Sketchbook Practice: Make Everyday Objects Pop With Watercolor and Pen | Ohn Mar Win | Skillshare

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Sketchbook Practice: Make Everyday Objects Pop With Watercolor and Pen

teacher avatar Ohn Mar Win, Illustrator Artist Educator

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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.

      Pinterest Inspiration


    • 3.



    • 4.

      Lesson 1 -Coffee pots


    • 5.

      Lesson 2 -Vases


    • 6.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

This class will take you through a really simple technique using watercolour and pen to create highly decorative sketches. This is a beginners level up, as you will look at inspiration for basic shapes and silhouettes that will provide the basis for the pen line. Furthermore from the inspiration session you will pick out details that appeal to you that can then be added in pen to your sketch. The choice is yours how you interpret the details, adding as much or as little as you prefer. You could use just white gel pen, or a variety of colours, its up to you. Once you have learnt this basic technique you can apply it to any manner of subject matter.

Please use the hashtag #ohnmarskillshare if you would like to post on social media, so I can like and comment on your work.

Meet Your Teacher

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Ohn Mar Win

Illustrator Artist Educator

Top Teacher

Hello I'm Ohn Mar a UK based artist, illustrator author with a long and varied 20 year career. 

I am a great advocate of sketchbooks having filled over 30+, which each serving as a record of my creative journey as a self-taught watercolourist for the last 7 years. They have helped capture my explorations in texture, line and tone as I extend my knowledge with this medium.  I also share process videos and sketchbook tours on my YouTube channel - please subscribe! 



Filling my sketchbooks remains a constant in my life,  and furthermore inspiring many folks to pick up a paintbrush. Oftentimes these sketch explorations provide the basis for classes here on Skil... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi. I'm Mima and I'm an Illustrator Surface Designer, and I've been giving a sketchbook for two years. In this class, I'm going to show you a technique that I use quite often and it's lovely. Because you'll be applying white gel pen or any other pen that you have over watercolor. We're going to have inspiration from decorated household objects, anything from teapots to vases. I'll take you through a really simple process to pick out certain details, look at color schemes, and also painting the silhouette of your chosen item and then finally applying your pen. The pen line really enhances your sketches and I love the effect that it makes and I hope you will too. Please join me for this class. 2. Pinterest Inspiration: One of the first things that I do, even if I'm just doing a really short sketch, is just to research a little bit. I often go to Pinterest and you're looking for various items that are very decorated so that you can add those details in with your white gel pen. This is a board I've got called vintage tea and kitchen. You can see that I have various items here from Tupperware, tea caddies, cutlery. One of the things that is really standing out for me are these 1970s coffee pots. You can see that they got a very distinctive shape and they're very bold and geometric, including this pattern that is really strong and that could look really good. I'm just going to scroll down with and see what else Pinterest throws up. It has more examples of coffee pot. For me, I often paint four or five, six different items of the same thing. You can do whatever you want. I'm just showing you coffee pots, I think, as an example. So what we're looking for is the shape, the silhouette, the way the handle might be attached to it, the way the handle is at an angle on this coffee pot, and also full terms of adding details to the item that you've chosen. It could be very strongly geometric like it is on here and even this lovely little jam pot, or if you're looking at teapots, look at the repeat floral on there. So that's one of the considerations. Though, I also have another board I wanted to quickly show you called ceramic joy. Here again, these are various examples of objects that have been really highly decorated with beautiful Moroccan or Middle Eastern patterns there. Again, very geometric or we have a coastal theme here or florals. For this exercise, you need to consider what can I add on using my pens? It could just be the one white gel pen or you can add other details using a green pen if you want to do paint plates. I'm thinking in terms of homeware, that's very decorative. I'm going to look at some modern vases. Some lovely things happening here. This is a Poole Pottery for John Lewis. You can see it's a really gorgeous shade of that deep turquoise. Oh, look at all the declaration on that. Oh, I'm getting all excited looking at it. Think of how you can add the details in just your pen line, and the shape of that vase with hexagonal pattern, that could look amazing. So just looking at things that are inspirational for you. Everybody has different things that they're drawn to. Look at these geometric ports here. There's a bit of rose gold happening against this very pale mint green. So you just look at, oh, how can I apply this to my sketch? Oh, look at the color combination there. Another thing that I will say is when you look at the inspiration, and I look at the combo blue against that coral and the ocher and also this one is very prevalent muted grays and muted coral again. What else does it show up? That's quite a clean modern living. These are the other things that Pinterest is showing you. Again, please just use Pinterest as inspiration and other ideas might flow from this. So we're going to move on to the next part, which is painting out your object. 3. Examples: If you haven't take my other class about sketch book practice, I'm just going to quickly talk you through the Uni-ball Signo, which is the white line that I produce for some of my sketches and it's very fine. Other pens that I use, we have in a variety of colors by Uni-ball. I really enjoy using them because I can control them very easily and I can add lot of detail to my illustrations. I'm going to show you just a few quick examples from my sketch books where I have used the white gel pen line over white color. This is just one example here of tea cups and you can see that the shapes are really simple, but you don't necessarily have to do tea cups. Another example that I have is these page of blue leaves. Obviously, you don't have to use blue, but I've just outlined them, but also add details here within the leaves like this a part line on just line work and also adopts as well. Another example we've got here is where I've painted tea pots and I have added white lines here. You can choose to add other colors and make it even more decorative. It's up to you. Another example is these Christmas bow balls, painted on the background, very flat and then I've added the pen details. Now, I'm going to take you through the process. 4. Lesson 1 -Coffee pots: So here we've got the Pinterest board on my iPad, and I have it in front of me when I paint because it's really good reference and I am drawn to these colors. I think I'm going to include the light blue, the much darker turquoise, and the mustard that seems to be occurring in these two pictures. But, I am going to base it, I think, on the slightly retro 1970s coffee pots, so we'll see how it goes. This is a close up of my watercolor set. You can see it's very messy, I did keep that for a reason because I do tend to mix up the same colors, if I'm working on a particular theme, and judging from the colors that I really like on Pinterest, I would mix up some of these green, and it was quite a dark blue, and actually at the moment, you can test it on a piece of paper just on the side. That's not quite enough, it needs a little bit of a darker shade. Test that again, that's a bit better, I think it needs a bit more green. What you must bear in mind is you are going to be placing a white line over this so it has to show up, and I think for me that's a little bit too watery, so I'm just going to mix it up a little bit more. So I've got my sketch book here, and it's quite small. You can judge from the size of my hand, it's the [inaudible] pocketbook color, but you can still add a lot of details to this. Now what I'm thinking is I will add three coffee pots based on the colors that we looked at just now, and I really like that '70s vibe so I'm going to start filling it in. Remember that we're going to add white details, so I don't want the paint to get too light, and I will keep it very flat. Going back to my palette backwards and forwards and working on it quite organically, putting the main shape in, worry about the spout and the handle in just a minute. But let's put down the main shape first. I'm now filling in the main body of the coffee pot quickly, and I will be adding the lid, which is a simple shape on the top, keeping it loose, and working quickly. Now I'm adding the spout, which is almost level with the lid, and also the handle, which is a very simple silhouette shape, keeping it loose and keeping it free. I know this is a white kind of set, but I don't find the white effective, it's just too translucent for my needs. So I'm just going to mix up the next color for my pot. I think I need just a tad of that minty green just to set it off. Now I'm thinking, is this going to show up? I might just add a tiny drop of gray to that, it'll make quite meeting. So I'm going to go back and paint it in now. The next teapot, I'm going to start with the handle because you can see I made a little mistake there while having factored in the handle. So looking at the reference, it's slightly hidden behind some cups, but it starts there, and then it curves upwards like that, and the rest of it comes down like this. Again, just filling in the basic shape first, fill the rest in quite rapidly. Now I'm going to add the spout, comes from about a third of the way up and it does that at the end, there we go and just the lid of this coffee pot, there we go. That's a good start and now I'm going to mix up the other color, that lovely mustard yellow. I'm going to go on to the next page here. Now that yellow is quite ochery, so it's going to need a tiny bit of orange, I think, and a tiny bit of light brown. I think that's gotten a bit murky, I'm just going to add a tiny drop of orange. Let's test it, just to see that lovely vintage vibe. I'm going to go back to my sketchbook. The next shape I have chosen is another lovely retro shape. Starts at the top and then tapers and then goes back out. Again, keeping the paint flat, working rapidly. This one's very tall, I'm just going to add a little bit more at the bottom, and the spout comes almost from the bottom to almost level with the lid. Looking at my reference all the time. That's how I prefer to work so that I can add in as many details and I think that really helps capture the essence of what you're trying to create here. The handle is very round, there we go. I've actually got space to do another one, so let's pick another color. I think in this color palette that I'm choosing, do you think there's space for a deep blue, indigo? Yes, so that's fairly easy. Again, I'm going to keep it quite dark so that the white line will show up. Just going to add just a touch of green to that, just to bring out the slightly dark turquoise here. I've found another really nice shape. I'll start off with the handle, and the bulk of the coffee pot comes round here, and then goes out like so, maybe juts out little bit more, looking at my reference, and then tapers downwards, and it's gotten sweet little base like that. Add in the body. Again, I define the edges of the coffee pot shape and then fill it in very quickly and loose in the same color. Now we're going to add the spout, and that comes from here, is always an extension. There is a line all the way from this side going upwards and maybe just a little bit more, fill that in, and now the lid. It's got a square top like that. So we have here a page of coffee pots, and now I'm going to have to use the hair dryer because I want to make sure that all of these are very dry in order to add the gel pen details. So now, it's really dry, and I'm going to take my gel pen and look at the reference again that I had in front of me, and only using it as a guide, there was some lovely decorative details within the body of that coffee pot so I'm going to add my versions of it. It was very geometric, so starting off with some dots and it's just my version of it, I don't want to copy it exactly, and then the next one along is slightly different, it's circular. I really am adding just very basic shapes and line work with my gel pen, keeping it simple and not overthinking. Underneath this one is a slightly different pattern with a diamond shape in the middle. So this is what happens when I look a little bit closer at the source material. So we've got that happening, and then the pattern carries on. The reoccurring circular dot theme comes up in this section 2, and I'm adding it to either side of the cross. I can just about fit in if I just make it tone down the pattern a little bit. If you take my sketchbook class, you know that I don't always think everything, plot everything out before I start painting but sometimes what I do is very serendipitous and it still comes out a fun exercise. There we go, and now I'm going on to this one, I'm going to call up the reference for that and see if I can take out some of the patterns on there. Now, for this one, again, there's a bit of a 70s geometric vibe. Looks like there's a floral thing happening. I'm not going to copy it exactly, it's a bit too intricate for me but I'm just going to do my version, it's not the very clear picture, but this is my interpretation of it. So it goes downwards on this side and in the next row, there is an overlapping triangle thing. I'm trying to decide how I'm going to decipher it. So let's draw a triangle first, and put some lines through it. The actual pattern that I'm looking at is a lot more complex, but I don't want to go into that level of detail. This is good for me. Here we have two motifs which I'll be repeating across the coffee pot, a floral star burst and a triangle, which really look great in that rough white line work. Now, with this one, I don't think the reference that I used had very much pattern on it. So I'm actually going to call up something else, call up a different pattern that I saw on a different coffee pot, and hopefully it will still suit this retro 70s vibe. Again, the pattern that I see in front of me is a bit too complicated for me to reproduce. This is just an interpretation of it so please use your creative license. Don't copy. What else is happening here? So it goes off various angles like this, let say. I'm not thinking too much about the symmetry involved in here, I'm just adding the starburst shape and the circular motifs at the ends. There's something else happening in between, there's a circle or an oval that goes around like this, and there's other things happening, but again, it's a bit too complicated, so I'm just going to put some dots, I think because that's quite easy for me to reproduce. I think I'll just do a circle there. I didn't leave enough space for all of these, but that's all right. That still looks good. So now, I'm moving on to this one, again, a Geo vibe. I'm wondering whether to fill up the whole teapot with it. So this is being taken off a slightly different teapot, and I'm just going to simplify it and take from it what I need. The reference that I used was really complicated, so again, I picked out the basic elements that I thought I could deal with and I made up my own pattern and I really enjoyed adding all the little components. I refer to the reference material quite often because I really like to add all the little details and it can be as simple or complex as you wish depending on your style. So I'm really pleased with those and I can definitely work on those. I really like them, and I think they work well. 5. Lesson 2 -Vases: I really want to show you another example using vases this time. I was very much inspired by the geometric ones that we saw on Pinterest, so that's going to be the starting point here. But please feel free to use whatever decorative object inspires you. Again, I'm mindful that I can't make the paint too light because I do want to add that white pen detail. I looked very carefully at the reference in front of me and the shape of the vase is very distinctive. I've mixed up a mustard yellow and I'm going to do quite a tall vase. I'm working very quickly to get the shape of the vase down, including the lip, and fill it in quickly. Now I've mixed up a coral red and the next vase, again, is geometric. I think that could be just a little bit darker. I'm just going to add a tiny bit more red to that. So it's going to be a very bright coral. I think a white line detail will really show up on this color. I've got space just here, so I'm going to just find another vase that is going to have to be quite a tall, thin one. I'm just going to squeeze that in here. It needs to have slightly wider base than what I'm imagining at the moment. I did start off quite light then I decided to add a much darker gray hue so that the pen details would show up better. I think that could be a little bit flatter at the bottom here, and now I'm going to use the hairdryer. Now, I dried it and it's very good to put the white pen on. I'm, again, looking at my reference and there is a geometric pattern, not a pattern, but it's within the ceramic shape. It's shaped like this. I'm going to add the pen line. This is just the basics, there's other things happening but I try and keep it as simple as possible or simplify it further. This diamond pattern tapers off towards the bottom, but also goes upwards towards the rim of the vase, and they go back out to the very top of the vase. Now, with this one, there wasn't any decoration, I was just looking at the shape. Again, trying to make the most of the white line, I found something that's in keeping with this geometric vibe. Again, I'm using reference from another vase. The pattern I see in front of me is quite complicated, so I'm picking out what appeals to me and simplifying it right down and I hope that it's a clearer read. Now I'm going to look at the reference for that. This was a very simple geometric, if I can find it. This one was very simple, similar to the one on the left. I'm going to make it a bit more elaborate so that I can really incorporate the white line. The white line really lends itself to this particular vase. It provides the framework for this geometric manner. I just looked at the shape of the vase, so again, I'm going to make up a pattern that is in keeping with the vibe of these pieces. In the end, I chose this rough linework, almost tribal in feel, that shows up against that gray. I'm not controlling it too much, just making the mark, working quickly over this vase. There we go. Looking at this page, I think it could do with just filling up some of the empty spaces there. So I think I'm going to take my black Micron and add a few floral details here, but not too much. I'm literally just going to add a few simple lines here because these vases are very simple and geometric. I want to keep it really simple and not clutter up this simple arrangement that I've got, so to skeletons of leaves. Just to set off the function of this vase, I don't want to detract from it too much. I think that would do for that one. I might consider this one, I'm thinking about it. But I've got room here to add something, maybe just a single-stemmed flower, perhaps. Again, just using really basic shapes to keep in-keeping with the geometric look. It just needs something. I'm trying to work it out. I think I'm going to settle on a large leaf. I decided to draw in two slightly tropical-looking leaves to fill up that space. I think this one needs something just very simple but elegant. I decided on a very small foliage Sprague. There. I'm really pleased with how these look. I think there's just enough details there and I really like how I've arranged those and how the white lines really picked out some of the main elements of these vases. 6. Final Thoughts : I really hope you've enjoyed this class, and you've had fun, and you discovered something new. I would love to see your art in the gallery and if you want to post on social media, please use the hashtag, [inaudible] I can't wait to see what you do. You can use this technique on other items that doesn't have to be things that you find in the house. It can be leaves or pattern work. So let's see what you come up with. I hope you will experiment and explore this technique further in your own time and you're going to be amazed at some of the things that you come up with, things that I may not have thought of. So whatever you do, I'm really looking forward to it.