Ink & Watercolor Illustration: Learn Simple & Magical Techniques & Find Your Style | Yasmina Creates | Skillshare

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Ink & Watercolor Illustration: Learn Simple & Magical Techniques & Find Your Style

teacher avatar Yasmina Creates, Artist & Creativity Cheerleader

Watch this class and thousands more

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

Watch this class and thousands more

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

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Watercolor Review


    • 3.

      Ink Review


    • 4.

      Why Mix Them?


    • 5.



    • 6.

      Tests and Experiments


    • 7.

      Using Ink First


    • 8.

      Using Watercolor First


    • 9.

      Inspiration and Style Development


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About This Class

This class is for anyone interested in ink or watercolors. It will teach you many techniques for putting the two mediums together, and you will make some magic in the process! The class will cover:

  • A Review of Ink Illustration
  • A Review of Watercolor Painting
  • An Explanation of Why to Mix Them
  • A PDF of my Favorite Supplies
  • Tests for the Supplies You Have on Hand
  • Different Ways of Using Ink First
  • Different Ways of Using Watercolors First
  • How to Revamp Your Old Illustrations
  • How to Get Inspired
  • An Exercise to Help You Find your Style
  • Plus Much More!

By the end of the class you should feel inspired and excited to try out the techniques that you learned. You will be able to confidently use watercolor and ink together to create magical illustrations! :)

