Watercolor Landscapes in Sketchbook | Bianca Rayala | Skillshare

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Watercolor Landscapes in Sketchbook

teacher avatar Bianca Rayala, Top Teacher | Watercolor 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

10 Lessons (1h 18m)
    • 1. About The Class

    • 2. Materials

    • 3. Knowing Your Colors

    • 4. Practice Painting- Sky and Meadow

    • 5. Designing Your Sketchbook Page

    • 6. Pencil Sketch

    • 7. Painting The Landscape

    • 8. Painting The Trees

    • 9. Completing Your Page

    • 10. Class Project and Final Thoughts

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About This Class


Welcome to my class on Painting Watercolor Landscapes in Sketchbook!

In this course I will teach you the basic watercolor techniques so you can create interesting landscape paintings in your own watercolor journal. We will take a closer look at a special technique to build color connection in your paintings and learn how to design your sketchbook spread in a way that beautifully tells your story.

We will study how to paint different skies, how to mix colors and We will talk about how to harmoniously layout different elements in your page. In our class project, we will compose the page of our sketchbook, paint a beautiful sunset field, add other elements like wildflowers, color notes and some text in pencil.

Everything you'll learn in this class will surely help you create better watercolor paintings not just in your sketchbooks but also in other formats. So whether youre a beginner or an experienced watercolorist, I invite you to spend an hour to explore this subject with me.

Meet Your Teacher

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Bianca Rayala

Top Teacher | Watercolor Artist

Top Teacher

Hi friends! I'm Bianca and I'm a watercolor artist. My purpose is to inspire people to discover and pursue their creative passion. See full profile

