Creating Texture in Watercolour: How to Paint Wood | Sharone Stevens | Skillshare

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Creating Texture in Watercolour: How to Paint Wood

teacher avatar Sharone Stevens, Watercolour, Illustration & Lettering

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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.

      Mixing Browns


    • 4.



    • 5.

      Wood 1


    • 6.

      Wood 2


    • 7.

      Wood 3


    • 8.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

In this class, I will guide you through my process for painting realistic wood in watercolour.

We will start by covering how to mix browns and then move on to a number of techniques and styles that we can use to create the texture in the wood. We will then paint three different planks of wood: oak, pine and a darker weathered walnut piece. 

This class is the second in my series of how to create texture in watercolour and I hope you will enjoy painting these beautiful pieces of wood with me! Not only are they relaxing and fun, they will allow you to practice a variety of techniques and they form the basis of painting a variety of interesting subjects like doors, birdhouses and more! Once you have practiced these techniques, you can try out my birdhouse class!

Meet Your Teacher

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Sharone Stevens

Watercolour, Illustration & Lettering

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Hi! I'm Sharone - a watercolour artist, author, illustrator and modern calligrapher.

I love teaching and inspiring others to be creative. My mission is to show you how simple and accessible creativity can be, and how it can add meaning to your life by bringing you joy and relaxation.

My first book - Watercolor for the Soul - was released in 2022 and I am so proud of it! This is a dream book of mine, filled with simple and beautiful projects for beginners, plus lots of tips for painting for relaxation, that I am so happy to share with you.

I currently have 22 classes on Skillshare that I hope will inspire you and support your creativity!

For more from me, find me on:

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1. Intro: Hi. My name is Sharone from Sharone Stevens Design. In this class, I want to show you how I paint realistic wood in watercolor. This is the second class in a series in creating different textures in watercolor, following my recent class on bird eggs. One of the reasons why I love painting wood is that it has so much texture, and you can practice so many different techniques when you're building up these layers. You can paint pieces of wood, like we would in this class, just for fun or relaxation, or you can use the skills we will learn in the class to paint doors, bird houses, and other wooden subjects. We start with a video on how to mix browns, and then move on to practicing a variety of simple techniques. I then show you how to paint these three pieces of wood. I hope you'll enjoy this class, and I can't wait to see your projects. Let's get started. 2. Supplies: The supplies you'll need for this class are watercolor paper, I recommend cold pressed and at least a 140 pounds, anything less than this will not be able to cope well with the layers we'll be painting. You'll need some watercolor brushes, ideally, a large brush about size four or six for the base layers and medium brush about size two and a small brush for some details, like a size 2/0 or 3/0. All of the brushes that I'm using are round brushes, which is what I would recommend. You will also need a glass of water and you'll need your watercolor paints of course, I'll be using my Winsor & Newton professional tubes, but you can use whatever you have. As a minimum, you'll just need your three primary colors, red, yellow, and blue and if you have a pre-mixed brown, then that would be great too. For the wood in this class, I'll be using burnt umber and also my three primaries, Winsor lemon, Winsor blue and permanent rose. I'll also be using a few other reds, blues, and yellows in the practice session of the class where we'll look at how to mix browns. You'll also need a pallet or plate for mixing colors on and finally a pencil for drawing your wood out and a paper towel for taking off any excess water or paint. Let's move on to mixing some browns. 3. Mixing Browns: Let's start by looking at how we mix browns. To mix browns, all we need are our three primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. Brown is basically a neutralized version of orange, so you start by mixing an orange with your red and your yellow, and then add a touch of orange's complementary color, which is blue, and this neutralizes it and turns it into a brown. So the brown that you can make, can vary greatly depending on the ratios of colors that you use. You don't just have to stick to the standard three primary colors either. You can make some really lovely browns using other yellows, reds, and blues as well. I'll show you a few mixes in this video, but I really encourage you to spend some time experimenting with the colors in your own palette. Another way to mix browns, is to use a pre-mixed brown and add one of your primary colors to it to make it warmer or darker, and we'll look at this a bit more shortly. Before we start playing with our paints, I just want to share with you my top tips for mixing browns. Start with a concentrated mix, with a good amount of pigment. You can always add more water once you have mixed your brown, if you need it lighter, but if you have a weak mix of orange, the blue will easily overwhelm and turn it green, blue or purple. It will also last longer, so you won't need to keep remixing it if you already have more to start with. When you add in the blue to the mix, add it in gradually, you only need a small amount to neutralize the orange. We want the orange to be the dominant color in the mix, as it is the base of the brown. Don't worry if your mix becomes too green or too purple or too blue, you can just add more color to the mix to turn it back to the brown you want. If it's too green, add more red, if it's too purple, add more yellow first and then see what else you need, you may need some more blue or more red. If it's too blue, add more orange. It's useful to have a color chart handy to help with the colors that you'll need. I've divided my page into two and labeled the first side mixing browns and the second side techniques, which we'll move on to in the next video. I've left a bit more space on that side as you can see. Let's start by mixing some of our primaries. I'm going start with my winsor lemon and mix this with some of my scarlet lake to make a nice, strong orange. You don't have to use these colors, whatever yellows, reds, and blues you have are fine, the process will be the same. Remember to try and keep this quite pigmented to start with. Okay. Now I'm going to add some of my french ultramarine blue, and I would always advise to add this next to your base mix, rather than straight into it, because then you can add it in gradually and have much more control over how much you're adding. You can see this is instantly starting to turn into a nice brown, and I'm going to add some of that to my page. With each set of primary colors you're using, there are a whole range of different browns that you can make depending on the ratios in the mix. Let's just make up some different browns with this one. I'm going to add a little more blue to this. Again, I'm doing this very gradually as this will easily overpower the mix if I add too much. I'm going to add that to my page as well, and you can see the difference, it's quite subtle, but you can definitely see it. Staying on this same mix, let's see what else we can make. I'm going to add a bit more of winsor lemon now. This has made a lovely golden brown, which is fairly similar to the yellow ocher I use. I used it quite a lot in my last class on eggs, so this just shows you can easily mix this up yourself if you don't have it. Now let's go for dark mix, so I'm going to add more of my scarlet lake in, to make this a stronger orangey brown, and then add more of my blue into it. Now, it's a nice reddish brown. If we add more of this blue in now, we can make it darker. The stronger the orange bases, the darker brown we can make. If you want a really deep dark brown, make