Watercolor Boot Camp: Drills and Techniques for Success | Jen Dixon | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Watercolor Boot Camp: Drills and Techniques for Success

teacher avatar Jen Dixon, Abstract & figurative artist, educator

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

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.

      Creating Levels of Transparency


    • 3.

      Steady Lines & White Space


    • 4.

      Creating Clean Edges


    • 5.

      Filling Shapes: Solids and Blends


    • 6.

      Creating Blends and Washes


    • 7.

      Bonus: Warm & Cool Primaries: Mix, Tone, & Transform


    • 8.

      Final Thoughts and Thank You


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

This is Watercolour Boot Camp.
This is a class designed to build your skills so you can kill it in watercolours no matter what subject you want to tackle. This class is about techniques and practice exercises that you need to do to become a better handler of this medium. There is nothing but hard work here, so make a tasty beverage, do some stretches, and settle in at your desk.

Most classes teach you how to paint a thing - nearly instant gratification for that one thing. Practice the techniques in Watercolour Boot Camp and you will be prepared to paint all the things.

You'll grow as an artist, because with specific practice exercises, you'll gain confidence and learn to build paintings with hard-earned skill. Everyone is a beginner at some point, but to move past that stage (guess what I'm going to say...), you need practice.

Let's build your skills in the fundamentals of watercolour handling together. There are no shortcuts. This class is the equivalent of drop and give me twenty.
So, grab some paper. Grab your paints and brushes. We have work to do.
Let’s get started.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Jen Dixon

Abstract & figurative artist, educator

Top Teacher

Whether you want to learn new skills or brush up on rusty ones, I would love to help. I have been a selling artist for around 35 years. In my own practice I use pen & ink, pastels, oils, acrylics, and watercolours regularly. My work hangs in private collections around the world.
I love what I do, and I teach what I love. We can do good things together here, so let's get started...

About me:
I'm an Ameri-Brit (dual citizen), living on the North Cornwall coast of the UK. I've been here nearly two decades, but have lived in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Berkshire (UK). I am studying Spanish daily with an aim for becoming bilingual. Hola, artistas.