Meet Your Teacher

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Yasmina Creates

Artist & Creativity Cheerleader

Top Teacher

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

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

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

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

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Level: All Levels

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1. Trailer: When you combine ink and watercolor, something magical happens. These two mediums work so well together intuitively and effortlessly. If you've only used watercolor or ink on their own, you're in for a real treat. Combining the two mediums will take your work the next level. It is my favorite way of illustrating and I made this class to show you how you can do it too. The class starts out with the overview of the basics of using watercolors and ink separately. Then we'll discuss why combining the two mediums is such a splendid idea. I'll go over their similarities and differences and I'll explain how they complete each other. I'll cover supplies and don't worry, you don't need anything fancy. I will show you what I use and how you can test out the tools that you already have to see what works best for this type of illustration. Then I'll go into the numerous techniques and I'll show you many examples of them being used. I will cover basic concepts and things to keep in mind. Some other things that I'll show you are the coloring book effect, watercolor as washes. How to breathe new life into your old pink or water color illustrations, using watercolors first, using inks first. How to make water color backgrounds. How to use colored inks, and so much more. We'll finish off the class with some inspiration and we'll do an exercise that will help you develop and find your own unique illustration style. By the end of the class, you should feel comfortable working with both medians and excite to implement the techniques that you learned into beautiful one of a kind illustrations. What are you waiting for? Enroll below and let's make some magic happen. 2. Watercolor Review: If you are completely new to watercolors, it might be a good idea to take my full, Anyone Can Watercolor class. But if you've taken the class before or you're comfortable with the medium, this lesson should serve as a quick review. The most important thing to master when painting with watercolors is the water and paint balance. Depending on how much paint and water you use at anytime, you will get unique results. There are six basic washes that show this in action. Wet on wet is the most random or impossible to control. It is application of wet paint onto a wet surface. Dry and wet is the application of a lot of paint and very little water onto a wet surface. The result is similar but more predictable. Wet on dry is just normally painting with a wet brush, with paint on dry paper. This is the easiest to control and the most predictable. Dry on dry is the application of a lot of paint with very little water onto dry paper. It's usually used to create textures. A flat wash is paint evenly applied to create one-color background and a gradient is when the paint forms gradually from a pure color to the white of the page using water. The names don't matter but knowing how the techniques work does. I used the gradient technique in wet on wet all the time to get soft edges by letting paint blend into water. Always work light to dark because you can never go lighter by adding more paint and watercolor. Just keep adding paint by layering. Keep in mind that watercolor is transparent, so it's similar to working in layers with half opacity in Photoshop. You can use masking fluid to keep an area white by applying it before you start with an old brush, Be sure to coat the brush in dish soap before using the masking fluid to make it last longer. Just paint out the area you want to stay white, let it dry, and then paint as you normally would. Peel it off gently with your fingers when you're done. If your paint is still wet, you can use the lifting technique with a dry brush or paper towel. This is similar to erasing. You can also use white ink or white gel pens on top to create highlights. You can mix colors on your palette or on the page. The most beautiful effects happen while mixing on the page with the wet on wet technique. You can also use salt or alcohol to create beautiful effects. Watercolors can be mixed with most other media, not only ink. So experiment to find new techniques and methods. If you didn't understand all this, be sure to take the watercolor basics class. It will explain everything in detail. Now that we reviewed watercolors, let's do the same with ink. 3. Ink Review: If you have taken my ink basics class or are already familiar with the medium, you can skip this review or you can use it to refresh your memory. There are a lot of tools that can be used in ink illustration and they all act very differently. Most tools can create line variation, which you'll see me do throughout the class. This is usually done by adding more or less pressure but certain tools like Micron pens cannot vary the stroke width and the variation must be faked by being drawn in. Of course, you don't have to use [inaudible] variation. It all depends on your Illustration style. With our tool as the brush and ink but use anything you like, even a ballpoint pen, which will probably bleed out but create a cool effect nonetheless. There are a lot of shading techniques and ink illustration and you have the option of shading with ink or with darker colors in watercolor and only use the ink as outlines. This is a personal preference. With all of these shading techniques, they look darker or lighter depending on how close together the marks are. There is hatching which is just parallel lines, cross hatching which is the same as hatching but done twice, one is normal and one is perpendicular to the other lines. Scribbling is more playful and random and stippling is very simple but very time-consuming. You can also make up your own. Patterns and textures surround us and can be used to create beautiful designs in your illustrations. You can easily inspire from nature around you. Patterns can add a layer of interest to your work or they can be the main focus of the piece. They're very fun to come up with and to use. From my previous class, there was a marked May exercise. All it is playing around with your favorite ink tools to see what kind of strokes you can make. This easily translates into watercolor as well as ink because you will be using a brush to paint and creating dynamic strokes can make your composition feel very alive and even translate movement. But again, whether or not you use this technique depends on your personal style. If any of this seems confusing or you want to go into more detail, check out my pattern ink illustration basics class. Now let's move on to why we use ink and watercolor together. 