Floral Illustration with Gouache: Painting flowers in two easy ways | Julia Bausenhardt | Skillshare

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Floral Illustration with Gouache: Painting flowers in two easy ways

teacher avatar Julia Bausenhardt, Nature Sketching & Illustration

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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.

      Tools + Gouache Basics


    • 3.

      Examples + Color Palette


    • 4.



    • 5.

      Painting loose florals


    • 6.

      Painting a vase with flowers


    • 7.

      Final thoughts


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About This Class

In this class, I’m going to show you how to paint a floral arrangement with gouache.
Gouache paint is very similar to watercolor, but more opaque, easy to handle, and it has a lovely texture. I f you like watercolors, give gouache a try!

I’ll show you the basics you need to know for painting with gouache, how to choose a great color palette, how to draw and paint different kinds of flowers, different ways to arrange your florals in a design. At the end, you’ll create your project with your own flower arrangement.

You'll need a few small brushes, decent paper and a few gouache paints (in tubes) for this class. If you have experience with painting in watercolor, great, but it's not needed.

Meet Your Teacher

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Julia Bausenhardt

Nature Sketching & Illustration

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Hey, I'm Julia! I'm an illustrator & field sketcher from Germany.

I've been passionate about the natural world all my life, and I'm dedicated to connect art and nature in my work. With my work I want to increase awareness for the natural world we live in and its fascinating fauna and flora. I share my sketching adventures regularly on my blog.

I work mostly in traditional techniques like watercolor, gouache or ink and I love field sketching and nature journaling.

Showing people how they can discover and connect to nature through making art is an important part of what I do - that's why I teach here on Skillshare. Drawing and painting are excellent ways to learn more about nature. I want to help people deepen their connection to na... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hello. Welcome to this class about painting florals in gouache. I'm Julia, an illustrator and designer. In this class I'm going to show you how to paint a floral arrangement with gouache paint. I love gouache. It very similar to watercolor, but more opaque, easy to handle, and inexpensive. It has a lovely texture to it. I'll show you the basics that you need to know for painting with gouache, how to find a great color palette, how to draw and paint different kinds of flowers, different ways to arrange your florals in a design. At the end, you'll create your own project with your own flower arrangement. I hope you'll join me in this class about painting florals with gouache. 2. Tools + Gouache Basics: Let's talk a little bit about the tools that you need for this class. First we have the wash paints, and these come in these little tubes. It's usually best to get the best paint that you can afford. I like to use Fchmincke or tolance. Fchmincke I think is a little bit more expensive, they do have a lot of colors and the designer squash align and tolance is just a little bit less expensive, but the quality is great too. What's important is with these kind of paints, as well as watercolor paints, is if you get the less expensive paints, then you will have a lot of binding agent and less pigment in the paint. You will have to use more of the paint to get the same result, and oftentimes, the paints just don't flow and cover the paper as nicely. With gouache, it's important to have a lot of pigment and high-quality paint because you want the paint to be opaque and not to be spotty. Get the best that you can and don't use too many colors, you can mix your own colors with gouache, that's the great thing about this. You can, one color that you have to get is a big cube of white. It doesn't have to be this big for the beginning, but you will see that you will need rather a lot of white with gouache. If you can't get these tubes, then it's also fine. If you already have watercolors. To use your watercolor paints that you might have in these little pans and just add a White. Because you could, what you could do is you take a little bit of watercolor paint and the color that you want and mix it on, on your palate and then add white to make it opaque, and this is possible because watercolors and gouache, are essentially the same thing, so you can mix those two. You can even mix new colors from both paints. That's a possibility too, if you already have watercolors and just want to try out how gouache is behaving on the paper and if you liked this technique or not. Then as for mixing the paints you have already seen, you can use these metal palettes that might come with watercolor set that you already might have. I like to use these porcelain palettes, and that's a really big one because I have a lot of colors that I want to mix. What's great about this is that you can make totally custom pellets and custom colors for yourself and for each project, a different one. If you notice that your color is running low, then you can easily make a new batch of this and another thing that's important to know about gouache is that it dries a little bit darker than it is when it's wet it so that's one thing to keep in mind, it always darkness a little bit on the page. Another great thing about wash paints is that you can reactivate them with water. I usually have a little water bottle, a spray bottle that I can use just to add a little bit of water and then I can reactivate my paints. You could also use some eye dropper to do this and these paints will be usable for a long while. Just like with watercolor, you can always use them again if you have paused your work. There's also another kind of gouache called acrylic gouache, which has a different binding agent and this kind you can't reactivate. What I'm telling you is only going to work if you're using traditional gouache. It will be on the packaging. Pay attention to this. If you using acrylic gouache, this will dry and then it becomes some kind of a plasticity film like acrylic paint, and you have to basically scrap your palate and start new every time. If you don't have this pellet with these small pans, then you could also use just a plate which works fine. You can scrap this and, or you can use these colors until they're all used up. I really liked to work this way. It makes for a pretty interesting colors. The next thing that you will need to have for this class is a brush, and you don't have to have this many brushes. I usually like to have a bigger one like a size four round brush and a smaller one, like a size one. You don't have to have very expensive brushes. You can use synthetic ones as long as they're forming fine tip that's really the main thing that you have to think about. You can also use if you want to add fine detail, there's these size zero brushes that I like to use if I want to add very fine detailed elements. You don't have to use natural hub brushes. It's totally up to you how much you want to invest in your brushes. If you're using acrylic gouache then, please don't use too expensive brushes because the paint will at some point dry in the brush and it will always be a little bit. You won't get the paint out of the brush, so keep that in mind when you use more expensive brushes. Another great tool to use for adding detail is a dip pen. I like to use these dip nibs for adding small dots or delicate lines and just get a nib that isn't too sturdy and too rigid. So experiment a little bit. If you have taken some calligraphy classes before then you may be have a selection of nibs, and I think this is a Jean-Claude 33. That's a very fine and a very soft nib. I really liked this for adding details to my floor roles and to motive freely. Then you of course need water jar, water container with clear water, and also very practical soft piece of cloth where you can wipe your brush if it is too wet or if you just want to make sure that it's clean and that's something that I always keep around and like to have nearby. Then on to the paper. You can use sketchbook paper. If you have paper that's suitable for watercolor, then you can use this. This one here is a [inaudible] sketch book, and I quite like it for wash and for watercolor work. As I said, you can mix the two colors. That's really nice. It has a little bit of truth to it. If you prefer a smoother paper, then please use the paper that you have or use the paper that you like. I do have another sketchbook here. I think this is spiral band and I don't really like this kind of spiral binding, but that's what I was able to get. This is also a little bit smoother and it, it's also a little bit thinner, so it's a bit of see-through, but it works as you can see, very nice with these floral paintings and other paper that you could use is just loose sheets of watercolor paper. I like to use hot pressed paper when I work for jobs for scanning images to add details later in the computer because it scans very nice and you don't have so much paper texture. You can cut the size that you want and you can see that you can add a lot of detail on this paper too. 3. Examples + Color Palette: In the last video, you already saw briefly a few examples of my work, what I've done when it comes to florals. I just want to show you very quickly what kind of floral motifs you can choose for this class. Here I have a rather realistic depiction of some wild flowers. As you can see, these are not totally realistic. They're a little bit abstract and may have little decorative elements. That's something that I always like to include in my florals to make them more aesthetically pleasing. This is more like a study for