Gouache Illustration: Paint a Whimsical, Colorful Character | Vanessa Gillings | Skillshare

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Gouache Illustration: Paint a Whimsical, Colorful Character

teacher avatar Vanessa Gillings, Illustrator

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.

      Working with Gouache


    • 3.

      Materials and Sketching


    • 4.

      Color Roughing


    • 5.



    • 6.

      Color Testing


    • 7.

      Laying Down Washes


    • 8.

      Adding Details


    • 9.

      Final Thoughts


    • 10.

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About This Class

Love painting whimsical, colorful illustrations? Learn to use gouache paint to bring your imagination to life!

Step into illustrator Vanessa Gillings' studio and learn to apply her unique painting method to your own character illustrations. Through testing colors, layering paint, leaving paint to dry, and even keeping an eye on the humidity in her studio, Vanessa has perfected the art of using gouache to take her creative vision from her imagination to the page.

Blending digital and analog techniques, Vanessa reveals a unique, accessible approach to hand-painted work. Key lessons explore:

  • General tips and tricks for using gouache
  • Testing your colors before you paint
  • Layering paint to avoid unintended lines
  • Creating colors with a flat, even effect
  • Using washing to bring your vision to life

Plus, Vanessa shows you how to create one of her intricate characters from beginning to end — giving you the inspiration you need to create your own dapper animal.

Whether you're new to gouache or a seasoned painter, you'll learn a technique that opens the door to a whole new world of intricate illustration. Follow along and learn how to create the whimsical work you’ve always imagined!

Meet Your Teacher

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Vanessa Gillings



Vanessa Gillings is a Washington, DC based illustrator and self-proclaimed fox enthusiast who specializes in watercolor and gouache illustration. After spending part of her career as a comic book artist and graphic designer, Vanessa now focuses exclusively on her illustration work. 

Vanessa can be found illustrating children's books, knitting her own clothes, and sharing her illustrations on Instagram and tumblr. 

Inspired by childhood, woodland creatures, and lovingly handmade clothing, Vanessa is best known for her whimsical drawings of bunnies and foxes. 


(Photo from Vanessa's Instagram)