4. Why Mix Them?: You may be wondering why you have to mix ink and water color at all. Most watercolor sets come with black water color and you can buy colored inks that act very similar to watercolors. So why bother mixing the two mediums? To understand this, I'm going to show you the main differences between ink and watercolor. First off, as you can see, when India ink is dry, it has a slight shine to it. While watercolors do not, this is slight difference, but the main one is that watercolors are not waterproof. I used concentrated watercolors it reacted in a crazy way, but all water colors bleed to a point. Not all inks are waterproof, but for ink and watercolor illustration, I recommend that you use only waterproof ink. This means that you can create outlines and ink and then go over them with watercolor with confidence, knowing they will not bleed. Another important thing is that it's easy to have pitch black lines with ink, but you will need to really concentrate amount of water colors to get the same effect, which can be very costly, especially if you're using quality paints. The great thing is that the two mediums can be mixed together while painting in a very similar one way. The truth is, you can use colored inks like water colors by diluting them in water and using a mixing tray to mix them. In my opinion, they are much harder to work with because they come in liquid form. To set up and the use of them takes a lot longer and they're not portable. Also, once the ink is dried out, it is gone forever unlike watercolors that only need a little water to be alive again. Also, the selection in colored ink brands compared to water color brands is very limited. There are a lot more choices for watercolors. If you're going to be using only one or two colors because it's just your style, or you're not afraid of mixing. You can just use colored ink. It will act the same in a lot of ways, like salt and alcohol and masking fluid all work but when you create washes, you will notice it reacts a little differently to water. Some might think it more beautiful.I personally think it's harder to create light washes, but it's really up to if you want to work exclusively in ink. For this class, I will be using watercolor because I personally prefer, but you can still follow along if you're only using colored inks. Don't forget about all the cool supplies like ink markers or micron pens that you can use to make outlines or to work with watercolors once they're dry. These awesome tools can really help your watercolor work to pop. So my favorite way of illustrating is always with these two mediums together. 5. Supplies: There are numerous types of supplies that can be used in this class. You can use any watercolor paint that you have. I prefer quality watercolor paints if you're going to be using watercolor over ink because they are usually much more transparent. Cheaper paints tend to be more chalky and opaque, but if that is all you have, just use it and don't worry about it too much. Every brand is also different. For example, my Kuretake Gansai Tambi set contains mostly opaque paints, but it is high-quality. On the other hand, my Dr. Ph Martin's concentrated watercolors are all very transparent. As for ink, it all comes down to personal preference, or you can use any supplies that you have like micron pens, brushes and ink, brush pens, dip pens, or whatever else. Just be aware of whether the ink you use is waterproof. I highly recommend that it is, but if you like the effect of a slight bleed, it doesn't have to be. Do a small test on a piece of scrap paper to see how your inks react to water once it's dry, if you're not sure. All inks bleed while they're still wet, so be sure to let it dry fully before adding the water. If you're shopping for supplies like brush pens or markers, keep in mind that water-based inks are not waterproof, but alcohol-based inks are. I will be using colored inks in this class, as well. You can get them in brush pen form or in containers. It's up to you whether you get them at all. But they can be fun to work with because you don't always want a pitch-black outline. An important requirement is watercolor paper that is at least 140 pounds to prevent warping. I recommend the Canson XL watercolor paper for the price, but if you're willing to throw down more money, Arches hot-pressed paper is amazing quality, and the smooth surface makes it much easier to work with ink. You will also need two glasses of water, a light pencil, preferably an HB or any H, a well-made eraser like my kneaded one, and paper towels. You might also want to use any other extra watercolor supplies like salt, masking fluid, rubbing alcohol, and so forth. If you want an in-depth look into the different supplies that you can get how to use them, then you can check out my previous Watercolor and Ink Basics classes. I dedicate a couple of lessons to supplies in each class. I encourage experimentation with new tools and also the use of supplies that you're already comfortable with and are your favorites. I will use different supplies for different techniques throughout the class, but there are infinite variations with whatever you have handy. In the Class Project section, you can download a PDF of some of my favorite supplies, but keep in mind, you don't need all of them. It's just there if you're curious about exactly what I use or like to try out new supplies. You can always watch the whole class first before deciding on what supplies to get, so you can see some of them in use and pick out your favorites. 6. Tests and Experiments: In this lesson we are going to go over a couple of things that you can do before we start. To get a better idea have your supplies interact with each other. The first thing I recommend to do as an opacity test. Draw a pitch black line using waterproof ink and wait for it to dry completely. Then paint a small line with every watercolor color that you use. You will see that all the colors will have a different level of transparency. Some of them will be more opaque than others. This is something you should be aware of, because it will let you know how carefully you need to be in avoiding the black ink lines when painting on top of them. You can still use opaque paints, and who knows you might even prefer them. It's just always good to be aware of what your supplies do. If you're anything like me, you may have picked up a lot of miscellaneous supplies over the years. It might be a good idea to test them out to see if you can use them in your water colored ink illustrations. So for this next test, I'm drawing with every tool that I have. I'm giving it a moment to dry and then I'm painting water onto half the lines. I take note over what