Watercolor Florals -Orchids | Sandra Mejia | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Class Project


    • 3.



    • 4.



    • 5.

      Shadows and Highlights


    • 6.

      Dry Brushing


    • 7.

      Brush Control


    • 8.

      Subject Matter


    • 9.

      Sketching and Composition


    • 10.

      Selecting Colors


    • 11.

      The Flower - Part 1


    • 12.

      The Flower - Part 2


    • 13.

      The Leaves


    • 14.

      The Vase


    • 15.

      Painting The Other Two Flowers


    • 16.



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About This Class

I use watercolor florals a lot in my designs, so I created this class to show you how I paint flowers, and specifically, orchids.  Since it´s not scientific botanical illustration where everything has to be exactly the same as in nature, you can have fun with your creations.  Join me while I show you the basics of blending colors, adding shadows and highlights, and I show you how to add texture and how to gain brush control.  I will also share some tips on sketching and composition, selecting colors and creating backgrounds. And the best part, I will walk you through my whole process of painting one of the orchids, the leaves and stem and the root and you can see a time lapse painting of the rest.  So join me and use my tips and techniques to create your own paintings!

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Meet Your Teacher

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Sandra Mejia

Illustrator + Pattern Designer

Top Teacher

Hello! I'm a Freelance Illustrator and Pattern Designer. I was born in Medellin, Colombia (puedes escribirme en Espanol!). I create detailed, stylized, playful illustrations, patterns and characters from my studio in Ottawa, Canada.

I have very big eyes and I love animals. Most of my inspiration comes from nature and animals.

My art has been licensed by companies around the world for use in: Fabrics, Stationery, Kids, Editorial, Greeting Cards, Fashion, Puzzles, Gift and Home Decor.

Sign up to my email newsletter to get news and freebies: -> https://www.artbysandramejia.com/freebies

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Level: Beginner

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1. Trailer: Hello, I'm Sandra Bowers and I'm a freelance illustrator and surface pattern designer. I use watercolor florals a lot in my designs so I created this class to show you how I paint the flowers and specifically orchids. Since it's not scientific botanical illustration where everything has to be exactly the same as in nature, you can have fun with your creations. Join me while I show you the basics of blending colors, adding shadows and highlights, show you how to add texture and how to gain brush control. I will also share some tips on sketching and composition, selecting colors and creating backgrounds. The best part, I will walk you through my whole process of painting one of the orchids: the leaves, stem, the root, and the base. You can also see a time-lapsed painting of the rest. So join me and use my tips and techniques to create your own paintings. 2. Class Project: For your class project, you will select any flower of your choice, create a composition with it, and show us your finished painting in the class projects gallery. Some of my flower reference pictures are available in the class documents for you to download and use for reference for your projects if you want. Remember that these are only the basics and that you should use them to create whatever you're most passionate about, and in the style you like. So we're free to experiment. I can't wait to see your projects. I see every one that has posted and it makes me so happy to see what you've done. 3. Supplies: This is a list of materials you will need to follow the class. 4. Blending: First I will show you how to blend colors using the pan watercolors. Put some water down and grab the first color. I'm using this light blue. Lay it down here, clean your brush and then apply the second color, which is going to be a green. Lay down on this side and mix it with little touches and leave it so it starts to blend. That is called wet on wet. While that dries, I'm going to show you the wet and dry technique. Make a blue circle and let it dry. That was using the pans set. Now I'll show you the same techniques with liquid watercolors. Apply water and then add some yellow och-re or whatever color you choose. Wash your brush and apply this second color. Liquid watercolors are very concentrated so you don't need a lot. Let that dry. Now paint the yellow circle and let that dry too. Let's go back to the pan set. Select green and start putting on one side of the circle. Keep drying your brush. Don't squeeze like this because you will ruin the tip. Do it like this, softly and in a rotating motion. The dry brush helps you blend your colors and soften the transition. If I use water, I can really lift the dry paint that create highlights. I can also use water to blend the edges until they fade away it softly. That's a great advantage of the pan set. Now apply a little bit of the blue liquid watercolor here. Keep drying your brush to blend it in and merge the colors would solve strokes. I'm going to try to leave this pain to create a highlight as we did with the pan set. See that it doesn't lift that easily. This might be an advantage or a disadvantage of the liquid watercolors. I personally prefer that they don't lift that easily, but you should choose according to how you paint. Here, I'm trying to fade the border and it doesn't become seamless as in the top one. Don't scrip paper a lot because you may ruin it. These are things that you should consider before you choose your paints. Try them out and know how they work so you can choose your favorite one. For me, the vibrancy of the colors in these ones is so much better. Also when I'm going to start working in the details, might details would never leave the paint underneath. Since the pan sets needs a little bit more water, they will lift a bit and they will be more translucent. Also, water layers on top will lift the paint. That doesn't happen here. Not all pan sets react the same way. Try at your paints and decide what suits you on your art. Art is a very personal thing, so make it your own. I mostly use wet and dry because I love having control over what's happening in my paintings. This is what we will be using most. 5. Shadows and Highlights: Make a light circle and make a leafy shape and let them dry a bit. I'll start building up on the areas that are in the shadow. Dry your brush constantly to blend. Let's say the light source is here and that the shadows are in the opposite side. Now do the same to the leaf. Laying your full brush down helps blend the paint. I'm rough with my brushes but still they last me a long time. I've had this for around three years and they're still perfect. If it's too dark, add more water, dry the brush and just blend it in. Keep adding layers so it builds up gradually. This is how you can fix these things if you mess it up, just modify the shape a bit. Art doesn't have to be so perfect. That's why it's art and it's fun. Flowers and things in nature are not usually one shade so I like mixing colors. When you add them, add them with the same intensity and don't add a lot color in the light areas, and add a lot of color in the dark areas. That's how I create shadows and highlights. 6. Dry Brushing: This is a technique I use to add texture. So I use an old brush. This has to be done with two watercolors or with gouache because you need the paint to be thick. So grab some paint with your brush, dry it up so it's not super saturated, and just rub on your paper to create texture. 7. Brush Control: Try these shape and lines over and over again until you learn how your brush works and you can control it. Circles are tricky so if they're not perfect, you just keep going around them to make the edges meet and to make the lines look good. Try making sharp edges and also try making lines meet exactly where you want them to meet. If you try to make a shape like this, you identify the problem area and you keep going until you find a way to make it right, like holding your branch at a different angle or rotating page. The idea is just to learn how your brush works and to have control over it. Also, it varies with the amount of paint you have in your brush. See here, a dry brush produces at different effect. The idea is that you have fun with it, and you practice and practice until you gain control of your brush. 8. Subject Matter: I just obtained some orchids. I have some real live ones here in a pot. But I will also take some pictures of them because it's good to have them as pictures at first because that way you are always looking at them from the same angle. If you're doing it for more than a day and you picked up the flowers somewhere, they will die. My orchids won't die because they're in the pot. But if you picked the flower or the herb, then it's not so easy to keep them alive and looking pretty for several days so you have to paint them in one shot, so that's why pictures are so useful. But always make sure you're painting from your own pictures because pictures have copyrights and they're owned by their photographers, so don't trace or copy somebody's picture. If you're going to take pictures of your flower, your element, take lots of different angles and close-ups of the details because these will serve as a very good reference afterwards. You want to have as many pictures as you can so you can look at every single detail. After you've learned the basics, you can also make up your own flowers where you don't have to look at references. 9. Sketching and Composition: If you're unsure of how to create a composition at first, you can always draw a nature's composition. It's always perfect. You can also create your own composition, there's a simple way of doing this. First, identify the basic geometric shape of your flower. For example, or a guitar like a triangle, and they have another triangle upside down. Then they have a circle here and once you have that basic structure, you can start adding the different components. Sketches don't have to be pretty or detailed. They're just there to guide you. If you want you could also trace over your picture and again, make sure that it's your picture, not somebody else's. You can use the ones I have provided in the class documents. Those I'm giving you permission, you can trace over them and use them. But please don't do it without the photographer's permission. I really don't like tracing because I was told by a great artist never to trace or I'd have to rely on tracing always. Because I prefer that what I paint is an interpretation of reality, and my painting's don't look so much as pictures. This is not scientific botanical illustration so you can just have fun and create things that don't exist and add your own details or colors. That's what's great about art for me. You can just have fun. Some tips for compositions is always have odd numbers of things. For example, have three flowers, and five little boats, and maybe three leaves, or seven leaves, or five leaves, because for the brain it's more pleasing to have odd numbers. Keep sketching all your flowers. When they are ready start tracing them on your tracing paper. Now cut each one out. Bring the watercolor paper and lay them out under, move them around until you're happy. Make sure you place them centered on both sides since this is going to work like a print too. For example, two fingers on the right and two fingers on the left. This technique is really good because you can experiment a lot without wasting a lot of time sketching and sketching the same thing over and over again. Once you think it's pleasing to the eye and everything is distributed in a way that makes all the spaces fill out evenly, then you'll know you're there. You can use the same with the leaves and part or you can face the rest of the tracing paper and draw on it. Again, leave the same distance on the top, on the bottom. I want a smaller base and the one on the paper so I will come up with a new figure for that. Have fun with these and create something you like. The magic of painting is that you can create things that are in your mind and not have to rely on reality all the time. When you have all your composition ready, then it's time to transfer it to the watercolor paper. If you don't have a tracing box, you can use a window to trace or there is another way of doing this. For example, this is your sketch. You can take your pencil and color all over the back, and then you place it on your watercolor paper and you trace over your line, that will transfer the pencil to the watercolor paper, or you can also use a light box like I'm doing here. I will take my image behind my paper and start tracing lightly so you don't scar the paper. 10. Selecting Colors: Have your picture or the flowers in front of you, and choose the colors you see. For example, on mine, I see red, pink, purple, orange, yellow, and brown and green. I actually don't see red and orange. But I know I want to not make all my flowers so purple. So I will be adding some shades of pink. So that's why I add red and orange. I just start making some blobs of paint to see how I like the colors on the paper and if they work together, and it also gives me a chance to see how they mix between them. Here I mix some red and purple and I like it more than just the purple, that's like come straight out of the jar. So I write down the number of the paints I use so I remember. In my liquid water colors, each jar has a name and a number, so the number is shorter. Here's pink and red. I really like those for the flowers. I will also let them merge to see how they mix. You can also add water if you want to see how they will look for the really light areas. Now I'm going to plant a yellow ocher for the inside detail in the middle of the flower. Wow, this is too yellow, so I want to add a little bit of brown. That's perfect. Finally, colors for the leaves. The unmixed green for my taste doesn't look as natural, so I'll add a little bit of brown, and that looks great. So I will definitely use that. Now, I'll add some yellow to that green, and I will write down the colors before I forget. If you cannot remember the name of each drop, you can put them on the little wells and just label them with a sharpie or something. I will try to add some purple to here because these orchid leaves have some purple. So wow, that looks great too. So those are my colors. Now I'm happy with my palette, but I want to add another brown. So I will just add brown straight from the jar, and that looks great. In all the colors, the ocher is the one that I will be using less because only a tiny detail in the the flower, and it's the one that seems to tie these two pallets together. So I will make the base that color. 11. The Flower - Part 1: We're going to start painting one of the flowers. I usually paint all of them at the same time so I can let some layers dry while I paint the other ones. But I'll paint just these one first so you can see the whole process. I start by laying out drops of my paints on the palette. I use a little wells when I want to mix colors with a lot of water. I also have a scrap of paper to test my colors first and check that they're not too dark. The saturating your picture is a great way to identify where the lights and the deepest shadows are. So you can leave the whitest areas either on painted or painted with a very light wash. In the project gallery, you can see some desaturated pictures. I did this in Adobe Photoshop software, it's really simple to do and you just print it out. Now, I will add a bit more of pink to the mix and start painting. Try your brush constantly and add water to blend. I don't like taping down like paper because I don't use so much water and I use thick paper so it doesn't coil up too much. I'm being able to turn it, it makes it so much easier for me to paint. Let the water follow on the bottom so it creates more shading. These two are the lightest petals, so I will add a bit of red to the mix to paint the other ones in a sort of differentiate. Add water to blend it and make sure you don't cover the areas that are supposed to be white or very light. You can use your thin brush for detailed areas. I'm going to start making these ones a bit darker, start adding some texture. For example, these petals have little paints and lines, solar the painting line so it simulates them. Again, let it follow on the bottom. This is looking way too pink, so I'm going to start adding a bit of purple to it. The shadows here, I start making my paint dark circles, so I can build on the layers and layers gradually. I'll water to blend and dry your brush, that way you can leave the light area unpainted. Let's blend that shadow so it's not so obvious. I miss this in the sketch, so now I will add it and start painting these with the little thin brush. Notice that I never paint them to areas that are next to each other until one is dry, that way they won't mix. In real life, all kits are very subtle, and they don't have much texture in the petals. But I want these to be more detailed, so I'm going to to keep building upon the petals. Don't paint them just a solid color, if you keep adding it in strokes, it will create more of a texture. If you see that your paper starts to warp a bit like here, it means that it's very fragile now, so you're going to have to start working in a different area. 12. The Flower - Part 2: Now, I'm going to add my darker colors to create some depth. Since it's not scientific botanical illustration, we get to add colors, shapes, or textures that are not really there in the real life. Don't be too constrained by your picture or sample in front of you and just create and add the details you want. I usually hold my brush really close to the [inaudible] when I have to paint detailed areas, but it will be hard for the camera to see what I'm doing. So I'm holding it farther away from the tip. But if you really need control, you can try that. Now I'll make this one darker. This petal in the bottom is going to be darker too so add dark paint and then bring some water to blend it in. Make this area darker so that the front area stands out more. Add a thin layer of pink to blend everything together and smooth the edges so that the highlights are not totally white. Now use the yellow ocher to paint the center. This part is the most exciting because the little details will give life to the flower. Here the yellow is very light. Erase your pencil lines really softly so you don't leave the paint. You have to be specially careful when you're not using liquid water colors because they will lift more. Now we're going to start making the details in the yellow area. I will mix some red paint with some black. You can make the details using a thin brush or you can also use a nib pen. I prefer the nib pen. If you're using these, grab some paint with the brush and apply it on the nib. You have to cover these little hole. Try it on your scrap paper first and make sure you don't put a lot because then it might just spout on the paper. You can add a bit more paint if it's getting dry. 13. The Leaves: Now I'm going to start painting the leaves. I get my green and brown readied and mix them. I'll add more water here and add this purplish red and let it blend with the water. I will do the top leaf now because it's not touching these ones so they won't mix. Add some brown painting in the base. Paint underneath the leaf with the brown too so it creates a shadow. Add some more water and a bit of yellow. Now add some wet paints as dots and let them blend to create texture. Now make the stem the same way. Now that the leaves are dry, makes some parts darker to give them more definition. Mix green and brown again to make a different shade of green. Use that to paint the middle leaf. Add spot and dots of paint to create more texture. It's really great when water colors have a lot of texture. I'm going to mix red and black again to create that color we used for the little details in the flower. I'm going to use them to make the center paints. These leaves have a reddish outline, so I'm going to go around them with a very thin line. The vapor is starting to warp here so that means I have to leave that area alone. I'll go to the stem on start adding some details like a shadow line on the border. Use some white tube watercolor or gouache and use a dry brush technique to add texture to the stem. Remember to keep your brush really dry and just rub it on the surface of the stem. 14. The Vase: Now I'm going to start painting the base. Add some yellow orchid that's a bit watery and let it paddle in certain areas to create some texture and not a flat to wash, only with same brush so that the borders are smooth. Add darker browns to create even more texture. I'll use a piece of paper towel to lift some paint and create lighter patches. When it's still wet, but not too wet, I'll add little dots of gold ink. They spread out so nice, I love gold ink. Now, use white ink to add some little details. The roots usually have little white dots, so I will go on and add them. You can add some to the leaves too. Now this needs some dirt. So I'm going to create a dark brown by adding some black, and make the dirt and add some contrast. Now our flower and our base are done. I hope you enjoyed the process. I will paint the outer two flowers in the exact same way. The next unit is a time-lapse video of it. I won't be explaining anything there because everything is done in the same way I just showed you. 15. Painting The Other Two Flowers: This is a high-speed video of how I painted the other two flowers. 16. Backgrounds: I'm not adding a background to my orchids painting, but I will show you how to add one and how to pick the color in this simple flower painting I have here. I will add the background before I'm finished adding all the shadows and details of my flower. So I would add it here in the middle of the process. If you're unsure about the background color, you can use this technique. Sometimes I will scan it in and take it into Adobe Photoshop software and try out different colors, but usually I just create little pieces of paper and use them as swatches. I will test them out to see which one I like more. I love pink, so that's the one I choose, always. The green also looks very pretty and sometimes it's harder to do such dark background, so I'll show you how I do that. Backgrounds are especially useful when you have a white or a very light flower. So you could do two things: you could paint some leaves behind the flowers, or you can just add a wash of color. I will show you both. I will paint two leaves here, and I will add a wash to the other half. To create backgrounds, I like to use my pencil because I can merge the edges of the paint easier with them as I showed you at the beginning, so I'll start painting the leaves. Just paint them and add drops of water colors or more water to create some textures as we did with our leaves in our orchids and then use this small brush if you need to smooth the borders. I would let that dry and then I would continue adding details later when I'm adding details to the flower too, but for now I'm going to leave them and add the background wash. First add just water. I would be adding just water, but I'm going to add a little bit of color here so you can see what I'm doing. You use a smaller brush if you need to. You keep adding just water and move it around until it'll cover the edges of the flower. If it's a very big surface, you don't have to do it all at once, just make sure the area you're working on is always wet. You keep adding some color and you keep extending the area until you cover it all. I like to try to blend the edges to a very light color with the side of the brush, so that it ends up being irregular. Just keep going around, adding color and water, and blending it in. You can also make it much darker by adding more paint. The secret is to always have wet areas so that it lands better. You can also start mixing in other colors. Effects like these done when the brush is very dry, are also pretty. You want to make the background more expressive, so you can draw your brush, brush it around, so that equates different edges. Here I'll show you how to make it lighter, and just add less paint and keep going around the flower. There you have it. That's how I create backgrounds. Now I'd go in and finish my flower and leaves with all the details and correct the edges in case the background has gone into the flower or something. That's how I paint my flowers and I hope you enjoyed it a lot, and be sure to check out my other classes here on Skillshare if you want to see how I paint other things with watercolors, or if you want to see how I use them in patterns. Bye.