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1. Introduction: I work in watercolor and gouache, and I like to paint cute animals in detailed complex texture pieces. Hi, I'm Vanessa. I'm an illustrator, and today we'll be talking about gouache. I use gouache differently than a lot of artists. I like to water it down so it acts more like watercolor. This allows me to have the effect of watercolor without the drawbacks. So, instead of getting that streaky effect that watercolor has, gouache will fill an entire solid shape which worked particularly well with the way that I like to layer paint. There in the class, I'll walk you through my entire process for how I create my illustrations. We'll cover tips for painting with gouache like how to get clean lines by layering, how to avoid hot spots by drying, and even how to adjust for change in the humidity. We'll cover tips for sketching out your character, walking out colors in Photoshop, then dive straight into testing our colors, laying down washes, and adding final details. This project is a good way to quickly jump into some of these techniques without worrying about complicated details, but also have a bit of fun designing a character that represents something you may like. I hope you'll walk away from this class with a better understanding of how to use gouache that you can use to make your own cute little illustrations. I'm excited to show you my process. Let's get started. 2. Working with Gouache: So, the main tools that I use are paint, palettes, brushes and paper. So, the paint I use is once gouache except for my black which is watercolor. I do this because it's a little bit more transparent and it is a personal preference. You can use gouache for the entire thing if you'd like. I have about 20 paints but you only really need eight colors to get most colors that you'd ever want to create, a warm and cool red, a warm and cool blue, a warm and cool yellow, and then white and black. I don't think you need anything fancy for your palettes, these are just some cheap ones that I got for a couple of dollars. I tend to store my paints and my palettes all the time. This is partially out of laziness but also because it's more economical because paint can be really wet. You don't have to use fresh paint every time. The colors that you're mostly going to be using, you should have those ones be fresh but the rest can be old and doesn't really matter. Here's one of the advantages of watercolor ink wash, water-based paints is that they are re-wettable but be careful because not all paint is re-wettable. For instance, acrylic wash is not re-wettable. So, test to make sure that your paint can be re-wet after it's laid down before you try and do this with your palettes or else you'll have to get new palettes. I really only use two brushes, a medium-size slightly tapered brush and then a smaller detail brush. I can do pretty much every single shape that I do almost all my pieces I only use these two brushes. The final piece is my watercolor paper. I choose to use arches watercolor blocks, which are a bunch of pieces of paper all glued-together into a cube. This helps prevent the paper from warping while you paint. If you don't choose to use watercolor blocks, you can use other kinds of watercolor paper. There's a whole bunch of kinds out there but if you use flat sheets, you have to stretch watercolor paper, which means that you have to wet the entire thing and tape it down at the edges to like a watercolor illustration board. If you want to learn more about how to do, this check the resources. If you choose to buy a watercolor block, the first step you have to do when you open it is remove this black piece of paper that's on the top. The way you do this is you use a palette knife or just even a regular knife, and stick it in here and then just pull it off like that. So, there's three components to painting gouache, water, paint, and time. It's all about how much of each of those you have. So, you want to make sure that you have a good balance between your paint and your water and how quickly or slow you apply the paint is going to affect the overall consistency of the shape and also your ability to paint cleanly in layers. Gouache is intended to be used with the paint consistency of melted ice cream but that's a lot too thick to paint the way I do. So, I water my gouache down so it's more like watercolor. I'll show you how to get a good consistency for nice even layers. So, I like to mix. I'll paint a little bit thicker first and then add water to that. So, to try and add paint back into water once you already have obtain liquidity. So, start thicker and go lighter as you go, and you can test on your paper. So, you want that kind of consistency. You want to be able to see a little tiny speckles of the paper coming through. That's getting too thin. That's too light. That's a bit too thick but that one is the perfect consistency, and the way you do that is by how much paint and water you have on your brush. So, you don't want to have too much water also end up like this and you don't want to have too little end up like that, and how quickly you apply it will make it more even. So, that's the third component which is time, like that. So, once you lay down a flat color, you don't want to mess with it because if you do you get something that's called a hot spot, which is where you try and apply paint to an area where you've already applied paint but it's not fully dry. You'll get a little bit of lightning. It's hard to see probably but you'll