Paint a Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle with Alcohol Ink DIY Art Class | Ku'uipo Graham | Skillshare

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Paint a Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle with Alcohol Ink DIY Art Class

teacher avatar Ku'uipo Graham, Art for the love of Hawai'i nei

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.

      Class Intro!


    • 2.



    • 3.



    • 4.

      Rule of Thirds


    • 5.

      Hangin' with the Honu


    • 6.

      Warm Up


    • 7.

      Painting the Background


    • 8.

      Outlining & Blocking in Color


    • 9.

      Filling in Some Details


    • 10.

      Giving Depth to Your Painting


    • 11.



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About This Class

Who doesn't need some time with the turtles?  In this class you can hang out with the "Honu," or Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, and be inspired.  Then learn step by step how to use alcohol inks with Ku'uipo, a Hawaiian artist, living on O'ahu.  Learn tips and tricks to apply to your turtle painting and then apply those skills to your own paintings.  

You will need the following supplies:

  • Paper towels
  • Plastic Plate
  • Straw
  • Trace Paper
  • Ruler
  • Pen or Pencil
  • Alcohol ink collection
  • Isopropyl Alcohol 91%
  • Paint brushes - Rounds
  • 9"x12" Yupo Paper - Translucent
  • Spritzer Bottle

You can order this items all together in a kit Hawaiian Sea Turtle Painting Kit

About This Class

Full Demo Video on Creating An Alcohol Ink Abstract Painting as well as a painting of a Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle.  

This course includes hints, tips and tricks that answer questions posed by my studio class students.  First we PLAY, then we paint while learning skills.  It's okay to let the alcohol inks do what they want.  You will also gain insights as to how to gain control of the seemingly uncontrollable medium.

We'll cover the turtle project step by step.  Each step will be explained, but if you have questions about something I covered that you didn't understand, please post the question.  Despite the fact you will be working with me on a painting of mine, your painting will be yours!  You will create your lines and mix your own colors.  While some may think this is good for intermediate level students, I believe beginners can do it too, with a little patience.  You can give yourself permission to let the art happen.

KU'UIPO ON SOCIAL: Tag me #KUUIPO.KALUA on instagram with you course results -  I'll be featuring some of my students on instagram.

           Safety Note:  When using paints and chemicals please adhere to any and all manufacturer safety guidelines with these products.  If you have specific safety questions or concerns please contact the product's manufacturer. Contact your Doctor if you are concerned about medical conditions.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Ku'uipo Graham

Art for the love of Hawai'i nei



My name is Ku'uipo and I love sharing art, art for the love of Hawai'i nei.  Hawaii is such a special place and needs to be cared for.  I share art with others in my home on O'ahu.  They learn to paint with alcohol inks and other media.  The theme is typically ocean centered.  I hope that as we share the beauty of the ocean, we will feel more inclined to protect it.  

