Anyone Can Watercolor: The Basics for Painting Magical Art Beginner Level | Yasmina Creates | Skillshare

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Anyone Can Watercolor: The Basics for Painting Magical Art Beginner Level

teacher avatar Yasmina Creates, Artist & Creativity Cheerleader

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.



    • 4.



    • 5.

      Other Supplies


    • 6.



    • 7.



    • 8.

      3D Sphere


    • 9.



    • 10.

      Magical Effects


    • 11.

      Feather Painting


    • 12.

      The End


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About This Class

Welcome to the class! :)

Watercolor is a loose and unpredictable medium, which can make it daunting for most people to pick up a brush and try. The truth is the basics are very simple to learn and just take practice to master. There is a lot that can be controlled with practice, and the rest (happy accidents) is what makes it so interesting. In this course you will learn about the personality of watercolor and the simple techniques needed to paint with confidence. I will go into detail about everything you need to get started on your never-ending journey of discovery, from:

  • What Supplies to Get 
  • 6 Different Wash Techniques
  • How to Layer
  • How to Blend
  • The Water and Paint Dynamic
  • Working Light to Dark
  • Masking Fluid
  • Adding White With Other Media 
  • Salt Technique
  • Alcohol Resist Technique
  • Other Tips and Tricks

By the end of the class you will have the skills necessary to create enchanting watercolor pieces that you can sell, frame, use in your illustration portfolio, or gift to a loved one. I share all the techniques I accumulated over the years, so every watercolor enthusiast can learn something, but beginners will benefit the most. So, no more excuses! It's about time you start to dabble in the art of watercolor magic!

Looking for more inspiration? Head here to discover more classes on watercolor.

Meet Your Teacher

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Yasmina Creates

Artist & Creativity Cheerleader

Top Teacher

I strive to make every class the highest quality, information-packed, inspiring, & easy to understand!

Creating is my biggest passion and I'm so happy to share it with you!! :)

Stay connected & in the loop by joining my Newsletter! (Also get 3 free coloring pages! :))

Did you know I have a book on drawing CUTE animals? Check it out!

