Watercolor Fundamentals: Water Control and Shape | Keren Duchan | Skillshare

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Watercolor Fundamentals: Water Control and Shape

teacher avatar Keren Duchan, Doodler, Teacher

Watch this class and thousands more

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

Watch this class and thousands more

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

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.



    • 3.

      Adding and Removing Water


    • 4.

      How Much Water is in Your Brush?


    • 5.

      Wetness Scale


    • 6.

      Brush Size and Shape Size


    • 7.

      Edges and Corners


    • 8.

      Imagine the Outline


    • 9.



    • 10.



    • 11.



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About This Class

This class will teach you two key fundamental watercolor painting skills: Water Control and Shape.

With regards to Water Control, you'll learn:

  1. How to add water and remove water from your paper
  2. How to control how much water you’re putting down in the first place
  3. How to make a "wetness scale" and what it's good for
  4. How brush size is related to the size of the shape you’re painting

With regards to Shape, you'll learn:

  1. How to paint shapes with smooth edges, straight edges, and sharp corners
  2. Why sometimes you might not want to outline your shape and then fill it in, but rather paint the shape in segments.
  3. How to practice precision - painting your shapes exactly where you want them to be, even very close together without them touching.

I’ll walk you through some fun exercises that you can do whenever you have time to dedicate to practicing these fundamental watercolor skills. You get to control how hard or how easy these exercises are. So whether you’re an absolute beginner or have been painting for a while, I think you’ll find this class and these exercises useful.

These water control skills and shape skills might seem deceptively simple but they are key to painting with watercolor. So let's do this!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Keren Duchan

Doodler, Teacher


Hi! I'm Keren. I create whimsical, experimental, colorful illustrations and abstract work and using pen, ink, watercolor, and Procreate on the iPad. 

I'm here to encourage you to follow your creative path, grow your skills and confidence, and have fun with it!

Look me up on Instagram @artonthefridge.

I look forward to seeing your beautiful creations!