sure your orange is really strong and pigmented to start with. Now let's try some other mixes. Now I'm starting with my yellow ocher which is a much warmer yellow. I'm adding a good amount of this to my palette for the base. To make this orange, I'm going to add in my permanent rose. This has made nice pinky orange. For the blue, I'm going to use my winsor blue. Because this mix is already quite pink, I have to be careful here because too much blue will make it purple. I'm just going to add this blue straight into the mix now, as I want to show you how to salvage your mix, if it goes wrong. This is way too blue now, so I'm going to add in some more of my yellow ocher and some more of my permanent rose. This has made a really nice, dark brown because it's got so much pigment in there now. It's on the verge of being a purplish brown, so I'm going to add a bit more yellow ocher to the mix. There's another shade of brown there, which is really nice. Now let's make this darker again with a little more blue. This is now more of a grayish brown. Let's do this with one more mix, like this. I'm going to start with my yellow ocher again and add in my permanent rose. But this time, I want the yellow to be more prominent, so it's not that pinky orange that we started with last time. Now, I'm going to add in my french ultramarine, just a tiny amount start with, so I have this nice orangey brown. Now I'm going to add in some more blue to make it darker. I'm just going to mix this up a little bit more with some more of all three of those colors to make a third brown. You can see, from all of these mixes, you can make so many different browns using the same three colors, and using a variety of these colors in this class will really help bring out all that texture that we want to paint in the wood. Finally, let's have a quick look at a premixed brown and how we can make different browns using that as a base. One of my favorite colors is burnt umber, I use a lot in my work. It's easy and convenient to have it already mixed, and I know I can easily mix it with other colors to get a lot of different browns. I'm just going to start by adding this to my page, so we have it as a comparison. Now, I'm just going to add some of my winsor lemon to this burnt umber to make a nice, golden brown. I'm going to add a little bit more burnt umber to that. You can see, that's so much more orangey brown now. Now let's go for our red, so I'm going to use my scarlet lake, and add this in with my burnt umber. This has made a really lovely reddish brown. A strong cherry wood color. I'm going to add a bit more burnt umber to that for another swatch. Finally, let's add some blue to our burnt umber. I'm going to add some more of the brown to my palette first, and again, we want this nice and strong so it can cope with the blue. This is my french ultramarine blue that I'm adding in. You can see it's made this gorgeous deep dark brown, this is one of my favorite mixes and it's really useful when you're adding shadows. I want you to really explore your palettes and find some browns that you like. We've gone through this pretty quickly, but I hope it's been helpful for you. Don't forget to label up your mixes if you've been painting along with me, so you don't forget what they are. In the next video, we'll be practicing some of the techniques that I like to use for painting the wood. 4. Techniques: In this video, I'll be showing you a number of simple techniques and strokes that I used to paint the wood in this class. It'll gives you a little opportunity to practice. The first thing that we're going to do is practice painting our first layer. For this we want to blend together a number of different browns. This is just the backgrounds, we want to keep it quite light as we'll be building on this with lots of layers. I'm just going to use the browns I already have on my palate from our mixing session. So I'm going to start by adding some of this brown to the page and then add a little water to blend it out. Now, I'm going to use two or three of my other browns and add in some strokes of those colors. Now, you can just use a little bit of water to blend these all together a bit more. You don't want it to be completely smooze, but try and paint in the same direction so that any lines that appear will go with the grain on the wood which will be horizontal. I think that's enough. That's how we'll be painting our first layers, so it will be looking quite textured and interesting to me with all of those colors coming through. So it forms a really nice first layer. Next, let's look at some of the strokes for the next layers. Pick up your brown again. As I mentioned before, always try and work in the same direction. So lots of quick horizontal strokes, they don't need to be neat. The patchiness of a dry brushes or paint runs out, will add more texture. We'll be layering these sorts of strokes on top of each other when we paint the wood, they don't look like much on their own, but they will win they're layered. For now we just need to practice making these marks. Now, let's paint similar strikes, but let's make them finer. So you can paint fine lines and then add in darker areas on the grain here and there and make these all horizontal. Next, let's practice using a dry brush. We've done this quite a few times before in my previous classes, but this time just practice starting with a slightly wetter brush so that the paint in the edge is solid and then pull it out with a side of your brush so that it becomes patchy and this gives it that lovely texture. Now, let's practice painting some knots. These knots look like eyes, I think. Start with the circle in the middle, but don't just paint a circle don't fill it in, paint little strokes in a circular shape. Then paint lines around them moving outwards. Then, whereas before we painted lines horizontally, these lines will curve around the knot and they'll move back into that horizontal position either side. The key to these are lots of little strokes and that's going to give you lots of texture. Now, let's just paint another knot, but a much smaller one this time with the same method as before with those lines going around it. Now, let's just practice making some