that we have our special set of colors, let's go into water color techniques and effects so that we can make our whimsical characters even more fantastic. 9. Watercolor Basics: This lesson will be about watercolor basics. Every painting and drawing tool has their own unique superb qualities. Watercolor has become my medium of choice because I love its versatility. As I mentioned before, I'm not trained in watercolor painting, so everything I know has just been learned through trial and error, experimenting, and also, of course, looking at how other artists do it. Let's go through the very basic of this medium. Watercolor or aquarell is a water-based paint, which means that the pigments contained in the paint are bound together by a water-based solution and that we use water to dilute and apply the paint. For example in oil painting, we would use oil and turpentine. As you've guessed and as it's in the name, water is the key element to this painting technique. I will show you why. The amount of water you use will generate different effects. If you use very few water like this, the paint will be very saturated with pigments and very opaque. It will also be very easy to control how the paint looks. A bit like using a pen, it's quite an even distribution of the pigments in the surface. Then the more you dilute this, the lighter it will get like we've seen in the color chapter. Also as there are less pigments and more amount of water, it will be more difficult to control where these pigments go. Like you can see already, they tend to follow the brush and to go where the water moves. Once this dries, then you'll know what the surface looks like because the pigments will keep moving and gathering in some places until they can't anymore until it's dry. Of course you can still make even lines with this, but lighter. Then we can use a lot of water. There are two ways to do that. Either you apply a lot of water already on your paper directly and then add your paint to there, or you just dilute more in your palettes and then apply. You can see that here the paint is diffused completely. It's a total loss of control or whatever you want to do, but it's an interesting effect. This technique of putting water on the paper first is often used for washes. A wash is mostly used to make a background, I can show you briefly. Keep in mind that now for this project we have very thin, very lightweight watercolor paper, its just 200 grams. If you want to paint something that uses much more water, it's better to get a heavier paper so that it doesn't move that much. I think this one will not really take that much dampness. To make a wash, you wet your paper first, and as big as you need it. I really used this for backgrounds. It's just two and a half, and then you can choose whichever color you need. You can already see the paper's up, dilating, moving. Basically just making a gradient, you could make a sky like this. You can decide to just mix different colors. Imagine if you were making a sunset or something, this permits you to just make a big surface. Just create interesting backgrounds for whatever you want to paint later. Here we've seen and also in the wash that paint diffuses in a lot of water. This is the really beautiful thing about what color is that you can really play around with that. If you just dab the surface, make these diffused circles, and depending again how much or how small you make the paint that you damped inside you can make smaller impressions. I agree, play around with this and just see what effects you can make. The beauty really in watercolor is this tension between some things that are really controlled and then some things that are not at all, and where the paint takes over. If you manage to mix these two properties of the paints, then your work gets really interesting. For example, let's mix the very saturated and controlled with something less control. Here I can paint as if I was holding a pen. I know exactly what I'm doing. I can set the shapes where I want to. I'll just color it in. Then I start adding water. I want to make some hair, so I add a lot of water right here on my paper and slowly start to join it to the shape that I've already made. Then I could add things to my hair. Just this transition from something very controlled and drawn precisely painted a bit fast now, but you get what I mean. Then going into this explosion of very spontaneous shapes, because we still don't know what this will look like when it dries. It's just really beautiful, and it's quite unique I think among painting techniques. That the paint just also has its own life in a way. You need a lot of patience if you don't want something like this to happen where one color bleeds into the next. If you want to have two color surfaces next to each other, you really have to wait for one to dry before you add the next, or you can be sure that there will be a contamination on the other surface. It's also really beautiful, it's an effect that you can do on purpose. But if you do want very distinct surfaces with water color, you definitely need to wait for everything to dry before continuing. To recap, we have learned the fundamentals of painting with watercolors. We have learned the importance of the amount of water you use when painting with this medium, and we started to get a feel of the style of painting that we can do with watercolors. Now that we have the basics down, we can move on to learning some more specific effects. We'll see that in the next lesson. 