Reflection and Gradation on Water: Seascape in Watercolor | Bianca Rayala | Skillshare

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Reflection and Gradation on Water: Seascape in Watercolor

teacher avatar Bianca Rayala, Top Teacher | Watercolor Artist

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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.

      About The Class


    • 2.

      Preparing For The Class


    • 3.

      Pencil Sketch


    • 4.

      Painting The Water


    • 5.

      Painting The Reflection


    • 6.

      Painting The Boat


    • 7.

      Key Learnings and Class Project


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About This Class

Water has always been one of my favorite subjects to paint because of its mesmerizing characteristic.

In this new course, we will unfold the magic of painting water with watercolors. Learn how to convey water’s dynamics on paper, how to portray liveliness, volume and structure without creating muddy colors. Understand aerial perspective, tonal values and how to simplify complex subjects in painting your own watercolor work.

Through a step by step painting instruction, you will learn a simple and uncomplicated way of drawing boats, painting water, image of waves and mirror reflections using modern watercolor techniques.

If fear hinders you from painting your favorite seascape photographs and you want to have a whole new perspective on painting water, then this course is for you. Hone your skills and explore new facets of watercolor with me. Ill see you in class!

Meet Your Teacher

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Bianca Rayala

Top Teacher | Watercolor Artist

Top Teacher

Hi friends! I'm Bianca and I'm a watercolor artist. My purpose is to inspire people to discover and pursue their creative passion. See full profile

Level: All Levels

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1. About The Class: Hello everyone. I'm Bianca Rayala. I'm a watercolor artist and educator from the Philippines. I love watercolors and I'm so passionate about sharing my love for arts through teaching. Water has always been one of my favorite subjects to paint because of its mesmerizing characteristics. In this new course, we will unfold the magic of painting water with watercolors. Learn how to convey waters dynamics on paper, how to portray liveliness, volume, and structure without creating muddy colors. Understand aerial perspective, tonal values, and how to simplify complex objects in painting your own watercolor work. Through a step-by-step painting instruction, you will learn a simple and uncomplicated way of drawing boats, painting water, image of waves, and mirror reflections using modern watercolor techniques. If fear hinders you from painting your favorite seascape photographs and you want to have a whole new perspective on painting water, then this course is for you. Hone your skills and explore new facets of watercolor with me. I'll see you in class. 2. Preparing For The Class: Hello friends. Thank you for joining me in this watercolor journey through the sea. Today we will be studying how to depict water, it's color, and movement. We will study how to draw a boat and its reflection and we will learn how to turn a simple plot to a creative and atmospheric watercolor work using a very limited color palette. Let me share with you some important theories that you need to understand when painting water because I want you to be able to paint on your own and not just copy how I painted. In painting water, you must remember these three things. First is shape, second is value, and third is color. Most of the time we are too focused on the color, but this is actually the least important among the three. If we think of it, painting with even one color can look beautiful if there is depth and volume. We don't have volume if we don't observe proper tonal values in our work, yet correct tonal values won't support a deformed shape of the object in our painting. So in effect, shape and tones always go together. Let's look at our reference photo. As we can observe, water in the distance is lighter then gradually becomes darker closer to us. We paint the water with tones from light, moderate, and dark. Second, there are no large waves in the background or in the water at the distance, we only paint small horizontal waves in the middle ground, and the bigger waves are painted on the foreground. These big waves are not horizontal anymore but could be irregular in shape. These waves become even bigger closer to us and the waves are also getting darker in tonal value than the water, therefore, when painting water, we change not only the tonal value of water but also the tonal value and shape of waves. Now, I'd like to share the materials that I will be using for the lesson. First, I will use Baohong watercolor paper. This is 100 percent cotton in 300 GSM. This is eight by 11 inch in size. I advice you to use a cotton paper, especially when drawing seascapes since we will be using lots of water in placing layers. The brushes I have here are renaissance natural table brush for painting the water fragment, flat brush for wetting the paper, synthetic brush for painting details, and a fine brush just in case I need to remove some unwanted blues on my work. I will use my main watercolor palette. The colors that I mostly used for this project are yellow ocher, burnt sienna, Indian red, neutral tint, amethysts genuine, horizon blue, lavender, Payne's gray, indigo, olive green, lunar blue, cobalt blue, and titanium white. Prepare also pencil, eraser, two cups of water and some tissue paper. The copy of the reference photo, pencil, sketch, and final painting are all provided in the resource section of the project and resources tab below this video. I encourage you to keep a copy of the reference beside you while painting. Let's go to the next lesson for the pencil sketch. 3. Pencil Sketch: This is our photo reference for our painting. The boat being the focal point will be positioned in the upper half of the paper, then its reflection will be occupying the lower third of the paper. To get the correct perspective of the boat, I simply use my pencil to get the angle from my reference and then transfer it to my paper. These two points will serve as my guide as I decide on the size of my boat. I draw an infinity symbol as my guide, and start drawing the back part of the boat. Then, I draw the boat, and still observing the angles that I see on the reference photo. The sailing yacht looks complicated because of the so many details it has. But to simplify the process, just focus on big shapes when sketching. Always compare the angles of each major part with your sketch to make sure that the shapes are in correct perspective. Next, let's draw the deck. Again, observe the inclination of the angles per side, and then copy it on your working paper. Look for the big shapes, and you don't necessarily need to draw each detail that you see. I add the windows and some lines here in the deck to enhance the picture. I will not include the wood poles in the foreground, so we have a complete view of the boat. Now, if there are parts on the boat that are not clear in the reference, it is okay to alter the details or shapes, so the picture would still look good. I tried drawing the mast with the freehand, but I decided to just use a ruler to make it more straight. Now, let's draw the reflection. The reflection is almost the same size of the main object being reflected. We don't need to draw the reflection in detail, but rather just the main outline to serve as our guide when painting. The reflection is basically a mirror view of the object. I do some loose and very light strokes to draw the outline of the reflection. I check if the reflection is of the same size of the boat and if the angle of the reflections are also correct. I will add some details like reels, the backstay, and also the folded seal. Now, I'll be finalizing my sketch by adding fender. These ropes [inaudible] on the side to enhance the home position. This is our final sketch. 4. Painting The Water: [MUSIC] In this lesson, I will show you a simple and not so complicated way to paint the sea. We will paint the water portion by portion to create a smooth gradient from light to dark tone from the background to the foreground. Then while the fragment is still moist we will paint the waves in one goal and let the layer to dry completely before painting the boat and reflection. At this moment, I'm partially erasing my sketch to lighten the strokes. Once the lead has been wet with water, they become permanent and inerasable. I suggest that you keep a copy of the reference photo beside you while painting so you will learn how to observe tonal values. The photo reference can be downloaded from the resource section found in the project and resources tab. Let's start. Using a flat brush I will pre-wet the upper part of my paper, avoiding the mast, the sail, and the boat. I pre-wet it with water because I want to paint a soft atmospheric background. [MUSIC] I tilt the paper by placing a tape at the back. This will help the paint to flow down naturally. [MUSIC] I get the watery mix overrides and [inaudible]. Remember that when you work with wet-on-wet, the paint will get lighter as it dries since the water on your paper will delete the mix that you applied. Now with a gentle stroke, I paint the background water with a very watery mix. [MUSIC] I gradually add a little bit more of horizon blue to have a soft gradient. Notice how the paint naturally flows down since my paper is tilted. I carefully outline the boat, making sure I won't stain it as much as possible. Using a synthetic brush, I created a slightly thicker mix using the same two colors to paint the horizontal strokes that will portray the waves from the distance. Again, the waves in the middle ground are almost straight and very thin. The waves gradually gets bigger and more irregular in shape as we approach the foreground. Now, I go back to my natural hair round brush to continue painting the water fragment. Here my mix is more saturated and a bit creamy. I want to show a more obvious transition in tone that is why I'm working wet on dry. Carefully paint around the boat and the boy. Since we are painting on a dry sheet, we need the work very fast to avoid hard edges on the water fragment. I also use my flat brush to soften the edges on the outline of the reflection. I gradually add indigo in my mix to have a dark foreground and I soften the edge with a clean brush. I didn't paint the reflection with blue since we will use a different set of colors to paint the reflection. Remember that the foreground should be very dark in tone to have a sense of depth in your seascape. [MUSIC] I just soften the edges using a clean, damp brush and also blend the color slightly to have a smooth gradient. Now I'm mixing a very rich dark color to paint the waves. If my foreground is this dark, my wave should have a darker tone and thicker consistency. I mix indigo, lunar blue, and [inaudible] to paint the waves with one stroke. I added Paynes gray to make it even darker as I noticed that it still light dark. I paint the waves with gentle and irregular strokes, making sure that the paper is still moist as they do the process. My brush should also have not much water in it. Now, I notice a bloom here on this side, so I use my fan brush to blend and get rid of the blooms. Since my water fragment is still moist, I can darken some more the waves in the background. However, if you notice that your paper is turning dry already, and as you make the stroke, you already create hard edges, you need to stop. We don't want hard edges on the waves. What you can do is let it dry completely first then gently pre-wet your paper with clean water, and then begin painting the waves once the paper becomes moist, have this layer dry completely then let's paint the reflection on the next video. 5. Painting The Reflection: At this stage, my paper is thoroughly dry already. It is important to work with dry paper to avoid color bleeds between boat and water. I take my natural hair brush and mix the colors lavender, neutral tan, and a bit of yellow ocher and horizon blue. The mix should be like an opaque bluish-gray color to portray the off-white boat. I'll add a bit of cobalt blue for a more bluish tone. Starting from the bow, I paint this thick mix of color. I make sure to paint carefully and use this step to define the main shape of the boat. I skip painting the fender, then continue painting the boat, but this time, with a very light mix. We want to build dimension on the board, that's why we don't fill it in with one single tone. While it is still wet, I drop some yellow ocher and blend it with my gray mix. This will give extra interest in the texture of the boat. I also darken the base with neutral tan color. Next, I mix a thick mix of horizon blue and amateurs genuine to create an even darker and more defined base. I'm dropping some paints on the moist surface of the boat to create more interesting texture. Next, let's paint the deck. I will leave the lightened parts unpainted to preserve the light and I will just paint the parts in shadow. Using my gray mix, I carefully paint the sides facing me. Again, avoid painting the top parts which are lighted by the sun. I paint the windows with the same green mix. Let's leave the boat this way for now, and paint the reflections first. Using the leftover dark blue mix on my palette, I add some olive green, indigo, and horizon blue to create this deep, dark greenish mix. I load my brush so well and start painting a small part to test the color. Now I realize that we have a dark gray color on the base of the boat, so we need to paint its reflection using a different color. I will create a deep indigo mix to paint the reflection next to the base of the boat. Then I will transition it to the deep green color that I made earlier. Notice how thick my mix is. It is so saturated and almost opaque. While this dark blue fragment is still moist I connect the green color to avoid the hard edges. Using the tip of my brush I create tiny wavy strokes to paint the edges of the reflection. I need to cover the entire white area. I refer to the general and dominant shapes that I see on my reference when painting the reflection. We don't need to actually copy each detail. Here, I am gently softening the edge between the base of the board and the reflection to remove those white tiny gaps in between. Next, I create the mix with lavender and horizon blue to paint the reflection at the back part of the board, which is lighter in tone. I want to darken this base of the board. Using a very thick paint in a dry brush, I do a quick outline. We do this step to enhance the appearance of the boat into separate it clearly from its reflection. I'll just add a yellow ocher lining to enhance the look and add some hints of ocher in the reflection too. Since I plan to add also a dark blue lining on the upper part of the board later on, I will be darkening also the edges of their reflection with a dark blue color. Next step is painting the reflection of the mask. Make sure that they are aligned as you paint the reflection. The same principle should be done in painting the reflection of the sails and riggers. As I paint reflections, I dance my brush to create soft wavy strokes. It always looks better if we paint them in one stroke and not layer another stroke on top of it. The consistency of paint should be thick and not watery, so it will pop up and be visible on top of the water fragment. Don't forget to paint also the reflection of the ropes and the buoy, to have a complete painting. We are almost done with this project. I'll see you in the next video to enhance the board and finalize the painting. 6. Painting The Boat: In this lesson, we will be completing the details of the boat. Let's start with the folded blue sail. Let's mix cobalt blue and indigo to have a color almost similar to the reference. I paint the reflected light with a light blue color using amethyst genuine and horizon blue, and then connect them to the dark tones. Varying the tones will make it dimensional and not flat. Next, let's paint the mast. I start with yellow ocher then blend it with dark brown Jenna and then lastly with neutral thin. I soften the base and paint the reflected shadow of the sail. Next, I paint the size of the deck with a lighter tone to create dimension. Again, we focus on painting shapes and not the specific part of the objects, so we don't get overwhelmed on what to paint. Keep the parts facing the sky unpainted to make them the brightest part of the sail. I darken this side a little bit to make it more dimensional in this thing. Now, I paint some dots of dark color to serve as suggestive stroke. Be careful not to outline the entire board. We just use this suggestive strokes to give the viewers a hint of the overall shape. Let's enhance the other details like these two windows, and other elements that can enhance that this sign of the boat. Keep it loose and don't go overboard. You will be surprised how spots of colors can create a nice difference in the overall look. No need to paint everything in the detail. Next, let's paint the hand rails on both sides in swift dry strokes. A paint with a light tone, a portion of the board to define the shape. In the succeeding steps, I will just add some highlights and accents on the board, like adding a nice red stripe here. Don't forget to paint defender and it's cast shadow. I simply use ocher and a bit of Shanna to paint defender, and a great color for the cast shadow. Using some dots here and there, I place accents on the boat. Next, let's paint the UI using Indian red, to build connection between this one, and the board. Let's paint the ropes with thick dry stroke, and we use the same mixture to paint the front stage, and back stage of the mast. As our last step, I will add some finishing touches using my opaque white paint. I usually put highlights on ropes, some dots on the board and reflections and seal. This is our final painting. Let's summarize what we learned on the next video. 7. Key Learnings and Class Project: We've come to the end of the course, and I hope you had a fun and learning filled experience with me. Let's summarize the important things that we must remember in painting water. First, always remember that the tone and shape are very important elements. These two are the key to achieving depth, aerial perspective, and dimension when painting water and waves. Second, the reflection is almost of the same size of the object being reflected. The color of the reflection is affected by the color of the object being reflected; the sky and the water. Third, to simplify complex subjects, focus on painting big shapes. Add some spots of colors that can help build the overall look of the object without painting every detail and part that you see in the reference. For class project, I want you to paint the same painting that I did. If you carefully follow my steps and the explanations that I shared, I'm sure that you can do it well. I want to see your works and how my classes help you, so it will be great if you will upload your painting in the project section and leave a class review too. I have 16 more watercolor classes here on Skillshare, and I hope to see you again there.