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1. About The Class: Welcome to my class on painting watercolor landscapes in sketchbook. In this course, I will teach you the basic watercolor techniques so you can create interesting landscape paintings in your own watercolor journal. We will take a closer look at a special technique to build color connection in your paintings and learn how to design your sketchbook spread in a way that beautifully tells your story. We will study how to paint different skies, how to mix colors, and we will talk about how to harmoniously lay out different elements in your page. In our class project, we will compose the page of our sketchbook, paint a beautiful sunset field, and add other elements like wild flowers, color notes, and some texts in pencil. Everything you learn in this class will surely help you create better watercolor paintings, not just in your sketch books, but also in other formats. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced watercolorist, I invite you to spend an hour to explore this wonderful subject with me. I'm Bianca Rayala, a watercolor artist and educator from the Philippines. I love watercolors and I'm so passionate about sharing my love for arts. My goal has always been to inspire people to pursue their creative passion and purpose. Come and join me. Let's take this beautiful journey together. 2. Materials: The materials that I will be using are very simple. First is watercolor sketchbook. This one is at your Perfect Sketchbook made of 100 percent cotton. The good thing about using cotton watercolor paper is its ability to hold much paint and water. If you don't have a sketchbook yet, feel free to use whatever paper you have first at home, and then practice it again when you get the chance to have a sketchbook. For the watercolor paints, any basic set of paints will be okay. I will be using just a few colors and you can experiment on the paints that you have at home to get a similar shade. The colors that I will be using are yellow ocher, Perylene red, amethyst genuine, horizon blue, Payne's gray, a bit of compost violet, indigo, olive green, and lunar blue. I will tell more about the color mixing on the next video. For the brushes, the ones that I use are round brushes from Silver Brush. I have one synthetic brush from their Silver Silk 88 line and a natural hair brush from the Renaissance line. You will need pencil, eraser, some tissue paper, and two cups of water too. That's it. Let's start our lesson in the next video. 3. Knowing Your Colors: In this section of this class, we will study the color mixes that you can use to create different skies, like the bright blue sky, sunset sky, and gloomy sky. I will also share some easy color mixes for our greens, the ones we can use for trees and meadows. Let's start with the bright blue, sunny sky. I only use two colors for this kind of sky. These are horizon blue and amethyst genuine. Amethyst genuine is similar to Dioxazine violet. I mix them together to create two different uses. The first mix has more horizon blue and just a hint of amethyst genuine to get this blue shade. Then the second mix is leaning towards the purple shade. It is made of more amethyst genuine and less horizon blue. Now, how do we apply this? The sky is painted with the blue mix and the white clouds are the unpainted portion of the paper. We use the purple mix to paint the shadows of the white clouds. I slightly pre-wet my paper to get a soft blend of colors as I paint the sky. The white and painted portion of the paper is the cloud. Then to give dimension to the clouds, we paint the shadows of the clouds using the purple mix. If you want a slightly darker tone for your shadow, just add a bit of Payne's gray to your purple mix and then you will have a darker tone. Next, let's see the colors for the gloomy night skies. We use two colors, which are indigo and Payne's gray. We mix them together to get a muted dark blue color. The tone depends on the amount of water that you add. If you want a really dark sky, limit the amount of water in the mix. Let's try it. I'm pre-wetting again my paper to get a soft blend of colors for my sky. Now I load my brush with lots of pigment. Notice how I do the strokes with my brush to create the impression of clouds. Don't forget the rule in perspective that those clouds closer to all should have a darker tone, so I'll make those clouds closer to me thicker and darker. Next, let's do this sunset skies. We will use a couple of mixes for this sky. First is a mix of yellow ocher and perylene red to get a warm orange color. Next, we use a mix of Amethyst Genuine, Payne's Gray, and composite Violet to get a dark purple color of the sky. In painting the sunset skies, we leave the brightest part of the sun unpainted. For example, if this is our sun, I leave a small round part unpainted and then I start painting around it with the Yellow Ochre. I slowly transition to my Orange mix, then just carefully spread the color. The color is smoothly blend because I slightly pre-wet the paper with clean water before starting. Now, I apply my Dark Purple mix starting from top and then I let the paints to naturally blend together by tilting the paper. I avoid applying so many strokes on my sky as much as possible to retain the freshness and transparency of the paint. Again, even though it is just a practice, I darken the upper part of the sky which is the one closer to us to show aerial perspective. Now, let's proceed on the colors I use to paint trees and meadows. I only play with Yellow Ochre, Olive Green, Lunar Blue, and Indigo. I want you to remember that to build dimension on your trees, you need to have varying tonal values on your painting. For the light tones or for the portion of the trees lighted by the sun, I use mix of Ochre and Olive Green. Then the mid tone, I use Olive Green and Lunar Blue, and then the portion of the trees that are in shadow, I use my previous Green mix and Indigo. Let's use painting the pine trees as an example. Let's