10. Watercolor Techniques Pt. 1: In the previous lesson, we've learned the basics of watercolor painting. Now I want to show you three techniques that I use that produce beautiful effects. They are gradients, layering, and monochrome juxtaposition. Let's dive into gradients. As we've seen in watercolor basics, watercolor has a natural tendency to create gradients. We've seen this with the diffusion. Like when we wet the paper and add paint, we can see that it is already in itself a gradient. It's darker in the middle and goes lighter and lighter and lighter. We'll use this natural tendency of the paint to make our own gradients with different color combinations. Of course, the easiest way to make a gradient is using just one color, and so it's a monochrome gradient. Same principle as here, we add the color we want, then we take off the excess paint, and we take this paint that's already on the paper and just drag it out until there's no color at all. This is the most simple way of making gradients with one color. To make a two gradient in color, it's the same principle we'll basically be making two monochrome gradients, which cross in the middle. Once again I'll take this orange, I'll make it quite saturated at the beginning. Take off the excess color, pull this, I want it to get very light in the middle, but not completely gone. Now I take my second color, take a darker red, place it here. Once again, remove excess paint and pull it towards the middle, so they will merge here. Sometimes one side is dried a little bit, you can help it along by wetting it again. The gradient sometimes looks a bit awkward while it's still wet, but once it dries, it will smoothen out. Also use quite a bit of water now. If I use less, I can control it a bit more like this. Again, you have to test how much water works for you. You can of course also, once again, do a variation where you first wet the surface and then add the color. For me, this is just a very instable way of working, but to each their own. I have a little tendency to like controlling where things go in certain situations depending what I'm painting. Yes, this can also be a way to go. Then we can think again about color theory and what we've learned there. Here we have a quite harmonized gradient from orange to a kind of red. Of course, red is contained in orange, so it goes without saying that they should really merge nicely. Now if we take complimentary colors, that gets a little bit more complicated. Because as we've seen, when we mix primary and complimentary, we can get a color that's close to brown or gray. Let's try. I'm going to take some blue, pull it out, and lighter orange. You can see in the middle it's creating a kind of a khaki green. It's a special color combinations, especially in the middle. I really love this, is my favorite gradient. Not everyone might like it. You should really try out like we did with the color palettes, what you like and whatnot. I've just made a few shapes, we can fill in. Let's do a harmonized one again. For example, if you're doing hearts, start with red at the bottom, drag it out a little, I want this to get a bit lighter still, so push back the pigments. Then I'm going to take some magenta I'm going, place in the top. I'm being really messy. Now I'm pushing it towards red. Pink and red are usually really easy to mix, they have a really soft transition. Then we could try another complimentary color combination. I've drawn a kind of apple shape, maybe we could even do a gradient that has called the sources from different angles, so placing red. Of course, you don't always have to do gradients in the simple right to left way, it could go any direction you want, anyhow you need it. Complimentary to red is green, in this case I'll place the color in the middle and then work my way to the red on both sides. You have to work a bit faster. In these situations, if you add more parameters, more angles, more different colors so that the colors you've put in first don't dry because then it gets a bit more complicated. Of course, if you add water again, on watercolor surface, it has a tendency to loosen up again and you could continue painting, but it doesn't always work with all the pigments. This is also something you'll find out when you just experiment with your colors from your palette. Each brand and each different color has, of course, a different chemical composition and some of them just react very differently to different effects. Once they've dried, some of them will really loosen up again when you add water and some don't. You'll try to find that out for yourself. Why not try a gradient with three colors? Maybe I take this blue again. Because I'm using three different colors, it would be too complicated to do all three at the same time, like here. Here we're still just in the two same ones, but I would have to clean my brush too often here. We have the first, and then let's add some magenta in the top. Try this out for yourself, try some different shapes, different combinations, try several colors, or just monochrome, and yeah, you can create your own gradient vocabulary, so monochrome juxtaposition. This is a term I've invented, I don't know if it actually exists, but it's the way I call it. It's a very simple technique, it just needs patience. Like we've seen in watercolor basics, it basically relies on us waiting for surfaces to dry completely before continuing, and on the tendency of the pigments to naturally gather at the edge of a surface when that surface dries. The way it works is you choose your color, make the surface you want. Be careful not to make it too saturated, too dark, or it will be difficult to see. Then you wait for that surface to dry. Let's wait a moment. Looks like it has dried now. Now that that surface has dried, you can already see that very slightly the edge is little bit darker than the inside of the shape, that the pigments have