other little markings that go in other directions. Start with your horizontal line and then paint in some fine curved lines, perhaps going upwards and then return it to that horizontal line again. Finally, let's paint in some growth rings. These are curves and they'll sit within each other. Start with a fairly large sideways V, not too sharp, and then paint a couple more within that one. Now, just using a little bit of water, just blend that paint out a little on the inside. You can add some more lines underneath, curving around. So that's it for our practice session. These were pretty simple techniques, so I haven't spent too long going through them. But do take some more time on them if you want to. In the next video, we will be moving on to our first piece of wood. 5. Wood 1: This is the first piece of wood that we are going to be painting. It's a piece of oak and has a few knots as its main features. We'll be working with quite a few layers to build up all this lovely texture with varying shades of pale browns. So let's start by drawing out the shape of our piece of wood. So, draw along fairly thin rectangle and then adding the edge at the bottom, which we'll give it some dimension. So, slant each of these edges out towards the bottom corners, and we'll be painting that part in a dark brown, so it will be in shadow. Okay. So for my palette, for all three pieces of wood, I'm going to be using my burnt umber as a base and my three primary colors, winsor lemon, permanent rose, and winsor blue to mix up a variety of browns. But you're welcome to use whatever browns you wish. I'm going to start by mixing up a few different browns on my palette for the base. We want to keep these fairly light at this stage and quite warm. So now, I have a yellow-y brown, a red-y brown, and an orange-y brown. I'm just going to mix up a darker brown over here with my burnt umber and winsor blue as well. Okay. I'm going to start with my yellowy brown it's a nice diluted mix. I'm using my size six brush and I'm going to cover the whole base with it. I'm working fairly quickly as I want to be able to add some more browns to this whilst it's still wet but I'm also trying to keep the edges neat. So don't worry about that bottom edge too much, if you go over the pencil line into the bottom part, as we'll be painting either that later on. Now add in some of your other browns. Try and keep them in horizontal strikes, particularly darken up around the edges. You can use a darker brown mix to start building up the edges more. We want nice soft blends at this stage as we can make much more harsh lines of texture in the later layers. So that's our first layer, we just need to wait for that to completely dry before we start painting the next layer. So pause the video here and continue when you're ready. Now that it's dry, we can move on to our next layer. So next we're going to paint in a couple of our knots. So, these will be the darkest areas of our wood, apart from the edge at the bottom that's in shadow and the reason we're doing this now is so we can build up our layers around them. So, start by mixing up a really dark brown, I've switched to a smaller brush now, my size two. So now I have my darkest mix, I'm going to pull a bit off here and mix up a bit of a cherry brown color for the base of the knot and I'll then build on this with the dark mix. So I'm going to start with a knot over here on the left side, and this will be the biggest one and as we practiced, I'm just making little strokes in the shape of a circle, but I'm not completely filling it in. I'm going to paint another one of these over on the right-hand side up in this corner, but smaller this time. Now whilst they dry, it shouldn't take long as I didn't use too much water, I'm going to use the same mix, to paint in some lines around this top edge. I'm just going to add in little bits of detail over here as well. Now I'm switching to my smallest brush, my size 3 0, for the detail around these knots and I want these to be really fine and this is where we want to use this darkest brown. So just build on this with these tiny strikes and do the same for the other one as well. I'm going to add one more small knot down here. Now I'm just going to make up an oaky brown, so we can start building the next layer with lots of lines. So start at the bottom and just paint in lots of horizontal strokes of different widths and lengths, some blended in, some a bit harsher. The mix I'm using is still fairly diluted as we'll be adding more layers to this, we don't want these lines to be too harsh. When you get to this knot, just curve the lines around it. The same for this knot up here, just curve those lines around it. Now, use a slightly dark brown to build on those lines. I'm using my brown umber on its own now. It's still fairly diluted. Now, we just need to wait for those lines to dry again. Just pause video here and start it again when you're ready. Now this is dry. I'm using my darkest brown mix to add in some darker patches in areas, particularly around some of the edges around these knots and in some other random areas as well. Now, I'm mixing up some more of my dark brown mix so that I can paint the bottom edge which is in shadow. We want to use this to neaten up that bottom edge and make it fairly straight. Try and make this as dark as possible so it really gives it some dimension, and make sure it slants up towards those bottom corners. Now, we can just continue building on the details around these knots. I'm using a medium brown now. These knots are a big focal point, so we want to make sure they have enough detail in them as it will really help to make the wood look realistic. If you paint any lines in that are too harsh, you can just add a touch of water to blend them out. You can neaten up these edges and make them more defined with little strokes. If you need to, go over the spot to manage to make it darker. Now I'm switching to my small brush again to build on those details around the knots with the darkest brown. This brush is so fine that it doesn't hold much paint, so I have to keep topping it up quite often. It is a really lovely brush. These darker, finer details are really going to add these finishing touches to