paint pine trees at the background using a watery mix of light, yellowish green color. I simply dab the tip of my brush to create the general shape of the tree and I will blur out this part of the tree. It is important to vary the height of the trees to make them look natural. Let's wait for this layer to completely dry before layering the mid tone trees. While waiting, let me write first the names of the colors that I use. Now that this layer is dry, let's paint the trees on the middle ground using the mid tone. The consistency is a bit creamy, and doing this, we can differentiate the trees at the background, middle ground, and foreground. That's the main benefit of placing correct tonal values in our painting. Let's wait again for this layer to dry before we paint the foreground. The trees in the foreground should have the darkest tone. The same colors are used for the meadows. Let's do a small meadow study here below. I paint the small area of the sky, then I start with the upper part of the meadow using Yellow Ochre with a bit of Olive Green. From this, we slowly transition to a greenish mix. The tonal value is getting a bit darker than the first one. As I get closer to the foreground, the tonal value should be darker, that's why I add Indigo to my mix. To achieve a darker color, just control the water from your brush, and also, from your mix. This will help you get a saturated mix of colors. That's it. These are the basic color mixes that are very helpful when creating landscape paintings. I encourage you to try this exercise, practice mixing the colors that you have, and create small studies like this one to help you get to know your colors even more. 4. Practice Painting- Sky and Meadow: Another very important thing that I want to share is how to paint the skies and meadows using different watercolor techniques. You see soft skies and smooth color transitions are only possible to achieve if you have good understanding of how water and pigment work on wet, moist, or dry paper. Let's start with the wet-on-wet technique. When we say wet-on-wet, it is either we wet the paper with clean water or wash of paint. Actually, it doesn't matter, but the main principle is you are painting with a wet or watery brush on a wet surface. I pre-wet my paper with water and then paint over it with the sunset colors. Since this surface is wet, all these colors that I use create a soft blend without any hard edges. Now, there's another technique called dry-on-wet, which is applicable in painting clouds. For this example, I will repeat what I did on the wet-on-wet illustration, but this time, I will wait for the paper to be moist before I layer another color to paint the clouds. This technique is called dry-on-wet because my brush has a creamy mix of paint which is almost dry, and then I paint it on a moist paper. If I try to apply my mix on a dry paper, the pigment is so saturated and not flowy. Since the paper is moist, the clouds both have defined shape and still maintaining the soft edges. This technique is a bit tricky since you need to get the right timing and the right level of moisture on the paper. If your paper is still so wet even though you have a dry brush, the paint will just uncontrollably flow on the wet surface, thus, it is impossible to create recognizable shapes with soft edges. Remember that in painting clouds, we use the dry-on-wet technique. We paint the sky with wet-on-wet technique first. Wait for the right dampness of the paper before you layer the clouds over it. Next, let's do the dry-on-dry technique. It is painting with a dry brush on a dry surface. You know that you do it correctly when you achieve white and painted spots on your paper as you mid the stroke. We normally use this technique to paint textures or the glare on the water. Let's do a small seascape study. I paint the sky and the water fragment. Then I let this one to dry completely before I apply the dry brush strokes. If you apply the dry brush on a moist paper, you won't achieve unpainted gaps on the surface. Water color requires both speed and patience depending on the result that you want to achieve. I will also share with you three techniques I mostly use in creating textures. First is splatter technique. I load my brush with a flowy mix of paint, then tap my brush with my finger to create splatters. Next one is salt technique. It is necessary to apply this when the surface is moist. If the timing is wrong, you cannot see the beautiful blooms that this salt can create. The last technique is scratching technique. The same principle with the salt technique, timing is very important. The surface should be moist, which is not too wet nor too dry to create sharp scratches. All these three are applicable in painting meadows. As we learn about painting meadows, let me share the last technique which is wet on dry technique. When you attend my other classes, I'm sure you will often hear me remind about the importance of color connection to bring harmony in the colors use and also to avoid unnecessary hard edges between colors. To create color connection, even though we are painting on a dry surface, the first color should still be wet as we paint another color next to it. If painting dry on wet requires waiting for the right timing, painting wet on dry require speed so the previous color remains wet as you add another color and prevent creating hard edges. Let's do a practice painting using the wet on dry technique. I painted this guy using wet on dry. Even though the paper is dry, I avoided having hard edges because of the color connection I build between the colors. The same thing we do as we paint the meadows. Again, the paper is dry, I start with a warm color on the meadow, then I transition to green. I make sure to connect this green to the orange fragment while it is still wet. Then I continued painting a dark green color on the foreground. Notice the continuity of colors on the meadow. Now let's apply the splatter, salt, and scratch techniques. The splatters bring different effects depending on the size of the brush and the moisture of paper. But for the salt and scratch technique, remember to do them while the paper is still moist. Since we already know how and when to use different watercolor techniques, how to build color connection, and how to create different interesting textures, I will see you on the next video and let's talk about designing the page in your sketchbook for creating interesting layouts and composition. 