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Level: Beginner

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1. Trailer: Hello, my name is Yasmina. I'm a self taught watercolor, ink and other mixed media artist. I have been developing my personal style for over five years, and I absolutely love watercolors. There's a magical feeling you get when painting with watercolors. It feels freeing, dreamy and always leaves you in awe. I made this class because I know a lot of people that try watercolors and quit because they thought it was too hard or didn't know the basics. I even know a lot of people that never try because they select themselves out which is silly, because watercolor painting is just like any other skill. All it takes is practice. It's like riding a bicycle, anyone can do. Sure in the beginning, it may seem difficult. But once you know the basics, it's easy. I cover all the basics for you to get started. From what supplies to get, six different wash techniques, blending, layering, masking, highlighting and other magical techniques. If you stick through this class, by the end of it, you will have the skills necessary to paint enchanting, and magical watercolor pieces that you can sell or give to a loved one or putting up illustration portfolio, or just do as a hobby. A new skill set that will make your life more interesting, because I have found watercolors to be the closest thing that comes to magic. So why don't we all pick up our brushes and use them as wands to create magical pieces one stroke at a time. 2. Brushes: It can get confusing, looking at all the different watercolor brushes out there. The truth is, you can paint with whatever you have as long as the hair is soft. But I have learned a few things about brushes over the years that I wish someone would have told me when I started painting. My first brushes were those cheap packs of varied brushes and they weren't terrible. But I can't really imagine using them now, nor did I ever really use all of them. The bristles for cheap brushes get frayed so fast, that it's cheaper, In the long run, to invest in a good brush. You honestly could paint a whole picture with just one good brush. I have done this plenty of times. Like in this example, I painted the entire giraffe with only the Kuretake brush. If you're only going to get one brush, I would get a number six or so round brush like this silver velvet brush or if you like a challenge and a lot of detail, this Kuretake Menso brush, which is my favorite. You can get a lot of line variation with these brushes. It's easy to create thick and thin strokes. The most important thing about a brush is hairs. Brushes made with natural hair are good quality, hold more water, released paint evenly, come back to a point easily and they last a long time. This brush comes from the Princeton Neptune series and is actually synthetic. But you wouldn't know because it's made to mimic squirrel hair and acts like it. Kolinsky brushes are the most prized, but they are the most expensive. This Kuretake brush is made with Kolinsky hair and it's decently priced. I love the velvet silver brushes, which are made with real squirrel hair and a synthetic plant. Just make sure the brush you get either imitates natural hair, is natural hair or is a blend. So these are the brushes I use. I have a couple of rounds, a size two for detail, a size six for most strokes, and a ten for larger areas. A one-inch flat brush for making washes or large background areas and I have other miscellaneous brushes that I rarely touch. Honestly, just get one or more rounds and a one-inch flat if you plan on painting larger areas and you're all set. You can always add more brushes to your collection. But first, take the time to master what you already have. A quick note on taking care of brushes. Don't ever leave a brush in water. This will ruin it. To clean your brush after you use it, just use plain water. If it's really dirty or you used ink, then brushing it into a simple bar of soap and then rinse it out with water. Make sure to wash all the soap out, then mold it back into its original shape with your fingers and store upright. If you already own cheap brushes, don't throw them out. They're great for making interesting dry brush textures. You can even cut them up to make more interesting strokes. In summary, buy the best quality you can afford and start with a few brushes, take care of them, and they will last for years on end. 3. Paper: Paper is very important. If you use plain sketch book paper or printer paper, this happens. To paint with watercolor, you need to use a lot of water. This means you need special watercolor paper and there are a lot of brands out there. As you can see, I have tried many. A lot of watercolor artists prize Arches paper because it's 100 percent cotton and very high-quality. This is true, and that is very nice, but it's not my favorite and is more on the pricey side. I personally really love this Canson XL paper and the only real difference is it's not 100 percent cotton. I think cotton absorbs a little too fast for my style, but that's just my personal preference. The good news about this paper is it's the cheapest 140 pound paper that I found. It has amazing value for 30 sheets. This weight is the most important thing when buying paper. It has to be at least 140 pounds. If you want to use a lot of water and layers, you can invest in 300 pound paper, but I haven't had trouble using this paper. There is very slight buckling when it dries, but it's easy to fix with this quick tip. Put the painting upside down and slightly damp in the back with a flat brush, then put a heavy book or other flat object over it overnight and viola, it's flat. Another thing you might notice when shopping around is paper comes in hot press or cold press. Hot press is smooth like Bristol paper or printer paper. It doesn't really have that trademark watercolor texture to it. Cold press has a slight texture to it and you can even get rough, which has an even toothier texture. I recommend starting out on cold press. You can experiment more once you're comfortable with the medium. Remember, my favorite paper doesn't have to be yours. We all have different styles and techniques. Over time, you will learn what kind you prefer. But for now, this Canson paper should suit your needs and your wallet. After all, when you're starting out, you don't want to be terrified of making mistakes because the paper's so expensive. You want to feel free to experiment and make happy accidents without any stress. 