I have spent most of my adult life teaching art techniques to students in an academic setting.  Now I am focusing my attention on sharing techniques with a wider audience while I pursue helping others see the beauty that I see.  I design clothing for the love of the ocean.  You can see my clothing at  It's a special ... See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. Class Intro!: Aloha, Concho. I call my name is Koolwijk Book. I'm in into your designer with clear design and I'm also an artist. I live on the beautiful island of Oahu in an area called I Am. I'm going to show you in this class some concepts about art that will help you make your art something that your problem. And I'm gonna do this by giving you tips, tricks and hacks things that you could do with alcohol. Thanks to really make some beautiful artwork. The project for this class is to painting. One will be an abstract. That will be a lot of fun. Second, I'm going to show you step by step, how to paint a Hawaiian green sea turtle or who knew? And this one You'll also be so please posed I'll be coming around to see and I can't wait to see what you guys make. Happy baby 2. Supplies: So for this turtle or honey painting, we will need the translucent. You pull paper, that is nine by 12. Painting it on a smaller piece would just be too difficult because of the details. We need a glass juror for some alcohol. We want to use 91% alcohol and just put a small amount of alcohol in the glass jar. We need brushes. My favorite are called rounds and I really like size for when they have thes nicely tapered tips. You could really get some nice details and control the amount of alcohol we need. Obviously, some alcohol inks. I like Teoh. Tim Holtz. This pain will need some green. So I have a lime green and meadow green. Names don't really matter. The name seemed to change. So you want some green? You want some ocean colors? You want some yellow brown and I have a lighter ground. You also want kind of palate. I love these plastic picnic plates, one because they're white. And I also love the fact that I could just wipe them off with some alcohol and use them over and over again. We're also gonna need some tracing paper by the role. A ruler pencil. You may also prefer to wear an apron and use some of these final gloves just to protect your hands. You'll need paper towels or napkins, and then what does it for the supply list. So if you want to know where to get the supplies, you can go to your local craft store art store. You go to Amazon, or you can go to the links in this class, and you will find a kit with everything in it. 3. Tracing: Aloha. I love to picture of a whole new or green sea turtle in the area under this video so that you could download the image and use it yourself. I'm gonna talk about photo show, so open photo shop. If you have it in photo shop on the top bar, you'll find file, go to file open, and then open the image wherever you saved it again. Along the top bar, you'll find image. Go to image adjustments, brightness and contrast. Try using the auto button, then play around with brightness and play around with contrast until you get the best image that you can with the most clarity that you confined. Our goal here is to adjust the brightness and contrast to get a nice, clean, sharp image. The outline and we want to be able to see some of the details so that we can trace the image as accurately as we can. When you have the image the way that you want it save as a JPEG. So go to file save as Dr P. G. Give it a name you can remember and put it in a place where you can find it. Then I like to open both images, the original and the one I've edited. So I saved them to my desktop, and I could easily open them and zoom in on them to see which one I want to trace. Our goal with this image is decides it on your computer screen or monitor the exact size that you're gonna be painting. It has to fit on your nine by 12 sized youthful paper, so tear off a piece of your tracing paper and tape it to your screen or just hold it. I have a little trouble with holding it, but that's what I'm doing. But it's sliding around, so taping might be a good idea. Go ahead and trace with the tracing paper on your monitor or computer screen. So as you trace this whole new, you want to give yourself a really good reference lines. So for sure you want a good transfer of the outline of the turtle or help me. You want the I because you want to get that right in the right place cause eyes air so critical you also want some of the wrinkles, and you may put in some other small details that you're interested in. But don't obsess. Here you're gonna be painting right over. An Alcohol Inc is a little bit out of control. If you don't like the idea of tracing with the pen on your computer monitor, then you can print this out on your printer and lay the tracing paper over your printout. Look, guys, my dog pepper, she's hanging out with me today. I just wanted to say a quick word about tracing as an artifact. Something will feel like they're cheating when they use it, but don't be afraid to use it. It makes everything faster and more precise. So how fun with that guy? 4. Rule of Thirds: lay a piece of trace paper over your nine by 12 piece of you Put paper in the landscape position. Measure the long side into thirds by making a mark every four inches so that'll be along the top and bottom, which are both measuring at 12 inches and Markham at zero inches for eight and 12 inches. On the short side, which is measuring nine inches. Mark the paper along both sides every three inches, so at 036 and nine inches, then used the ruler to draw lines, dividing the nine by 12 area into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. This will give you four potential focal points where the horizontal and vertical lines crossed. Lay your tracing of the turtle under the paper. You just divide it into thirds. Then you can move the turtle around and choose a focal point. One of the four points can be where you place the center of the turtle for the eye of the turtle. If you place the turtle squarely in the center, the final product will feel static because the turtle's body is slanting downward to the right. I'm going to choose the lower right focal point for the turtles. I Then I'm just going to slide the U boat paper over the turtle tracing and line up the paper with the drawing guidelines. I'm going to hold my finger in the place on the U boat paper where I want the turtles I to be. 5. Hangin' with the Honu: This section of the class is amazing. I want you to just sit back, relax and let yourself be inspired by these amazing creatures. 6. Warm Up: for the warm up. I just want you to play around with the alcohol inks. Try maybe some yellow sub stream or aqua watch. What happens if you've never played with alcohol? Thanks, missus. Super fun, even if you have. But if you're familiar with how to use alcohol inks, you can skip this warm apart. You can join us, blow on it. Gravity. She what your alcohol inks can do if you have too much, just dab at it with paper tell which gives you a different effect. And if there's something you really hate kind of embrace it with a little bit of alcohol on a swipe with spritzer bottle I love it's great for underwater effects. Okay, so play around, get yourself warmed up. Know what your ex a capable of and what you're capable of and notice as you're warming up that the amount of alcohol on the brush matters also, what matters is if the ink on the paper is dry, it takes more alcohol to move it. The first project you're gonna post the class project section is an abstract that you make while learning to use alcohol length. So pour mon blowem. Use gravity raced, um, at alcohol. Smear him around, Drop them. Try as many things as you can think of until you get something you're kind of excited about and post it and I'll take a look. Great. Warmed up, Ready to go. 7. Painting the Background: Okay, here we go. Let's paint a Hawaiian, Tony. I have all of my supplies. I have 91% alcohol from the drugstore. I have my color palette. The tracing of the whole new under the U boat paper have paper towels, a plate and my brushes. I'm going to start with my favorite brush. It's around size number four. First, I'm going to start with the lightest blue in the whole new picture That you edit to delight is coming down vertically, but I'm going to paint the water lines horizontally because I just like the feel of that. So I'm just going to pour some ink directly on the paper, brush it back and forth because it dries, added some alcohol to keep it moving across the paper. Anytime you're Inc. It's dry. Just add a little alcohol and brush. I really like the way the lines are creating the feel of constantly moving water. I let some of the lines over left and let the Inc buildup so that I get those really nice, watery liquid line. You may want to leave a white area right where you're going to be painting the turtle. So you can see the outline through the you put paper. If you cover all the lines like I almost did, then you can flip back and forth between the traced image and the painting. What trick I've learned to control where I placed the color or where it will end upon the paper is to pour the ink straight on the brush. That means I get lots of ink, lots of solidity. But I'm gonna put it directly where I want it pointing the bottle at the paper. However, you can overshoot, and then ink dots will end up on the painting. But you can easily work them in. So I'm just going to keep working back and forth to keep the water lines going horizontal. I like to work from light colors too dark, so I'm gonna add a darker color, and then I'm going to go to a darker one and the difference between a miss slight. But in the painting you can see it so that I actually end up having three different colors of water. That's pretty good for background. One more thing I'm going to do is give the painting a little spritz before I paint the turtle. This will look like bubbles in the water. If I spritz it after painting the tour Oh, I may lose some details on the turtle. I may get bubbles where I don't want them. So do it first. 8. Outlining & Blocking in Color: so I'm going to start with my lightest brown color. The name on the label is pebble almost going to use a black. The other color I'm going to use is called teakwood, or you can use any darker tone of brown that you might have. I like to use one of the plastic white plates two for the ink on and then lifting off the plate with a brush. This lets me control the amount of ink that I have on the brush, and I can control the fluid ity so I just dip it in the ink on the plate. Wipe a little bit off on the paper towel and I'm good to go. Use a small amount of fluid on your brush to create the outline. Go all the way around the outside of the turtle and the main features. I'll do the legs head next and the show. The ink will continue to dry on the plate very quickly, so I just add in a little bit more alcohol each time. And this reconstitutes the ink and controls the amount of alcohol that I'm putting into the You get the picture. I'm going to check back and forth between my painting the trace underneath, as well as the image on my computer screen. As I remove some of the ink from the back leg of the triple, you could see a darker outline that's like a Dan Off Inc. And if I use a very small amount of fluid there, that damn will hold the ink in that area. This really comes in handy when you don't want to think to run all of the paper. So those little things that you do to keep the ink from running, I really help you take control of where you put the color and how it stays. You're still going to get some marvellous, um, unexpected things from the Alcohol Inc and from the alcohol to remove some of the color from the back leg. I can use either alcohol and a paper tell or Alcohol Inc in a paper title to remove the color. When I do that, it gives me a better chance of putting on a new color without the colors mixing and getting muddy. I'm going to speed up the painting a little bit so that you don't have to sit here watching this for so long. If you're painting with me, just pause the video and turn on your own music. I'm going to switch to a smaller brush at different times so I could make sure that I'm not adding too much fluid in controlling the amount of fluid is really critical here. Look closely at the photo. You see the light comes down from the top hits the top of the turtle shelf. It's also create someone of a white halo effect all the way around the outline of the turtle. It also creates shadows. So I'm going to use my darker brown and I'm gonna add those shadows in a little bit at a time, and all of a sudden you'll start to see that the turtle will take on a three dimensional shape. 9. Filling in Some Details: as I'm going along, you'll see that I'm working in different areas. Sometimes I work back and forth between the water and the turtle. You can control how fluid that ink is. So when I add alcohol en I can make sure that I only add a little bit of alcohol, wipe a little bit of it off, and then I'm controlling how much is getting onto the U boat from the turtle leg. You can see that I'm mimicking the idea of different sections or little plates on that leg , and I'm not trying to match up perfectly to the photo. I'm just trying to get the idea of it. As then. I'm just kind of doing my own thing there. So feel free to create the details of turtle lay and show the way that you want to. I've taken liberties of just doing what I see not exactly but the gist of it waiting to interpret those details in the photo. You could take some liberties of your own. You can layer the colors in little tiny dots, layer after layer after layer and see what happened, or you could just go for it like I did in this painting. Either way, it's fun, right that you're working on shadows and details and light. If you want a really dark brown darker than the brown that you have, just add in a little black and mix it into the brown right on the plate. This will give you a nice, rich, dark brown. I set up the eye of the turtle is the focal point for my painting, so I want to be sure to pay close attention to how this I should look. I'm going to outline the I in brown, leave white space and then do the actual dark part of the eye with black. But I want to be sure that I leave a little white spot so I can either try to paint around a little white spot or I can add in. The smallest drop of alcohol hasn't painting the turtle's back. I'm looking back and forth between the photos and the painting so that I can get an idea or an approximation of the shapes on the turtle show. By no means well, I try to match those shapes perfectly because that would make me crazy. I'm also gonna leave some white around each shape, and maybe later I'll come back and just slightly dark in those. Or add some yellow. I will work with browns, greens and yellows. I'll try to get some highlights in there, and then I'll come back in with some darker colors to get some shadows. If you feel like the video is too fast here, I can just tell you what I'm doing. I'm adding in little droplets of green ink on top of each other, on top of the underlying brown color and on top of each other. I'll do this until I get enough ink to build up that I like the way it looks. So just keep playing around. Remember, you can always erase something if you need Teoh. If you really feel like you hate something and you want to erase it, remember how use just a tiny bit of alcohol to remove it. The Remember you don't have to stress about this. This is fun. This is so fun. Just keep going, dab at it with your paper towel if you don't like it. But the more that you dab in the race and add the more muddy it's going to get 10. Giving Depth to Your Painting: adept to your painting. You just want to keep playing with the interplay between light and dark. Where are the shadows? What parts of the turtle do I want to pop out? If it's gonna pop out, it needs to be a lighter color. There's also some green algae on the turtle's back when I look at the photo, so I'm gonna add some green in. It's kind of fun. He has algae all over him, and it's kind of cool again. I'm using the brown mixed with black to get a really nice dark brown. - One of the last steps is I'm gonna put my tracing paper on top of the painting so I can check and make sure that I have made my shape correctly. I see that my front leg is a little anemic, so I'm gonna go ahead, thicken that up and the bottom of the turtle show needs to be visible, so I'm gonna add that in as well 11. Reflection: I feel a little bit off light blue ink on my brush and make swirls close to the turtle because I want it to look like the turtle is right up at the surface of the water that I'm gonna go in and I'm gonna make lines with just alcohol. So I have. I want to control what shapes are going on above this eternal so that you can really tell that it's the surface of the water with just adding alcohol. It's It's gonna work now because the background colors are dry so that alcohol won't be able to spread like it does when the when the ink is wet. So this gives you more control over what's going on the paper. If you get too much alcohol, just dab some away with your paper towel. One of the finishing touches you could give your painting to make it clear to the viewer what they're looking and that this is the surface of the water is toe, adding a reflection. It used scuba dive or snorkel under the water, and you look up to see all kinds of things reflective surfaces, or sometimes you just see the light shining through and shadows. I want to make it really clear that my turtle is right at the surface of the water, So I'm gonna go ahead and put in the reflection. Use pink and yellow to give it an orange. You have some green and blue. One of the awesome things about this medium is that if you put in a reflection, mutated just adapts alcohol on it. Come back with your paper towel on, lift it, then go back in and put and try again. Put the colors. You want to try it. - Hideous , moving kind of fast. I'll tell you what my brushes doing while I'm swirling it around to make the reflection. I'm lifting it and setting it down rapidly, so it's not one long, fluid line. I'm kind of dabbing at it with a brush for underwater paintings. I love to add bubbles. I had bubbles of all sizes, and I used both alcohol as a way to make a bubble, and I use ink as a way to make a bubble so I may use some blue ink to add bubbles over the turtles. Leg up with some behind, some above, so below it's it's one of the fun parts of this painting is adding all the bubbles. Yeah, him. Mahalo, Nui Loa, for watching this class. I hope that your paintings make you happy. I'll come around and look, so don't be afraid to post your abstract warmups as well as your turtles. Allah, huh?