5. Designing Your Sketchbook Page: Creating a concept on your page is as important as knowing the basics of watercolor. Choosing our main subject, the distribution of elements, and the way we arrange them in the page of our sketchbook should be made in a way that portrays a story. We don't just incorporate anything we have in mind and let random elements go together in one page, we want our page to have an overall concept and most importantly a story to tell. There are unlimited ways to lay out your page, and I encourage you to feel free to explore and play around with different sizes and formats. You can either try square format, circular one, portrait, landscape, or even borderless once. But let me share some guidelines that I use when I design my sketchbook to make it more interesting. When I divide my page in several sequences, I make sure that my main subject painting occupies majority part of the page. I allot another small section for an element that supports the main subject. This element could be a detailed view of a particular object related to my main subject. For example, in this spread, my main subject is this farmhouse landscape. One special memory I have when staying in this farmhouse is enjoying the warmth of the bonfire. Notice that the landscape painting occupies majority part of the spread, then I position the bonfire on a portrait format at the lower right side of the page to maintain balance. Lastly, I put the color notes right below the main subject to complete the spread. I like indicating color notes in the page because it helps me recall the color mixes that I use for a particular painting. You can also put some notes on the side like the color recipe, name of the place, and the date of the painting. 6. Pencil Sketch: Let's apply everything we have learned and paint this page of our sketchbook. For our pencil sketch, I decide first where to position our main subject. I will be painting a sunset field in a landscape format and I want to place it here on the right side part of the page. I don't normally use masking tape around my sketch book, but if you want to have a crisp border, you can use one. I draw a light sketch of the border and the size is more than half of the page. Then here on the left, I will use this space to paint the close-up image of wildflowers. The pencil sketch of the field is pretty simple. I just draw a slope starting on the upper part, going down. I will place the sun on the left side and will just put some guide sketch of the positioning of the main trees. I will draw some random round shapes here in the meadow to portray white wildflowers here in the foreground and tiny ones in the middle ground. The close-up painting of the white wildflowers, I just draw some flowers in random positions. Just imagine yourself being transported to a beautiful sunset field full of wildflowers. Keep your sketch light and simple. We will let the watercolor do the work in detailing. Now I keep this part below the landscape empty as I will use it to paint color notes. I'll see you in the next video for the painting part. 7. Painting The Landscape: Since we will be painting on just a small area, I won't be doing the wet-on-wet technique. When painting on sketch books, you can prevent your paper from warping by controlling the amount of water in your washes. Thus our painting process will be done using the wet and dry technique. This means that we will apply the principle of color connection to avoid unnecessary hard edges in the sky in meadows. For you to have an idea, this is the sunset landscape that we will be painting. If you look at this, we leave the brightest part of the sun unpainted to make the light glow. We start coloring the area around it with the other ocher then we transition to orange and then purple color. Now here in the meadow there is light reflected on the field. We start again with a warm color, then slowly transition to mid-tone green and lastly to a dark green on the foreground. I used the wet and dry technique here. There is no hard edges between transitions of colors because of the color connection. Last step is to paint the pine trees at the background. Trees near the sun have lighter tones, and they get darker as they go further away from the sun. I will not be using masking fluid to preserve this white spots for the white flowers, what I will do is to skip those spots when they paint the foreground. Let's start painting. I use yellow ocher and being the area around the sun. Next. I soften with a clean brush the inner part of the circle to have a soft edge. Now I get an orange mix and connect it to my yellow while it's still wet. The secret here is to move a bit fast so the paints will not run dry. [MUSIC] I paint the horizon with a warm color and just use water to soften the layer of paint. [MUSIC] Again, while my warm orange color is still wet, I paint the purple sky and let the colors connect and blend together with just a few strokes. I said just that you prepare your color mix ahead of time so you will not feel too much in a hurry or to avoid panic. [MUSIC] You can tilt your paper at an angle so the paints would blend in flow down instead of using your brush to blend the colors. The more strokes you do, you increase the danger of making the colors look muddy. [MUSIC] Now that the sky fragment is done, I soften the edge by the horizon with a clean damp brush. This will prevent my work from having a hard edge between the sky and meadow. Doing this will give you an extra time also to prepare your paints. I tilt my board to avoid the water from