My work covers everything from graffiti-influenced illustration & mixed media abstracts, to more traditional painti... See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: [MUSIC] Listen up students, this is watercolor boot camp. We're not here to paint a pretty picture, or an adorable animal, or acute fruit. While those are fun and quick to satisfy, we're here to build your skill so you can kill it in watercolors no matter what subject you want to tackle. The following is about techniques and practice exercises that you need to do to become a better handler of this medium. The artists you admire all do exercises to sharpen their skills even if they never show them to you. [MUSIC] To play guitar, you got to practice. To swim further, you got to practice. To paint better, you guessed it, you got to practice. This class is full of ways to build your skills in the fundamentals of watercolor handling. Master these, and you will be able to paint better. You'll paint everything better. There are no shortcuts. This class is the equivalent of drop and give me 20. Grab some paper, grab your paints and brushes. We have work to do. Let's get started. 2. Creating Levels of Transparency: One of the basic and most important skills to learn when dealing with watercolors is the ability to create transparencies. Now, in other classes, I've talked about light, medium, and dark values. That's the same thing with watercolors. So in watercolors were going with transparency. So if your colors are at their most pure in the pan, then you can imagine that the more water that you add to them, the lighter or less saturated they're going to be. So the pigment doesn't change, but how much water pushes the pigment particles apart. That's what's happening. So it makes the paint look thinner, it makes them look more transparent. So what we're going do is we're going to go with a basic light, medium, and dark, which is a great way to begin. So as a beginner, you should be able to create three levels of transparency in watercolor. So I'm going to take a nice big brush and let's try with, how about this lovely, I've got a really pretty turquoise and I'm using my White Nights watercolor paints by St. Petersburg. Now, a good habit to get into is not to paint directly from the panel, and we'll talk about that a little bit later. So I'm putting some of the purest that I can into a palette. So you can see, and I'm working on a ceramic palette, which I prefer to plastic. Metal is my second favorite. I just find that plastic palettes tend to feel like they repel the paint a little bit so you get a little bit more beating up of the paint. Anyway, this is my turquoise at its strongest value. Now another thing I like to do to be able to add water to things without getting my brush always in the water, diluting the paint that I've got and I feel like it just wastes paint and it creates dirty water prematurely. I like to use these little pipette things, little droppers. So if you can pick some of those up that's a really great thing to use with getting water into your palette without diluting what you've got on your brush. So I've added a little bit of water to another well in my palette. So you can already see the difference between what is essentially the pure paint and the next variation of it, which I've added water too. I'm just going to do a little check to see where I'm at for values so far. I'm just going to clean my brush so I know that there's nothing in there to make any changes to what I've got. I'm going to pick up a little bit of what I would consider the purest concentration of this color, and this is turquoise blue by St. Petersburg White Nights. So a nice little swatch of it looks pretty good. I'm going to clean my brush, put a dab. I'm going into what I created using some additional water, and where am I with that? That's not bad. That's a nice step down from where I was with the original and I found that I've loaded it little heavily. So I've just dry my brush a little bit on my towel. I'm going to pick a little bit of that back up because a dry brush acts like a sponge. I'm pretty happy with that as being a dark and then a next value. I'm going to take a little bit of clean water, add it to another well in my palette, and I'm going to take some of that mid that I created. I'm going to add it to more water. Again, you can see a different consistency of that same paint. So I'm going to give that a try and that looks pretty good. So now we've got what I would consider, a light, medium, and dark or dark, medium, light depends on which way you want to read it. That's a great place to start. Now, taking it just that little step further. If you were to take five levels of transparency,. Again, we'll start with what I would consider the most dense concentration of that paint. I've got two more wells in here, so I'm going to just add a little bit of water to one. I'm going to pull a little bit, and there a little bit more, so this, hopefully, slightly darker than the one above. So that's something that would be in between these two. Clean my brush. Go back into the one I created before that I know is that one. Like that one. That's great. A little extra pool in it. Pull that out and now for my next transparency, I'm just going to do the light that I had because I think I can take it a little bit further and doing that. Just going to add a little bit of that lightest one to another well in my palette and a bit more water, rinse my brush. A little swirl around to disperse the pigment in the water and there you have it. Five of the same paint. So that's turquoise blue, and that's five levels of transparency or three levels of transparency and I think I could even do a little bit better job on the three levels, but I know that I'm capable of creating five. So try this with several different paints that you have. What I would suggest is try them in some variety of your primaries. So something in the blues, something in the reds, something in the yellows, just to get a feel for the way they behave differently when they are watered down to create different transparencies. So great exercises to practice and when you get a new color in, it's a great thing to see what its capabilities are. So if you buy a new color, take a little scrap piece of paper, see if you can create five levels of transparency with it and you'll get a really good feel for what the capabilities are for that color in your work. 3. Steady Lines & White Space: Consistent pressure in watercolor is another area of practice. I've got a number 7 brush right now. I've just got it loaded up with any old paint, and I'm going to go in. I just know it's a little fuzzy bit. Take that off. I've got a nice point on my brush. The way I achieve that is I usually dip it in the material, whatever paint color I've got, and I give it a little twist against the edge, the rim of my container. That gives it a nice point and consistent pressure. With a load in your brush, practice stripes. Not only are you practicing stripes, you're also practicing the gap in-between. Try to keep a fairly consistent width in-between. Just trying to straighten that one up a little bit. It's a fantastic challenge to see how close you can get to the previous line without touching it. I touched it. Something you will notice is that the more quickly you move, chances are the more consistent you'll be. It's because when we slow down, we tend to overthink things, we overcompensate. Keep the brush moving. Just begin to run out of that color, so I'm going to switch colors because that's fun. Let's mix something up using it though. Here we go, a little different color. Give it a little twist to sharpen the end. It behaves slightly differently, this particular pigment. I notice, here we go. Maybe I just didn't have my brush loaded enough. That's the other thing this exercise is really good for is making sure that you become accustomed to how much paint you need in the brush to travel a certain distance consistently. If I were to stop mid stroke and try and pick it up again, there's no way I'd line it up. There's something almost meditative about doing lines like this. Put some more color in, let's go with emerald, why not? Nice, consistent pressure, consistent color the whole way down the stripe. Now using the same brush, I'm going to change my hand position slightly and change my pressure, because now I want to practice thinner lines. Imagine how many instances you might need, that's a terrible one, how many instances you might need stripes. They could be stems, they could be pin stripes on something, they could be fence panels or even ripples in water. Super thin. Practice various widths because I know, oops, that was terrible, because I know you're going to use these. A little bit thicker. I'll go and change my color slightly. Warm up, neutralize slightly that emerald with a bit of cadmium. Now we have it. Practice creating consistent pressure lines. At the same time you're also practicing stripes and white space. How can you make this a little bit more fun with these exercises? Well, I'm just going to take one of my dishes and draw a rough circle and now I'm going to do some practice. I'm going to try stripes in a circle. What about changing directions? Why not? Heck, will change colors. Change directions and colors again. This time I'm going to go thicker. Change again, this way. There's no reason your exercises can't be interesting. Just make sure they're challenging. Here's a good thing to learn. Notice I get this extra pool of paint on the ends. Well, being able to control things like that can be difficult. However, it's just a matter of how much load you've got on your brush and how you handle that outcome. What I'll do is, I'll just do some strokes radiating out. What I'm doing is I'm lifting almost with a little flick at the end. I've changed how much paint is on my brush, so I have less pooling at the end of my stroke. If I do still find that they're a little bit heavy, I've rinse my brush, I've dabbed it on some towel and I'll just pull a little bit off. Now the risk you take with that is that it looks layered. So being able to control it a little bit more with the amount of paint you have on it and having that little flick as you come up, that's a better solution. While it's wet you can pull it through a little bit. That's much more clean way of taking care of that. A little flick. I've just dried my brush. Give it a little spin on the towel. There I've just flicked that little extra blob out. Now I don't have that really harsh layered look where I've just pooled too much pigment. Let's try it in another color. This time I'm just going to go away from me, which is tricky. You can see I've got that little pool. What I'm doing is, I'm just dabbing and spinning at the same time. I can just work right back through. It's a much more gentle end to my mark. Show you in another color. Those are pretty good. I think I've got the load just right on that. Let's try something in a thinner stroke. There we go, that we're going to have to fix. Again, dab, bring it right back up through. Now it would be difficult to tell which side you started that stroke from. Whereas these, it's pretty obvious that you start and then you've got a pool, start and you've got a pool. But these because we just dabbing really quickly and before have had anytime for the pigment to dry I just lift. I'm really doing this crescent movement with my hand. It's really important that you get this sort of movement happening. I go and I do flick the end just to reduce how much is left there. Dab and pull it back. That middle one is just fine. Let's go with a much more vibrant color. Lets see, I should get this. I darn well, those will dry a bit dark. Pull them up when they're still a little bit wet and then blending, oops, that one I let dry too soon, so that's a bad one. Actually, those pretty good. So that particular paint. This is where it comes in where you just need to learn the different pigments in the different paints and how they react a little bit. Because these are actually blending really nicely. Whereas these very definitely and that's because they're really water done. The pigment just pools at the end. But that is so dense, it's actually leveling out really nicely. Let's try a completely different color. Just grabbing a little bit of cobalt, throw In a little water in there. Lets