Watercolor Painting: Basics for Beginners | Amaya Jade | Skillshare

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Watercolor Painting: Basics for Beginners

teacher avatar Amaya Jade, Artist and Video Creator

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

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.

      Watercolor Facts: Artist vs. Student Grade


    • 3.

      Watercolors I Use: Palettes & Tubes


    • 4.

      Swatching Watercolors


    • 5.

      Types of Watercolor Paper


    • 6.

      Types of Brushes


    • 7.

      How I Use My Brushes


    • 8.

      Tape & Masking Fluid


    • 9.

      Techniques: Part One


    • 10.

      Techniques: Part Two


    • 11.

      My Full Painting Process


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About This Class

Hi! My name is Amaya and I'm an artist & video creator!

Ever since I started painting with watercolors about four years ago, they have been my favorite art medium. After using them for a while, I’ve learned a lot about these paints and I am now able to share my experience with others. In this class I will walk you through everything I know about watercolors at the most basic levels, as well as show you my own painting process.

 What I will go over in this class:

  • Types of watercolor paints
  • Watercolor paper
  • Brushes
  • Tape & Masking Fluid
  • Techniques (Flat washes, dry brushing, lifting, etc.)
  • Full watercolor painting process

Here are a couple of my watercolor paintings

At the end of the class, you'll see the full process of the painting above!

If you have any questions at all, be sure to ask me in the discussions page!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Amaya Jade

Artist and Video Creator


Hello! My name is Amaya!

Artist & Video Creator. Since 2012 I have been uploading videos to my channel on YouTube (scroll to the end of my page) and now I'm also teaching here! You can find my artwork on Etsy and on my website as well!