bleeds and what doesn't. The waterproof supplies are the most useful, but sometimes you can take advantage over the bleed effect. For example, I really liked the Le pen even though it's not waterproof. What I can do is put in some detail after my piece is done and then splatter plain water on top of them, or use my brush to make certain parts bleed. It can look quite wonderful. The plan this is to know what you have and how it acts, so you can be more creative with your supplies. Another thing you can test it out is the salt effect or alcohol effect on your ink. Or anything else it normally only doing water color. As you can see, the ink react quite differently to the watercolor with a salt effect. But also different brands of watercolors in different brands of inks will react differently as well. You never know what you will discover when you work with the supplies that you have. Here is a nifty thing I discovered recently. If you draw with ink and then use masking fluid on top, when the masking fluid comes off, it will take some of the ink with it. It could actually make a really cool faded ink effect if you use it in the right way. So as you can see, it's good to be aware of how your supplies act, so test them periodically and see what you find. 7. Using Ink First: Now it's time to put ink and watercolor together. There are numerous ways of working with ink and watercolor. The easiest and my favorite way is the coloring book type illustration. You are essentially creating coloring book page by using ink, and then you color it in with watercolors. In all the examples I'm about to show you, I always start out with a sketch of the basic shapes. I like to get the proportions just right in the sketching phase, so don't be afraid to use your eraser as much as you need to, because once you use ink it's permanent. When you're inking, feel free to do it in your style. Notice how I made a furry effect by using short and quick strokes around the body. But for the leaf and the flowers I outlined them completely. Also notice a line variation that I used throughout the piece. Using brush and ink achieves this effect without much effort. I add little details in the floor with the ink and I used fine point tipped alcohol based marker to add hearts all around the piece. Knowing that it's waterproof gives me confidence that it will not bleed. Once I'm done inking and I don't need the pencil marks anymore, I gently erase them. Using a lighter pencil really helps the stage to go smoothly, and this is one of the biggest benefits of working with ink first. Because if you use watercolor on top of pencil marks you can still see them and you cannot erase them. Now I am left with a perfect coloring book page, and it is time to use watercolors. I chose to stay within the lines, but do whatever is your style. Notice how the ink does not go all the way to the end of the grass. But it looks great when the background and grass touch. There are certain things that can be implied with color instead of using ink for everything. Ink and watercolor are working together, not competing or telling each other what to do. Notice how the highlights in the leaf were not drawn in with the ink, but they work well with the folds into leaf that were inked in. I also used Copic white or you can use white ink at the last stage as to add subtle highlights throughout the piece. In the finished piece ink and watercolor, are used together seamlessly. In this piece I used colored ink to outline, which gives it a much softer look. Notice how the lines are not perfectly close everywhere. They're almost touching in some parts. This makes the piece more interesting to look at, and it's still the coloring book effect because I still know where the color should go and don't need any pencil marks once I start painting. Notice how I used ink for the flower details, but I also used watercolor to create a light pattern around the chai now. The two mediums are used interchangeably and it all depends on the look I'm going for with every stroke. The feel for what to use when comes with experience. As you can see, the piece feels lively and colorful not using any blacked workload for it. But I still get the benefits of working with ink thanks to colored inks. In this piece I start out with only a small part of the illustration inked in. Then I used ink in the background with the watercolor for the wash. They blended seamlessly and the wash is more interesting than just watercolor on its own. Then I used watercolor to add detail to the girl and then Copic opaque white or you can use white ink to add in text, stars, and details for her hair. Being able to add white at anytime is invaluable and is not something that watercolor can do on its own. Watercolor does not always have to be used to color imperfectly, it can also be just used to loosely add color or washes. In this example I used the Micron pen to draw whimsical flowers, and then used watercolor in unpredictable way to add feel and color to the piece. I used salt to make a texture and added a second loose layer of color on some of the flowers. Again, use Copic opaque white to add in small highlight details. This is a great example because it is hard to make light washes with ink and watercolors cannot make very fine lines without line variation like Micron pens can, and there are not waterproof. When the two mediums work together, a little bit of magic is made. In this last example, I took an old ink illustration of mine and used watercolor on top of it. If you're a seasoned ink artist, but are new to watercolors, this is a great way to practice your watercolors and maybe make your piece even more beautiful in the process. The cat has a whole new layer of life to it because of the color that has been added. It also has more dimension because the values are differences in darks and lights that I have added by varying the amount of water versus paint as I paint. This can be done with any ink piece as long as the ink was waterproof and the paper was watercolor paper. This concludes the lesson on ink being used first. I hope you learned a lot and can see that using ink first has a lot of benefits to it, and it is actually quite easy and fun. It is my favorite and most preferred way of working with the two mediums. But maybe you like watercolor first. If so, don't worry we'll go over that next. 8. Using Watercolor First: This technique is for people that are more comfortable with using watercolors on their own. Or just flipping the order of ink and watercolor and ink is used after repaint, mostly to add detail, patterns, loose outlines, or even fake coloring book effect. It's all up to you and your personal style. When working with watercolor, I start out by sketching, just like with ink. But you might want to make your pencil marks even lighter because you won't be able to erase them once the watercolor