different flower shapes and leaf shapes. Also these are partly realistic, but some of them are almost abstract and really don't depict any flower that you would encounter in a real-world scenario. These wouldn't work as a botanical illustration, but I always like to have some elements that look at least a little bit realistic. What you could do with these elements would be to put them into a tumble on your page. I will show you later a good technique for doing this. Another nice thing that you could do would be to do a picture of a vase. Just add some flower stalks and maybe some greenery to add into a beautiful bouquet of flowers and put them into a vase. I think this can be a really pleasing picture. Of course you could also choose to do something really abstract and symmetrical like this one. This is more folk art inspired. You can see that the flower shapes have become something more geometric and more abstract and they take elements from nature. But this is not a realistic depiction of any floral that you can see outside. It has a lot of geometric elements and little dots and lines. Images like this could be nice to turn into a postcard if you get the symmetries and the placement of the elements right. That's another possibility. One thing that I want to stress here is that for all of these applications, for all of these designs, it's very good to have a color palette that you will use throughout your painting. I usually have a rather limited color palette, even if this looks very festive and very colorful. I like to use not too many colors and just keep them in the same kind of feel. It's important, I think, to give the painting and to give your design a coherent look. Gouache can help with that if you add a little bit of white to your paints. If you were to use maybe a red and a yellow and a green, and you would add a little bit of white to all of these or rather a large amount of white and a little bit of colored paint, then you would get some nice pastel tones. This can help to keep your painting in a specific palette. That's something to think about before you start. I usually like to have subdued tones and then a few that will pop out and give it a really great contrast. I will show you when we start painting in a minute. Let's get started with painting. 4. References: One word about references. I like to study references before I draw, especially when I want to depict flowers in a more realistic kind of way, and I like to use actually books that you could use to find flowers in nature. You can also Google Images and I use Pinterest to find inspiration, and oftentimes, you don't need to depict a floor in a realistic way, but it can help to understand how flowers work and how they are built, so to speak, and the many shapes there are in nature. So I like to have books like this nearby. There are also books that have botanical illustrations, which can be absolutely stunning and beautiful and it`s a very masterful ad, so that can also help you to find inspiration and to find interesting flower shapes. I mean, look at these round poppy seeds, they look beautiful to me and yeah, these roses, these wild roses. So you have a lot of color and shape inspiration in these books. Something I often like to do before I do my final painting is to create a few pencil sketches of the flowers that I want to paint and it just helps me to get a feel for the flour and to get a little bit closer to the essence of what I want to depict and what I want to achieve with my painting. Another thing that's important is not to copy any of these photographs or of any illustrations that you find in books in two literal way, because all of these are of course copyrighted. So if you want to be on the safe side and use your own images and use your own photographs that can also work very nicely. 5. Painting loose florals: The first page that I want to fill with you will be just a loose tumble of different floral elements and they will be arranged all over the page, so you could turn this into a pattern later or into a nice card that has just a very loose image tumble and all the elements will be arranged all over the page. That's very nice to getting warmed up and study the different elements and see what shapes you can come up with. Let's just see. I usually don't do too many pencil sketches and I just start in the middle of the page and see where this takes me. As you can see, Gouache has beautiful bright color and at this point, I try to think about where I want the different elements to be and how I can fill the page with many diverse shapes. Remember, after this has dried, you can actually work from dark to light or from light to dark because Gouache lets you cover your entire painting with lighter or darker paint again. You will notice that it will always reactivate it a little bit, if you go over it again, but it's usually not too bad and sometimes you want that effect, so it can be a good thing too. Now this is actually based on these beautiful yellow Arnica flowers and as I said before, I'm not aiming to have a realistic depiction of this flower, but I want to have some reference, just to help me a little bit when I'm looking for new shapes and colors to add to the page. You can, of course, find your own flowers and come up with your own shapes that you like very much. Sometimes it helps to have a really steady hand when making these round lines and you can practice this by taking a brush and doing these lines over and over again. It also helps to place the little finger on the page and then have the rest of the fingers make the line that you want. As with all things, you get better control over your tools the more that you use them. I actually practiced a lot of this being precise with tools when I practiced calligraphy a lot and lettering and painting. It's actually quite similar, they are both very relaxing activities I find, so if you haven't tried calligraphy then maybe that's fun too for you. At this stage, I'm already thinking about not only florals with big flower shapes, but I want to add some greenery too and that's what I'm doing right now. If you mess up anything like I did with this delicate line that it's now more like a fat line then well, don't think too much about it, it's just a study, it's supposed to be fun. Even if you were to use this for client work or something like that, then please remember, you would have to take this into the computer and you could change this up with Photoshop, so it's not really a big deal. Now I'm adding a few red berries and I really like this intense red color. I think I mixed this myself, so it's like a really nice dark red. That's the great thing about Gouache too, you can experiment a lot with the colors and the shade that you want to have. As I said, remember that it will always be a little bit darker when it's dried, so keep that in mind. You can see I'm painting over these little lines here and since the paint is opaque, they won't show up beneath what I've already done and that's the main difference between Gouache and watercolor. With watercolor, you would see all these lines and with Gouache you can add a layer and another layer until it's completely disappeared, so that's a very handy thing, I think. Let's see. I think I want to have some pink flowers here. Always pay attention to your hands because if you do what I did know then you will end up with paint where it doesn't belong, so most easy thing is to just turn your page and keep on adding more elements. You just continue to fill the page with different elements and different florals and try to arrange them in a nice tumbling way and just try to give it an overall balance and try to add color throughout the page. I think I will add something blue here. Adding elements in different sizes and different colors will make the whole page more visually pleasing so there's something for the eye to focus on and to look for. So when you feel that you filled your page, then it's time that you add some details to the elements that you already have. What I usually do is, add details in lighter or a darker color than I already have. So what I would do with these little pink ones is either add a dark red or a really almost white pink tone. So in this case, I think I'll add some white and some red. So I'll just add some white to my palette. As I said, almost certainly use a lot of white when working with Gouache. I still have to pay attention because not everything has dried properly. You can see that when you don't have enough paint on your brush, that it will easily reactivate the color below. So just make sure that you have enough paint where you need it. [MUSIC]. When adding the details, you can look at your reference again and see what would realistically will go on this flower. What I am going to do now with these bell shapes is to add little dots and stripes and lines. This will give it more of a folk art style. You can use this dip nip if you have one. I am going to stick with a brush for now, but just wanted to mention that there's a possibility to use different tools for the same thing basically. It's when you want really fine lines that the ribbon up can really save you. [MUSIC] So I will let this dry so that I can apply the light color a little bit better. I will now try and show you how I would use the dip nip to add a little bit more detail to the leaves. What I would do is take a brush and wet it and take up a little bit of paint on the brush and it shouldn't be too much paint on the brush. There should be a fair amount of water in this. You just apply it at the the bottom side of the underside of your nib. It's best to keep the brush in your left hand while you apply this with your right hand or the other way round if you're a left hander. We will have to test out if the ink will flow. No, it doesn't. When the ink doesn't flow spontaneously, which will happen when you use gouache and dip nib. Sometimes you have to be a little bit resourceful. I just dip the tip of the nib into water and that can help it to flow. So let's see if that did the trick. Yeah, it did. Now you can add this beautiful lines to your leaves. Sometimes it's really a bit tricky to get the paint and the pen moving. But I promise you it's not always this way. It's only when I show it to you, but it won't work. I really should let all of this dry before I add more details because I already have a colorful hand. All right. When I'm finished, I usually just swipe my nib in a little bit of water on my brush tool and then, I wipe it dry so that the nib won't start to rust too quickly. So I think this page is finished, and I think it's a beautiful summary, meadow full of flowers and I really like it. So as I said, you could make this into a card or into something else, or you could just hang it up. In anyway, it's a really good study and a really good first step. I hope you'll join me for the next exercise in this class. 6. Painting a vase with flowers: So for the next project, I want to paint a motif similar to this one with a vase and some beautiful flowers and an arrangement coming out of it. Yeah, I've already made a very light pencil sketch that I hope that you can see it here. In this case, I've chosen to do this pencil sketch because it helps me to keep the layout a little bit better in mind and to see where I have what in my composition and so I won't have to improvise when I'm painting that much. That's fine for doing a loose tumble and for deciding spontaneously but with this kind of motif, it's actually helpful to have a little bit of a plan before you start. Again, I have my palette here and I will start to paint the different kind of leaves and flower shapes and then I will do the body of the vase as the last step. When you have a pencil sketch which is this light, so its barely see-able, then you can be certain that you paint, that your gouache will cover it. It's not like with plain watercolors where you will fixate and see your pencil lines when you paint over them. Any pencil lines that you can still see after you've finished and after everything has dried, you can try to erase very lightly so that will make sure that you all get a nice clean image. This time I'm using a loose sheet of paper, this is hot pressed watercolor paper so it doesn't have a lot of tooth to it. It's very smooth surface and I quite like this kind of paper. As in the last exercise, I'm trying to come up with floral shapes here that are abstract but still based on real shapes that you could find in nature. I like to keep my florals semi realistic if you want to put a label on this. That said, don't be afraid to just go with the abstraction and make up your own shapes and florals. It can be very beautiful too. Now, working in the same way here like in the last exercise obviously, this connection has to be made but I'll need to let it dry first. I'm simply starting with a different shape, with a different floral and I'll connect this later. If you feel that your paint is a little bit too thick, then it's never a problem to just add a little bit more water either with the spray bottle on your palette or directly in the water container on your brush. One tip for these elements to get a good composition is to always have an odd number of petals or flowers or butts. That's something to keep in mind too. It just seems more pleasing to the eye. I think it adds more interest and it seems to be a rule that you can often see when you're looking at other people's artwork. I think it's looking pretty nice already. I'm going to let this whole section dry for the moment and we're going to paint the body of this vase and then I'm going to add details. Now I'm getting out my size 4 brush and I think I want the vase to be on a beautiful light pink. That's what I'm going to mix here. I already have this color here in my palette. Now I'm going to turn my paper, return to the smaller brush and I'm going to let this one dry and we're going to add some details. Now that this is somewhat dry, I see that I really don't like this big pink splotch here. It looks a little bit too pinkier for my taste, so I think I will just add another layer of paint on this. I hope that this will work out. I think I'm going to add a light yellow and maybe more white to this because I think the color really has to change somewhat. Let's hope this will make for a nice effect and sometimes this is what happens with gouache. You don't see the final color until it has dried and sometimes it turns out a little bit too dark or a little bit too light and then you'll have to adjust it and it's just the way that it is. I hope I'll not ruin this painting by doing this. Well, let's see how it turns out. I can always add another layer of course. You can see that the color that has already dried gets re-wetted and it is reactivated by me adding water and another layer of paint. The large pink actually shines through. I think this is now finished. Beautiful vase with an arrangement of different flowers. I hope that you've liked these two exercises and I hope that you'll be creating a similar painting to this or similar to the other one that we did and I hope to see your results in the project gallery. 7. Final thoughts: I hope you've enjoyed this class and learned a few things about painting with gouache paint. I really liked the effects that you can achieve with gouache, and I particularly love the texture that it has when it's dry. Flow roles are always such a beautiful, inspiring subject matter and they never get boring. At least that's what I think. Remember when you're painting don't overthink it and you can always rework your painting when you use gouache. I'd love to see what you've created, either a loose arrangement or a vast filled with flowers, and let us see your finished work in the project gallery. I'm really looking forward to seeing what you've created. Thank you so much for taking this class with me, and I hope I'll see you in the classroom. I also hope, you'll have a fabulous day. Bye.