My newest class is free for a limited time! Painting Flowers with Gouache


See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hey, it's my And in this class, I'm gonna be talking all about watercolors and how you can start using them. So watercolors are actually very first paint that I ever used. And ever since then it has been my favorite medium since I've been using watercolors for such a long time. Now I am able Teoh, share my experience with them, tips my techniques, so that's basically what this costs going to be. 2. Watercolor Facts: Artist vs. Student Grade: So in 17th and 18th centuries, artists would ground figments of plants and minerals and mixed their own pains from these pigments, along with gum. Arabic drop pan watercolors were made in the late 18th century by William and Thomas Reeves and then in 18 32. It was further developed by Windsor Newton into semi moist paint pans packaged in porcelain and wrapped in foil, making watercolors easier to use and more portable paint tubes were first used in 18 46 when Windsor and Newton introduced them for watercolors after first using them for oil paint, which were invented in 18 41. So every paint medium is a combination of a pigment and a binder. The binder is what determines the category of medium. So what type of painting is, For example, oil Paint is pigment and oil, usually linseed and acrylic paint pigment and acrylic medium the binder, whichever, when it may be acts to hold the pigment to the surface who are painting on. So there are two grades of watercolor paints, artist grade and student grade student grade paints are great for beginners who are experimenting and learning how to paint with watercolors without spending lots of money on high quality paints by purchasing student grade paints. You have more freedom to play with the colors, and it kind of takes the pressure off of wasting pain. A disadvantage of student red paints is that most of them can appear very opaque and chalky . Most manufacturers cut down on the pigments used in these paints and just add more filler to keep the price down. This is why your paintings can appear heavy and more acrylic like when painting with student great pains, another disadvantage if they tend to be less vibrant, which is also due to the loss of pigment artist. Red paints are made with rich pigments and less filler because the pigments inside of Iran more finally, they appear smoother and less grainy on paper. Thes pains will also last longer than student great paints due to their light facets. So now I'm going to show you the watercolors that I first started out with, and then the ones that I currently used now 3. Watercolors I Use: Palettes & Tubes: So these are all of my watercolors. So I'm just going to kind of go through this and show you the brands that I use and then talk about my palettes and how I put them together. But before I go into what I currently used now I'm gonna show you the very first watercolors that I used when I started painting. So they're all in this box right here. So these are the artist's loft watercolors. So this is what I used When I first started watercolor painting, I used them for the longest time before I bought better ones and definitely recommend the artist's loft ones. I went through so many packages of these pains, but because they are a student grade, they do have a little bit more of ah, in acrylic paint. Look to them. I'm going to show you some of my first watercolor paintings so that you can kind of get a look of what these pants look like for any of you that want to start over clear painting. And you don't know what paints to start out with. I would definitely recommend these. All right, so now into what I use now, so right here is my first watercolor. Appellate. I believe I got this from Hobby Lobby Super inexpensive and lasted me a long time. Still use it, and it's still in good condition. It's just really messy with all my watercolors, but, um, I did get a lot of use out of this. I love having water Clear palace, where you can just put in your paints and select whatever colors you want to use. So instead of buying a pre made watercolor palette, you can pick and choose what colors you wanna put in here, depending on what you use the most. So putting together my own water color palettes is definitely like my favorite thing. And it's also just really convenient to have all the colors that you want in here. And the one that used now is this one I got off of Amazon. It's slightly bigger and a little bit more durable, so this is what it looks like by the way the watercolor paints that are in both of these pallets are the shin hand watercolors, which are the paints that I use, So this is what it looks like. There are two large mixing wells here and then a really big one on this side. So there are slightly less spaces in here for paints. So it was a little bit more selective about what colors I put in this one. And if any of you would like me to make a little class on how I put my water clear pallets together, then just let me know. And I can do that because I would like to make another one. And so here are the Asian hand aquatic lawyers use also bought these on Amazon. So that's where you can get them when you have been using these for a while. Now, this is the box of 24. Not all in there. But this was actually the 2nd 1 that I got. Here's the 1st 1 that I had, which is the box of 30. I've been using these for a while and I do really enjoy these paints. Very vibrant colors there. Lighthouse nous is great, very smooth. And also, I'm gonna show you guys all the paint to watching them, so you get to see what they look like. And then I also just have a couple of the Windsor and Newton paints. So, like this one I just bought when I ran out of black, and then I really love indigo and like, Prussian blue. So I bought one of these. All right, The next thing that I have to show you is the gunsights Hamby watercolor palette. I'm not sure what exactly this is called. Um, and I believe I got this at Hobby Lobby, so these colors are so great because they're super rich and vibrant, and the paints themselves are just really smooth. So I don't use these very often, but they do look nice. And then since I'm talking about guns, I Tammy, I have the story color set which I I love. I love love these paints. They are metallic watercolors. And I actually have another one of these that I basically used up because they're just so great. And I love them. Not much. I love using these as just kind of accents of gold in my paintings. We just add so much more to my paintings. And I would just really love the look of them and no onto the last thing that have to show you is the secure of koi watercolors. This is the pocket field sketch, so basically, these are really good for travelling. I don't really use these pains much because they are a bit chalky. I just don't really like their consistency and texture, but I'll go ahead and swatch thes as well just so that you can see. 4. Swatching Watercolors: All right. So I will go ahead and start off with the Asian hand watercolors. So I have my paper here in the next video, I'm gonna be talking about watercolor paper and what I use. So that's what you'll see in the next video. - So now I'll swatch some of the guns a champion paints. - All right, so those are the water close that I use in the next video, I'm going to talk about watercolor paper. 5. Types of Watercolor Paper: so there are lots of different types of watercolor paper, but basically there are three kinds. Hot press, too cold pressed and rough, and for the most part, the type of people that you use is down to your own personal preference. So, just like watercolor paints, there are two main grades of watercolor paper artists, quality and student quality artists. Quality, sometimes known as archival paper, is acid free and designed to last a long time. Papers that aren't acid free will become yellow and brittle over time. And then there is also a paperweight, which is important because lighter papers will have more warping when they're wet. Light paper is anything less than £140 heavy is 300 to £400. Heavy paper can be very expensive, though, but it is preferable for some artists because it doesn't need any stretching unless you're using very heavy washes. But you can't avoid stretching by simply taping the paper to a board while painting, which is what I do, and later on, I'll show you how I do that. So first off you have hot pressed, which has a smooth, hard surface, so I don't have any hot pressed watercolor paper because it's not the type of paper that I like to use for painting. But I do have bristol, which is similar to hot press, So I'll just show you this to kind of give you an idea of what hot pressed is. It has no tooth or grain, and it's mainly used for very detailed work. Since there isn't any grain and it just move, you won't have any problems with small details. I like to use this paper for pens and markers because they just glide over the paper. So then, after hot press, you have cold pressed, which is the most versatile and popular texture because it's suitable for beginners and experience. Painters has semi rough surface, which is suitable for both detailed work and smooth washes, which is the paper that I use. So cold pressed is my favorite because it's in between hop pressed and rough. It does have some texture to it, but it's not too much congest, slightly sea texture. But again it's still pretty smooth. So the brand that I use is skansen, and this paper is £140. But it's definitely thick enough to where it doesn't work too much and especially because I do take down all my paintings. And then finally, we have rough paper, which has a lot of tooth to it, and it's good for washes because it gives kind of, ah, luminosity. I have painted on a rock paper before, but then it's a little bit too much texture for me most of the time because most of my paintings I do have a lot of smaller details, which are a lot harder to paint when there's a lot of grain and like grits of the paper onto the form of the paper, there's pads, obviously sketchbooks. There's even blocks of watercolor paper. Those you don't have to worry about warping because they're all glued onto a blocking. You just pain, and then you peel it off when you're done. But here is my watercolor sketch book. The brand is global art materials, and this is one of the travelogue watercolor books, so this paper is £95. So since it is a sketchbook, pages are slightly thinner, and I believe it is cold, pressed pretty smooth and has just a little bit of texture to it, but it holds up really well. So I do really like this sketchbook. So the last thing that I wanted to talk about is the color of water cooler paper. So most watercolor paper is white or cream because it allows light to reflect off of the surface, which gives the transparent watercolor paint to luminescent look. Many people will leave sections of the paper to show through as a substitute for white paint, but you can also buy watercolor paper in different colors or tents to create different moods and effects. You can also take white watercolor paper you already have, and tint it with whatever color you want by applying a thin wash, which is sometimes what I dio like. When I paint watercolor portrait, it's I will mix a light watered down flesh tone and just paint the entire surface to have a base to start off with. So, considering all these different watercolor paper options, you can just decide what kind of look you want. Your paintings toe have. So in the next video, I'm going to be talking a little bit about brushes and the ones that I use, and then I'll also show you how I take down my paintings 6. Types of Brushes: so there are obviously many different types of brushes that you can use when water clear painting. My finger brushes are round ones. So he's and then the bigger ones like these two here, this round one in this flat one. So when I'm painting, I don't really use too many brushes. I will just stick Teoh a few small ones and then a couple big ones for, like, backgrounds and then obviously the smaller ones for little details. This is also one of my fear owns, So I don't really buy many brushes. I just stick with the ones I have, ones that I like these brushes here. Well, the very first ones that I use when I first bought brush is for watercolor painting. When I started, I just kind of used like what I had. But these already simply Simmons brown brushes and days came in like a pack of three of leave. And so there was a big one, smaller one. And then there was a medium. I used these for a very long time agency. They're very old, but round brushes are definitely my favorite. Also, these are all synthetic haired brushes, and then I have these artists soft ones, these air also around. But they're slightly longer around brushes. So are the like. Those can get them for really inexpensive. Basically, all of these you can find really inexpensive. And then these bigger ones are royal in like nickel as well as easy silver ones. So here's a around one and a smaller detail brush, which is also credible. So it's not great anymore. But this is a size zero, and I think this one is East Side six. This one is my most used brush, and this is a size for a round brush. So I really like this one. And then this one. It's basically like the same thing as this one just a little bit shorter. And then this brush right here is craft smart. This is a smaller flat brush, and I have a bunch of these. So these bushes are great because you can get a whole bunch of them for cheap, and they are good brushes. They look nice and they are good quality. You can get a ton of different shapes and sizes on this one is besides eight round brush. They're really soft, and they do hold a good amount of water. Some other cross smart brushes. I also used to blend like charcoal when I'm doing charcoal drawings. I've had a good experience with these, and this is what I use for my paintings. So here's my sketchbook, and I guess I'll just kind of test out some of these brushes to show you what I used them for. 7. How I Use My Brushes: all right, so I'll start off with the bigger brushes. So I've got this round one. So if there is a large area that I just want to be solid color from this is what I'll Hughes. Um, But if I am just filling in like the whole background, I will use the larger flat brush than I have. And usually with these, I do have to mix like a lot more paint than this because they do hold a lot of water. So as you can see, this has worked a lot food. Just gonna hold that down. Sure you guys. So if I'm doing like galaxy watercolor paintings, then I really like using this round brush as well to kind of go in and add some more colors . So once have the background, makes another color, and then just kind of add some splotches of that in like that with my round brush and I'll do this in the background is still wet so that they blend together already, so I'll let that dry and then I'll move over to this page and use one of these smaller brushes, so I'll go ahead and use my favorite one the royal technical the size for and sick with same glue. - So when using smaller brush is definitely having more control is super important and being very careful about the marks that you're making, - So there is that brush and I'm gonna use another small brush. Oh, this one is a little bit longer than the other one, though. Sami's this one for painting like some leaves around this, and this one is a lot longer as you can see them, this brush. So with the shorter ones, you have a little more control. The, um I'm just use this fun because I find that when I use brush, it's just everything kind of flows a little more. And now I'm gonna go back to my other brush and paints and leaves, and I'm switching back to this one because it's a little bit more precise. 8. Tape & Masking Fluid: So I take all of my paintings down using masking tape so that they don't work. How I do that is I take a piece of cardboard. So this is just a shipping box. As you can see, this is where I take it off. So I will take my watercolor paper. It is to place it on here, and then I will take my masking tape on. Then if I just stick it on like this when I am done with the painting and I take it off, it's gonna end up ripping the paper because it's too sticky. So what I do is usually just stick it to like my pants a couple times, and then I'll lay it on to the paper. I also place it, however, far like I want the border to go, so it kind of just depends on like the look I'm going for. Sometimes I'll do like a really fan border or the thicker one, just depending on how much white I want showing through. So I'll just go. We'll go with that and then I'll go ahead into the other side. So there we go. That is how I taped on my paintings. It doesn't really matter how thick or thin it is. If you take it down like this, it will not work. Then it should come off completely flat when it's dried. And then another thing that I want Teoh talk about briefly is masking fluid, so I don't actually have any at the moment. But the brands from Bachir, I believe, makes really good masking fluid. And I love using this for when I just kind of want to mask off some areas in my painting that I don't want to get pain time or if I'm going to end up painting in those little details later on with a different color. But I will play some clips over this of me using the masking fluid. You could do a lot of different things with it, and it's super fun peeling it off afterwards. 9. Techniques: Part One: So I like to use these little flat brushes when I'm painting Galaxies, and I just kind of use these to make stars. So I'll just mix some white acrylic paint with water And then how do this is? I take the flat brush, and then I just kind of like splatter them, using my finger and the brush. I'm just gonna mix up a new color. So if you want the background of your painting to be a solid color, then you would do a flat wash. So before you start painting a flat wash, you have Teoh make sure that you have enough paint mixed so that you can lay down all the painting. One go because as you're painting the whole surface, you don't want to run out of paint and then have, like, half of it dry and then have toe paint the rest because then it's gonna look even some get out a little bit more water to this. I like to start in the corners, so you just want to make sure you get the color on evenly and also where you sore the edges are else where you see the edges where the pain ends. You want to kind of like dab a little bit more paint there so that it stays? What? So that you don't get stuck with weird lines underneath painting kind of like that, even it out. It's not gonna be perfect, because that's just how watercolor paint is. But this will help you to get it somewhat, even looking. So did you this really quick now, since I didn't have enough hate to mix up some more so you can kind of tell over here, since I didn't water on the edges. It kind of left thumb joy marks, but can go over those pretty easily. And then once you've got it all down and it's still damp, you can kind of go over the whole thing painting across like this, so you kind of even it out a bit more. Before you do anything else, you want to let this fully dry. The whole background is now dry, and I'm going to choose a smaller brush. This one. All right. So what on dried, basically just taking paints and painting directly onto a dried service. So then here's where the next technique comes in. What, on what was taking more watercolor paint and dropping it on to paint this already. What? Basically, I'm just layering some more paints onto the paint that I let down as it's still wet to darken it some more. And I'll demonstrate this technique a little bit more later on. - Okay , so we'll stop here for a second and show you some more of the wet on wet technique. So basically, I'm just gonna start laying down like some water just a thin layer, and then I'm gonna take my big round brush and I'll take some blue, makes it in real quick, take a good amount of this and kind of just drop it on to the water and you'll see that kind of just spread out on its own. And it looks really cool. So the more water that you use, obviously, the more the paint the color will spread out. So add some more water here and drops more paints. And also the more color that you drop down, the more effective this is. You can also kind of like splattered on. They're trying, and this technique is just kind of fun to play around with, because you really don't have much control over the paint, which is kind of fun to just see how it turns out in the end. 10. Techniques: Part Two: - so another technique is called dry brushing. So basically, what I'm gonna do is just take some paint and a dry brush, just pick up some paint, and I guess I'll just show you, like, around the edges. So basically, you use very little water or none at all hands. That's all that you do make some strokes. I'm going to use a little bit of water, but I'm gonna use more pain than water. I'm gonna try a different brush. I'm gonna try this shorter one and just go straight into the pan. So that's basically all that dry brushing is I don't ever do this, but that's one technique you can play around with. So another really useful technique is called lifting. So let's say that you make a mistake, so just going right here. So say you have a mess up something like this. All you do is clean off your brush with clean water and enjoy it off a little bit. And then basically, just like, lifted away by, like pushing, cleaning off your brush, drying it a little bit and then lifting it off some more until you've basically just lifted the pain out of the paper and then just make sure that you do this like right after you've messed up, so you don't want it toe like dry, because then you won't be ableto remove it all the way. But that is super helpful for when you make mistakes. I do it all the time, and I use the lifting technique a lot, So it's definitely good to know that. And even if you like, make the bigger splotch something like that, you drop paint on to your painting. You can pretty much easily like wipe it away. Except in my case, it didn't work because I did over letters so it can take the letters away. But I can just go back over them. So it is good to know that if you do still make any bigger mistakes like that, you can pretty much take it away almost completely. And then I could just, like, go in and fix those letters. When such stride 11. My Full Painting Process: