NEGATIVE PAINTING: Master the Essential Watercolor Technique & Level Up Your Art | Anna Bucciarelli | Skillshare

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NEGATIVE PAINTING: Master the Essential Watercolor Technique & Level Up Your Art

teacher avatar Anna Bucciarelli, Professional 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.

      Class Project


    • 3.

      Class Materials & Color Palette


    • 4.

      Negative Painting Fundamentals


    • 5.

      Leaf Background


    • 6.

      Negative Painting: Leaves Part #1


    • 7.

      Negative Painting: Leaves Part #2


    • 8.

      Leaf Stems


    • 9.

      Negative Painting: Leaves Part #3


    • 10.

      Negative Painting: Leaves Part #4


    • 11.

      Negative Painting: LadyBug


    • 12.

      Glazing Shadows


    • 13.

      Fixing Mistakes


    • 14.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

In this class, we will focus on one of the most essential watercolor techniques called NEGATIVE PAINTING. Negative Painting is a unique approach that involves painting around and in between various objects, revealing lighter shapes with our paintbrush. It is particularly important for watercolor artists as it allows us to create intricate light details that would otherwise be impossible to capture on dark backgrounds with this transparent medium.

We will start the class class by learning the fundamentals of Negative Painting technique and reviewing 3 unique Case Studies where Negative Painting will help you overcome common watercolor challenges, including

  • creating a sense of 3-dimentional form on paper,
  • creating intricate light details {e.g.: leaf veins, bird feathers and tiny highlights}, and
  • creating beautiful watercolor backgrounds.

We will then practice and master 2 of these scenarios by painting a tropical plant with very intricate veins with a tiny lady bug with highlights - all using Negative Painting technique.

This class will cover:

  • What materials you will need, including my preferred brands and alternatives
  • How to use Negative Painting to: 1) Paint intricate leaf veins with confidence, creating natural organic texture and 2) Paint 3-dimentional highlights - without having to rely on gouache or white paint
  • How to plan and apply layers of color to create the most realistic light & shadow transitions
  • How to tackle leaf and flower stems
  • As a bonus, I’ll take you through the process of mixing natural looking greens using a limited palette - without having to overspend on new watercolor pigments!
  • In addition, we will get a chance to practice glazing technique. Although optional, this final lesson will give you new skills for playing with color temperature and capturing natural light with watercolors
  • Lastly, I’ll show you how I fix watercolor mistakes using lifting technique.

This class is suitable for serious beginners and intermediate artists who want to level up their skills with more advanced watercolor techniques.

Meet Your Teacher

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Anna Bucciarelli

Professional Illustrator

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Hello and welcome to my Skillshare channel! My name is Anna, I am a Canadian money designer,  and illustrator of all things intricate and beautiful. You may have seen my art on Canadian silver dollar coins, Starbucks holiday cups, or the streets of Toronto. My painting style is influenced by the decorative tradition of “Petrykivka” painting – an Eastern European art focusing on floral and plant motifs.

I teach advanced watercolor and gouache here on SkillShare. You can also find lots of painting resources on my YouTube channel, visit my website or follow me on Instagram @anna.m.bucciarelli if you want to learn more about my work or simply say Hello!


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Level: Intermediate

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1. Introduction: When working with watercolors, we often encounter the same old challenge. I'm talking about painting very intricate details like leaf veins, bird feathers, or tiny highlights. Unlike other mediums, where we can use lighter color on top of the dark color, watercolors require an entirely different approach. This is why I created this class, so together, we can explore and practice what I think is the most essential watercolor technique that will help you instantly elevate your work. I'm talking, of course, about negative painting or painting around and in-between various objects, revealing the shapes and intricate details with each brushstroke. Welcome to the class. My name is Anna Bucciarelli. I am a professional illustrator, designer of Canadian money and I'm passionate about sharing my love for watercolors and all the wonderful techniques that make this medium so special. Negative painting technique is one of the most requested subjects on my social media channels and on my Patreon. It's no wonder if you haven't tried it yet, I promise you, it will open up an entire world of possibilities allowing you to paint new things that may have seen very difficult before. We will start by learning the fundamentals of this technique and I will show you three different scenarios where negative painting will help you really elevate your work, creating intricate details, highlights, and this is always super useful watercolor backgrounds. For class project, we will practice and master two of these scenarios by painting this tropical plant with very intricate veins and a tiny ladybug on one of the stems all using negative painting technique. As a bonus, I will share all my tips and tricks for mixing and working with green pigments. Even if you have a very limited supply of pigments, like green, yellow, red, and blue, I'll show you how to mix these basic colors to achieve realistic natural look that we all need for painting greenery and landscapes. Other useful techniques we will cover include painting stems and glazing shadows. The project in our class is particularly tailored for those who love botanical art, but any beginner or intermediate watercolor artist would benefit from understanding negative painting technique and related materials because it can easily be applied to any subject and will really expand your skill set. All supplies, reference materials, and outline are saved in the resources section of this class. I hope you're excited to learn and practice this negative painting technique with me, so join me in class and let's build some new watercolor skills. 2. Class Project: Thank you for joining me. In your class project, we will paint a tropical plant with lots of light intricate details. This will help us master one of the few scenarios where negative painting is absolutely indispensable for watercolor art. In addition, I've included a small lady bug with some highlights, so we can practice the second scenario where using negative painting technique will help you bring more realism to your work. If you want to trace the outline, you will find it in class resources on the right-hand side, simply download it and trace it on whatever size paper you find most comfortable. I'm really excited to see all the different versions you will create. Don't forget to post either scans or photos of your work in the project section of this class. In just a minute, we will go over the key fundamentals of negative painting technique. But don't forget, you can always practice one fragment at a time. No need to do the entire plant right away, trace one leaf or maybe just a lady bug. You can even include some of these elements in your own unique composition. Do whatever is most comfortable for you. Whatever approach you choose, enjoy the process. If you have any questions, you can always post them in the discussion section of this class, so I can answer them promptly. Now coming up next, is an overview of our materials and negative painting technique fundamentals and case studies. 3. Class Materials & Color Palette: Welcome back. Let's quickly go over the materials we will need for the class project. Since we're working with watercolor medium, we will need watercolor cotton papers. So the best choice is always 100 percent cotton, and I will be using cold pressed because I like how it takes a while to dry, allowing me to manipulate the paint a little bit longer. But you can go with a lower cotton count, so 50 percent cotton paper will work just fine. If you prefer the smooth hot-pressed surface, then use hot-pressed paper. The technique works just fine on both types of watercolor surface. The size of my paper is quite small, only seven by nine inches, which is why I will use my smallest round brushes in sizes ranging from 1-4. You can use this black-and-white outline provided in the class resources to trace an image on a much larger sheet of watercolor paper. In that case, you can use slightly larger brushes. Lately, I am loving my synthetic round Escoda brushes called Chronos, but any round brush will do for this type of work as long as the tip is precise. You may also occasionally use a larger flat brush to cover larger surfaces, but this is entirely optional, we can get away with just round brushes. We need water, of course, a pencil, and an eraser for tracing, or you can freehand looking at the reference photo like I did. I always say that when you're practicing watercolors, there's no shame in tracing. I do it often because we're not really focusing on learning the drawing skills, rather we need an accurate outline so our project is successful. Make sure to capture those small detailed veins on the leaves because we're going to be painting around them using negative painting technique. Lastly, let's talk about our color palette, and this is a good opportunity to learn a little bit more about mixing your watercolors, specifically mixing your greens, which will help you with any type of work, whether you're painting flowers or landscapes. First thing I'm going to mention is you can complete this entire project just using one shade of green, mixing it with water to achieve different values or different light and dark variations of this green. You don't need to get heavy into the mixing. But I thought it would be a good opportunity to demonstrate the ever useful mixing techniques. If you want to go one step further and level up your painting by playing with color temperature, let's take a look at what we can do. If you consider the color spectrum, you will notice that our eyes are capable of distinguishing an entire range of green colors from moody dark, blueish greens, and all the way to sunny-warm, yellowish greens. The easiest thing to do is to take one green pigment. Let's say I'm going to use Hookers green as my base green color, and we can create new shades of green from this base green. First one, we will create by adding yellow into our base green. You can see the resulting mixture is pushing our green pigment all the way to the yellow side of the spectrum. We can use this sunnier, warmer, yellowish green on the sunny side of our plant when we're working on our projects, so the leaves that are facing up directly towards the sun. On the other hand, if you're adding blue to your main base green, let's say I can add Phthalo blue. We will push our green all the way into the cool side of the spectrum closer to the blues, creating a new color that will be suitable for those leaves that are in the shadow, because things that are closer to blue on the spectrum always appear like they're further away and more in the shade. As an option, and this is for convenience only, you don't need to buy these pigments, but you can use variations of different greens straight from the tube. That's what I'm going to do using green gold for my yellowish green to skip mixing and really focus on showing you the technique. I'm going to use Phthalo green blue shade for my blueish greens, occasionally adding some Phthalo blue into it to make it even cooler and even more close to the blue side of the spectrum. Again, I'm doing this for convenience only so that I can focus on showing you the technique. But you can use your basic supplies, yellow, blue, green pigments that you have on hand to arrive at these different shades of green. Lastly, and this will help you tremendously if you're trying to achieve more natural greenery in your work, is to mix your red with your green. Red and green are on the opposite sides of the spectrum, and you will arrive at a beautiful, warm olive green, almost like an olive shade of green depending on how much red you use. You will see me demonstrate this when I will be mixing my hookers green, my base green with a bunch of Quinacridone red towards the end. We will be able to add even more natural variation to our palette with this new mixture. Lastly, for the lady bug, we will only need two colors of red. I'm going to be using that same Quinacridone red that I'm using for mixing with my greens and any shade of red you have on hand will do. Of course, we'll need some dark black. I personally don't like pure black straight from the tube, so I always recommend going for indigo if you have it for a more natural look. Indigo has a little bit of blue and so it comes off a little bit less harsh. That's all for our pigments. Use my recommendations or mix your own. If you want to simplify the technique, just use one shade of green to practice. As I mentioned in the beginning, our focus is on the main technique we're studying, The Negative Painting. 4. Negative Painting Fundamentals: What is negative painting? Let's talk about the fundamentals. I will show you three case studies where negative painting is absolutely essential and will really help you elevate your skills. Helping you paint things that you may have been struggling with before. Negative painting is a technique where you paint around the shape like a leaf or highlight and then add more color around this shape, sort of building more and more pigments surrounding the shape with darker colors. In essence, we're working with negative space, never actually touching an object. The resulting shape, or maybe a line or a dot comes out looking much lighter than everything else you've painted. This is very useful because with traditional watercolor, you know that we can't add light details on top of a dark background. The paint will simply sink into already painted surface and we can't achieve the same effect. There are three main scenarios, three case studies that I'm going to show you in just a moment where this technique is absolutely indispensable for watercolor art. Here in these thumbnails, I drew a circle, and the easiest thing to do when painting the circle is simply to cover the entire shape with color. That's what we would typically do without using any fancy techniques. Now, what if we draw a small highlight, and instead of filling the entire shape with color, we paint around this white detail. As you can see, the small addition instantly creates a sense of volume on our shape, making it look more three-dimensional. We just used negative painting technique to paint around the highlight. By doing so, we created a much better form on paper. This technique is particularly useful for painting eyes because including a small highlight makes them look much more realistic and any shape, especially glossy things, can be enhanced using this trick. In our class project, we will use it on a lady bug. Very simple, very effective. Now let's see what happens if I paint around our circle instead of painting the inside of the circle. We're using negative painting to create a light shape against a dark background. The cool thing is, if you let this layer dry, I gave it a few minutes. Now we can come back to add even more details using again, negative painting technique. Painting around the shapes. This background technique is my absolute favorite for creating watercolor backgrounds, especially ones with lots of leaves and organic shapes behind the flower, for example. I use it all the time in my botanical work. Carefully painting around the leaf shapes, glazing darker colors around these shapes using negative painting technique. I highly recommended if you want to level up your watercolor painting, specifically the background of your paintings. The final scenario where negative painting, will be absolutely essential is, let's say we have a few lines and grooves on our circle. Maybe it's like a Christmas ornament. I mark them up like this and then I paint around them very slowly with the tip of my brush. Just like that, first on top of the line, and then at the bottom of the line. Leaving the line itself completely blank. All of a sudden we have these smooth light lines, very thin, very intricate on top of a dark shape. This last scenario, the thin line details, is what's so useful for painting realistic subjects, particularly leaves, because they always have a bunch of light veins that would be difficult to capture with watercolor because we can never layer a lighter color on top of the dark. Painting around these light details is very, very helpful and you can see it in so many different scenarios, for example, in this painting, I've used this technique to paint lotus leaves. You can also use it to paint feathers on birds and let me know in comments below, if you can think of a few other different scenarios where this would come in very handy. This last scenario is precisely what we're going to practice in our class project painting around a light details, creating beautiful intricate work. Get your outline ready and I will see you in the next chapter. 5. Leaf Background: Once you have your outline, we're ready to get started and you can see on my palette, I have lots of different greens as I mentioned in the previous chapter, I'm going to be using three of them, right in the center I have my medium green, which is Hooker's green. On top I have my yellowish green and you can simply use your base, Hooker's green and add a little bit of yellow in there. At the bottom I have my cooler, bluish green. I'm going to be using all three, but very lightly you can see I've added a bit of water and I'm going to try to lean towards the warmer yellowish green on those sides of the leaf that are facing the sun. On the ones that are in the shadow, I'm going to be using my cooler, bluish green and where I'm not sure, I'm simply going to grab my medium green. Now, you can do the same thing using just white shade of green to make things a little bit more straightforward. The main thing right now is to use a super light mixtures so your pigments should be really diluted with water. We're simply creating a little bit of a tint on our paper so that in the second layer, when we start working with negative painting technique, we can paint on top of this first layer of color. It's going to shine through looking almost white but not entirely so just a little bit of a green tint. You can see the first leaf that's facing us and facing the light I've used a lot of yellowish green. Now the one that's facing away, we see the back of that leaf I used a little bit of my bluish green there, so that's just the variation. For larger areas of color, you can switch to a large flat brush if that's easier for you to cover big surface in one stroke. Just make sure you don't go over the edges and as you can see, I'm not super concerned about my colors bleeding from one leaf to another. We will have plenty of time to work on the edges. This is just our background layer and so we're using very light greens. If you're using a variation of warm and cool greens, then don't worry about them bleeding from one leaf to another. It's going to be a very subtle transition if your paint mixture is light enough. Just continue working through your outline and I always tend to work left to right and top to bottom just to avoid smudges but you can also use the little glove just to protect your paper and I'm going to pause and slow down when I get to the stems because that will require a little bit more attention. Just going to finish this last leaf up on top, including the little tip. Now just using my medium green, just my Hooker's green I'm going to clean up the edges and then work on our stems. I'm going to try to get them in one stroke, but you can also just slow down and do it in sections. Making sure to work carefully around the lady bug. If you're including the lady bug in this project, you can skip it or paint it separately on a different sheet of paper just for practice. But if you included the lady bug like I did, then just avoid covering the outline with green color. Just do the stems, same very light mixture of color we don't need to go dark and you can see the top leaves are already drying out and there's a little bit of a variation in color temperature. The three leaves that are more at the bottom are a little bit cooler and then the shadow, the ones that are facing the light up on top. I've used a little bit more of my yellowish-green, so already there's a little bit of a color temperature difference, a little bit more dimension, but we will definitely reinforce it when we work on our veins in the next section. If you're using just one shade of green, don't worry, it's going to look quite nice either way and the only thing we have left to do is the last leaf on the left. Here I'm going to use my Hooker's green maybe go tiny bit darker. It's on an angle so I'm just trying to capture the way light illuminates each side a little bit different, then I'm going to use clear water just to spread out that Hooker's green and then switch to my cooler green on the other side. Very carefully, just finishing off around the edges. Our first layer is done really quick and simple, just a light wash of color. The main thing right now is to make sure that this layer is completely dry before we move on to the next one. I gave it about an hour-and-a-half to make sure that when we're working on the next layer, we don't disturb any of the underlying paint. Maybe add a little bit of variation in color temperature on the strokes as well, just so they look like they have some distance. The one where you use the cooler blue, the cooler green, we'll look further away and the one with a warmer green, we'll look closer and we'll reinforce that sense of distance in the next layer. I will see you in the next chapter. 6. Negative Painting: Leaves Part #1: Welcome back. In this chapter, we will start practicing the negative painting technique. The main thing right now is to make sure that the first layer of color is completely dry. I switched my palette just so I have more room to mix my colors because we're going to be playing with different shades of green again, but this time, let's go a little bit more saturated and you can switch to your smallest brush. I'm using Size 1 round brush, and let's start on the top leaf on the right-hand side. We have these really faint outlines of the leaf veins. What I'm going to do is using maybe a cooler shade of my green, so a little bit of my Phthalo green blue shade, mixed with hookers green or just pure Phthalo green blue shade. I'm going to start working around the edge very slowly painting the first slice. I'm painting around my outline of the vein. It's not smooth, it's not straight. There are lots of details. When I finish the slides, I'm going to go on the other side of that vein. You can see I'm painting very carefully outlining the vein, maybe leaving one millimeter in-between my color blocks. You can see as I move along, leaving my vein outline blank, it's going to suddenly stand out and that is the essence of negative painting. Instead of doing something like covering everything with green and then using white pigment like you would do with gouache or acrylic, here we're painting around our white detail. Because we're working wet-on-dry, meaning wet paint on dry paper, there's no need to rush, our small sections of color are not overlapping. If you're finding it too difficult at this point and you're maybe covering some of the details that you don't mean to cover, don't worry about it because you can always simplify and skip some of these small details and cover some of the whitespace with paint. Even if you do it by accident, as long as you capture some of the outlines, the overall effect will be the same. You can see I've painted the first slice, the second one, and now I'm going to do the same thing. Follow along the bottom side of my vein outline with the tip of my brush. Paint the slice and the way I do it, you'll learn as we move along the way is I outline the slice and then I fill it in because it's easier to get that shape correctly first, very lightly with the tip of your brush. Then when you're happy with that shape, you can add more color. You can add some variation of color, drop other colors in your small slice, as long as you're happy with that shape. I'm trying to capture two types of veins, so the ones that are really long and follow the edge of the leaf, and also the ones that connect them. Once again, I'm going to mention this. You don't need to capture every single detail. Try one or two, see how you like it, how comfortable you are. You may want to switch to a larger sheet of paper and do the first leaf just to practice. You may find that you will need even smaller brush. As long as the tip of your brush is sharp, you will be okay. We don't need large brushes here because we're not really loading them with lots and lots of paint. Just a little bit of saturated paint and if you look at the value scale, which is a very helpful tool to assist us when we want to judge how dark or how light things need to be. We're working with medium values right now, so somewhere around five or six, not completely saturated, not all the way dark, just so we have a little bit of wiggle room and maintain that beautiful transparency that watercolors are famous for. So there's a little bit of that first layer shining through. As I mentioned, you can always adjust your colors, make new mixtures for every new slice. That's why I want to demonstrate the way I'm going to do it is slowly start switching to my warmer green, adding a little bit of that yellowish green as I move down the leaf and add more and more tiny slices. Of course, getting closer to the edge, I'm going to slow down, make sure that I paint along the pencil outline. Here, I went a little bit too dark, so you can see I just grabbed a little bit of water and help that color spread on to the next block so that the transition is a little bit more smooth. With watercolor, as long as you're quick to follow up, you can always fix your mistakes to a degree. If you go a little bit too dark, just grab a little bit of water and help that color with the tip of your brush. Lighten it up a little bit, and here I'm trying to get very fancy and very detailed, leaving just a tiny white strip along the edge. Once again, do what is most comfortable for you. Capture as many of these small details as you feel works for your brush and for your size of paper. The main thing is to just practice and grasp that concept of painting around something. I hope you can see as we're moving all the way towards the tip of the leaf that suddenly we have this beautiful mesh of light green veins. They may look lighter or darker depending on how dark your first layer was. But either way by glazing our colors up on top and skipping the veins, leaving them blank, we suddenly created a beautiful texture. Now we can just work with this initial layer of color, these shapes that we've created and you can adjust the temperature, so take a look here. I'm going to put a little bit of my cooler green along the edge of the shape and spread it with a little bit of clear water and you can do that on any slice you want. I'm going to take a little break from negative painting and work on the back of this leaf. Because it's the backside, the way we see the veins is in reverse, so they're not light, they're actually going to be dark on the back of the leaf, so we won't need much negative painting there. I'm just going to outline the edge and then maybe help that color spread with a clean damp brush. I just dip it in water and then tap it on tissue paper to get rid of excess water and then help that color spread. On the other side, I'm going to attempt a little bit of wet into wet. I'm going to color everything with clear water and then drop a little bit of green just to create some shadow as that leaf disappears into the background. Just very loosely following the shape of the shadow that I see in the reference photo. Once again, you can play around with different shades of green here. Primarily, I've used my cooler green, my blueish green. As my paper is drying out, there are a couple of places where it's dry, a couple of places where it's wet, I'm just going to indicate a couple of those veins. Once again, we see them in reverse, so they're actually darker than the background side of the leaf and you can do it wet-on-wet or wet-on-dry. Right now it's, for the most part, wet-on-wet, my paper is drying out so the lines are not super crisp, and maybe a little shadow on the stem leaving a little highlight up on top because our source of light is coming from the top. Very simple, just a suggestion of a leaf shape and a few veins to take a break from the intensity of the negative painting. Now we're going to move down and work on this leaf that's partially covered. It's in the shadow, we want to make it a little bit darker. If you're using a simplified palette, simply follow with your main green, don't worry about color variations, but if you want to play a little bit with me, add some blue to your main green. I can even bring some silo blue into my already cool silo blue-green shade to make it even cooler. Whatever green you're using, just add a little bit of blue into it. Let's start with the top slice. Here as you can see, I could manage the small veins sticking out, so I ended up covering it with color. Just like I said before, you don't need to capture every detail, so don't worry about skipping some of your outlines. It's fine. As long as we get the majority of them, we're going to have a really nice texture on our leaves. The first slice is done. I'm going to bring even more blue into my green and continue down just like we did on our first leaf. Now that we have the first slice, we can follow along the bottom side, leaving just a tiny strip of blank paper without any color. Create the next slice, clean up the edges, and then move on to the next one. Once again, I'm going to outline the shape and fill it in just like that. By the way, this entire process took me about an hour just because I'm working very slowly, so it might take you longer or maybe less time. But I decided to split it in two sections so that in this chapter, we're going to finish the side of the leaf and then do the one at the bottom, and then the next half an hour, we'll spend painting the other halves of our leaves, and for the stamps, because we're going to be using a slightly different technique, I saved that video as a separate chapter as well. It's pretty short because the technique is going to be different from negative painting, I wanted to organize it in a way that's a little bit more straightforward so you can focus on one thing at a time. Adding saturation now with my blue, you can see how much darker my slices are. Once again, this is deliberate. I want to create a subtle difference in my color temperature and my values in order to build better dimension for my subjects. The top leaf is lighter and features a lot more yellow, and the green a lot warmer and it's going to stand out. Using those yellows will help the leaf appear closer to us. Using lighter values will only reinforce this effect. The leaf we're painting now is darker, so darker values and cooler colors both help us push this leaf a little bit further away and help create a more dimensional effect as if there's some space between the two leaves. Just a subtle trick that works, not just in greenery on anything you're painting, our eyes perceive blue, the entire range of blues on the spectrum as being further away. That actually explains the way we perceive the blue sky and the night sky. Everything that's closer to blue on the spectrum appears like it's further away in the distance. Just a subtle little trick that will help you with greenery, it will help you with shadows that you're painting and really any subject that you're interested in. This half of the leaf is done. Even though I didn't capture a lot of detail up on top and in the center, I'm quite happy with it. The main veins are there and now we can switch to the next leaf. 7. Negative Painting: Leaves Part #2: Recall in the first background layer, we used warmer greens, yellowish greens on one side and more of a cooler shade of green on the other side. I'm going to work with this cooler green color and start with this side that is facing us since I already have some blue mixed in with my green. I hope you're getting used to the process by now. All we're doing is just following the long outlines of the veins and maybe trying to capture a few veins that connect these long ones. Those shorter ones that connect them, they're a little bit more difficult to paint, so do a few of them or skip them altogether if it's too intricate. But the technique is the same. I'm outlining each slice between the veins and then I fill it in. You can see the whole process from a different angle. This may be more helpful. My brush is not very long. I find that shorter brushes and this is just a quick tip based on many years playing with all different brush shapes and length; I find that shorter brushes allow more control. For smaller details, it's actually beneficial to have a slightly shorter brush. There is a type of watercolor brush called archival length, and those are super short. The thing about them is they obviously won't carry a lot of pigments, so you can't load them up for large blocks of color, but for small details, they're super useful. Those will be even shorter than the one that I'm using. The one that I'm using is irregular. Here I want to lighten up my slice is a little bit. Another little trick, it's called watercolor blooms. All you do is just drop a little bit of clear water into your wet paint and it's going to push the pigment out because we have such small slices, such small segments, it's going to push that color all the way to the edge, creating a little bit of a highlight in the center. Just use a little bit of water. No more than a tiny drop. I'm going to clean up the edges and finish this side of the leaf. Move all the way to the tip. You can see I've simplified quite a bit, skipping some of the smaller veins. Really simple at this point. Just finish it off and make sure that the edge is nice and crisp. In the last couple of minutes of this chapter, I'm going to finish the other side of the leaf. It's a lot smaller, it's on an angle, so even less detail is visible. Let's just do maybe a couple of veins, and if you're playing with different shades of green, you can add a little bit of yellow or switch to a more yellowish green straight from the tube. Hookers green will work just fine. We can complete this side with just a few slices. I might go a little bit more saturated around the edges just so that we have good contrast against the white paper. Continue down just a few small details left. I'm going to do a large slice, fill it in, and then finish the edge and the tip. As I mentioned before, when we were just starting on the top leaf, when you complete this layer and you're happy with all the shapes and the negative shapes that you've created, you can play around and adjust some of the colors, make them darker if you wish. I felt like maybe adding a little bit more saturated bluish-green on the other side. Now that I have this left side painted, I feel like I need a little bit more contrast. I'm going to add a little bit more of my bluish-green, still maintaining those lighter highlights in the middle of these slices. I'm going to use clear water there and drop a little bit more saturated color along the edge along the central vein, just to reinforce the shadows there. We're done with the first half of our leaves. In the next very small chapter, I'm going to show you how to paint the stems. It's going to be helpful for any botanical art that you may be doing. I have an entire video tutorial on my YouTube channel. Just about painting stems and understanding the light. This will be a helpful technique to learn before we move on to the rest of the leaves and finish them off. 8. Leaf Stems: Now that we've painted half of our green leaves, Let's take a little break and switch to the stems. What I'm going to do first is up on top using my medium green, my hookers green. I'm just going to add a little bit more color. Maybe darker at the bottom since our source of light is coming from the top. Now I'm going to show you the way I always paint my stems. Even the smallest thinnest ones can have a little bit of dimension if you use this technique. First, note which side is in the shade, here I think the bottom and right is in the shade. Apply a little bit of color with your small brush and then clean your brush, tap it on tissue paper and apply clear water on the other side. Let's carry it down using the same techniques. You can see on the left-hand side, I'm using a damp brush and then applying more saturated color on the right so that it appears like there's a little bit more dimension. It's not just a straight line, there's a little bit of light and shadow variation. You can always add a little bit more saturated color on the darker side while the surface is still wet. Let's do another one just to demonstrate the effect. I'm going to pre-wet the stem this time, since we already have some color in the background, and then drop just a tiny bit just with the tip of my brush on the right-hand side. You can see it's gently spreading into the wet area, creating like a highlight on the left-hand side. Let's move on to the next one. Again, I'm going to wet the stem and then take a little bit of my hookers green, my warmer green this time, since I feel like there's a little bit more sunlight up on top and carry that color only on one side. Very subtle, very gentle, letting it spread and cleaning up the edges as I go. Now I'm going to continue on the other side, same thing. Clear water or you can use a little bit more color, just a subtle hint of color, cover the stem. Then go for much more saturated green, keeping it just on the tip of your brush, and then drop it very gently. Just painting a line on the right-hand side. It's not always going to come out perfect. These are very, very thin, intricate details. It would have been a lot easier if this was like a thick stem or if our paper was larger. But you can still have a hint of 3D form by introducing this variation in lights and darks. Two more stems, we have not fully visible, so much shorter and this one is all the way in the background, so I'm going to cover it with clear water. Going carefully around the ladybug, just around the wing area. I'm not really worried about the legs of the ladybug because they're going to be much darker. Just go around the wings that are going to be red and then add a little bit of green, and I'm going with my cooler green just to put that stem to the back visually, just sort again, that color temperature trick to make sure that it looks like it's further away. Applying my cooler green and the last stem, we see three sections of it. Let's paint them separately. And here I think I'm going to use the method that I used in the very beginning where I paint with my darker color and then I blend with clear water. Maybe I'll make it a little bit darker just so that it stands out a little bit more. Finish the second section and the last one, again, I'm going to go darker here so that it looks like it's further away. That's it for our stance. Let's come back to our leaves now. 9. Negative Painting: Leaves Part #3: Welcome back. Our stems are finished. So before we continue working on the remaining leaves, practicing negative painting, I'm just going to cover this small section, the leaf that is all the way in the background with solid colors. Maybe just Hooker's green and I'll drop a little bit of my blue-ish green just to set it back further visually. Since, again, adding blue always helps us set the subject backward a little bit so that it looks like it's behind these other leaves that are facing us. You can use more saturated paint, finish the other fragment on the other side of the stem. Let's come back to our very first top leaf. Now, it's time to finish off our main top leaf. Let's switch to the left side. The right side should be already dry/ But just in case, I'm wearing my gloves so I don't smudge anything. Notice that I'm going to add a little bit more of my warmer yellowish green, and this is just a subtle way to indicate that this side of the leaf is facing our source of light, the sunlight, a little bit more. Just as an option, you can add a little bit of yellow into your main green to warm it up. By doing this, you will add some dimension to your leaf. You will make the left-hand side look a little bit different from the right-hand side. By adding this yellowish green, we're accentuating the fact that this side of the leaf is facing the light. Just like we did before, I'm working very slowly around those pencil marks. There is no need to rush. I simply pick one little block of color, outline it, and then fill it in. Here, I made a mistake. Didn't follow my outline, so I'm going to extend that little block and continue. One of the things you will notice is because we're painting in small sections, the consistency of your paint may be different every time. My advice here is start a little bit lighter than you think you should, and then once you're happy with the overall shape, like, for example, this large one, once you're happy with it, fill it in. You can always add a little bit more of your green pigment, wet on wet. If you're familiar with watercolor, if you have some experience already, you know that adding additional pigment onto wet surface, onto your wet paper just simply creates a nice little blend. You can always follow up quickly after you've painted a section with some additional color. This one is practically dry, so I'm just going to add my green and then maybe help it spread by grabbing a little bit of water and just spreading it out. You can see as I'm moving closer and closer to the right-hand side, you can see the subtle contrast in my yellowish green and my cooler blue-ish green, and you can also see that now I'm adding tiny bit of extra Hooker's green into the sections that I've already painted. The most important thing is to get the overall shape correctly, try not to cover the white lines, and then you can finesse the values. By values, of course, we mean lights and darks. You can always add darker green once you're happy with your shape. Here, I'm going to try to get fancy and add additional detail, a smaller vein. But remember, you can always simplify and skip some of these lines. The overall effect will not be much different, but you can always add more and you can look closer at your reference photo and add as many of these little slices as you wish. Another thing I wanted to show you is you can always follow up on top. Look at this large slice that's already dry. I'm going to add some detail on top of it, split it in three, and again, using negative painting technique, create an extra set of veins. Just another option for you to play around with this technique, you can always add additional details by painting around certain elements, building more and more detail as you go. As we're getting closer to the tip of our leaf, I'm going to slow down a bit and just really try to work with the tip of my brush, but I'm still going to try to add a few slices. If you want to simplify this section, just add one continuous slice along the edge and that would be enough. Or if you can, maybe if you're working on a larger sheet of paper or maybe you have a smaller brush, you can always add as many details as you want. When we're done, we're going to move down and do the second half of the leaf that's underneath. You will notice it's going to have a lot more blue in it. So cooler green closer to blues on the color spectrum. That's to indicate that that leaf is in the shadow. Here, once again, I'm going to try to add a little bit more detail, but that slice is still quite wet so it may not come out. Usually, we do this wet on dry, but because we're painting such small areas, the slices are drying out quickly. So you may be able to add these details right away. But if your paint is spreading, just give it a few minutes and you can always come back after, add additional details when everything is dry. Before we move on to the leaf that's underneath, I want to allow a few minutes for this section that we just painted to dry so that our paint doesn't spread. Just to give it a few minutes, I'm going to switch to the back of this leaf. We see just a few fragments of it. Because it's the back, we don't need negative painting. It's the opposite of what we're doing. So the veins are actually indented. They're more in the shadow. I'm going to paint them really lightly, just following my brush marks and I'm going to outline the leaf, making sure I don't go over the stems. There is the main vein going along the center of the leaf. What I'm going to do is try to apply the negative painting technique there. I'm going to paint the shadow along one side, and then I'm going to blend it out with clear water. Just another way of doing negative painting instead of sharp color blocks, you can always blend them and then do the other side. Suddenly, we have that main vein a little bit more defined. But overall, I don't want a lot of contrast because that leaf is in the background. Just very subtle light detail. Now let's work on the other side of this leaf. Here I had a little accident. Just a quick note before you start, make sure you start from the center of the leaf and not around the edge because you will see it's way too soon to paint close to the area we just worked on. The paint is going to run onto the other leaf. But not to worry, this happens all the time with edges or paint flows. I'm going to leave it for now and then come back when everything is done and lift that paint, clean up the edge, and I'm going to show you how I do it. So this will be useful, but, of course, don't follow my mistakes. Make sure that you're starting maybe from the center of the leaf so you avoid little accidents like that. I'm just going to continue right now as if nothing happened and work on all the other slices. As I mentioned earlier, here, one of the optional little tricks that you can do to add some dimension to your work is add some blue into your green. No matter what base green color you're using, it doesn't matter which pigment you're using. You can always drop a little bit of blue, and I'm going to use Phthalo blue, green shade. It's very close. I'm going to add just a tiny bit of that pigment to make it even closer to the blue side of the spectrum and use that mixture to paint the slices. Notice, too, that my mixture is a bit more saturated. I'm using just a little bit more pigment and less water. Again, the reason for that is because this leaf is in the shadow. It's covered by the one we painted just a few minutes ago. You can go a little bit darker. A combination of these two approaches, so adding blue, which is a cooler color, more indicative of a shadow, and using more saturated pigment will help you instantly push that leaf to the back, creating more dimension and more depth in your work. I'm going to show you a different angle now just so you can see my brush strokes a little bit closer and my technique, again, is very similar. I outline the slice with the tip of my brush to make sure that I get the shape correctly, and then I add color in the center. Once I'm happy with that slice, I'm going to let it sit for awhile and I may come back and add a little bit more pigment if I feel like it. Now I'm going to come back to the edge. It's surely dry now and add a little bit more color there around the little mishap that I had. Once again, I'll remind you that towards the end, when everything is completely dry, I will come back and I'll try to fix my mistake and lift that little bit of green paint with a damp brush. 10. Negative Painting: Leaves Part #4: We're almost done with our leaves. On this last one, I thought I would show you yet another trick for working with greens. This is a very useful thing to know about green pigments in general that will help you for any kind of greenery. I'm talking about adding red into your green. The cool thing about greens in general is that you can easily mix them with various shades of red to create more natural warmer, brownish looking greenery. These leaves here, they're more vibrant, tropical, but I'm still going to make use of this technique. If you're painting greenery that's more common to European or North American climate like, for example, here in Canada, the majority of greens are on the warmer side and contain different shades of brown, mixing your green with red will really come in handy. It creates a really subtle natural effect. You can see that I've dropped a little bit of my quinacridone red into my hookers green. I'm going to work with that mixture to paint the slices on our last leaf. Of course, once again, if you're simply practicing, you don't have to add this variation in color, but I couldn't help but show you this. Because it's such a useful technique and it adds variation to your greenery in a very natural way, you don't need to introduce any new colors, we don't need different shades of brown, simply add a little bit of red and play with your mixture to arrive at different shades of warm green. It's almost like an olive green. You may have olive green already straight in the tube. This is very similar, but using a mixture instead of paint straight from the tube gives you much more variation and opportunity to play with different shades of warm green. You can see here, my slices are looking all different as if they're reflecting sunlight in a more natural way even though we're painting on flat surface, it adds a little bit of dimension to your work. Just like we did on our main top leaf, the one that's facing us, here I'm going to use the same trick and use a slightly different mixture on the other side of the leaf. I'm going to lean heavier towards my hookers green. Less red, more green, a little bit different from the side that we just painted. By doing so, I'm going to really accentuate the different angles, left versus right side of the leaf. The way they catch light is different and so by adding more of a yellowish green and less red, I'm going to create a very distinct look on this side. Both sides are facing away from sunlight, but it feels like this side would be getting some sunlight coming through and maybe coloring it a bit more yellow. That's my logic as I'm looking at the reference photo, but also playing around with my palette. I'm also adding a little bit of my yellowish green now to really warm it up and move away from the green-red mixture that I used in the beginning. We just have a few slices left. I'm going to outline them, fill them in, and then do the tip, the backside of the leaf that we see, just a little tiny slice and our main job is done. We've covered the entire surface of our plant with green details using negative painting technique, we've captured lots and lots of subtle variations in color and created lots of veins using this technique. That's the focus of this tutorial. As an optional more advanced step, you can follow me for a few minutes to add some shading, wet on dry, just make sure that your leaves are completely dry at that point and you'll see how much more dimension we'll be able to create with this final step, this final glaze of color, but it's completely optional. I think even at this stage, the leaves look already quite nice. The last thing I'm going to do is add just a tiny little bit of detail on the top leaf. Again, it's the back of the leaf that we're seeing. I'm just going to mark up those veins with green color without using negative painting. 11. Negative Painting: LadyBug: Welcome back. In this very brief chapter, I'm going to show you how to paint a ladybug. I've included this subject specifically so we can practice a different scenario where negative painting is extremely useful. Recall in the exercise section, I showed you a sphere with a highlight that we've painted around. We're going to do exactly the same thing now, grab your red. Any transparent or semi-transparent red would do and outline the left wing. Just go around up on top, on the left, and on the right. Then outline the highlight with saturated red. Now clean your brush and tap it on tissue paper. You can carry this color down all the way to the bottom. You can also just use a light mixture of red and this helps us create a nice, beautiful shiny highlight on the wing. You can also do the same thing on the right-hand side again, just with the tip of your brush, paint, the outline, and skip the highlight. This may be a little bit more tricky, but even one highlight will enhance the look of the bug, capturing that beautiful sunlight and adding some dimension. Let's leave it to dry. You can switch to the next section while the bug is drying or maybe have a coffee or tea. I had a coffee just to make sure that we can follow up with our dark details and not disturb that nice red color on the wings. For the legs and the head and the spots, use your block or as I often do instead of black, indigo always looks very natural, and using the tip of your brush, just do the head. Maybe a small leg. Antennas. There's a little spot up on top. Notice that I also use negative painting technique to capture that white spot on the left side of the ladybugs head. Small legs. Now we can do the tiny spots. This is why it was important to let that first layer of red dry out. If you don't, that black pigment is going to muddy up the red. Our Lady Bug is done. But if you feel adventurous or maybe you're not happy with the saturation of your red, you can even paint a little bit more up on top just make sure your blue is also dry when you do that. I've added a little bit of orangey red just to boost the vibrance of my ladybug, this is not essential, but I often like to come back to something I've painted because watercolors always dry out looking a little bit lighter and I glaze a little bit of color afterwards just to increase the saturation and add some vibrancy. Now, when you're done with the ladybug, let's move on to the next chapter and finish off our leaves. 12. Glazing Shadows: Welcome back. This is the last lesson in our class because our leaves are pretty much done and the lady bug is done as well, and I wanted to show you a simple technique that I often use when my painting is practically done that really helps add more realistic dimension to my shapes. I'm talking about glazing. Glazing is an amazing way to add just a subtle variation in light and shadow and maybe adjust your colors a tiny bit. Watercolor is a transparent medium, so if we apply a very thin, watery layer of paint on top of already painted sections, everything that we've painted before will shine through. All we're going to do is add just a hint of extra shadow and color. The most important thing is to make sure that the underlying layers are completely dry. I'm going to work primarily with my medium green, my hookers green and my cooler green, my more bluish silo green blue shade. You can see on the right-hand side, I've made a very light watery mixture for both pigments and I'm going to start off by glazing just a tiny bit on the right-hand side of the top leaf, closer to the main central vein and then I'm going to blend it out with clear water. Similarly, on the left-hand side, I'm going to glaze a little bit on this section of the leaf where there's a little bit of a shadow and you can see that by covering just a section of the leaf, I'm adding just a hint of shadow. But the beautiful white lines that we've created in the second layer, they're still shining through. It's just a hint of color up on top. I'm going to do a little bit of work on this top leaf. Cover the right-hand side with clear water, then drop a little bit of green and then up on top, I'm just going to reinforce that shadow, put a little bit of color in the darkest area and then blend it out with clear water. I want to make this leaf that we see in the background a little bit darker, add a tiny bit of dimension. I'm going to put color at the bottom of the section and then blend it out with clear water. This light leaf, we see the back of it, I'm just going to add a very light shadow where it disappears under our top leaf and then blend it out with clear water. Just a hint of cooler green, just a little bit of shadow. Now recall this leaf that we worked on right after our main top leaf? It's in the shadow, it's covered by another leaf, and so we have an opportunity to reinforce this effect, adding more contrast. I'm going to add my bluish green around the edge and then blend with clear water. To reinforce the color temperature difference even further, on the right-hand side, I'm going to glaze my yellowish green. The surface is still wet so I can continue dropping just a little bit more blue, and once again, notice that all the beautiful veins are still there. We can still see them, they just look a little bit darker now. I might come back to the top leaf and add a little bit of a shadow there as well with my bluish green, blend it with clear water, and we have one more leaf, this one recall we've painted with bluish green on the slides that's facing us on that half of the leaf that's more visible, so I'm going to add just a hint of that bluish green closer to the central vein to indicate that there's more shadow there, and then switch to the other side, blending with clear water towards that area that's facing more direct sunlight. The final leaf, I'm going to do something similar, more yellowish, green on one one. On the left, very subtle. I'm going to blend it out with clear water, and on the right-hand side I'm going to apply my cooler bluish green, creating a really nice contrast, a play of different shades of green, adding a little bit more visual interest. Some Some happy with this very subtle enhancement, and I'm just going to clean up the edges on my stamps, maybe reinforce some of the shadows. As you know, watercolors always dry out, looking a little bit lighter than when we first apply them, because once water evaporates, everything looks just a tiny bit less intense and that's it. Now, I feel like our plant is finally finished. I hope you found this little glazing technique useful and you can apply it for any subject as long as you're glazing transparent colors, everything that you've painted, everything underneath will still be visible. That's the beauty of watercolors. 13. Fixing Mistakes: [MUSIC] Earlier on, I told you that I was going to show you a quick way to fix small mistakes. When you're painting, sometimes edges bleed, there might be some spillovers. What I do is if I'm not able to lift that paint right away, I wait until my painting is completely dry, then I get my flat brush. I find that stiff flat brushes work really well and this one is from Escoda. It's 90 percent synthetic. I dip it in clear water and make sure that it's completely clean. Tap on tissue paper just to get rid of excess moisture and then I do what's called lifting. So you can see I rub the brush back and forth very carefully just around the area that I want to lighten up a little bit. It's not perfect, but it does improve the overall a little bit. So I hope you've found this helpful. Here is our final painting of the green plant and the ladybug. 14. Final Thoughts: Congratulations on finishing your project. I hope you enjoyed learning about negative painting technique. I look forward to seeing your project don't forget to post it in the class projects section. If you liked the class, I'm going to ask you to please leave a review because it really helps me understand better what you like or maybe don't like. Any ideas about improvement or new topics are always appreciated and it really helps me plan and build new content for you going forward. Thank you so much for watching and painting with me. I will see you soon.