4. Paints: I started out painting with these paints that I found at a garage sale and some cheap art kid. They served me well in the beginning. I still use them from time to time. I don't think you have to invest a lot of money into paint, especially when you're just starting out. The biggest difference between expensive and cheap paint is the vibrancy of color. A cheaper paint tends to be a little chocky. But I have seen people make gorgeous works of art with this kind of paint. I would recommend investing in a small 12 or 24 half pen set. Like this on Winsor Newton Cotman set. Its student grade paint. But as you can see, the quality compares to artists grade paints at a very affordable price. Or you could do what I did and invest in good quality tubes like banes, Winsor Newton, or Daniel Smith's. There are a lot of quality paint brands out there and tube will last you a long time. If you're going to get tubes, make sure to get a folding palette box like this one. The plastic ones are very inexpensive and easy to obtain. Another amazing paint is Dr. PH. Martins concentrated watercolors. All you really need to use these is the mixing tree or a flat plate. The colors are the brightest I've ever seen. But if you're going to scan your work in the finished pieces digital or print. You can use any paint and make it pop in Photoshop. The drawdown to PH. Martin's is they stain the paper. It's almost impossible to raise by lifting if you make a mistake. I don't recommend it for perfectionists. There are also paints like this kuretake set. It comes in little pens that you can take out. I have found this to be a little more opaque them at other watercolors, but very vibrant. As you can see, there are a lot of options out there. My advice is just to start small with a nice paints set or cake set and experiment onwards till you find your favorite paint. Unless you can afford to jump right into high-quality paint. Either way, it's not the tools as much as the artist that makes magic happen. 5. Other Supplies: There are a few more things that you need before we dive into the world of watercolor painting. Paper towels are a must; I always have a piece on hand. Two water containers, one is used to clean your brush initially, and will hold most of the dirty water, and the second is to make sure your brush is clean. You might want to use a pencil and eraser, and I have a quick tip for you. If you paint over pencil marks in watercolor, it will show through because watercolors are transparent and you won't be able to erase it once there's paint on it. Always use the latest pencil you have, anything with an H will work, like a 2H or 6H is best. After you sketch, make sure to go over the lines with an eraser to make them barely noticeable, unless you like that look. You can also use a light erasable colored pencil like this one. You can use any eraser, but I recommend a kneaded eraser because it doesn't leave little pencil shavings. A few optional things that I will show you tricks with are a used toothbrush, salt, rubbing alcohol, masking fluid, and essentially, some type of white that we can use on top of watercolors. This isn't necessary, but it's very fun. My favorite white is this Copic Opaque White, but you can also use white gouache, acrylic, a marker pen, or a gel pen. Now that we have everything we need, let's make some magic happen. 6. Washes: I will show you six wash techniques that help you understand how paint interacts with water. It will give you a general understanding of the paint in water dynamic. If you practice and understand this, you are halfway to mastering watercolor. Wet on wet is the most beautiful wash in my opinion and ironically, you have the least amount of control and creating it. Wet the paper, generously wet your brush and pickup paint, then just drop it into the wet area. The paint will do its own thing. You can add more color for it to mix on the page and you can even tilt the page to help it mix. Isn't this magical? When it dries the edges of the paint are very fuzzy and blended out. The only crispness is the edges of the shape if enough paint touch them. You have full control over the shape you make with the water, and that is the secret to really take advantage of this technique. The paint will not leave the edges of the shape and if you want to have no edges, which is great for backgrounds, you can paint a larger area first and then drop color in a way from the edges. This technique is really fun and can be used to create beautiful watercolor backgrounds. Dry and wet is when the paper is wet and there's a lot of paint on your brush with very little water. The reaction is almost the same as wet and wet, but the color tends to stay more in the same area. The edges do become very fuzzy, but it's not it's extreme and random as wet on wet. Wet and dry is the most common technique. It's as it sounds, the paper is dry and the brush is wet. This technique gives you a lot of control because the color stays put and there are no fuzzy edges. It's the easiest to do and it's essential to master for watercolor painting. Dry on dry or dry brush technique is used to make textures with your brushes. The paper has to be dry, and so does the brush with lots of pigment but little water. There will be more texture of the paper has more tooth. This is great for adding barked to trees or reflux and otherwise smooth piece. You can get very different effects with different brushes and even use things normally wooden, like a toothbrush. To make a flat wash use a flat brush to wet the page evenly and add a generous amount of one color slowly covering the whole area. You can tilt the page to make sure everything is evenly covered. When it dries, it should look like one uniform color. A gradient wash is done by wetting the square rectangle and starting from the top with a generous amount of one color. As you go lower don't add more color to the page. Use though horizontal brushstrokes blend out the color into pure water. Keep doing this until it looks the way it should. You can use a lifting technique by using a paper towel to take out excess wider or paint.There is another way of doing gradient washes. Don't wet the whole area first, just start on dry paper with a lot of paint. Dip your brush into water with every stroke lower until your paint with clear water. The trick is to have enough water for it to blend, but not too much. As you can see, if you control the amount of paint and water any one moment on your brush and paper, you control the effect you get. Take the time to try each of these washes and post your results in the project gallery. 7. Watercolor : Watercolor is a transparent medium. The more water you use, the more see-through it is. The more painting less water use, the more opaque it is. It's all about controlling this balance. This is why watercolor is great for layering. When colors overlap, they mix and it creates an awesome effect. When layering, make sure the paint is dry before adding more layers unless you want it to mix. It's also important to work from light to dark in watercolor. Because once you add paint to the page and it dries, you cannot lighten it with more paint. The white of the paper is the only white you have unless you use other media to add white once it's dry. We will do this in a later lesson, but it's important to master the basics without help from other media. In the previous lesson, we learned about gradients and we can use this knowledge to blend. You can control where the line is hard, [inaudible] softens by adding water. In painting this rose, I used a lot of blending to create a dreamy effect. I see too many people not using enough water and having their painting dominated by hard edges. You can soften edges not only with water, but also by lifting with a thirsty brush, essentially, an almost completely dry brush. You can also use a paper towel to lift. It almost acts like an eraser and makes a cool texture. In the next lesson, I'll show you how to put everything you learned together with a quick exercise. 8. 