see how cobalt behaves. While I'm doing this, I'm practicing a nice crisp edge. I'm practicing my lines, I'm practicing the white space in-between. Cobalt is coming along really nicely. Not really pooling at the end, so I don't feel the need to correct any of that. Let's try a few really thin marks. Which I have changed my hand position a little bit because I'm just drawing with the tip as fine as I can and still make contact with the paper. Remember, you are a human, you are not a machine, you're not a robot. This takes time. This takes practice. That went a little bit squarely, that's all right. We'll do some thin ones in between here, so you can see where just filling a page with marks in a variety of directions, can give you an immense amount of practice. This pigment pools at the end, because it's the same one as that. I'm just going to dab and pull back through, because I don't want it to look so harsh at the end. That's better. 4. Creating Clean Edges: Let's talk about edges. Being able to create a nice sharp line in a sharp edge in your watercolors. It's a little bit tricky and requires a little bit of control with your brushes but I'm going to show you what I think would be a great way to practice that. I'm just going to make a few lines on a piece of paper. Each line has two sides to it so that's what we're going to work with. I'm just going to take a little bit of paint and reactivate some that was in a palette from previous. I'm just going to add a little bit water because it's from hours ago. Here we go and I just want to test the color, so I'm just going to test it over here. That's pretty, I like that. I'm using a number seven brush, a pointed round and what I want you to do is I want you to take an edge. It doesn't matter which edge that you choose, whether you're taking from the left or from the right. But I want you to hold your brush so that you can get a lot of contact with about half of the bristles. So from point to about halfway up the bristles and you're going to want to give it a nice steady pressure pulling towards you and you'll notice a very nice sharp edge. Let's practice that again. I rotate my brush on the edge of my ceramic palette just to sharpen that point and I press and drag and I didn't quite load my brush enough. You can see where it gets a little bit dotty, that's because I didn't have quite enough paint loaded onto my brush and so it was a little bit dry as it came down, but I still have a pretty nice sharp edge. Let's try another one and this time I'm going to really load my brush up and press and pull towards you. It's always easier to pull towards you than to push away. Those are three very nice, crisp edges. If you want a color to meet on the other side of it, say you're doing two edges of a building or a box or something like that. Let's pick another color. I'm just going to pick the one right next to it, add a little bit water to reactivate that. By now, this first one is essentially dry. I'm just going to go in again as I did with the first marks and hold that still. I'm going to come right up to that line and pull. We have a very nice, crisp, even just ever so slight white gap in-between. You don't have to have a white gap in between. But if you don't want the colors to bleed into one another, you need to make sure that the previous color that you're butting up against is dry and I'll show you what that means in action in a moment. Pulling right towards me, making contact with about half of my bristles, if not slightly more. Nice, saturated wet edge and of course I've done this, so I'm going to put my hand in wet paint if I'm not careful, that's alright. I'm just going to go back a little bit. Practice also trying different ways of holding your brush. You may find that most people tend to hold the brush really tight and close and that's because if they're new to painting then they're used to holding a pencil for writing their name. But if you hold your brush back a little bit, sometimes you get a little bit more action, you get a little bit more expression and oddly enough, it can mean you get a little bit more control. Now as long as that's wet I can go in and I can just tidy up a little bit just to make the edge meet even better. Edge painting. One edge is dry and then you add the second color. What happens if the first edge isn't dry? Let's have a look. Just pop another line in, maybe two and grab some paint, put a nice wet edge and if I flip this and I'm impatient, and I want to put a second color in, let's go with a very different color. Make up a bit of a blue. Now I have not let this dry and if I try and get right up to it, look what happens. I'm not really crossing the line, but because the paper is wet with the previous paint, it's bleeding. Depending on the effect you want, maybe that's what you want to do. But if you're trying to make a nice crisp edge or where a shadow meets an object to that sort of thing in your painting then I would recommend waiting until that first bit is drawing. Let's see that one more time. This time we'll pick purple. Nice wet crispy line. I'll pick this funky green. Just going to spin it to make it a little easier. Again, a little bit of bleed into the previous color. So the trick with edges is to make sure the previous color is dry and then apply your second color. Now, what if you want to do shapes? Let's just make a shape. For a nice crisp edge, let's load up the brush. Again, I spin it to point it and same technique. I'm using the point along the edge and I'm going to press to get a lot of paint into the shape that I am trying to fill. But most importantly, I'm not doing an outline first. What I'm doing is I'm creating a pool of material that I can move around. Actually, I didn't load that quite enough. You can see, we'll make that a [inaudible]. You can see where I didn't put enough paint on my brush and so I'm already drawing irregularly. Let's try that again. A lot of nice paint on the brush. A good way to test to see if you've got too much or too little on your brush, a good load of paint, you can hold your hand out and you can try dropping it off. If it drops off, you've loaded too heavily. If it doesn't drop off and it glistens, that's a pretty good load. Now, you can see the difference at how nice and what that was. Come around to an edge and now I'm going back over where I was. I'm going to spin it because we want to create a lot of travel with the paint that's within the shape, that wetness. This keeps us from having those little phantom edges where the paint begins to dry. I just want to lift a little bit of that out because I don't want to have a blob in there and now that's going to even out pretty well. Not enough paint, great amount of paint and you saw how I just left the edge of the brush to trace around but I still pressed to make sure I had a lot of the bristle making contact. I'm really maximizing how much I'm touching the paper because that's going to help me stay away from little lines that are going to dry too quickly and it's really pushing that pool of material around. Look how much those bled into one another, those are terrible. I mean, they're pretty colors but that's really not what we are aiming for. One more shape. This time, what happens when we've got a more complicated shape? Let's just make a cube. I've got some different values of paint here so I'm going to use this. I'm going to make a cube in light, medium and dark. A little bit more, there we go. We're going to go in and I'm going to start with a corner, I'm going to drag, I'm going to keep that blob moving. I don't go down all the way because I want to make sure I got to pull through what's there so nothing dries with a hard edge prematurely. We have a nice shape and it's a little wobbly but that's all right but it's not drying unevenly. Now, if we wanted to do the other two tones of this cube say, it's got a light source and we've got a light, medium and dark, you already know that I can't go back in and do anything next to that because we'll get the bleed. You need to plan ahead and just let that go. While we wait for that, what happens if you want to fill a shape unevenly? What if you've got a flower petal and you want it to feel more concentrated on an edge or maybe towards the center? That's really easy to do. There's a couple of methods you can use. In fact, I'll just draw a second flower petal. First thing you can do is you can take just a little bit of pure water which has come from my jar so it's going ever so slight in to it and that's all right, so just paint with water, fill it in and then go in and add some color. Now, because you've got water in there inside that shape, your paint is going to bleed all over the place and that's fine but it's not going to bleed outside where you have water, it's going to stay within the boundaries. There is a certain surface tension to the water that means it's not going to go past that. You can manipulate the water and the paint within that shape to get the effect you want, maybe it's a blend from dark to light. What about if you want to try that same effect while it's dry? This is me just putting paint into a dry petal, I've not filled it but it's too much so I'm going to dry my brush. I'm going to lift out to sponging that out. That might still be too dark for me, so I'm just going to take a little bit of water, add it and sponge it out a little bit more. It's a slightly different effect but you still get that variation and you're still filling a shape, just the wet shape and you're not going beyond the lines. You've learned a lot of control and how to fill that shape without going beyond the edges. What's happening over here is a little effect called granulation. You can see there's a lumpy line here. Granulation is when the pigment is so heavy and it's suspended in water and it settles in certain places. Not all watercolor paints granulate. In fact, I know Winsor & Newton in particular sells a granulation medium that you can add to paint to make them granulate and we can talk a little bit more about that in future. However, that's not the line that I painted because I started up here. This is just the way that that water is pooling and settling and that's okay. I'm going to take another transparency value and I'm just going to test it, that's a good medium. I'm going to do medium and I'm really pulling through there pressing, pushing that water around, don't lose that wetness and there we have it. Working quickly but making sure that the first section is dry. Now I can leave that and that could be light, medium and dark but I'm going to just wait a few minutes and let that dry and I'm going to add my palest value, my most water saturated value of that. Come on, draw it. In the meantime, you can always practice and maybe add a drop shadow or something to your cube. Here we go. I didn't really think about that before I did it so it may not be completely correct in physics but that's fine. That's giving me a little bit of time. I can just feel that that's mostly dry, I just dragged through a little bit of wetness but that's all right. Let me use my cleanest water available and I usually have about four jars of water on my desk at any one time because I don't like to stop because I've got dirty water. Again, starting from a corner, I'm pulling what I've got around and you see I'm still using essentially the same brush technique with the point touching the edge and a nice heavy touch to get bristle contact and there we have it. 5. Filling Shapes: Solids and Blends: Let's talk about fills. So I've got another little sheet of paper. I'm just is going to use a template and get some shapes. Same technique would be used if you had irregular shapes. But just to give us some practice, just going to give us some circles to work with. So dry paper. We've got two techniques that I want to show you. We're going to use paint on dry paper and paint on wet paper to do fills. We touched on this a little bit when we were looking at edges, but let's go in depth a little bit more. So I'm just going to pick up some paint from my palette. Again, if you shake your brush just a little bit, if it glistens but doesn't drop, you've got a good load on your brush. So I do just going to sharpen it a little bit on the side by giving it that twist and I'm going to look at my first shape. So when we were doing edges, we laid it down, we pulled towards us. We're going to do essentially the same thing, but with a circle. I'm just going to start at about 12 O'clock. I'm going to go as far as I can without changing my direction. You can see that struggling a little bit with how much or how little paint I've got on my brush. But I'm still able to work quickly and get a pretty even tone throughout the whole thing. Got slight line there. But that's all right. I'm working with a number seven brush, pointed round. Just want to show you the difference, if I were to do the same exercise with a brush that's almost twice the size. I'm just going to make sure it's nice and wet. It almost soaks up the entire whale of color from my ceramic palette. Good load. I still use the point but I can fill so much more quickly and really move the material around. Try to avoid the temptation to paint where you can't see. If you're covering it with the brush or your hand, don't lay the bristles down. So now I'm going to come up with a much more even tone throughout the entire thing because I was able to hold more paint in the brush. Still the same size circle, but a bigger brush. So the moral of the story there is, use the biggest brush you can that you feel comfortable with. I suggest that you always push your boundaries and use a bigger brush, bigger brush, bigger brush. Bigger brushes are more expensive, but they're a wonderful tool to have. So just going to do another circle. This time, need a little bit more paint. I'm going to get a bit of green. I've got a lot of moisture on my brush. Look at that. Just drinks it up. Get my point, it's not too much, go in. So you can see I do a curve. I get right back into the middle of my circle because I'm constantly moving that paint around that pool, the water in water color. There we have it. So that is spreading paint on dry paper. Now, what happens if you've got wet paper? Just going to use my dirty water because it'll be a little bit easier for you to see on film. So if I go in and I've got slightly tinted water because it was my rinse pot. I use the same technique to fill the shape. Nice and wet, but I'm still taking care to not over step the edges. Now I get myself a towel. Now what happens when I pop in some paint? Look at that blooming effect. Now, I can fill by not even touching the edges and I know that my paint won't exceed the edges because of the surface tension of the water I've already put on the paper. So I haven't gone as far as drawing a line around the edge of my shape as I would normally start. But I'm just going to touch it up a little now just to make it a little more crisp. But I could have left it alone just as was. Let's do that again. Again, I'm using the largest brush I'm comfortable with doing this size, shape. Slightly dirty rinse water. You can just see I'm just going in and using water and wetting that shape. So I just put my finger in my green circle so it's going to have a spot in it, now. Sorry. There we go. So now that's nice and wet. I'm just going to grab another color entirely and I'm going to drop it in and look at the way it spreads. So you can coax it around the shape, just using very, very, very slight pressure. Basically by wetting the paper shape first, I've given boundaries to the pigment that I add. So what happens if you decide to do a two color shape? Let's find out. Throw a couple more circles on. I got to say I really love the color palette I have chosen. I love that green, purple, and turquoise. So two colors. What if we start with drying? Some towels again. So got a nice dry brush. I'm going to go in and I'm going to pick a color, I'm going to actually just expand one of my colors a little bit. Little bit of a heavier green into this green. I've got a nice amount of paint ready to go and, again, good load. So this is paint on dry paper. So I get around to where I can't see anymore and I turn my paper little bit. I keep moving that wet paint around. That looks pretty good. So that is very wet paint on a dry paper. Now, what about if we wet the paper first? So just using that dirty water, wetting the paper. You might be wondering why I didn't add my second color there. We'll get to that. I'm just letting that dry first. So this one is wet. Let's add a second color. This is wet in wet. You can see the way it starts to blend together and you can manipulate a little bit to finesse it this direction and that and you get a blending of the two. So I've got a watery, watery green and a bit of a purple together. This one is not quite dry yet. Now we're going to do a third style. So this was wet on wet. Let's do a wet circle using just some of my dirty water, so you can see it. I did do a little messy job but that's all right. So we're going pick two colors. Just use what I've got here. Anytime you've got excess paint in your palette, just use it for practice, don't wash it down the drain. So now I'm going to put my first color in and it's still got lots of nice wet surface to work with as well as adding its own. Let's go with green because that'll be pretty. We add the green in with. Again, it's not overstepping the boundaries of that wet shape that we've already put in place. That seems a little bit heavy, so I'm going to just dab a bit of that out. The two colors marry into one another a little bit less subtly than they did here. So this was wet over top wet. This is wet paper and then wet paint meeting wet paint. This over here, the one that we started, that's pretty much dry. So if we wanted to blend a color over top that I'm just going to pick some bits here. So now I'm taking wet color over what is essentially a dry shape. Just going to add some on top and before anything gets a chance to dry, I'm using a wet brush and I'm blurring that seam. So I still have my original green, which was dry then I've got the blue, the turquoise blue that I've put over top of it and it was a pretty distinct line, but because I just took plain water and I finessed that edge, it now has a very even blend onto the color below. 6. Creating Blends and Washes: Let's talk about blends and washes. Usually a blend or a wash is used in the background of a painting, so maybe a sky or something similar. You're going to want to be able to cover a large amount of space very quickly, so large brush is very important. This is the one I'll be using. For our examples, we'll be doing a flat wash first, so I've got wet on dry waiting there. As it says, we'll be doing wet paint on dry paper. Now a flat wash, is simply a single tone top to bottom. I want to put something down really nice and evenly less, so I've got a nice heavy load on my brush. I'm holding my paper at an angle, because the angle helps me a little bit. If you've got a drawing board or something you can prop up, then that'll probably help a tremendous amount. You can see what I'm doing is I'm just pulling down, letting gravity help me take that paint downwards. That's going to dry to be a nice flat area. I'll just rinse my brush a little bit. We're going to try this wet on wet, so I'm just going to dampen the bottom half of my paper. You can just see that that's been dampened. Now I'm going to take another color. Let's try green this time. I've made my paints up in advance because the last thing you want to do is be running low on paint, and trying to mix it while everything's drying right before your eyes. I'm just coaxing that paint down the wet surface. You can see it just behaves a little bit differently, it flows a lot more. You can tell the texture of the paper a little bit more because it's just pooling. I'm just going to go over that one more time, and I can because it's wet on wet, so I've got a little more working time. That is going to dry to be a nice even tone as well. We've got wet on dry, and we've got wet on wet. Now what if you don't want a flat wash of color? What if you wanted to go from light to dark or dark to light? What you need then is something called a graded, or graduated wash, which basically means it varies in tone from top to bottom. First, we're going to try it wet on dry. The technique here, is to get a nice load on your brush, and put something nice and heavy down on your paper. Then quickly, rinse your brush, and from just a little overlap, you pick up that paint, and you pull it down with more water, and then you do it again, until, you've got the tonal difference that you're looking for, so you go from strong to light in this case. This is a graded, or graduated wash varying in tone from top to bottom. Now, if you want to try that wet on wet, just going to dampen my paper, and we'll try this color. I've got some loaded on my brush, same technique. I've got my heaviest color there at the top, give a rinse, nice clean brush. You can see because it's wet on wet, it's already starting to help me out, and it's letting some of that watercolor leak down into the next bit of paper. Just keep working at. The way the paint behaves on the dry paper is a little more stripy, so it's a little more difficult to get a nice even graduated tone all the way down. On the wet paper, it's a little bit easier because the water on the paper is helping you to blend. Finally, what if you want to blend one color into another color? That's called a variegated wash, because it changes colors. First, we're going to do wet on dry. I'm just going to pick up this blue. Nice and heavy, I've got that pooling on the bottom edge. Now we're going to switch colors, let's try this orange. The idea is to just pick up that pool and work it down. Look a little bit more paint than I wanted, so I'm just going to rent some of that off. What the heck? I'm going to try third color. Just picking that up, and blending it as I go down. That, is a variegated wash, wet on dry, changing color as it goes down the page. Now to try this wet on wet, of course I'm going to dampen my paper, and I'll pull some of this purple. Again, nice and strong. I've got plenty on there to work with, so let's see, I've got some of that orange left, so I'll pick some of that up and I'll just touch that edge, bringing it down. What else have I got left? Maybe a little bit of this color here. Maybe let's go back into purple. Now, you see the wet in wet, and the wet on dry. Again, it's a little bit more banded, the wet on dry versus the wet on wet, but it really depends on the effect that you're looking for. As it dries, it's going to bleed and marry into one another just a little bit more, and this is going to soften a little bit too. But basically, you've got your wet and dry, and you're wet on wet, as a variegated wash. 7. Bonus: Warm & Cool Primaries: Mix, Tone, & Transform: Now, we're going to talk a little bit more about some warm primaries, cool primaries and a few other colors that you might want to add to a limited maybe travel palette, as well as two colors I find indispensable for toning, mixing and transforming that limited palette. Let's get a start with getting our warm primaries down. So we've got cadmium red, we've got, oops, that one is the wrong one, we've got, there we go, ultramarine, and we've got cadmium yellow. So cadmium red, ultramarine, and cadmium yellow. Now, for the cool set of primaries, we were working with alizarin crimson, cerulean, and lemon yellow. Will this run Cerulean and lemon. So there we've got our warms, we've got our cools, now, if you wanted to add a few colors to a limited travel box of paints, there are a few that I might recommend, one of them being yellow ocher, which will be one of your warms. Light red is very useful and burnt umber. All of them very sort of earthy colors. Now, to add a few cools to your limited palette, I might suggest viridian, which is a color that doesn't appear much in nature but behold, it is a very versatile color when mixing. Let's see, sap green, this is the Winsor & Newton sap green, which is far different to the one by QoR, which is golden company, and also raw umber, which yeah, that one is my raw umber. We'll go with that. So yellow ocher, light red, burnt umber, viridian, sap green, and also raw umber. So with those colors, you can make an awful lot. But to really unlock their power, I would recommend two colors to add to a limited palette that I call my toning mixing, and transforming colors. One is payne's gray, and the other is burnt sienna. So cool and a warm. So payne's and burnt sienna. These two are so useful for toning, mixing and transforming. Let me show you what I mean by that. So if we were to take cadmium red, and it doesn't take much highly pigmented example of cadmium red, little cadmium red and a little payne's. What we're doing is we're mixing a warm and a cool together. So you can see it drabs that color, drabs that red, right down. So this is how payne's is toning, the cadmium red. Now, toning is when you add gray to a color or a hue. Tint is when you add white to a color or hue, and shade is when you add black to a color or hue. The hue is just the pure color. So when you tone, you're adding gray and so payne's is a type of gray. Now, if I wanted to maybe transform cadmium red with something in its own warmth, I can try some burnt sienna with it. What happens is I get a much more orangey, sort of sunny kind of red. So something that's not quite as clown nose red. So this is cadmium red with payne's, and this is cadmium red plus burnt sienna. Now, let's have a look if we do something with one of the cools. Let's take cerulean and see how we can tone, mix, or transform one of the cools, so cerulean with just a bit of payne's, take just a tiny bit more. So cerulean, a cool color with just that little bit of payne's. still remains a beautiful cool color. But maybe it's a bit more of a sea kind of stormy sea kind of grayish blue, which is lovely. So we've just toned that using the payne's. Now, if I want to try my cool cerulean with something warm to transform it, take a little bit of this burnt sienna, and what happens is because I'm taking a warm and a cool together, you get much more neutralized effect. So you can imagine that if you needed very specific blues, that even if you have a limited palette, you can come up with some very different results just by choosing the right toning, mixing, transforming color. So this being cerulean plus payne's, and this is cerulean plus the burnt sienna. So what I'd like to see you do is I'd like to see you take several of your primaries and explore them thoroughly. So here's is a bit of lemon yellow and I'm going to just take lemon and so lemon is cool, and I'm going to add a bit of the burnt sienna. So that neutralized the lemon quite a bit, warmed it up. Lemon is not a strong color anyway, and so the burnt sienna has taken over a little bit and warmed that right up. So that's lemon plus burnt sienna. Now, what happens when lemon and payne's come together? There's some lemon, I'm just going to get that a little cleaner because my water is starting to get mucky, and there we go. A little bit of payne's in there. Now because payne's is a very blue-based gray, look at that, this wonderful, leafy green that's come out of gray and yellow. A dark blue, if you will, because payne's is very sort of steely blue and lemon. So lemon plus payne's. Now there is no shortcut to this kind of exercise, and for you to fully understand what you've got available to you in a limited palette, you have to do these tests. Now, the good thing is, when you're doing this, so that's pure cadmium. When you're doing this, you can make the notes and you can save these, and these are great for being future reference. So if I do, see, I just love making them. So there's cadmium and a bit of burnt sienna. So that makes a lovely orangey color, and it's a richer, more pigmented, more strength in the pigment than using the lemon yellow. So if I wanted sort of that orangey color, I could choose between the two yellows and get something in the strength that I want, and let's try it with some payne's and see what kind of green we get because we're pretty sure we're going to get a green. Because that's part of the aim of an exercise like this is to begin adding some predictability to the colors you're going to get when you're mixing. Oh yeah, that's lovely. So that's a very neutralized sort of ashy green, maybe even sagey kind of green, and that's because we've got a warm and cool coming together. So that's why it's given that sort of subdued look. So this is just cad yellow. This is cad yellow plus burnt sienna, and this is cad yellow plus payne's. So you can already see developing on just this one sheet of paper, I'm beginning to get a lot of variety out of a very simplistic set of colors. Part of that is down to knowing what goes with what, whether, it's a cool and a warm, are they going to fight and neutralize one another? Are they going to go gray or if you're choosing one of these sort of toning, mixing and transforming colors, the payne's or the burnt sienna, how is that going to react? Oh, that is a beautiful color, I love that. When you're color matching an absolute element, so say you need to do a painting of a product or of a plant, a specific plant. Not all greens are the same kind of green, and you know that's an obvious thing. But when it comes to being able to mix, to match a thing, so we say a jade plant or a particular color of glass, knowing what colors you have available and what these sort of toning, mixing, transforming colors do. Or what you can achieve by putting just a touch of a cool with a warm that is crucial. So I'd like for you to make yourself some swatch sheets, fully explore what you have available to you even if you don't do all of your colors, just do a few of the primaries, just start with the primaries, throw a few wildcard colors in, things that you find useful either in your environment or your experience, the things you like to paint, and I want you to fully explore those, and I want you to hang on to your swatch sheets because those are going to be valuable reference for here on out. 8. Final Thoughts and Thank You: Thank you for joining me for watercolor boot camp, drills and techniques for success. The exercises you've learned will keep your skills sharp for lifetime. But only if you keep practicing. There is truth in the old cliche, use it or lose it, so keep it up. If you'd like more technique work, check out my classes on hatching and expressive brush work. I'm a big fan of practice exercises, and I want you to be able to paint whatever your heart desires. Knuckle down, do the work, and show me what you do in the project section. I know you're going to see positive results. Keep up the amazing painting, and have a great day.