Gouache Florals: Painting Botanicals from Live Inspiration | Vidhi Khandelwal | Skillshare

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Gouache Florals: Painting Botanicals from Live Inspiration

teacher avatar Vidhi Khandelwal, Illustrator | entrepreneur

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.

      Gouache overview


    • 3.

      Tools and supplies


    • 4.

      Gathering Inspiration


    • 5.

      Sketching - first draft


    • 6.

      Transferring the final sketch


    • 7.

      Painting - Flower 1


    • 8.

      Painting - Flower 2


    • 9.

      Painting - Flower 3


    • 10.



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About This Class

In this class, I'll be taking you through my process of painting with gouache. You'll be painting your own version of what you choose to pick up as inspiration by observing various details and adding your own tweaks to them.

Focus on the beauty of imperfections that this medium lets you incorporate and enjoy the process while you splatter the paint and play with different shades of colors and painting styles. As you move forward, you'll see how absolutely fun, versatile and forgiving this medium is.

Can't wait to see your projects!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Vidhi Khandelwal

Illustrator | entrepreneur


Hello! My name is Vidhi Khandelwal and I am a botanical artist, hand letterer, textile designer, freelance illustrator, entrepreneur and a workaholic. 

I am currently based out of Bangalore, India and spend most of my time painting and designing products out of my home studio.

 Since my growing up days in Delhi, I have found myself increasingly drawn to painting and making things at home, be it greeting cards for festivals or a painting for my room. After finishing school, I went on to study textiles at NIFT Delhi and  soon after my graduation, started conceptualising The Ink Bucket - a stationery and lifestyle brand based out of Bangalore. Since then, I have had the opportunity to work with a number of clients like Google, Samsung, Fabindi... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: One very important aspect of building by hand is that there is no [inaudible] and once your brush hits the paper, there is no turning back. I think that it leads to a beautiful imperfect brushstrokes at times, adds beauty to any hand painted artwork and adds a certain realness because there's a human touch. Hi, my name is Vidhi Khandelwal, I'm an illustrator, entrepreneur and a textile designer. I completed my graduation from [inaudible] Delhi in 2014 and since then I've been pretty much working on my own. I don't remember the day when I wasn't painting or thinking about what would be next and after school I decided to turn it into a career because it felt like the most natural and fun thing to do with my life. Today we are going to be specifically focusing on gouache as a medium and understanding what it really does or is. Then we're going to move on to creating some really simple botanic illustrations from layman's inspiration. Once you know the basics, you can pretty much do anything. So let's take it from there. 2. Gouache overview: Since gouaches are a relatively new and unexplored medium, we're going to take small steps and build a strong foundation so that later on we're able to use this medium smoothly. I'm going to start with what gouache really is, it's an opaque water-based paint and it's often also referred to as opaque watercolor because it performs quite similarly. It has a creamy matte finish, it dries faster, and it also has a much higher level of pigment, which is why this paint is so opaque. Another good thing about this paint is that it can be reactivated with water. You can create different shades and you can store a particular color for a really long time without worrying about it drying out. To further break it down and make it easier for you, you can also look at gouache as something which is between acrylics and watercolors, because, in a way, it combines properties of both. It's opaque like acrylics, but it's water-based, so it doesn't dry out. Another really cool thing about this paint is that it can be used in many different ways. You can either water it down to a watercolor consistency, and you can use it as a watercolor, or you can keep the consistency really thick use less water, and then you'll be able to layer one color on top of another and use it as an opaque paint. 3. Tools and supplies: Moving on to what tools work best with Gouache paints. I'm going start with brushes. Regular watercolor brushes work just fine with Gouache. Basically anything which is smooth to give you a street free finish is good. If you are starting out, you can start with something like feeble [inaudible] , they're pocket friendly, and they're really good to begin with. It also depends on the kind of artwork that you're making. For example, if you want something really detailed, then you can just use something like a triple zero brush. If you do not have a triple zero or a finer brush, just chop off some bristles from your existing brush, and you'll get a really fine tip. If you're working on backgrounds or larger areas or base, then you might want to go with a flat brush or a thicker round brush, a size two or above. When it comes to paper, it's important to use a watercolor paper because that paper has a tendency to absorb water, and it gives you a really nice smooth finish. I use Brustro watercolor paper mostly in a 250 or 300 GSM because I think the thickness and the finish of that paper, I find that super to work on. There are two kinds of watercolor paper which you can use. You can either go for a hot pressed or a cold pressed. Hot pressed basically does not have any texture. It's a really smooth paper to work on. Cold pressed, on the other hand, has a little bit of a texture. Now there are two different kinds of Gouache paints that are available in the market. One is your regular studio quality, and the other is the artist quality gouache. If you look at both the paints, there is a considerable amount of difference in terms of both price and the quality. If you're starting out, you can start with a studio quality gouache, but if you're really interested in exploring this medium, I'd suggest you go with the artist quality, because the studio quantum might give you streaky finish because it has more binding agent than the pigment. You might not find it as opaque as the artist quality gouache. I'm going to be using Winsor and Newton gouache, which is what I mostly use for all my artworks because it's a great quality gouache and very smooth to work with. Apart from your brushes, your paper, your pins. There are a couple of more things that you should keep while painting. Use a paper doll. One to dab excess water so that it does not have more water than needed, and also each time after cleaning your brush so that there is no residue with paint left when you move on to another color. Also keep two cups of water so that you don't have to constantly change your water. Use one to wash your brushes and use the other cup of water to dilute or water down your paint. 4. Gathering Inspiration: Okay. So a good way to start out illustration is by having some sort of a live inspiration in front of you because that gives you a starting point. And also that way you can observe the details. For example, for my inspiration I'm picking a couple of flowers from this vase. You can easily see the color variation, how one color interacts with another, how the petals are folding so the bends are clear. You can also see the overlap between the different petals and also how the texture of the different areas of the same flower are. I've picked up a couple of flowers from this vase, which I'm going to be painting for today's class. The first one is a yellow lily. Then I've also picked up a reddish-orange flower, which has a really nice interesting center and some really cool petals around it. I also like this little purple flower because I think it'll be interesting in terms of a contrast between different sizes and also how the overall shape is. 5. Sketching - first draft: Now that we know what exactly we are going to be painting in today's class. Let's move on to actually putting it on paper. We're going to start with a really rough sketch and picking one flower at a time. When you pick up an element that you are going to paint try, and observe the overall shape of that object like for example, in this flower, it's basically a circle with some petals protruding out.. Then there's also a smaller circle within the circle and another really small circle that I see right in the center. So these are the three basic shapes that I'm going to first focus on. Also, you can see how the petals are, some which are really tiny towards the center, and then there are some which are just partially visible because there's an overlap. So I'm also using printer paper, which is a really thin, easily available paper, for the first sketch. Because when you're doing the first sketch, there are a lot of lines and you do not want to directly move on to the final paper. Another thing I want to add is that, whatever we pick for our inspiration, we're just taking that for inspiration. The idea is to not draw it as it is, but just have it as a reference point so that we know what we're doing. So I'm not going to make a flower that looks exactly like this, but I'm going to just take inspiration from whatever I see in front of me and create something that I feel like creating. So give yourself that freedom and just make what you feel like. You do not have to exactly follow what you are seeing or follow the rules. So, I'm going to start with creating a circle, which is basically the outer circle of this flower. Now, when I'm making this, there are a lot of lines, and the lines are going to be really tough, which is why I am doing this on a printer paper first. So that's the outer circle. Now I'm going to move on to the inner circle, which looks like a doughnut now. But, this is the inner circle of the flower, and then there is a third circle, which is this. So now that we have the basic shape, we know where the petals are going to start. The petals are like this. So I'm just going to make a few petals here. I'm trying to not keep it very rigid, and I'm also not trying to keep all the petals the same size and shape. Because that's not how usually they are. The inner circle has these really tiny petals. So, I'm just making these little pencil circles here, and it's going to be more prominent once we start filling the coloring and the center one is basically, just like blog of paint, for now. So I'm going to leave it like that. Then it has a really cool, simple, green stem. So, I'm going to add that and it slightly takes time. So this is done. This is how my pencil sketch looks, which is inspired by this particular flower. This is what I'm going to be sketching next. There are very sturdy, straight branches here. So it's not a very defined shape and you cannot individually be drawing all the petals. I don't want to. So, I'm going to keep this slightly more free. I'll start with this one green stem at the center, and then there is one flower here that I can do, that I see, this one. There's another one, and there's another one here. I'm just marking the space more than anything, because these are really loose flowers, so I don't want to define the shape too much. I want to do that when I paint not, at the sketch level. Then, I think I'm going to just make a couple of more flowers and that's it. So one flower here, a bud here, one bud here and I think there can be a flower here as well. That's it. I'm going to keep it here. Now, the third one is a lily. So I'm going to add the pollen to this lily, but take the shape of this because, I think the shape here is nice. I'm holding it here. This way so that I see one side of the lily. So even though this is my front view and I can see this one complete petal. I can see two side views, and again, these are overlapping, so I don't see them entirely. But I'm going to draw whatever I see. Now again, with the lily, the basic structure, if you look at the flower, it's like this. If you look at the form. So first, I'm going to define that basic shape so that I know what size and what shape I'm working with. So this is my lily. Now there is one petal, which is here. There is another petal which is here. The third petal is here. So basically, I'm just not focusing too much on the exact shape of the petal. I'm just converting them into these really long, oval shapes. Then this is the fourth petal. Then this is like the fifth petal is, and this is the sixth petal. Then we have the stem. Now, once I have the basic shape of the petals, I'm going to further define the shape and the curves. So this is how this first one looks, and you're going to see the other side of the petal. So that's how it looks to me from here. So that's how my lily looks, and then the center of the lily has some pollen. So I'm going to also sketch that out. So this is the flower that I've drawn, and this is how it looks from from my angle. 6. Transferring the final sketch: We have to first draft of raw pencil sketch ready with us now. The reason why I made this on printer paper is because if you look at the sketch that are way too many lines, that are multiple lines crisscrossing each other or the lines are really dark. When you're painting, you do not want your lines to be so dark. You want them to be really clean and nice so that the paint can easily go on the paper and doesn't match with the pencil marks. We don't first do scribble at the backside of the same paper. You can also use a carbon paper, but I just find this to be quicker and easier. So right behind the sketch, I'm going to scribble with this pencil really dark so that it's easier when I'm transferring. That's pretty much it. This is my watercolor paper that I'm going to be using for the illustrations. This is the first sketch. I'm putting this paper on top of my final paper. I'm securing these with paper clips. This paper has the scribble at the back. Once this is done, I'm going to go over the sketched ones with a pencil. When you start doing this, you can also lift the paper a little and see if it's falls free. It is. Continue doing the same thing. This is done, now take the pins off and slowly lift the paper out. So here's our sketch, and you can very easily see a difference between the two sketches. This one is really clean and this one is a messy and you cannot do any paint on a sketch like that. But keep this with you because this is a more detailed sketch, so you might need it for reference later on, but this is what we are going to paint on next. 7. Painting - Flower 1: I'm going to be using pretty much the same colors as the flowers because I did not really like the tones there. For the red flower, I'm going to be using Spectrum Red and I'll mix it with [inaudible]. This is our final sketch. This is our reference sketch that I'm keeping here in case. I'm going to be putting down some color chips here to indicate the colors that I'm using. So for this flower because it's a red flower, I'm going to use similar tones. I have some pre-mixed colors here. This is the base coat that I'm going to be using, then I will shade darker for the details, which is this. This goes on for a couple of details. This is what I'm going to be using for our shadow, so it's red which is mixed with a little brown and a little black. For some highlights, I'm actually going to be also using off flesh tint, just a little bit of this. I'm going to keep this closer so that I'm able to see the details, and also show you guys. The first step is to start with the base coat. That's what I always start with.This is the color that I'm going to be using for my base coat. Now between the different petals, I'm going to leave some very little space so that I know where my petal is ending.I usually do the base coat for the entire flower at once, and then move on to the second layer. But if you feel like you want to keep switching between different colors, you can do that as well. I'm just doing a quick base coat. Basically just filling in the shape with this color, and leaving the gaps in between. Also because Gouache dry is darker, it's always a good idea to create a color palette and see how the colors really are on paper. Also I'm not trying to be very precise because this is just the first layer. When you're doing the first coat, do not worry about the details because those are going to come later on. So my base layer is done. Now I'm moving on to the second color, this one. I'm also going to be using a final brush for this and wait for the first coat to dry out completely, and then you can see though the gaps in-between. So you know where the petals are overlapping. In this step, I'm just creating a shadow wherever there is an overlap. A little bit of a shadow, and just some strokes here, starting from the tip of the brush. Just creating like a swoosh as we go up. If you look at this flower, whenever there is an overlap, the petal, which is behind the front petal, it has a darker shade, or a darker color you can see you, which is what I'm doing here as well. The ones which are behind, I'm giving them a darker color so that there is a shadow. So now all our white spaces are pretty much filled; the ones which were in between the petals. The circle in the center is a darker shade of the same color. It's a darker orange-ish red. I'm going to give this a base coat of darker red first. I'm not really filling it up. I'm just dabbing the brush, and leaving certain areas empty because that's how the texture of this part is. I'm not trying to create a very smooth surface here. Now once this is done, I'm going to move on to the last color, which is the darkest and I'm going to use that for defining the shadows a little more, and the edges. I'm going to just put this wherever there is an overlap and wherever I see a shadow, and not to use too much of this. This is also a very important step because I think you can very clearly see the difference between the left half and the right half of the flower. There is a very visible depth in the petals that you can make out. Because this has that dark shade and this one does not have. I'm going to do the same thing on the left half as well. Once our shadows are done, the good thing about Gouache is that you can put a light color on top of a dark color, which is why I'm going to add the highlights now at the end. Now again, just like the shadows, you do not want to use a lot of this color. It's just going to go in certain areas which you feel are reflecting light. The petals which are right on top, the areas which are right on top are going to be reflecting more light and those are the ones that are getting a highlight. So I'm just adding this to some of the curves on the petal. The circle in the center is also dried out now, and you can very clearly see a shadow around the central circle as well. I'm going to add that same thing. Again, I'm not creating a very smooth surface, just little bit of a texture here for the darker color. A part of it is still there, so I'm going to come back to this later, but that's about it. Now the innermost circle is really dark with very tiny yellow spots, and we're going to take care of that later. But this is like a really black thing, so I'm going to move on to the inner most circle and I'm taking a nice charcoal black. This is not jet black because I don't want a very stark black in the center. Again, I'm not creating a very smooth surface. I'm just dabbing the brush here. I want the stem to be of fresh green, so I'm taking this green here. Again, giving it a really flat application. I'm taking a shade darker and putting it towards the edge. That's about it. 8. Painting - Flower 2: So this is the second flower that I'm going to paint, I have the sketch with me here, and I think this one is going to be really fun to draw because I'm going to go really literal with this. I'm not going into a lot of details in this one because I think it's going to be good that way. Let's start with the green part first, and then I'll move on to the purple flowers. I'm taking a nice light green, and I'm starting with this stem here. That's the green, and then I'm moving on to a slightly darker shade of green, and I'm going to be working on these little green things just below the flower. They're not very defined. I'm just moving the brush a little bit and not getting into too much detail here. There are two shades of purple that I see here, one is a light and then dark. I'm going to start with the lighter one. For this again I'm going to use a finer brush because I want a nice fine lines, and I'm going to move the brush in an upward direction. Again, start from the base and just move it up and leave it there. This flower here is slightly up and has ascend over them, and were going to mark and all these lines are coming out of the center. I'm going to treat this a little differently. I also see some leaves here which I think will add some sort of a character in these illustrations. I'm going to go ahead and make a couple of leaves, the really long deformed ones. I'm just adding some long leaves along the flowers. I'm again using the exact same movement, but I'm making shorter strokes. The purple just stays towards the bottom. Also for the green I'm going to add a really dark green for the leaves and the buds to add a little depth because it looks too flat otherwise. Just the corners and the top that's it. I'm going to leave this here, and we're done. 9. Painting - Flower 3: This is the third flower that I'm going to be painting, it's a nice, bright, yellow Lily, and this is the sketch that I have here with me, the pencil sketch, you can see it more clearly on this paper. I'm going to be starting this with a very pale yellow as my base coat, because the colors here are not as bright. This is, going to be my base coat, and for those shadows, I'm going to be moving on to a slightly darker yellow, which is this, and after that, I'll move on to something like an ocher. I also see shades of greens in between the petals, so I'm going to use a very, pale light green, not so much, but it's going to be there, a little bit. This is the flower that I'm referring to, this one, and I see all six petals right in front of me, the way they are here. I'm starting with just filling the area in pencil with a flat base coat of a very pale yellow. Now again, because the Lily has quite a lot of twists and turns in the petal, I can also see a difference in the color of this petal, this side and the side has a difference here, this is lighter, this is darker so I'm going to leave the inside of the petal and do that with a slightly darker shade. Similarly, in this petal also, the scope is slightly darker in shade, so I'm again going to leave this. The third petal has a really light color in the center, and the sides have a slightly darker shade of yellow, which we're going to do later on when we move on to the next coat, but for now I'm going to leave, again a little space between this and the previous petal, so that I know where the demarcation is, and fill it in. Again I'm leaving a little white space between the two petals here, because it's the same color, otherwise, it's just going to look like one big blob of paint. The base coat with one color is done, but I'm going to take a slightly darker yellow and fill certain areas of the petals with a darker yellow. For example this one, now again you want to make that the areas around it are dry, otherwise they're going to mix into one another. Now I'm going with the third shade of yellow, and I'm going to fill in the white areas, and also create a little bit of shade variation here. This is the inside of this petal, so I'm going to add some shadows and some strokes in the same direction, so that all going in the exact same direction. I'm going to do the same thing for all the flowers. I'm just looking at the shadows and where the overlap is, which will tell me where all my darker strokes are going to come. Based on that, I'm adding the shadows here. These are like broken lines, you don't want to create an outline, just certain areas wherever there are shadows, the darker color goes there, now again, especially these intones, in the petals, they always appear darker, so try and put a darker color there. The movement of the brush remains the same throughout. I'm again starting again from one end and I'm creating a really free flowing upward movement, and ending the stroke with a really sharp end. The third coat of paint is almost done, and I feel I want to add a last layer of shadow which is going to be like an orange-ish yellow. Because I see certain shades here, at the tip and just some places. I'm going to be going ahead with a color like this. I'm going to add another color to the pollens here just to make it slightly more prominent. I'm done with yellow part of the flower, I am done with the whites, I'm done with the pollens, so am going to move on to green part now, and I'm also going to draw this little guy here, because I think it's cute. It's just one leaf with a slight bend that I'm making, it's something like this, I'm going to just leave it here. Again, I'm starting with the really pale green, and a nice flat base layer of this color. I'm using the same color for the leaf as well, I'm not keeping the edges very smooth because that's how they usually are, so there's a very slight bend on the edges. I'm also extending the green a little bit on the flower because I can see the green going upwards a little bit. Just a hint of that green color, I need to wait for the base layer to dry out now. The base layer is going to dry now, so I'm going to move onto the second coat of green, It's one shade darker. I'm going to put this a little bit on the side on the leaves, especially where the curves are. That's it, this leaf is here and the yellow flower is done. 10. Conclusion: I am really happy with how these three flowers have come out on paper, and in a way, all three of them have a really different color palette or different shape, form. Also in the way they have been painted, it is kind of different from one another. Though the classes will basically give you an idea on how to draw from my inspiration, you do not have to make exactly the same thing. You can make your own tweaks and your own changes, but it gives you a starting point and it helps you observe the details, which I think is really important. I hope you like the class and I am really excited to see what you guys create.