gathered there. We take the same color again, just make the next surface of color next to it, and there's also slightly overlap, so you will make that part a little bit darker again and wait for this to dry again. In the meantime, like I usually use this technique to paint leaves, well, that's what I use it for a lot because it creates structure without actually having to draw lines, and I will show you how that looks like the leaves. To save time, I've already painted every second surface, so they have time to dry and then I could create the missing ones and we'll see this effect appearing. Our test surfaces have dried. You can really see this line really well now. Then you can see in this leaves that I have filled out, you can also see the lines, and it looks like I've painted them on, but actually I haven't. I've just juxtaposed these same color surfaces next to one another, and wait for them to dry. Just slightly overlap them also so that it becomes a bit darker. You can make a lot of things with this. I've actually also painted this table surface with this technique, as you can see in the example. Once again, just try it out. Try it with all the colors you want. Just look around, you also can see what you have in your house that is structured in this way. Things that have the same color like here, but still have some form of pattern inside. Wood is a very good example for it and plants. I'll let you experiment and we'll look at the last effect. 11. Watercolor Techniques Pt. 2: We will now look into the layering technique. Once again, this is a lot about patience. Once again, as we've seen in the watercolor basics, watercolor paint is itself quite translucent, so we can really play with that with different layers. There are also things to keep in mind because of course, this paint is water-soluble. When you add a second layer to put the first one, be careful not to add too much water or you will just soften first layer again. We'll see how to watch out on which colors to layer and how. Let's start with that actually. I could take some red and make a surface on top of the yellow. I've diluted it quite a lot now so that we can see what happens. You can still see the yellow shape underneath the square. You can see the edge of it here. Of course, that red pot has been orangy because the yellow is underneath. If I used the red in a very saturated way, then it would just cover the layer underneath and we wouldn't see it at all anymore. We have to think about color theory here. Because when we layer, the same principles are active. For example, if I take some blue and add it over, you can see that the part that is on top of the yellow has now become green, or it looks green because the yellow shines with the blue and we've seen that blue and yellow makes green. That's a really nice effect. But then if I take purple, which is the complimentary color to yellow, it's a bit more difficult because it looks a bit gray, a bit brownish. Keep that in mind when you layer that, especially if you layer quite translucently the column beneath will shine through and change the top code. If we do it with a darker color and add a very translucent light one on top, that's not enough, we will barely see the top code, especially when it will dry. Also because a little bit of the first layer will become soft again, it will taint the top one. If it's darker underneath, you'll probably get some of that color in your second layer. Like now I have some red in my yellow. Its usually always easier to use a darker color than what is used in the first layer. Added the complimentary color on top, it's quite light. I can barely see it. I mean, from where I'm sitting it looks a little bit brownish. This is one way of layering, just adding one color on top of the other. It can be quite useful if you're painting faces, for example. You want to do maybe light layer first and then add some more facial details on top. It's a really good way to do it. Then we can use monochrome layering. That's basically where you use, like I have here a very light orange and I'm taking that same orange but in the most saturated way. I'll just go on top of it again, so I can add more detail on the bottom surface with the same color. You don't always need to change colors just to add more detail to something. Again, we can do the same with the green. This was the light green and adding saturated version on top. If you don't saturate your top color too much like here, you can actually make some quite subtle finishings with this, which I think is really beautiful. I often use this technique just to add details on whatever I'm painting. For example, if I had slow ceramic container and I want to add some embellishments, I do that because the surface is also nice and dry, it's not loosening up. You could really paint a whole other painting on top of what you already have. I really like creating texture by making these little dots, which is similar to stippling. Sometimes it's just nice to add these little details to break up the way the painting looks. You can just play around with shapes. It's also beautiful when part of something overlaps one shape and then doesn't on the other. Then if you have a very opaque whites in your palates, you can even see what happens when you add white to a darker color. This is also watercolor paint. If you really wanted to add very opaque white, you could even use some other paints. Use some gouache, some acrylic to color. This when it dries, it gets absorbed by the color underneath again. You might need to add many layers. Then again, if you want something very subtle, it's also a nice thing to do. These are some of the layering effects I use that I like to just make my work a little bit richer. To recap, we have learned three new techniques that we can use with watercolor, their gradients, layering, and monochrome juxtaposition. Now that we've dug into colors and have our palettes and we've learned the basics of watercolor, and we have our effects to create nice textures, we can now start to paint our whimsical characters. 