the wood to make it look realistic, so take your time over these. That's our first piece of wood complete. This is our second piece of wood that we'll be painting in the next video. It has some different textures to it, different markings, and I hope you'll join me for that too. 6. Wood 2: The second piece of wood will be painting a plank of pine, which has a pale brown background with these growth ring patterns at the bottom. Once again, we'll start by drawing out our rectangle and add in that bottom edge, which is slanted up at each end to meet each bottom corner. Now, for the base, we want to mix up a very pale orange almost skin color, I'm going to use one of the yellowy mixes already on my palette and add a touch of permanent raise to it. Make sure it's really diluted for this layer, we want this to be paler than the last piece of wood we painted, I'm using my size six brush again for this. Try and keep this edges as neat as you can. Now, we want to add in a bit more of a yellowy brown, so some of the yellow mixed in with the brown and at this two page is still wet so it blends in. Now, using my burn amber, I'm going to add in a start of those growth rings. We don't want these too dark as we'll build on them later, we just want them to be fairly soft at this stage. I added in a few more lines on the top half and a bit more around the edges to make them a little darker. Finally, I'm just going to add a drop of brown in here which will be the base of a knot. That's how fast I can play as I just pause the video here and start again when it's dry. Now, that's dry, let's start by filling in this bottom edge. We don't want it as dark as our last one as this wood is overall much lighter, so I'm going to start with just my burn amber. If it feels to light, you can just add a touch of your blue to darken it a little. Now, I'm going to use my brown to build on these growth rings, I'm using little strokes to form these curves and I want it to look as so they're sitting within each other, and then just paint some lines outside which hold them all together. Using the same mix which it's quite light build up the texture and the top off with lots of lines and strikes. Use a slightly dark mix to go over some of these dark areas to make them stand out like around the edges, in this knot and at the start these rings and also on that bottom edge. That's our second piece of wood complete, now onto our third and final piece. 7. Wood 3: For our third piece of wood, this is much darker, more weathered and rustic, with some cherry brown layers coming through. You can still see those 3D light patches, and that contrast really makes it look interesting, so we need to make sure we keep those in. Let's start again by drawing a rectangle. It's the same as before. Then add in that bottom edge. Now, for our first layer, we want a mix of colors. Some yellows, and some pinks, so start by adding a few strokes of each in the middle first. Then add in the brown mix with blue to the edges. Now let's mix up that cherry brown to add some nice red tones to this wood, and add that in too. I'm using my permanent reds and my burnt amber. These are bolder colors, but try not to go to dark for your first layer. Now, you can just clean your brush, and use it to pick up some of the paint now, to make some padded strokes. Taking away some of that paint, just keep wiping that paint off onto your paper towel. Now we just need to leave this to dry. Now this is dry we are going to use our darker brown mix, to add in some texture, with the dry brush effect, just like we practiced in the technique section, so starting at the edges and then pulling the paint out so it's more patchy. Now I'm going to mix up a really concentrated brown and do the same. Make sure to leave plenty of those lighter areas coming through. Now make some more of that cherry brown, easing the red and brown, and do the same starting at the bottom right. This dry brush effect really gives it that lovely weathered, rustic look. Now I'm going to use my smallest brush, my 3/0 and start painting in some really fine details, some fine lines, and a couple of really small knots. Now let's paint in that bottom edge with that darkest mix. We want that really dark. We want to paint in some final details now with our darkest brown, so if you need to pause the video and wait for your painting to dry, please do so. Again, I'm just using my smallest brush now to paint in these finest, final details. Just keep working on it until it really has that weathered look. I think we're done. Keep watching for the final video, where I will share some final thoughts with you, and some of my plans for my next class. 8. Final Thoughts: Firstly, thank you so much for joining this class. I really hope you've enjoyed it. If you have painted along with me, I'd love to see your work. Please do share it in the project gallery here on Skillshare. You can also share it on Instagram where I like to feature my students' work in my stories. Just make sure you tag me in photos so that I don't miss it. I often miss posts where I'm not tagged in the caption. You can also use the #learnwithsharone and you can go check out my students' work from some of my other classes there as well. If you haven't all ready seen it, that I recently published another class on textures, where we painted 10 different bird eggs, which is another really fun and relaxing way to practice different techniques. Do go check that out, if you haven't all ready. For my next class, I want to build on these wood textures and paint a birdhouse with you. I'm still finalizing the details of the content, but I'll keep you updated and hopefully, it won't be too long before that one's published. Finally, I'll be really grateful if you could leave me a review and tell me what you thought of the class. These are really encouraging, not only for me to read, so I know that you're enjoying my classes and I'm on the right track with them, but they're also useful for other students to see as well when they're deciding whether the class is for them or not. If you have any suggestions for improvements or suggestions for future classes, I would always love to hear them. Thanks again, and I'll see you in the next class.