running over my sky, creating unwanted blooms. I start again with an orangey yellow color right below the sun to show the lighted part of the meadow. Then I transition to a greenish color. [MUSIC] Notice how we go my brush to create the strokes. As they approach the middle ground, I change to a darker tone of green. Don't forget to skip some white spots for the wild flowers. [MUSIC] For the foreground, the tonal value should be dark green and the mix is very saturated. [MUSIC] Darken some more spots, especially those next to the white flowers to create high contrast. [MUSIC] While the fragment is still moist we can scratch some areas here in the lower-right part to the show grass blades. [MUSIC] I will also splatter some paints and I try to avoid splattering paint on the sky, so I change the direction of my brush. [MUSIC] Lastly, I will drop a very few amount of salt on selected areas just to add a little texture. [MUSIC] We'll let this layer dry completely before we paint the trees. I'll see you on our next video. 8. Painting The Trees: Now that this area is already dry, it's time to paint the pine trees. First, we need to use a synthetic brush with a sharp point so we can create the fine strokes. We start from the trees near the sun. Remember our lesson in using the correct tonal values in order to show depth when painting trees. Even though we will be using an orange color for the trees near the sun, the tonal value should be light since we are painting trees at the background. I create a watery mix of ocher and buried it in red for the trees closest to the sun. Avoid covering the sun fragments so you will not lose the light. Next I make a greenish mix still with light tonal value to paint the trees next to the orange tones. Little by little, I transition to slightly darker tone because we go farther away from the sun. You can notice that there's an annoying hard edge between the base of the trees and the outline of the meadow. What I will do is to get a clean damp brush and gently soften the edge to blend it with the meadow. As you continue painting the pine trees, make sure to vary the height of the tree to make them look natural. I repeat the same process of softening the base of the trees to have a soft blend. The trees are now getting darker in tone, and the mix I'm using is more saturated as I reach the edge. You can drop some colors after softening the base of the tree to add texture. Now let's paint the trees on the left. We repeat the same process of starting with light tonal value going dark as we reach the other part of the paper. I still soften the base of the trees using a clean, damp brush. Now let's add details on the meadows. First I splatter some more orange paints here in the middle ground to show impression of flowers. I will also use my buttery consistency of ocher to paint the center of white flowers. Now we are done with the landscape. Let's complete the page by painting the white flowers here on the next video. 9. Completing Your Page: As we paint this bunch of flowers, we will be doing the negative painting approach. Negative painting is like painting around the shape with a darker color then we fade out the paint as we go farther. We preserve the white spots to show an impression of white flowers then we paint around it using our different mix of greens. We maintain color connection by adding colors while the previous layer is still wet. The thing here is as much as possible, we have to move a little faster to have a very loose entrance parent painting. We do not aim for a botanical work. That's why we don't need the focus on details. [MUSIC] We let the watercolor move on the wet surface by applying different amount of water in random areas. I also use my other brush with clean water to soften the edges, on the outer part. [MUSIC] I darken the areas right next to the white spots so there will be more contrast. I'm moving a little bit faster because some areas are running dry. Here on the upper parts, I add a watery mix of ocher just to break the greens. Then I make the base area of this section a little darker using more indigo. [MUSIC] As a last step, I add some more yellow ocher and splatter some paints for texture. [MUSIC] I will add dots of yellow ocher in the center of the white spots and finish off by scratching some parts to show illusion of stems or grass. [MUSIC] Let's finish the page by painting our color notes. I just get the leftover paint from my palette, and one by one paint them below. [MUSIC] Don't forget to note the name of the place and the date, for memory keeping. [MUSIC] I hope you enjoyed creating landscape paintings on our sketchbook. This is our watercolor sketchbook spread. [MUSIC] 10. Class Project and Final Thoughts: We have reached the end of our class. Thank you so much for joining me this far. Always remember that, it is completely normal if you don't get it right during your first try. Don't be discouraged, but keep on trying. As you repeat the process, you will learn something new about your paint, paper, and brush. I suggest that you go back and re-watch important portions, such as color mixing and practice painting using different watercolor techniques to familiarize yourself with water and pigment control. Observe how I hold the brush, create strokes, and prepare my water mixtures because these are necessary to have a good painting. For our class project, paint the same sketchbook spread that I did in my demo. I'm excited to see your work, so please share it with me through the project section of my class. If you find my class helpful, I would greatly appreciate receiving a review from you as well. I upload new classes almost every week, so don't forget to follow me here and on Instagram so you know when I have new classes for you. I invite you also to explore different paintings subjects with me. I have other classes on painting human figures, seascapes, landscapes, florals and loose and impressionist painting style, and more. I hope you enjoyed my class as much as I did and see you soon.