12. Painting Pt. 1: So we had set aside our sketch objects for a while so we could learn about color and watercolor. Now that that's done and we have all these new skills and our color palette, we can now start with painting. Let's try for each object we paint to apply the three effects that we've learned, and to use most of the colors in our five plus black and white color palette. I will go through how I painted my three objects. In this lesson, we will go through the first one. So even if now we're attacking the final artwork, still try to treat it as an experiment. Stay playful, stay relaxed while doing it. Sounds a bit corny, but I always feel like the feelings that you have while you paint, like joy and just playfulness actually can be seen in the result of the painting. So just have fun. Choose which character you want to start painting, place it on your light box, and then your watercolor paper on top. To keep it in place, I'm going to use tape. It can be helpful to already put the Lightbox on. This object is quite small so there's no risk that we cover it up with the tape, it's when you have something bigger so you can see what you're doing. This will help us keep our painting in place because we're going to color in our sketch basically, and with the water, the paper is going to move a bit and of course, you might also just shift the paper so at least this ensures that it will stay in place. We will try to apply all three effects that we learned in every painting, gradients, juxtaposition and layering whilst also using the palette we've created. So have a look at your painting before you start, just to see kind of where you want to use which color and which effect. I'm thinking of using a gradient on the body. Maybe from pink for the leg to brown and brown on the top. I'm thinking maybe pink for the lips, and any details I'll use the remaining colors, which are yellow and blue. The inside of the mouth I want to use mostly red in different shades, and then details will be black. So let's proceed. As we've learned, I'm now making my gradient, pulling out the color as much as I can. I'm now adding second color here. We'll make it a little darker here. So you can see that actually, we are kind of mixing two types of gradients. It's on the one hand, one monochrome gradient. So from dark pink to lighter pink and dark brown to light brown and then on top of that, pink to brown. Top part, I want to do just from a monochrome brown to light brown gradient. I'm going to turn my drawing around because this has to dry and I don't want to put my hand in it. Slowly starting to lighten this brown color. I'm going to add a lot of water now, make it really light because I'll fill this up, because there's a lot of sections to paint. Because of all the details, we'll take some time and so that everything fits together at the end. Just to make accentuate the special feature here, so the neck is visible. I like to paint the toes leaving these between free and also, it has a bit of time to dry. So this is again the idea of juxtaposition. If I leave these to dry a little bit before I color these in, we'll have a nice little border between them. If I color them in one after the other, while everything is still quite wet, it will melt together and it will just become one big blob. So yeah, you often have to wait a bit for stuff to dry but you can also use that time to paint all the bits or just do something else completely. So while this dries, I will just work on the eyes a little bit like defining the shape a bit better. If I just wet my brush, I can wet also the paint again and just use it to define the shape, more precise way without adding any new color. Whenever you need, you can just use extra sheet of paper. See how saturated your paint is on the paintbrush to make sure you got the right saturation. Now, I decided to simplify the mouth a bit. I had also made teeth at the bottom, but it was a bit too crowded. So I've actually now made the decision to just keep the upper teeth. This is something you can of course do once you're painting and you see something is too much or you don't really like it. You can still change it. Maybe you can remember, but on my object there were some patterns. I've kept them a little bit for the nose, thinking now that it could be nice to add them on top. To make it a bit more comical, I actually feel like adding some small hairs on the leg. So we've painted our first character. We've used all the effects that we learned and tried to keep a relaxed stance during the painting. Let's move on to the next two. I'll be showing you in the next lesson what I did with my remaining two objects, and remember to post your first results already in the gallery. 