get a teeny bit of lightening down on these edges. So, if you try and mess with the top surface too much, you'll start lifting the paint off, and if you look closely you can see that this area on the bottom is lighter than the area on the top. That's because the paint that was already there has been lifted by the water on my brush. This will actually create a permanent lighter section. It doesn't matter how many layers of paint you put on afterwards, you can't get rid of it. So, it's really best to just paint a color shape and leave it alone and just be patient and then you'll get a color that you like in the end. Here's a clear example of this concept. I painted this blue square first and then went back in and tried to paint on top of it in this corner but it didn't do anything I wanted and only lightened the color, which is why I have a lighter down here. This will happen anytime you try and mess with paint that is not fully dry. So, fully let your paint dry before you move onto layering anything on top of it. A big factor that affects drying time is your room's humidity. I personally have these little humidity readers. This is because I'm a total nerd and I care a lot about hale humid is in my room because it really affects my paint. This thing tells me that at 64 percent in here which is pretty high. So, that means that everything is going to take longer to paint. The reason why is because there's more moisture in the air, which gets into your paper and also gets just into your paint. So, when there's more moisture in the air, the moisture in your paint takes longer to dry. So, you just have to be a little bit more patient when it's humid. If it's really, really dry, what I recommend is having a damp paper towel just lightly on top of your painting and between layers. So, let each layer fully dry, then lay the damp paper towel down for two seconds or so and then try and do the next layer. It gives you more time because the amount of time that it takes to dry is also how quickly or slowly you can fill in shapes. So, it's easier to paint when it's humid to fill in shapes but harder to wait for each shape to dry. So, this step totally isn't necessary but if you want to nerd out like me, I got this little humidity reader off of Amazon for like $5 or $7 and it's a really cool little tool to know how humidity is in your room. I personally prefer to have the humidity about 45 to 50 percent. That's just a personal preference because I feel like gives me the longest amount of time to plate on each shape but not so longer than I'm sitting there all day waiting for it to dry but because it's really humidity in here, it's definitely going to take longer. So, another thing to keep in mind when it's really humid is that your paint will want to spread out a bit more on the paper because the paper itself has a bit more moisture in it. So, a good way to get around this is to just thicken your paint a teeny bit. So, don't add quite as much water. I think it's a good idea to just experiment with this, paint some little swatches on a rough piece of paper just to get and feel about how much water you should be adding based on how humid the day is. So, now I'll show you some tips for how to fill in shapes. The first thing is it's your temptation whenever you have a square to outline it but you don't want to do this with any water-based medium because one side will start to dry before the other and you'll get an outline around the entire shape which you don't want. So, what you need to do with all shapes is pick one side and move to the other side. I always start on the left because I'm right-handed and that way I'm not sticking my hand in my paint. So, I'll just pick a corner and move from that corner outwards. You can do little bars like this, the top and bottom but don't go too far into the shape and that way when you pick up more paint, you can add in where you were last. Move from one side to the other, like that. So, the same thing is true even if you're not painting a square. If you're painting a weird shape, you still have to pick a side and then move from that side to the other and you have to choose where to start and keep going with it, trying to keep as few areas like this opened by themselves. You want to basically keep your edge that's moving towards the other side wet, you don't want it to dry because if it dries, then you get those hot spots I told you about. You need to have the whole area you're working with be wet, that makes the whole shape stay uniform when you're done. This may feel counter intuitive because of the way you're taught in elementary school to outline a shape before you fill it in but if you can break that habit, you'll have much cleaner shapes in the end. On the opposite side when you want to paint around the shape, you have to choose which direction to go and you want to keep both sides as wet as possible as you do it. So, here's a good way to do that. You start in a corner like before and try and move each side back and forth. So, you move this side a bit, then you go back over and you move the other side of it, then you go back over here and move here a bit. If you hope between the two sides, it keeps that edge wet, which is what you need. It's like you pull the paint across the paper, from one side of the shape to the other. To recap, the three things you have to think about are paint, water, and time. You might have noticed I have to paint pretty quickly as to keep that edge I was talking about wet as you move. You don't want that side to dry. So, you have