is painted on. To do that, it is enough to simply go over the pencil mark slightly with an eraser once you done sketching. Then I paint as I normally do, starting with wet and wet. I work in layers and use a hairdryer to speed up the process. I use Payne's gray for the black parts of the piece. I like this color because it has a slight blue tint to it. Black ink on its own does not have any coloring to it. It may or may not matter to you, but it's something to keep in mind. You can mix your own black if you have colored inks just by mixing three primaries. Depending on how much of each you put in, you'll get a warm or cold black. That's just an option. Once I was happy with the watercolors, I started adding some highlights with the Copic Opaque White. Then it was time for the ink. I used a pencil arts pocket brush pen, which acts like a normal brush, but it's more portable. The cartridge is not completely full, so I am getting a dry brush texture with it, which makes the details very interesting. Notice how it is nothing like the coloring book effect now. I can use ink as sparingly as I want because I don't need the ink guidelines this time. You might also wonder why I didn't just use black watercolor at this stage, since I am done painting? Well, if I change my mind about being done, like I did here, I don't have to worry about my newly made outlines bleeding black everywhere. I can add as many layers as I want on top until I am happy knowing my lines are not going anywhere, I don't want them to. The waterproof nature of India ink is something you have to take advantage of and can rely on. I think the fox turned out with a lot of character thanks to the marriage of the two wonderful mediums. Watercolors can also be used to create beautiful abstract washes that are just pure color and enjoy to look at. I did it here by simply wetting the area I want the wash in and then dropping different colors and different amounts of paint in. Here I used the alcohol effect to make the wash even more interesting. Once it's dry, I use an old toothbrush and Coping Opaque White to splatter little dots everywhere. It created a dreamy pastel background. Now I can draw in whatever subject I like with ink and it will look interesting. I use a brush pen to draw in an eye and a pencil arts pocket brush to add in a dry brush texture. Then I use more Copic Opaque White to add details in the iris and on the bottom lid. I added loose eyelashes and a pattern in the iris and then I used the Uni-ball Signo white gel pen to add slight flower patterns throughout the piece. Then in a flash of inspiration, I added a lot of water and white under the eye and tapped the paper on my desk to make it drip. This made a very cool effect, as if the eye crying. Added more splatter and used the paper towel to make a white texture in the eye. The end result is quite surreal and this is very easy to do with any idea that you have. Using watercolor washes as backgrounds for ink illustration can get very creative and there are limitless ways of doing this technique. Now in this last example, I took an old watercolor illustration and added ink to it. I did not outline everything, just some parts. It's more fun to make the ink suggestive in such cases. I also used the fine tipped marker to create a slight outline of some parts and to add detail. Doing this only took a few minutes, but it breathed new life into the piece. If you're a watercolor artists and ink is new to you, this could be a fun way to experiment, to learn how to use ink in your work. You can do this on any old watercolor illustration. There are numerous ways of doing it, which all depend on your personal style. The next lesson is designed to help you figure out what that personal style is. 9. Inspiration and Style Development: We all have different illustration styles, even if you're not sure about what that specific style is. Before I develop mine, I would draw numerous different styles. The way I prefer to draw it now came naturally with time and with practice. I don't want you to get stuck in the way I use ink and watercolor. So please do this simple exercise to find your own favorite ways of using these two magical mediums. Before we begin this exercise, I want you to get inspired. I have created a Pinterest board filled with numerous different illustrations employing watercolor and ink techniques. If you look through the board, you will see that your imagination is really the limit. You can use these two mediums in any way you see fit. Perceive anything in particular catches your eye and save it for future reference and for this fun exercise. Pick one object that is very simple to draw and sketch it out a couple of times in one page. I picked a cherry blossom and sketched it out six times. Then use ink and water color in any way you want. The rule is not to use the same style twice. You can try to copy any of the illustration styles that you saw on Pinterest that you really like or you can make up your own styles as you go along or just do both. The important thing is to try a different style for each one. As you can see, I tried to use a different tool for every outline and once, I went watercolor first. I also try to outline each one in an original way. Then I started with watercolor and I also try to make every watercolor style different. I work on each one at the same time to keep it fun and to let the flowers dry. I add in details and the second layers and keep playing with each one, making each cherry blossom its own mini complete illustration. Once I feel like they're all done, I take stock. It's obvious afterwards what my personal style is. It really shines through each flower even if they're different. But ask yourself these questions if you're not sure what your style is after the exercise, which one do you prefer the most? Which one do you not like at all? Which one was the most fun to draw? Which one would you do differently? Which one surprised you? The answers to these questions point you in the direction of your own unique, one of a kind style. It's okay if you don't have a favorite, but if you do, don't be afraid to explore it in the final project. The final project is very simple. Just create one or more illustrations using ink and watercolor together. Hopefully, you have learned a lot and you're itching to put the ideas I've presented to use. Share your style exploration page and your final illustration with the class. I don't know what is more inspiring than other people's inspirational work. So get inspired, create, practice, and experiment. I cannot wait to see what your final illustrations look like. I hope you enjoyed the class and took a lot away from it. Remember, the more you practice, the better you'll be. If you have any questions, leave them below in the community section. I'll see you in the next class. Happy inking and painting.