13. Painting Pt. 2: In the previous session, we painted our first objects, we'll now continue with the two others. We'll just continue applying the facts and the palate, keeping the same state of mind. Whilst we use all the same things, we'll still try to make them look a little bit different. They'll each be unique, but still part of the series. I will now show you what I've done with my two remaining characters. For this one because I haven't used much red, I think that will be the main color. Again, I want to have some gradients and legs. Maybe juxtaposition with the water outside. I'm going to stay on a monochrome gradient here, so I'm just going from dark red to light red. Slightly tracing the shapes. Be nice to how the color changed towards the top. Looking for some nice sprite yellow. I'm going to make the inside of the mouth brown. Remember there were little teeth in here. I'm going to keep it white. Background seems to be dry, I can now do the outline. I think it could be nice to invert the yellow and red here, so start with yellow, draw a gradient into red at the top. There's always going to be symmetrical, perfect watercolors. That's also the charm of it. I've put some water on my painting. I'm trying to soak it up without moving the painter out too much. We can also just let it dry. Part of spills, you can really get away with a lot of water. Sometimes, it's easier to let it dry a little bit first. These things happen. If mistakes happen, just integrate them into your painting, make the best out of it. It's not really a mistake if you still make it look nice at the end. I'm missing the pupils to the eyes. We haven't really used any layering here except for the eyes. But I quite like the drawing as it is, so I'll add the final touched to the tongue, and I think we're done. 14. Painting Pt. 3: My teapot character is the biggest one I have and one of the most detailed. I think this would be the perfect one to really try all these effects again and use all the colors in the best possible way. I'm thinking to make the body mostly blue, with blue and brown for the feathers, and then in the feet and the beak, use the other warm colors, the red and yellow and a bit of brown, maybe the pink can come again in the cheeks and into these flowery looking petals. This will really be the occasion to try the monochrome juxtaposition and gradients. Let's see how this goes as I start painting. I'm going to start with the largest surface, just the background. Paint cheek while paint is wet so that it can merge more in the background, and I'm completely fine with just letting it go crazy. While I'm doing the background, I'm really trying to look for the structure of a tea pot. The zones that are more in the curve, a bit more underneath, I'm making them darker, so you have this sense of a little bit of three-dimensionality. We have a lot of light in this video, so you can see what I'm doing, but when you're painting your own characters, you might want to dim the light a little bit so you can actually see the lines of your sketch on the light-box a bit easier. Don't go too dark so you can still see your colors, but a little bit darker definitely helps. Now here, there's a pool of water and color has assembled. I'll siphon it off slightly with my brush cause it would take a lot of time to dry, and I actually didn't want that much blue to be in the surface. Before we can continue in this area, this has to dry now. While it does, the feet are not touching the blue background, so I can already start painting those. Because they're smaller, I'm going to use a smaller brush too. This is to dry too now. I think this area looks quite dry, so I'll continue with the beak. There, I want to do a gradient from red to yellow, maybe with a little bit of brown in the beginning of the beak. With this I could add afterwards. I'll start with the red. I'll wait for this to dry before I can continue with the nostril and the mouth and the opening at the tip of the beak. There's lot drying right now, I could do the pupil, the iris of the eye. On my chicken or bird legs, I have a lot of feathers and I want to make them all brown way up to here. This will be a mix of gradients and monochrome juxtaposition. Again, we don't want these surfaces to touch because they need to dry before we can continue. Really making sure that I still want to continue painting, but making sure not to take feathers that are really next to each other. I made the tip of this feather a little bit darker than I wanted to, so with my brush and some water, I'm trying to remove some excess color. From here on, I'd like my feathers to slowly become blue. The next layer, I'm going to make gradient from brown to blue. Because this brown is very close to orange, when it meets with the blue, it's a bit like what we saw with the orange and blue gradients. It creates a grayish, khaki brownish color in the middle. But I think it fits really well now also with them being feathers. These look like they've dried, so we can continue this end. You have now painted your three whimsical characters. You now have three tsukumogamis, or monsters, or spooks, or just funny objects. Congratulations. In the next lesson, we will look at the results and wrap up this class. 15. Conclusion: Congratulations again on finishing your artworks. How do they look altogether? If you like making these characters, why not make it a daily or weekly challenge? You could also decide to make it tsukumogami possession like this. We've gone through everything from inspiration, finding our materials, sketching, transforming, learning about color theory, learning about watercolor basics and effects, and then painting. Most importantly, we've used our imagination and our creative, I produce something unique. Whatever artwork you make, which medium you use, just try to remember to explore experiments, be playful, have fun with it. There's no right or wrong, the important thing is just to find a way to work that suits you best and that makes your art shine. Follow me and my work on Instagram or on my websites, and be updated about any new classes. It would be awesome if you could share your artworks in the Projects and Resources tab so that we can all have a look and be inspired by one another. I hope you enjoyed the class. Thanks so much for following, and see you next time.