to paint each shape pretty quickly. Which is the reason that when you're first starting, you probably want to have fairly medium-sized shapes. It makes it easiest to paint if they're not too small or too big. For this last tip, I'll show you the benefits of layering paint versus painting shapes next to each other. I created these two blocks of color beforehand and let them dry to show you what I mean about layering paint. So, if I put a rectangle here next to this other rectangle. If you don't get those shapes right perfect next to each other, you might start to notice that there's this dark line appearing in between the two shapes. This area is brown, blue but this is greenish brownish color that's appearing in between. That's because watercolor and gouache are transparent mediums. Meaning that they are very liquidity and thin, so you can see the layers of other paint underneath. So, I decided to try and use this property of watercolor and gouache to my benefit. So, instead of doing that where I get that line, I instead paint on top and if you do this, the entire rectangle is the color of that line, but it means that you don't have a line between the shapes at all. It means you get nice clean shapes for all of your colors. I developed this process a little bit out of necessity because I naturally have very unsteady hands, so I couldn't trust myself to paint two shapes next to each other without getting that line in between. So, this was my workaround for dealing with the problem. One thing to keep in mind when this layering process is that it changes the color a little bit. So, if you look at this brown, this brown is a lot more vibrant and bright than this brown because it's been layered on top of the blue. So, you see a little bit of the blue underneath. This means that you have to think a little bit about how to work with complementary colors. Let's take a look at how blue interacts with a complimentary color like yellow. First, let's add yellow right next to the blue and then to compare, let's paint the yellow on top. As you can immediately see, this yellow is not the bright yellow but that is, it's a much fainter yellow that has a little bit of a blue-green tinge to it. So, if you want to paint a really bright color, you have to paint those ones separately because of how the colors interact and change as you layer them, it can be helpful to test them out. 3. Materials and Sketching: Before we get started, let's take a look at the materials I use for my process. So the essential tools you need are paint, a palette to mix your paint on, watercolor paper, paint brushes, and both a medium and a small for details, and sketching materials. The other tools that I use are carbon paper, and tape for transferring, and a white gel pen for corrections. We'll be diving deeper into all of these later on in the process. Let's get started with the first step, which is thumbnailing and sketching. So there are three steps to this process. The first step is to thumbnail roughly in my sketch book. The second step is to print out those sketches very lightly on printer paper, and then to use a mechanical pencil to fill in those sketches with more detail. I do this three-step process because it enables me to come up with a good gesture that I like, and then refine that gesture without losing the original gesture by erasing the whole thing. When I'm thumbnailing, I like to focus on gesture and overall shape. I don't like to get bogged down with the details at this point at all, so I tend to make them pretty small, and do a bunch of them really quickly. So the pieces that I chose to go with were the ones that I thought had the strongest composition, the strongest shapes, and looked like pieces that would be the most fun to paint. So once I chose the six that I liked, I brought them into my computer, blew them up, and then printed them out very lightly, so I had an outline to work on for the next step. Once we have the outline, we just have to trace over it to get the final sketch. This lets me try different ideas, and if I don't like them, I can just erase them, and still have the original gesture and sketch there to work from. It solves that age-old problem that all artists have where they like the gesture and the original sketch better than the final. This lets you try a bunch of stuff without losing the thing you liked about your original drawing. I did these six here, and I chose this one because I like the gesture the best. Now, that we have the final sketch, we can move on to color roughing. 4. Color Roughing: So, now that we've got our sketch, before we dive into the painting, is good to do a color rough. So, when I say color rough, I mean just a plan of the colors that you're going to use for your final painting. There's a lot of different ways of color rough, I choose a color rough digitally in Photoshop, just because it's a tool we already have and I find it easiest, but you can also color rough by hand, or you can color rough in app like Procreate, it's really up to you. The whole point of this is just to get colors that you like. So, what colors you're going to use before you paint the final. Another big advantage of this step is, it allows you to test a lot of colors all together in multiple different iterations, which is really good for client work. Clients really like to see multiple options of a painting and that way we're giving them as many options as possible, and digital I think is a great way to do this because it allows you to try lots of things very quickly. So, let's dive