See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Intro: When I started out using watercolor, I think I took the name 'watercolor' a little bit too literally, and I would flood my paper with water. I was so excited to try and paint. I would just go for it. I would sit down with my paints and try to make something beautiful on paper, but this often resulted in a lot of frustration because I guess I didn't yet know what I was doing. I didn't want to stop, and I kept painting. I would paint for hours and hours and hours. This class is what I would have liked to know when I was starting out and feeling stuck and frustrated. I think that if you practice these very fundamental skills, then no matter what you go on and paint, it's going to be a lot better, a lot easier, and a lot more enjoyable. In this class, we'll cover water control and shape. I'll show you how to add water and remove water from your paper, and how to control how much water you're putting down in the first place. We'll paint shapes in different levels of wetness. I call this a wetness scale, and we'll see what it's good for. We'll talk about how brush size is related to the size of the shape you're painting. We'll practice painting shapes with smooth edges, straight edges, and sharp corners. We'll see why sometimes you might not want to outline your shape and then fill it in, but rather paint the shape in segments, and we'll practice precision, painting your shapes exactly where you want them to be, even very close together without them touching. I'll walk you through some fun exercises that you can do whenever you have time to dedicate to practice these fundamental watercolor skills. You get to control how hard or how easy these exercises are. Whether you're an absolute beginner or have been painting for a while, I think you'll find this class and these exercises useful. These water control skills and shapes skills might seem deceptively simple, but they're key to painting with watercolor. Without further ado, let's get to it. 2. Supplies: Let's go over the supplies you need for this class. These are all of the supplies you need. You need a watercolor paper, two brushes. I'm using two synthetic round watercolor brushes, one is a size 6, one is a the size 2. You don't have to use exactly this size, use what you have. A paper towel for dabbing your brush and a pallet with watery paint in just one color. I want to explain why we're using only one color for the duration of the whole class and we're preparing it in advance in this palette. When you use lots of colors, you are wetting your brush in a jar of water which is sometimes clean, sometimes not really clean. You're picking up some water from your palate, you're mixing several colors over here, you're maybe cleaning off your brush in between colors and you're thinking about what color am I going to use now. This is a lot of distraction and I want us to focus on the fundamental concepts that we're going to cover in this class. Once we prepare this palette, we don't need the jar of water and we don't need all of these other paints. Let me show you how I prepared my watery paint mixture. I chose to use ultramarine blue for the duration of the whole class. It doesn't matter if you're using tube watercolors or watercolors that come in a pan set, or water colors that are concentrated in a little bottle. What I do is I put a little bit of the paint in my palette and I get some clean water and I transport that water into the palette. I have this little bottle that used to contain vitamins and it's pretty convenient for pouring a lot of water into the palette. But you could also use a dropper to move water from your jar to your palette or a large brush which takes a bit more time to do, and mix up your paint. It doesn't matter how dark or how pale it is as long as you can see it properly on your paper. Make sure it's got a very watery consistency, so it's not too thick. So you used quite a lot of water and prepare quite a bit of paint because we're going to need that paint for our exercises. You can see that I have my watercolor paper tape down. I've taped it down to a piece of foam core. It's very inexpensive. You buy a large sheet of it and you can cut it to any size you like, and it's also lightweight. Instead of foam core, you can also tape down your watercolor paper to the cardboard backing that used to be at the back of a used up sketchpad or anything really, just don't tape it down to your table because you want to be able to pick this up, turn it around, put it away if you need to. I've cut up my paper to a pretty small size, you can use whichever size you like and you don't have to take down your paper if you don't want to. The reason I taped down my paper and the reason I do recommend you tape down your paper is because once the paper is wet, it's going to start to work to some degree. At some points you'll find yourself painting on paper that's hovering in the air and that's just going to make it that much difficult. By taping down your paper, you're making it easier for you to focus on the skills that you're trying to work on in this class. One last thing before we begin, I want to show you how I take down my paper. I'm using masking tape, you could also use painter's tape and I put my paper down somewhere in the middle. I stretch out a piece of masking tape and since I can see through it a little bit, I'm trying to leave about an eighth of an inch or three millimeters border around the paper just doesn't have to be precise. Then I proceed to tape all the way around. Once you've finished painting and you want to take off the masking tape, you need to be careful so that you don't tear the paper. The way I like to remove my masking tape is away from the edge. If this is the edge, I'm pulling the masking tape away that way, like this. Not like this, because when you pull the masking tape this way, sometimes it grabs the fibers at the cut edge of the paper and it tears that paper. Another tip about removing masking tape is to do it slowly. Be especially careful around the corners of your paper because you've got this edge and this edge that might tear. Painter's tape is a little bit less sticky, so it might be safer for you. I just use masking tape because it's what's more readily available around me. Get your watercolor paper, your brushes, your palate with your watery paint, and your paper towel and you're good to go. 3. Adding and Removing Water: For this lesson, all you're going to need is your watercolor paper, your paper towel, your size six round brush, and your watery paint mixture in your palate. What we're going to do is practice putting down water onto the paper and removing water from the paper. We'll start by dipping our brush into this watery paint and by doing so, the water is suspended in this space in between the bristles of the brush. Let's put down some water onto the page and when I say water, it doesn't matter if it's clean water or a pale wash or a very dark wash. As long as it's got a watery consistency, I'm going to call it water or watery paint. You can see in the light that the surface of the water that's sitting on top of the paper is glossy as you'd expect from water, and you can see that the water is swishing around in the shape. It's moving freely because of the moisture inside the shape and it's not escaping the shape. It's not jumping outside the borders of the shape, it's contained within the shape. If we wanted to add more water to this shape, we could go back and dip our brush into the paint or into the watery paint and touch it into the shape. We've added more water and let's do that again. Let's create this crazy puddle here on the page. This puddle is gotten pretty tall and there's a lot more water in that shape and if I tip my paper enough, it's going to drip outside the shape. That's how much water there was in that shape. We saw that we can add water with a wet brush and now let's see how we can remove water or subtract water from the shape. We added water with a wet brush and we remove water with a dry brush. By touching our brush to the paper towel, the water moves from where it's wet to where it's dry and so our brush is getting pretty dry. Now that the brush is pretty dry, we're going to just lightly touch the surface of the water and the water moves from where it's wet to where it's dry. At some point this brush isn't so dry anymore because of the water moved into it. Again, we touch it to the paper towel, the water moves from where its wet towards dry. Now it's pretty dry and we repeat the process until we remove as much water as we want. We can also tilt the paper so that the water clusters together over here down at the bottom and then we can pick it up from that one spot instead of trying to pick it up from all over the shape. This is especially useful if your shape is very large. I'm trying to just touch the surface of the water because if I touch all the way down to the paper, I'm going to disturb some of the pigment that's sitting on the paper. All right, so let's do that again. Let's pile up serious puddle of water over here. But now instead of using our brush to pick up all of that water, which as you saw, takes us quite a few goes, we're going to use our paper towel. Take a little point of your paper towel, corner of your paper towel and gently touch it to this shape and you can see that the paper towel is a lot stronger at sucking up water from this shape. But it's a lot less precise than the brush and it also required you to put down your brush and pick up your paper towels. Often times I just pick up the water using my brush because it's already in my hand, and also because I usually don't have that huge pool of water to get rid of, I just have just a little bit of excess that I'm trying to get rid of. Practice putting down water onto your shape and drying your brush and removing the water with your brush or with the paper towel, and tilting your paper and lifting the excess water. Take a look at your paper in the light, see what it looks like when there's less water on the paper, it's still glossy, there's still a sheen to the paper, but maybe it's not as glossy as the wet, the very wet paper. If you're very patient, you can take a look at this until it dries completely. As it dries, it loses its sheen. So noticing how the sheen looks at the different level of wetness of your paper is very important. It helps you know how wet this area is and it affects how you're going to work with your water color on that area. When it's completely dry, it's going to look as matte as the paper. Practice that until you're comfortable with adding and removing water. 4. How Much Water is in Your Brush?: So in the previous lesson, we saw how we can dip our brush in the water and add some water to the paper. But we didn't have any control over how much water we put on the paper. What if we want to have control over how much water we put on the paper in the first place, rather than putting a bunch of water and then getting rid of any excess. In order to control that, we're going to have to pay attention to how much water there is in our brush before it touches the paper. So if we dip our brush in the water, it's heavily loaded with water and it's even so heavily loaded that it's got this tiny drop at the edge that's about to drip off. So if that drop dripped off, there's a little bit less water on here. So let's take a heavily loaded brush and make a mark on the paper and notice how much water is in there. By noticing how much that water can swish and how glossy it is on the paper. Now let's do the same thing, but instead of using a loaded brush, let's wipe the brush on the side of the palette. When you wipe your brush on this side of your palette, you're pressing the bristles of the brush, the hairs of the brush together and you're forcing the water out from the space between the bristles. So you've removed some of the water that was in this brush. So this brush is a little bit drier now. So let's try that. Our brush is wet, we wipe it against our palette, now it's not as wet and now let's try and make a mark and you can see that there is a lot less water over here than over here and that's how we control how much water we put down in the first place. By controlling how wet or how dry our brush is before it touches the paper. So dipping it in the water was really wet. wiping it off is a little bit less wet, wiping it off a lot of times is a little bit less wet. Let's say we want even drier than that so we can use our paper towel either by just getting rid of a tiny bit of water or getting rid of a lot of water, whatever we want to do. We have complete control over how wet or how dry our brush is. So practice making a few marks on the paper and notice what you did before you touch the paper. You dipped the brush, you got rid of some excess water or you didn't get rid of the excess water and see what amounts of water you get onto the paper that way. This is how you control water that goes onto your paper. So practice that until you feel pretty confident in putting a lot of water down or putting less water down or putting very little water down on your paper. 5. Wetness Scale: Now that we know how to control how much water we are putting down in the first place and we also know how to add water if we need to or remove water if we need to. Let's try and create a scale from five down to one, where five is the wettest possible shape we can make and one is the driest shape we can make. I'm just going to add some more pigment to my water because I want it to be a bit darker. I'm going to paint the shapes from right to left because I'm left-handed. But if you're right-handed, it would be easier for you to move from left to right. My number five, which is the wettest puddle I could make, is going to look something like this. This isn't the wettest puddle I can make so I want to go back and add some more water. Really go crazy with this one because it's our wettest shape. This would be our number five and let's call this one "a puddle of water." You can see how much water is contained in that shape. For our number four, we're still going to have a generous amount of water, but not as much as five. We put down enough water so we know this is going to take quite a while to dry. There's still some swishing of water in the shape. If we think we've put too much and we're too much like a puddle, you know what to do. Just dry your brush and pick up some of that water. This would be our four, I guess. I call this a generous amount of water. You can see the water swishing, but it's not swishing as much as the five. Look at the glossy surface, it's pretty glossy. There's quite a lot of water in there. This will dry faster than this. This will take forever to dry. I'm going to call this one," a generous amount in the water." Now for our number three, we still want to use enough water, but we don't want to go so far as to have that swishing water in the shape. In order to do that, I'm probably going to need to wipe off my brush a little bit on the palette to control how much water I'm putting down. I'm not going back to dip my brush in the water again because I don't want this to be too watery. But at some point I'm going to run out of paint or water so I'm going to want to go back, but I don't want to have this brush to loaded. This shape is pretty watery. You can see that you've got a sheen on the surface, but it's not as glossy of a sheen as our five and four. You can see that it's a little bit less glossy and it's already starting to dry. This would be our number three and let's call this one," a fair amount of water." For our number two, we're going to go for something that's drier than the three and the way I like to think about it is to compare it with a marker. Let me show you what I mean. This is a water-based marker and it's got a wet tip and this is just some plain Sketchpad paper. When I make a mark with the marker, this is almost instantly dry. It's not as wet as our number three over here, which if I were to touch it, I'd be able to smear it on the paper. The marker dries almost instantly and obviously this isn't completely dry. This isn't as dry as the paper, but it's pretty dry. If I were to try and fill a shape with the marker, if you look closely, you'll be able to see and recognize where I put the marker down. You're able to see the individual strokes of the marker and my shape is going to look streaky. It's going to be pretty hard for me to make a shape that's completely uniform where you can't see those streaks. If you look at these shapes, these three, four and five, you can't tell where my brush made a stroke. You can't see the individual strokes of the brush made because these are wetter shapes. The water erased all of the strokes from the surface of the paper and you can't find them anymore. For our number two, we're going to try and emulate a marker. We're going to try and get our brush to be like the tip of the marker. For this, you're going to use a pretty dry brush. It might take you a few tries to get there. I'm trying to put down paint in a way that it dries immediately. You can see that there is no sheen off the surface of this, so this is pretty dry. Not as dry as the paper but pretty dry already. I'm going to try and paint my shape with this dry of a brush. You can see that it's nearly impossible for me to paint this shape without any streaks showing. You can see the individual brush strokes that I used to paint this shape. Let's call number two," marker like." Now on to number one. Number one is dry brush and what I mean by dry brush is the brush is so dry that the line breaks up. I'm trying to cover the paper with my brush but there's so little water and paint in the brush that it breaks up and so you get these dry brush textures or dry brush effects. You'll probably be able to see this better if you use a darker paint. Let's try it out with a darker paint just to show you a little bit better. Maybe that's too much water. There we go. This would be our dry brush. I think this is a good point of reference to have in terms of how wet and how dry you want to go, and we're not here to judge. We're not here to say that one of these is better than the other. There might be some cases where you want to have a puddle of water and have lots of droopiness in your painting. There are cases where you might want to add some texture with a dry brush. You're going to just want to be able to control and recognize how wet or how dry your paint is. Now we can practice painting some shapes and asking ourselves, how would we rate this shape in terms of our scale? This shape would maybe be a four because I can see some of that swishing water, maybe a 3.5. Let's paint another shape and see what we would rate it. This is somewhere between a two and a one because I can see some dry brush textures. This would maybe be of 5 or 4.5. After you've rated some shapes according to the scale, try and decide in advance that you want to make a shape of wetness three, and try and achieve that wetness on your first go and if you didn't achieve it on your first go, it's not a problem. You can always remove water or add water to your shape to get it to be however wet or dry you want it to be. Practice this until you feel fairly comfortable creating different levels of wetness. 6. Brush Size and Shape Size: All right, in the last three lessons, we've been using this size six brush to paint all of our shapes. So let's paint another shape one more time. Let's make it pretty big and pretty watery. Now let's try to paint about this shape using a smaller brush. This is my number 2 round brush, and I'm going to try and paint that shape. You can already see that this brush is having trouble transporting a lot of water each time to the paper, and so it'll be harder, though not impossible, to paint a larger shape with a smaller brush. You can already see that it was really easy to make this shape very watery, and this shape it's going to take me quite a while to make it that watery. That's just because the volume of bristles over here is much larger than the volume of bristles over here, so this holds a lot more water than this. If I want to be very ridiculous, this is my size zero round brush. If I want to try and paint that shape with the zero, that would be pretty ridiculous and pretty inefficient. We can see that there is some relationship between the size of our brush and the size of the shape that we're trying to paint. Now even though this is a large brush, the size six or larger than those, we can still paint a small shape with it. Here's a smaller shape that I was easily able to paint with this size six brush, and let's try that shape with a size two brush. We're going to have a much easier time painting a small shape, even very puddly, very wet, using a smaller brush. Let's try to paint a small shape with just a little bit of water, not that watery, much less watery than that. So because the size two brush holds a lot less water, it's easier for me to get a smaller shape to be not very wet, but the size six brush, I might struggle a little bit more to make it that dry, because it naturally holds more water. It's not impossible to paint small shapes with a large brush, and it's not impossible to paint large shapes with a small brush. But sometimes you're going to reach the limit of your brush and you're going to want to switch up your brush to match the size of the shape that you're working on. That said, I think it's good practice to try and gain control of your brush before you run off and switch up to a different brush. So even though this is a size six brush, it's a very versatile brush. I can make fixed strokes with it and if I barely grazed the paper with it, I can make very fine lines with it. If I'm careful not to load this brush too much, I can make very small shapes that are not very wet. With a smaller brush, it's going to be much easier to make those fine lines and those smaller shapes that aren't very wet. So that's just something to consider. The more skilled you are, the more you'll be able to do with your brushes, the more versatility you'll be able to have with your brushes. 7. Edges and Corners: Let's paint a heart shape. This heart-shape, like all shapes, has a boundary or an edge. We can take a look at this edge and this edge and ask ourselves, how smooth is this edge? Does it have any dry brush broken lines? Does it have any crooked lines? We can see that it does. In this lesson, we're going to practice making our edges nice and smooth. Either on our first go or if it didn't work out on the first go, we can go back and try and fix them. We're practicing making smooth edges, but that's not because smooth edges are the only way to paint. It's just that developing a skill of painting smooth edges is a good skill to have because it improves your dexterity and your control of your brush. You don't have to go so far as to try and make this super perfect, but this is a good skill to practice. Decide how far you want to take it and don't let it get tedious. Have fun with this exercise, because if you don't enjoy these exercises, you're not going to do them and you're not going to improve. Try and take it only as far as it's fun for you and enjoyable, but still try and challenge yourself a little bit. This heart shape in addition to having these curvy smooth edges, it also has this corner or this point. We can try and make that point very pointy and crisp and sharp. The way I do that is by lightly grazing the paper with the tip of my brush. Because if I press too hard, I'm not going to get a point. But if I lightly graze the paper, I'm able to make a very sharp point that way. Try and make that point nice. Now, let's say I had quite a bit of water over here and let's mess up the point. Let's say I wanted to fix this point so the water tends to create a round shape. It's very hard when you have a lot of water, it's very hard to create that point. This is where water control can help you. You can realize that you have way too much water here to be able to easily make this point, and you might want to pick up some of that excess water. Maybe tilt your paper to get all the water in one place. Pick it up. Then fix that, make that point sharp and crisp. I'm not worrying about the smoothness of the pigment on my shape for the time being, I'm just looking at the edges and the point. Now let's paint of triangle. With the triangle, we have three points that we can try and make nice and sharp, either on our first go or by fixing it after the fact. We also have straight edges. We can try and make these edges nice and straight. I find that it can be very relaxing to do this. Let's say you want to practice your smooth edges, your straight edges, and your sharp corners. Then you can definitely paint hearts, you can paint triangles, you can paint rectangles. One of the fun ways of practicing painting smooth edges and sharp points if you're finding it difficult to come up with shapes, is to think of the alphabet. Let's try and draw uppercase block letters. For example, let's take the letter B, uppercase B. Let's give it some weight like a block letter. Now let's fix the point. Again, I have too much water here in order to easily make that point. I'm going to dry my brush and pick up some of that excess water. You can see that here I still have excess water, here I don't. I can pick up all the water in one go or pick up the water just from this area in the shape. Now my brush is a little bit too dry, it's picking up too much water, I'm going to wet it again. You can see how water control helps you with your shapes as well. You might be very precise at making straight edges and sharp points, but if you have too much water down, that's going to work against you and make it difficult for you. Doesn't have to be perfect. Just use this as an exercise to practice making smoother edges and straighter edges and sharper corners. You can always refer to the alphabet for pretty shapes that have straight edges, smooth edges, and corners for you to practice. 8. Imagine the Outline: Now let's paint a rectangle. You can see what I'm doing is, I'm outlining the rectangle and then filling it in. The reason I did that is just because it seems the easiest way to paint a rectangle. First to outline the shape, and then fill it in and then maybe tweak the edges a little bit. Now we're going to paint that same rectangle, but this time, instead of outlining it first and then filling it in, we're going to imagine that there is an outline already on the paper. We're going to see that outline in our imagination, and we're going to fill in the shape. I'm going to go from top to bottom, but it doesn't matter which direction you go, whether you start from the right, from the left, from the bottom, we're just imagining that the outline is already on the paper and we are filling in the shape. If you're having a hard time, just stop for a minute and imagine that outline and then you can continue. At first this might feel pretty awkward, and it might feel a lot harder than first outlining the shape. In many cases, you'll be able to get away with outlining the shape and filling it in, but there will be some cases where that will be harder than filling in the shape without painting the outline first. It's a good skill to have to be able to paint the shape in segments like this. Let me show you an example where it's much easier to fill in the shape without outlining at first. I'm going to use a smaller brush this time, I'm going to use the size toothbrush, but you can use the larger brush. Let's say I want to paint meandering, curvy line. Let me outline that line that I want to paint. Let's say I want to paint something like this. If I outline it, and let's say I wanted to get thicker and thinner in places just so it looks organic and flowy. You can see that this is a level two wetness. It's dried almost instantly. Now, when we go back and fill this shape in and smoothen up all of the edges which weren't smooth, in some cases, we might be able to get a nice smooth shape but in other cases we're going to get those streaks like we got with that number two wetness level on our wetness scale. You can see here that the outline has already dried and I'm coming back again with essentially what is the second coat of watercolor. It's not going to look as smooth, as if we were to paint this in segments. Let's try and paint this in segments like we did in our second rectangle. We're going to imagine the outline of the shape, and luckily for us it doesn't have to be precise on the paper, we might go a little bit left, a little bit right. Let's paint in segments. We're going to paint this and then, this and then this without the outline first. I can go slow because I know that I don't have to rush it before the outline dries. When I'm happy with this segment, in terms of the edge, I can move on. Then, even though this area has almost dried, this area is still wet and so I can keep going and make this shape go wherever I want it to go, become wide, become narrow, and work in a relaxed pace because I know that I don't have to rush and get the whole shape to be wet all at once. This is just one example. You might have other cases, where you're painting a complex shape or shape with very intricate borders, where this will be a much better way for you to paint that shape. Another example is if we were to paint a very large shape, and a third example still has to do with painting with several colors. Let's say I wanted to paint this shape and switch the colors as I go, or even this rectangle. If I were to outline that rectangle just in blue, and then paint this in blue and this in red, you'd have that blue border. By practicing, filling in your shapes without first outlining them, you're giving yourself a wider range of skills and possibilities where you can deal with difficult situations more easily. Even though it's much easier to outline a triangle and then fill it in, it's still good to practice filling in this triangle as if there were an outline without outlining at first. Let's try and do this triangle from the top to the bottom, and yes, this does feel awkward at first, but the more you practice it, the more natural it feels. It actually, for me it feels a little bit more relaxing because when I first outline a shape, I feel like someone started a timer. If I outline this triangle, I feel like I better fill in this shape before this dries. But, when I'm working in segments, the only thing I have to think about is my leading edge. This is the leading edge. It's the edge between where I've painted, and where I'm about to paint. If the shape is intricate like this, you saw that we only had to worry about the leading edge, and we didn't have to worry about what was going on further back in our shape. Now let's try painting a triangle from the side, from the right to the left or the left to the right, doesn't matter. You can practice this with any shape you feel like painting it in segments. You can even practice painting a B-shape in segments. That would be very interesting to try. Let's paint a B. I'm going to start in this corner and let's see how it goes, starting in this corner and I know that I'm not going to come back to it, so I'm going to try and make it nice and sharp. Now I have two leading edges. Here is one leading edge and here's the other leading edge, and I have to proceed with both. What I'm going to do is to add some water on this edge so it doesn't dry out on me while I proceed with this one. I'm going to try and get back to having one leading edge by merging this part of the shape. Now I'm back to having just one leading edge. The smaller your leading edge and the fewer your leading edges, the easier it is to manage because you don't have to go back and manage this anymore. You're done with this, this is good. Now again, I'm back to two leading edges. I have this leading edge, and this leading edge, and I'm taking care of both of them. I'm making sure I have enough moisture over here, but not crazy amount of moisture that the water is swishing all the way back up there. I'm trying to merge the shape. You can see that this area is almost dry. If I would go back and paint on it, I would disrupt all of this pigment and it won't be as smooth. Practice this until you're fairly comfortable with painting your shapes by first imagining the outline and then filling it in. 9. Precision: In this lesson, we're going to practice precision. We have practice precision to some degree when we tried to paint our shapes. But what we can do to practice precision is to paint a shape. Let's paint a rectangle or a square. We're trying to remember our water control. We're trying to use a level 3 wetness, because then we won't have water swishing everywhere and we'll be able to more easily make a sharp corners and our shapes are going to drive faster. There's less of a chance that will smudge them and if we want to go back over them and paint something on top of them, it'll go by faster. Level 3 wetness would be a good level to use. Now let's try and paint an identical rectangle or square next to it. My scores probably going to touch this, but it doesn't really matter because that's pretty dry. I'm going to ignore this as if it's not there. I use too much water here. This is going to be hard to make a corner. I'm going to dry my brush and remove some of that water and now my life is a lot easier. Now I'm trying to get pretty close to that square without the shapes touching and to have a nice even distance between them or a nice even gap between them. Now my brush is getting a little dry, you see that without even thinking, I started filling in the shape in segments rather than outlining it first. Started off where it was most difficult and where I needed the most precision. This is an example of a precision exercise where I want the shape to be identical to another shape. I don't want it to be too big or going off in all directions. I want it to be at a precise distance from the other shape. If I really wanted these shapes to be precise, I'd probably use some guidelines in pencil but the purpose here isn't to become a machine that can paint perfect rectangles is just to use this as a framework for improving our control of our brush so that everything will be easier when we paint whatever we want to paint. I'm trying to paint another rectangle, same shape and size. You can see that I didn't do such a great job with a distance because this direction is hard for me. I'm going to turn my paper a little bit. This is a little bit easier for me. You might want to turn your paper whenever you feel that you're struggling with your precision. I don't like to turn my paper too much because then I tend to forget where the wet areas are and I tend more to put my hands on a wet area. I do try to keep it in one place, but I usually turn it part of the time. I'm trying to make my rectangle or my square similar to the one above it. I can keep going as much as I like. Practice this and try and notice the size of your shapes. Trying see what helps you put your shapes in an exact or precise place and in a precise distance from other shapes. If you don't feel like going super, super precise, if you feel that it's too tedious, you'll still get a lot out of this exercise just by making it fairly precise. You can even make a rectangle like this and then paint one that's further apart. It's totally fine. You'll still develop your skills by doing that. Do whatever feels comfortable to you and whatever feels right to you. But try challenge yourself just a little bit. You can do the same thing that you did with your squares. You can try and do that with triangles. For example, you can paint a triangle one way and then try and paint an identical triangle, but upside down that is packed close to this one. Since I'm left-handed, when I try and make this line close to this one without touching because my line of sight is this way, the brush is obscuring my view, it's hiding my view. For a left-handed person, it would be easier to get close here from the left of the shape. Now the brush isn't obscuring the gap between the shape for me. For a right-handed person, it's exactly the mirror image. If I were right handed, this direction would be easier because the brush isn't obscuring my line of sight, it isn't hiding that gap. Try and consider that. If it's too hard or not as much fun to make the shapes identical, you can just pack some shapes that aren't identical. Let's pack another shape over here that is very close to the existing shapes. But it's got a different shape. It's just a polygon. A generic polygon? I love doing this. I can do this for hours and hours, especially when I use a lot of colors. But I think that by using just one color for this whole class, you're focusing on the skills and you're not focusing on deciding which color to use and losing sight of how much water you have in your brush and things like that. Practice your precision, packing some shapes on the paper until you're feeling fairly confident with that. 10. Practice: In this lesson, we're going to practice what we learned. You might be thinking to yourself, well, what have I been doing up until now? Wasn't this practice? Well, it was and it also wasn't because when you are painting an individual shape without thinking about anything before that or after that, just focusing on that particular shape, for example, we painted a triangle or we painted a B-shape, you're doing so in ideal conditions. With these practice exercises, you're trying to make something larger than this one shape. I think you'll find these exercises to be a bit more challenging and I also think there are a lot more fun. Let's quickly go over the fundamental concepts that we've been talking about in this class. In terms of water control, we talked about how do we add water to our paper when we need to and how do we remove water when we have too much water on our paper? We talked about controlling how much water is in our brush in the first place, so that we don't just plop a pile of water onto the paper and then regret it and try to fix it. We have our handy wetness scale, so we have an idea of what we want to achieve. In these exercises that we're about to do, I recommend using a wetness of about three, so not as dry as a two, so that you don't get those streaks but not too wet so that you don't have difficulty controlling the boundaries of your shape, especially the corners. We talked about brush size and shape size. If your shapes are very intricate and small, you might want to use a smaller brush. If your shapes are larger and simpler, you might want to use a larger brush. The large brush we'll tend to put down a lot more water than the small brush, so if you're struggling and if you find yourself putting down way too much water, switch down to a smaller brush. For all these exercises, I'm using my size six and size two round brushes but you can definitely switch it up and try different size of brushes. It also depends on the size of the shapes you're going to paint. In terms of shape, we talked about smooth edges when the edges are curvy, straight edges when the edges are straight and sharp, pointy crisp, corners. We talked about how it's easier to make crisp corners when you have less water on your paper. We talked about imagining the outline, so when we want to paint a shape, we don't always want to outline it and then fill it in but rather paint it in segments and you'll see in these exercises where that will actually make things easier for you than outlining the shape. We talked about precision, which is something we can practice by trying to pack shapes on the page that are very close together while still leaving a gap between the shapes. I like to paint shapes by just taking my paper and going for it in watercolor but if you prefer to outline your shapes first in pencil, feel free to do that. These are a lot of very important concepts and you don't have to implement them all at once. For example, you can decide that you want to focus only on water control while having looser edges and not as sharp corners and not packing the shapes close together or maybe you just want to focus on your smooth edges without packing the shapes close together. Choose a variation of these concepts that works for you. Don't overdo it. Don't try to do too much at once. You'll probably get better by focusing on one thing and slowly adding to it, rather than trying to do everything at once when you're not there yet. Choose a size of paper that works for you. I'm using paper that's 14 by 10 centimeters or 5.5 by four inches. The smaller your paper, the faster it will be to fill in the whole area and the larger your shapes, the faster it'll be. Depending on how much time you want to dedicate to your practice, either choose a larger paper or a smaller paper and paint larger shapes or smaller shapes. Let's move on to the exercises that I recommend and you are definitely free to try this with other shapes that you come up with. In this first example, I'm painting leafy shapes. The leaves are close together but they're not very, very tightly packed together. This is a little bit easier in terms of precision. I don't have to be super precise taking care that the shapes don't touch each other. The great thing about these exercises is that we're going to just paint non-stop. You're always welcome to take a break but you don't have to ever wait for the paint to dry because none of the shapes are overlapping. You can always, after finishing one shape, you can always put this aside and take a break or stop for the day. This gives you a lot of flexibility. For example, if you have 20 minutes to dedicate for practice, you can just sit down and either continue a previous practice painting that you made or start a new one and stop whenever you need to. I'm also using larger shapes and smaller shapes. The smaller shapes help me fill in the areas between the leaves to get more or less of a uniform layout on the page. You can see that I'm gradually curving all of these shapes as if they're flowing down and then back up. That's another thing that you can practice doing or you can have all of your leaves facing one direction. These leafy shapes have smooth edges and two sharp corners each, so it's good practice for practicing our smooth edges and sharp corners. You can see that I'm not over flooding the shapes. My shapes are more or less three on the wetness scale or what I like to call a fair amount of water, where there's enough water so that the shape doesn't dry instantly but there's not so much water that it's swishing in the shape and if I ever put down too much water, I just dry my brush on the paper towel and pick that up to make it easier for me to make those points. You can see that as I'm working, I'm trying to find a place for my hand for the next leaf. You might often find that you really want to put your hand where the paint is still wet, so by painting shapes like this on your page, you are challenging yourself to find a way to reach where you need to reach without having to wait for the paint to dry. So your hand might be in a place that isn't ideal. That's another good skill to have. To be able to put your hand where it isn't the best place for your hand to be in order to reach that spot but you're still able to pink that shape with precision. You can see that I'm turning the paper because it makes it easier for me to get the shapes to go in a certain direction when the paper is turned but be careful when you turn your paper to remember where the shapes were wet. When you don't turn your paper, you tend to have like a memory or like a map in your head of where it's wet and where it's dry. When you turn your paper, you forget where it's wet and where it's dry and that's another great reason to use a level three wetness because it'll dry much faster than the level four and level five. So there's less of a chance that you'll put your hand on a place that's still wet on the paper. These next two examples have to do with scallops. You can pack identical scallops on your page, just like you see here. But what I'm going to demonstrate is non-identical scallops or wonky scallops or more whimsical scallops. When you want to paint identical scallops, you need to make sure that they're more or less the same size, so that's another challenge that you can give yourself. In this case, I'm having a little bit more fun with my scallops. Not only am I making them different sizes, so some of them are wider and some of them are narrower, some of them are taller, some of them are shorter, but I'm also pretending as if some of them are overlapping the others, some of them are behind the others. I get to play around with the placement of the shapes on the page. You can see that I'm leaving a very narrow edge between my scallops. If this closeness of shapes is too hard for you for now, don't worry about it, just make the shapes further apart. With time, if you keep practicing, you'll be able to get them to be closer together. With these scallops, we have the round edges, so we want to make smooth edges. We also have pointy corners where the scallops are pretending that they're behind each other. Where the scallops are in the second row and in the third row, they need to be pointy in order to pretend that they're behind or on top of the row below it. With these scallops, because they're arranged in rows, I would recommend, if you're right-handed to start at the top left and move right and then continue downwards because that way there's less of a chance that your hand will need to be where the paper is wet. If you're left-handed, start at the top right and move left and then downwards. Remember what we said about taking off your masking tape. You can see that I'm pulling the masking tape at a 90 degree angle to the paper. This way, there's less of a chance that I'II tear my paper, and be very careful when you remove the masking tape at the corners of your paper and pull it slowly. You could also pack small, curvy, round shapes on your paper. Again, you're practicing your precision because you're taking care to put the shapes close together. You're practicing with pointy edges, you've got all these pointy edges where the shapes are trying to fit together and you're smooth edges. I find that I need to turn the paper in order to make the shapes sometimes. Try doing that as well, but remember where your paper is still wet so you don't put your hand there. The larger you make these shapes, the faster it'll go, the smaller and more intricate the shapes are, the slower it'll go and the harder it'll be, I think. This is one thing I'd like you to take from this class is to have these practice exercises in mind. So, whenever you don't know what you want to paint or you have some time that you want to dedicate to practice, put these practice ideas in your tool kit. You can come back to these types of exercises and sit down with a piece of paper, it can be very small like I'm using here. Just sit down for 20 minutes or half an hour and even 10 minutes and practice making these shapes. You're more than welcome to come up with other shapes and practice those instead of the ones that I demonstrate here. Remember in an earlier lesson, we talked about packing geometric shapes together. So you can do that. Packing triangles and all polygons together in the space. Here, I'm demonstrating something similar, but a little bit different because the shapes that I'm using, they all have straight edges like the example I showed before. But in this case, I'm making the shapes larger and more intricate, longer and stranger. So not a lot of them look like a simple triangle or a rectangle. They have lots more edges. This is a great exercise to practice straight edges. Also you're practicing precision, water control and corners. You get to decide which kind of shapes you want to pack in this space and how difficult or how intricate you want your shapes to be. Try and come up with other shapes that you'd like to pack on the paper like this. You can even try and sketch out your ideas with pen on just whatever paper, not watercolor paper, and then implement your ideas on watercolor paper. You get to control how hard or how easy these exercises are. So you can challenge yourself by making the shapes more intricate and more windy and changing directions and maybe smaller. Or you can make it a little bit easier by making the shapes simpler and larger. This last one. I think this one took me the longest time to do. In this case, I do recommend you use a smaller brush. I'm using a size two brush. That's because the smaller brush helps you make the lines very narrow whenever you want to make them narrow. I'm curving lines onto the paper. You can see that this is a great exercise for working in segments rather than outlining the shape and then filling it in. If you make the lines less windy and broader, then it'll go by faster and it'll be easier. The more intricately you pack your shapes, the harder this will be. This exercise really challenges you in terms of where I'm going to put my hand to reach where I need to reach? Again, remember to use level three wetness. Fair amount of water, but without swishing water so that your shapes would drive faster and you'll have more dry areas to put your hand on. Challenge yourself to try and reach areas even if your hand isn't in the ideal location. Here we get to practice lots of curvy edges, maybe a few points and precision in terms of packing our shapes close together. You might also find that making a curvy edge one-way or another way and winding your shapes is good practice because your hand makes completely different movements when it's making a curvy edge in one-way or in another way. You can turn your paper, but you might find that it's inconvenient to constantly be turning your paper. By making windy shapes, you are practicing making curvy edges in all directions, so your hand gets more skilled with that. Choose one or more of these exercises and practice. 11. Conclusion: Congratulations, you've reached the end of this class. I hope you learnt a lot about watercolor, and I hope these exercises help you feel more confident to pick up a brush and paint and try new things. You can always come back to these exercises to brush up on these skills. These water control skills and shape skills might seem deceptively simple, but they are key to having an easier time with the more complex watercolors skills. Most of the shapes that I demonstrated painting in this class were inspired by my doodle art. If you do like to work with pen on paper and just doodle in your sketch book, try to take some ideas from there and use them in your watercolor practice. You're welcome to check out my doodle art classes as well. Remember that you got to control the level of difficulty of these exercises. If you're having a hard time making small intricate shapes with very smooth edges packed very close together, that's fine, you're doing great just by sitting down and painting. If you need to paint simpler, larger, less intricate shapes, paint them further apart and don't be as meticulous with your smooth edges and your straight lines. Do the best you can. You will get better just by sitting down and painting, no matter what level you're at today. Try to bring an attitude of curiosity to your practice. Whenever you fail, remember that failure means that you're learning. It's just a stepping stone on the way to becoming amazingly good at watercolor or at anything. I encourage you to watch other artists as they're painting in real time. Search YouTube, Skillshare, and Instagram for watercolor artists you appreciate, who share real-time videos of themselves working. Pay attention to how much water they put down, how they control the water that's on their brush, how they build their shapes, whether they paint them in segments or whether they outline them. Even if the video is about painting a flower or whatever, you can still learn a lot from just watching the artist's work and from paying attention to how they handle the fundamental skills we covered in this class, water control and shape. Your project for this class is to upload your practice sheets that you painted as part of this class. Share your findings. Tell us about what you realized as you were working, and in what way you feel that these exercises helped you improve. If you came up with your own version of how you want to practice these skills, or if you'd like to show how you apply these skills in a watercolor painting in your style, please share those as well. I look forward to seeing your work and reading about what you discovered. If you have any questions or comments, please post them in the community section below, and I'll be sure to respond. I'm also on Instagram and on YouTube, you're always welcome to say hi, leave a comment or send me a message. I'd love to get to know you and hear how it's going with your art journey. Thank you so much for taking this class. Have fun with your watercolor and remember to practice the fundamentals.