3D Sphere: We are going to paint a 3D spear and this will show you how I use layers, blending, lifting, and working light to dark. I started out by painting a basic circle shape and blending out the edges, leaving the white area untouched for the highlight. I waited for the first layer to dry, and then I added a basic shadow. Then I added a second layer and continued to blend it in using lifting techniques to highlight certain areas with my brush or my paper towel. It's important to wait for layers to dry before adding on. As you can see, the shadow blended into the sphere because the sphere layer was still wet. I continue to layer more and more color and it creates a darker result. Layering, blending and lifting can go a long way, and are the key to realism in watercolor. I advise you to make one of these and to challenge yourself with using only one color. Try to include a cast shadow, reflected light, a core shadow, a midtone, and a highlight, which is the white of the page. I would love to see your sphere. So don't be shy and post it in the project gallery. 9. Highlights: The white of the page is the only pure white you have in watercolor. So what do you do if you mess up? Throw it out? No way. There's always a fix to everything, and if you're paint is too dry to lift when you realize your mistake you can still fix it. This bottle of Copic Opaque White is indispensable. I always have it on hand especially when I add finishing touches to a piece. You use it with the normal brush and can even dilute it with water for a transparent white pigment. You can use it to create smaller or large highlights depending on the brush you use. Just make sure the paint beneath is fully dry. You can also use white gouache but the result is not as opaque. White acrylic works really well, but my favorite is the copic white. You can also get a white gel pen like this Uni-ball Signo pen, which is very opaque, or this posca paint marker which is more transparent. Another awesome thing that most traditional watercolor artists use is masking fluid. Here's a quick tutorial and masking fluid. Lightly sketch out the area you want stay white. Make sure to use a brush you can afford to lose, preferably a cheap one. Cover it and dish-washing soap, pick up masking fluid, and paint the area you want to stay white. Wait for it to dry, and then paint as you normally would on top of the masked out area. Once you're done painting, wait for the paint to dry, then peel off the masking fluid by gently rubbing it with your fingers. As you can see the whiter the page is untouched. The cool thing about this technique is you can paint where it's still white, since it's just paper as opposed to not being able to paint over white ink. So, there are so many ways to add highlights with mixed media supplies, and you can use masking fluid to keep large or small areas untouched by paint. Use these tools to your advantage and you'll have less fear of making mistakes. 10. Magical Effects: So far, we have covered the basic building blocks for painting anything but watercolor is a versatile medium that can have a lot of cool effects. There are things like splatter, which can be done with a brush and every brush does it a little different or a toothbrush for a finer splatter. Salt creates a gorgeous electrifying effect. All you have to do a sprinkle some on while the paint is still wet. Just make sure the paint is fully dry before gently rubbing the salt off with your fingers. Gorgeous. Rubbing alcohol makes magical effect as well. Use a little dropper or a brush on wet paint for this surreal effect. Don't forget, you can use other media on top of watercolor or below it like markers and micron pens. Just make sure the media is waterproof, unless you like the effect of it bleeding. There really is an endless amount that can be done with watercolor and it all starts with you experimenting and discovering your favorite techniques. So get your other art supplies out and mixed to your heart's content. You never know a cool effect you will discover. If you find something very interesting, be sure to share it with the class. 11. Feather Painting: For the final project, pick a simple object like a feather. If you need a reference image, get one. The goal in the final project, is to put everything we learned so far together. Don't stress out about using all the techniques, just do whatever feels natural. The only rule, is to have fun and do it in your own unique style. I'm going to walk you through how I did the final project and I hope it will inspire you and help you to put all the concepts we learned together. Let's get started. I lightly sketched out my feather and then I added masking fluids the area I want to stay white. I get a lot of water on my brush and started dropping paint in and let it makes for a beautiful white on water effect. While it's still wet, I sprinkle some salt on. I started to define the edges, making sure not to touch the salt. This is my first and latest layer. I make sure to use a lot of water, so it stays like. I use my number 2 round brush to add a lot of detail. Notice how my color palette consists of three or four colors that are mixed. It's good to predetermine what your colors will be before you start painting. I used a paper towel to pick up any excess paint or water, and a hairdryer to speed up the drying process. Once the salt was dry and gently took it off with my fingers. Now that the first layer is completely dry, I can start painting the second. I'm adding stripes on the feathered to make it more interesting. I keep layering and adding more detail. A cool trick is his squint your eyes on the reference image to see where the darks are. The right side of the feather is darker than the left in my reference photo, and I make sure to capture that. I use my Number 10 round brush to create a background with water, leaving lots of gaps of paper. Then I drop painting with splatter effect. As you can see, it creates a magical wet on wet effect. I drop a little more dark paint into the feather while it's still a little wet to create a slight wet on want to affect because I want that area to stay soft. I peel off the masking fluid and start shading with him to create a 3D fill. I started adding highlights with my white gel pen and with my number 2 round brush and copy quite. As you can see for fine detail like this, this works a lot better than masking fluid would. It's easy to add white paint on top as soon as the paint is dry. I continue adding small details that I see that I left out like making my darks darker. I use my white gel pen to add even more highlights. My painting looks almost done. I touch up any area that catches my eye. Once I'm happy with the way it looks, I stop working. It's easy to want to continue working, but stop when you know you're done. Once you've finished your project, take a photo or scan it in and uploaded to the project gallery. I would love to see your creative process and I will be sure to leave your feedback. 12. The End: Congratulations on finishing this class. I hope you learned a lot in this class. The most important part being that, you can paint with watercolors, and you can paint really well as long as you practice. Sure, in the beginning you're not going to feel like you're doing your best, but with time you will improve. So don't think about it too much. Just do what you love to do, which is paint. Don't be afraid to make mistakes and experiment. Because over time people get so much better and you will always learn more and improve more, and there will always be new spells, I mean magical watercolor techniques to discover. So keep painting and do it with love.