in and start choosing our colors. So, I like to take my sketch and put it as my first layer in Photoshop. This is so that I can set it to multiply, and see all my colors underneath as I work, and I keep the background white because the background of this painting is going to be white. So, I don't need another color there. There's really no order or preference to setting things up, I just like to start with the color that I think is most important which for me is the fox color. So, for the big shapes, I like to use the lasso tool tool just because it's really quick to fill things in, and you really don't need to be too perfect about this, you just want to be able to block in your colors really roughly. I used the bucket to fill that in, and if it's something I want to be a little cleaner, I can paint in the shape a bit more. I like to make different layers for each color because this allows me to change just that one color and not have to worry about the rest of the piece changing. So, a good resource for getting better at using color is a website called Kuler and there's another one that's called Color-collective, which are both really good sites that just have lots of different colors that are good inspiration, good place to start if you're feeling stuck on what kind of colors to use. There isn't a right or wrong way to color rough, it's just about getting colors down so that you know where you're going when you're going to be painting your final painting. And another thing to keep in mind is that digital colors are ever so slightly different than what the colors you can create with real paint are. Don't be too perfect about it and don't worry too much, it's just to give yourself a guide. You don't have to use a [inaudible] to do this if you don't have one, it is a lot easier and faster, but you can also just use a mouse to trace the shapes with the lasso tool if you want. So, now I'm just going to fill out the rest of the basic shapes. So now that we have the basic shapes, I can go back in and add the details. And for the details, I'm mostly just want to tell myself a basic idea of where things are going to be. So I like to add little lines to my animal's fur, but I don't need to know exactly where every line is going to be. This is just a rough idea to let myself know, remember to put lines here. Alright, now that we've settled on the colors, let's print this out and use this as a guide. The next step is I'll show you how to transfer the sketch to the watercolor paper. 5. Transferring: Now that you have your final sketch, we're going to transfer it to our watercolor paper. So, to transfer our sketch onto watercolor paper, we're going to use carbon paper, which is just a thin piece of tissue paper with graphite on one side. So, to tape it onto your paper, you're going to use artist tape, which is a tape that is less sticky than normal tape would be. I also like to take some off here and put it on my hand to make it less sticky. So, I just go like this, just to make it a little bit less sticky, so that way, you can take it off your paper and off your transfer paper without ruining either of them, because this is reusable many many times, I've had this for five years. So, all you do is you flip it over, and I tape it on the back because anytime you're pressing on the front, you have the potential to leave marks with your hands. So, you're trying to avoid anything, because this stuff does not erase particularly well, and so, you want to make sure that you don't press it more than you have to. The other thing I like to do is I like to tear out my picture, and the reason I do this is, so that way, I can see the most amount of space around my picture as possible. So, that helps me know where to place it on the paper, because you can't see it very well. So, that helps me know how much space to leave around the drawing. Then, what you do is you take some of that, take more of this, and I can see where I want to place it, and then just tape it down. So, how this works is you have your printer paper on top of the carbon paper on top of the watercolor paper. The reason you have that is because the carbon paper has graphite on one side, so that way, when you apply pressure to this, it magically transfers the drawing onto the water color paper underneath. To transfer your drawing, I like to use a pen. It doesn't really matter what kind of pen you use, so long as it's got a hard enough tip that can't be a felt pen. I use pen instead of pencil because, that way, you can actually see what parts you've already transferred. All right. So, let's start transferring. I like to draw the little lines, the things that are going to be lines, in the final as lines. That's just sort of a personal preference. You can outline the shape if you'd like, but otherwise, I mostly just outline. So, I'm not going to transfer the lines inside the scarf because anytime you have a thin line, it's best to transfer or to draw those yourself with pencil afterwards because carbon paper does not 100 percent erase. So, it'll mostly get covered by the paint. But any little line that won't get covered by the paint, it's better to just draw by hand because that way, if you happen to draw it in a slightly different place or choose to draw it in a different place when you're done, you don't have this ghost of a little pencil line there that you don't want. So, for instance, on the shirt here, I'm not going to draw the stripes, I'm just going to draw the outline. That way, I can fill in the stripes by hand afterwards. You want to make sure you get everything, so don't forget any little shapes because once you take the carbon paper off, you basically can't put it back on to find where you had it before, because you won't be able to know exactly where it was. So, just check to make sure. For these scarf lines, I like to just sort of do the outside of the shape, not the full inside part, just so I know roughly where it is without having to worry about all the details. So, now that we got all the lines, let's take the printer paper off. I like to take it off here instead of after taking the transfer paper off, because that way, I am less likely to tear my transfer paper. It's a good thing to keep this guy with you because, that way, when you're painting, you can use it as a reference in case you lose a line while you're painting. If it fades beneath a color, you can look at it. Then, remove that. You can see where I've turned my paper before, and now, I have our final picture. That's the magic of carbon paper. So, if you don't want to transfer your drawing, you can draw directly onto watercolor paper. But the reason I do this is, so that way, I personally draw very dark, and if I draw directly on this, I'll be erasing and drawing dark, there'll be tons of smudgy grey lines that I'm trying to avoid having. So, I like to draw my sketch first and then transfer it with transfer paper. So, the last step is to clean up the drawing a little bit. I like to use a kneaded eraser to remove whatever little smudges I may have still gotten, and then use a fairly sharp pencil to go in and add those pencil or ditto lines that I didn't put it in before. So, I'd just like to erase some of the smudging there. I'm drawing my details by hand instead of transferring them because it's a lot easier to erase this pencil than it is to erase carbon paper, and for details, it's better to draw them in pencil, and something that's easy to erase. 6. Color Testing: Before I move on to the final illustration, we have to decide how to mix paint to try and match our digital color rough. You're never going to be able to get your colors exactly the same as your digital color rough, that's because digital works really differently than real paint. But the goal of this stage is to try and get your colors as close as possible and also to understand where the colors will be different in the final. You want to start by testing the lightest colors first. So, I'm going to start by trying to match this sweater color. The reason I'm mixing the lightest colors here first, like peach and white, is because I know that the color is a fairly light color and I tend to, when mixing my colors, just kind of move from lightness or darkness even when I'm mixing them on my palette. There's not really a huge reason for this, only a personal preference, but I find it easier to keep track of. Sometimes, we go too dark, you can add a little bit of a lighter color back in until it looks pretty close. Then, I like to use the scrap paper here just to test and see. Okay. Yeah, that looks fairly close. It's a little bit more vibrant than this, that's largely because digital has a lot more muted colors than real paints. So, pretty much always when you paint your final, your final's going to be a little bit more vibrant and a little lighter, like less dark, like these pants are probably gonna be lighter in the final. I'm going to paint this little swatch here, and say that's going to be my sweater color. Then, I like to write down for myself, as a note, the colors that I used so I can recreate it. So, the reason why I write this out is that it helps me remember when I'm actually making the painting what colors I mixed during the test. Sometimes, there'll be days in between when I do the tests of the colors and when I actually paint the final, and by then, I may have forgotten how I mixed the colors. So, this way, I just have it all written down for me. So, if I need to recreate a painting, anything, I've got it there for me. I'm going to create a couple more of these. Now, I have little swatches for all the colors that we're going to use as a guide for when we recreate our final piece. This is something that I've gotten pretty good at doing because I've had a lot of experienced painting at this point. So, don't be frustrated if it takes you a little longer to figure out what colors you want to use or how to match the digital color rough that you created. It's something you guys will get better at over time. Once we have our colors figured out, we need to figure out how they're going to interact in layer with each other. If you remember from before, layering paint changes how colors interact. So, it's helpful to create a little guide to plan out how you're going to layer your colors for the final piece. This whole process takes about an hour, that's because I need each layer to dry before I can move on to the next one. So, I've already done it beforehand, but I'll walk you through the first couple of steps again just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about. So, I like to start with a little base layer that is just simply peach and white that just meets out all the other colors. It's not necessary and you don't have to do it, but it's just something I like because it mix all the colors a little bit softer. After the peach layer, add in a rectangle of the sweater color. That's because I knew that the sweater color was going to be under most of the other colors. So, the third thing I had to test was this book color. Because a book is pretty light, I wanted to know whether or not I could layer it on top of the base layer only or if I could layer it on top of the purple color as well. So, painting both the light blue here on top of both these rectangles let's me know really quickly, okay, this is a lot lighter, this looks more like the true blue that I imagined in my digital color rough. This starts to look a lot more like it's just kind of a darker sweater, and that's not the look I'm going for. So, I decided that for this blue color, I'm going to layer just the peach and the blue, and not have the sweater color underneath it. The next thing I want to test is how to layer the darker colors of my paintings. So, I have this divided into two stacks of color, that's because these are the cool colors. This is the scarf and that's the coat, and here's a warm color. This is the fox's fur, the fox's ears, and the fox's pants. I wanted to have these separated, because of what I talked about earlier with the complimentary colors, that you can't layer those ones, not without getting the whole thing looking really muddy. So, to do the cool colors, I want to paint a big rectangle of the light blue that I know I want to have underneath all the other colors. In general, when figuring out how to layer paint, I like to try and put layers underneath as many shapes as possible, because that way, you don't have to have those little overlapping edges between two different colors or shapes. So, over here, I'm going to paint the fox's orange, and because that's the lightest warm color, I know I want it to be underneath all the other darker warm colors. I'm painting it both on the purple and on the base color because I'm not sure yet if I want to have those colors layered or not. This is why I like to do a color test because it helps me know, "Okay, these ones are fine or these ones are too vibrant." It lets me work it out beforehand. So, the next thing you want to do is then paint the next darkest color and see how it's going to layer. So, this would be the scarf. You'll continue this process for all the darker colors. The reason I'm stopping here is because the darker colors, because they're darker, will actually cover up most of the colors beneath them. So, it's not as hard to figure out how to layer those ones as it is to figure out the lightest ones. The goal of this step is to help you figure out how the colors will interact, so you can figure out what order to apply your paint in. So, using this as a guide, we can now start to write down the order that we're going to paint in. The first layer we know is going to be the base layer. So, moving from lightest to darkest, the next two darkest colors are the book and the sweater. Because both of these colors stand both alone and are overlapped, it doesn't really matter which one you paint first. I just chose to paint the sweater first. Sometimes, I like to put little notes to myself when I'm doing this to say that I need to not paint the sweater underneath the book though, just to remind myself. These are the only two colors that only have the base underneath. So, it doesn't matter which order you paint them in. The same thing applies to the next two medium colors, which are the scarf and the fox orange. So, doesn't really matter which one of those you choose to paint first. I chose to paint the scarf. So, the next color will be the fox color. So, then the next darker colors are the coat blue and the brown that's the pants. Again, it doesn't really matter which one you do first, so you can do whichever one. I chose to do the coat, which then means you have to do the pants next. So, this is the final thing I'm going to add to the pants which is a light layer of the darkest black color. This last step is me adding just a little bit of the coat blue to the pants, just to add some extra color harmony. So, to recap, you want to start with the base layer, which is this right here, because it goes underneath everything. Then you want to move on to the next darkest colors, which are the sweater and the book, and they can be painted in either order. Then, the next darkest colors are the scarf and the fox color. Divide them into two stacks because of complimentary colors, because these are blue and these are orange. Again, it doesn't matter which order you paint this. Then, you move on to the next darkest colors, which is the coat and the pants. Then, after that, you move on to the next darkest colors, which is the darkest pants and the coat color. If you group this into light, medium, and dark, between each stack, it doesn't matter which one you paint first. Just as long as you continue to move from lightest to darkest. Now that we're done with the hard work of planning out the order, we can now move on to the fun part, which is painting the final. 7. Laying Down Washes: Now that we've finished our color tests, we're going to move on to painting our first wash. The first one we're going to do is this base peach color, and the reason we want to do that is you want to generally move lightest to darkest. We're going to apply this layer everywhere in the painting that isn't white, and the reason we're doing that is it mutes all the other colors and it's the base layer to the entire painting, and we know all the paints are going to interact because we figured out our colors during our color test. So, this is where all of our planning comes together, we can just follow the plan we've already created. So, for the base layer, I like to mix a little bit more paint than I do for the other colors, because you're going to be applying it to the largest space, and you don't want to run out of paint in the middle of a shape because you'll need to work pretty quickly per shape. So, you don't want to be rushing to make more paint in the middle of a shape. Now, we're going to let this dry. That's the final wash. If like me, you have a few little tiny mistakes, here in the white space, here's a great tip for how to get rid of them. I like to use a white gel pen, this is just a sacra white gel pen to go over, and you don't want to draw a line, you want to dab at it. This helps mimic the paper texture. We'd be like you're tattooing almost. Here, you'll notice that it mostly gets rid of that little shape. I like to do this near the end, not in the beginning, because that way all my layers are in there and I can just fix little tiny issues like that, and it's like they never happened. Alright, we did it, we now have all of our washes down, so you can move on to the final details. 8. Adding Details: The last step is to add details to the clothing and the fur to bring your character to life. There's two different details that I add, texture and line work. The texture, I like to create with dry brushing, which is just using less water on your brush while you paint. So, one of the things I like about my painting process is that I like to use the paint I've already mixed for my washes as my texture. That's because this paint dries a little bit darker. So, if I just add slightly less water to it, I don't have to re-mix paint for my texture. So, if I want to make little lines on my fox for his fur, I just mix a teeny bit of water into this paint that's already dried here, and something I like to do is I like to dab the tip of my brush onto the paper towel I have here just to make sure that there isn't any water that I don't need on the brush, and I test it for some of the scratch paper, just to make sure it's kind of nice and scratchy before I move on to painting the details on my final. You always want to use the small brush for dry brushing, otherwise, you'll get big chunky marks, which you can use sometimes if you want. Dry brushing is a great technique for anything you want to have a bit of a texture to it. It doesn't have to just be fur, I also use the same technique on the coat. Basically, I just create a bunch of little scratchy lines here. There's not really any particular order or style you have to paint. I like to move with the shape, so that if you imagined it being on top of an actual animal, it wouldn't be perpendicular to the animal's fur. It's never going to do the same thing, but with the coat color just re-wetting some of the blue I used for the coat, and making sure it's not too wet, and then adding texture. If you put something a little too dark, you can also use a little bit of paper towel to blot up some of the texture, so it's not as dark as I originally painted it. I always try to do the dry brushing first before I do my linework. For linework, I'm work I use the paint that I already have mixed here as well as some new colors, but I add a little bit more water than I do for the dry brushing. But I still like to put the tip there to make sure I get most of it out. It's always good to test your lines here on a separate piece of paper first before you make the lines, because that way, you know you're getting the right consistency, because you want these lines to be a little bit less scratchy than your dry brush lines. So, as we paint the lines on the scarf, you'll remember we didn't didn't transfer these lines, we drew them with pencil. So, that way, we don't have to worry if we get them in exactly the right spot this time. Something I like to do when I'm drawing these lines is to keep my brush fairly flat. It helps you get a cleaner line. So, that's why I'm turning my brush so much. So, I can get the flat side. So, it's at a point. So, for the buttons, I want them to be a little bit darker than the dry brushing is. So, I mixed the black into the blue I already have because that way, it's not quite as dark as if I paint it just straight black. One thing is, in the darker colors, you'll notice sometimes you kind of lose your lines, and it's a little hard to see where the lines were that you originally drew. So, something you can do if you have a hard time seeing them is going back over them with pencil again before you do the details just so you know where they are, because so long as you do it fairly light, you'll be able to erase it. These last steps can be really unique to each individual person. It's all about how much personality you want to add to your painting, how many lines, how much texture. So, this will vary a lot by person. I personally like to put a lot of texture into my painting, so this can take up to an hour. So, we're going to hop to the final painting. So, now I have the final piece with all the details. As you can see, I didn't apply texture to every single shape. I think a combination of textured shapes and flat shapes helps to create a sense of depth in the painting. That's it, you finished your piece. 9. Final Thoughts: We made it all the way from talking about initial sketching to the final details. You've learned some basic tips for how to use gouache and how to layer paint. I hope you've enjoyed learning about gouache and this will inspire you to go out and try it for yourself. I love to see anything you created from the initial test to the final illustration. Thank you so much for taking the class, I can't wait to see what you guys make. 10. Explore More Classes on Skillshare: