Watercolor Portrait | Katie Krell | 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.



    • 3.

      Guidelines for Correct Proportions


    • 4.

      Sketching & Inking


    • 5.

      Adding Watercolor


    • 6.

      Final Details


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About This Class

Hi everyone! I'm back with another class!

This class is perfect for the ambitious beginner, intermediate, or skilled artist just looking for inspiration or to check out a new process and way of working.

If you struggle with sketching portraits, I have a section on how I add guidelines to a reference image to help me better map out proportions.

I also take you through my entire process, from sketch, to inking, and finally watercolor and finishing touches. I often find it refreshing and insightful to check out other artists way of working, so I hope to inspire you to create your own fun watercolor portrait! 

Be sure to post what you create to the class project so I can see how you've interpreted my class!

Meet Your Teacher

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Katie Krell

Artist, Designer, Animal Lover


Hey, it's me, Katie! I'm a designer and freelance artist in Rochester, Minnesota.

As a teacher on Skillshare, my goal is to share with others all the artist secrets I've learned working with various mediums and help those with a passion for creating... to create! It can be frustrating when you don't know where to start, or if you're going through an artistic slump and need some inspiration! Hopefully the classes I'm teaching offer just the help you need to get back at it, or try something new!

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Level: Intermediate

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1. Introduction: hates me, Katie and I'm back with another skill short class where I take you through my process for creating fun and expressive watercolor portrait. It's in this class. I'll be going over the materials that I use, and I'll show you my step by step process from mapping a proportions and sketching toe, adding watercolor in final details. Watercolor is one of my favorite mediums, and I hope it becomes one of yours, too. 2. Materials: No way. Okay, let's start out with this supplies for this class. I'm gonna be using my Strathmore mixed media sketchbook. The paperweight is pretty good for accepting a lot of water, and I like the texture of it. So this is what I'm gonna be using. But if you have a favorite sketchbook that you like to work in or a paper that you love go ahead and use that. The watercolors that I use are stored in this tin I got up Amazon. I really like it because of all the mixing wells. And it has I just made this little color charts that I know which colors wear and is really handy for when I have to refill a color. Since I have a few different brands in here, I kind of have the name of the color and the brand on the backs liken easily refilled bath . I also use this ceramic deviled egg platter for mixing paint that I got from target. I think I've mentioned this in my other videos, but I really like these huge areas to mix color, and the ceramic is great because it doesn't stain, and it's easily clean. Herbal and the watercolor doesn't beat up on it like it does with plastic. You can just let you mix, is dry out and then reactivate them later with water. I use white ink for detail ing, and this one is Doctor Ph Martin's Pen White, which is one of the most opaque whites that I've found. You can use this with a dip pen like this one, which is just a cheap one that I got from my local art supply store. But if depends kind of intimidate you, then you could always just step. Ah, fine liner brush in like this one and then think it that way. Um, I and abusing both ways in this video. Now, for the rest of the brushes that I'm gonna be using, Um, I don't use money. Just these three. This big one is ah, house brand from Blick. It's number 12 squirrel here. I really like this because it holds a ton of water, which is great for you to keep reloading your brush and it's really soft. It's a good watercolor rush and these two other ones, this is just I can't remember. I think it's artist loft, which is Michael's House brand. Um, I can't really what size it is. It doesn't really say on there. I think it's a number eight, I would say. Or six maybe. And then this other one is Hobby Lobby's House brand, which is an eight Mr Round brush. These are both synthetic, and they work just fine. And then these are the multi liners that I'm gonna be using their co picks, and they're great because they're waterproof and they come in a variety of different size tips. I think I use the number point to one for this. And then I am sketching out my drawing in this prison back O'Leary's pencil, which has an eraser, which is amazing. And I prefer to use a colored pencil like this because graphite tends to get money up when you add water color to it, and then you're also gonna need to jars for water, one clean and one dirty. Mix your brush off with the dirty water one and then pull clean water in when you're mixing colors with the other jar and lastly, paper towels and then you're gonna need a reference photo. I recommend printing off a photo. Um, I don't usually do this, but for this class, I'm going to show you how to add reference lines to your reference photo to help you get your proportions looking right. All right, let's get started. 3. Guidelines for Correct Proportions: So I'm gonna take you through how I would add some reference lines to an image to help me gauge where the proportions or how the proportions should look. Um, this isn't gonna be a super in depth tutorial about that, but it will definitely help you. Um, if you're struggling with placing things in the correct spot or the size of things. So this is just kind of what I dio to help me, Um, transfer that to my sketchbook. First, I start by just drawing a simple loose circle. Doesn't have to be perfect, but I like to, um, cut the lips off in half at this point. Just helps me, um, realize where they should go when I'm transferring this to my sketchbook, and then I'll draw a vertical line that's pretty much in the center of the circle, but her head is a little bit tilted. So keeping that in mind that this is a three object of spear, I'm gonna kind of mimic the angle that she's looking and her head is turned to. So my line is gonna be a little bit curved. If your portrait straight on, then you have to worry about that it'll pretty much just being up and down line. Same thing with the horizontal line that kind of bisects her eyes. I'm gonna keep in mind that this is a three form, so it's a little bit curved. Next, we're going to kind of want to map out where her features lie. So as you can see, the corner of the eye roughly aligns, usually with the edge of the nose. And if she was looking straight on her Iris is the edge of her irises would align with the corner of her mouth. So drawing these lines in definitely helps me and judging how thick the no should be or how wide the motion. But you can definitely take artistic liberties. But this is Ah, rough point. And you can also see that all of these features kind of make pretty plane shapes. Um, again, the nose is a triangle. The lips could be an oval. And overall, the features kind of aligning rough upside down triangle. So keeping this in mind and drawing these rough shapes and can kind of help you to know where to place things, and then you can go in and refined the details of the nose and the lips and eyes. The I rose again, also generally aligned with the edge of the nose. Um, they kind of angle up towards the corner from the corner of the eye. And then the ark of the iro generally leads off from the edge of the I, Um, not much tips for the eyebrows here, but I just kind of tend to sketch him in like that. And then, of course, the ear will align with the bottom of the nose and the top of the year, usually with the corner of the eye. All right, so that's generally how I would add reference points to an image to get me started to copy that over to my sketchbook. Um, these are pretty generalized, but I hope that this kind of gives you some tips as to how to place the features of the face 4. Sketching & Inking: Okay, lets start sketching this out. So I'm gonna start by drawing that circle in keeping it loose and very light. Keeping an eye on my reference with my guidelines, I'm gonna start. I start by adding in the jaw line kind of first before I add the vertical and horizontal lines on the circle. Um, just a habit. I usually end up changing this anyway, so but it's it's good for me to kind of get that general head shape in there to begin with . And then I'm gonna add my vertical line, keeping that nice and swooping and slightly curved and and then the eye line, keeping an eye on my reference With my guidelines, I'm gonna kind of ad in the general shape of the nose and where I think the corners of the lips go in relation to the eyes, putting those lips at the edge of my circle like I showed you in the guideline video and then mapping in general areas for the eyes. You really want to make sure that when you're sketching, you're keeping your marks very loose and very light because even though this is an eraser pencil, you don't want to go making, you know, dark, hard lines because chances are you're going to need to move something or you'll want to erase something, and it's not gonna come up very well. So I like to keep everything pretty loose and light. And then once I kind of get things more Mactan. Um, I'll add darker lines to suggest lines that I'm trying to keep, and then I'll go back in and erase the ones that I don't need or don't want. I'm I keep, um, looking back at my reference and the guy lines that I've drawn on my picture to kind of, um, mirror that to my sketchbook, trying to judge here where the I should go, keeping that corner of the eye lined with the edge of the nose and her eyes are looking off to the side. So I'm gonna keep in mind that the shape of these eyes is gonna have the more round boldest point off to the edge where the where the irises So just keeping everything. Like I said, light and sketchy until everything kind of comes together and looks good. And then you can start adding in more details and darker lines. All right, well, I'm gonna stop talking and just kind of let you continue watching how I map out the shape of the head and kind of finalized some of these features. So, yeah, just enjoy watching this sketching process. - Okay ? So now I'm pretty happy with how the sketch is looking, and I'm gonna start thinking with my multi lighter now. So when I outlined things I'm not trying to do, like, just one fat stroke around like the mouth or the nose, I kind of try to make it, um, more of an accent and less of an outline. I guess so. I do that by adding kind of trailing off with these dots, that kind of, um, help the line to taper off a little bit better. So I'm just gonna go through and add a little bit of an accent line where I think it's needed. When I had the eyelashes in its more of ah flick than, like a stroke, I guess, um, you want to put pressure at the base and then just kind of flick it upwards and gradually reduce your pressure at the tip of the eyelash that I found kind of gives it the feathery look that eyelashes have. And with this outlining, I'm kind of trying to keep it a little sketchy. I'm not trying to make it super uniform and polished. Just because the sketchy nous I feel like kind of adds to the whole look. Once we start adding watercolor, it's more about fun. Playful portrait with fun watercolor. So I feel like a really structured liner would kind of, um, go against that feeling. So I'm trying to keep these lines expressive and a little sketchy. Okay, and in the next video, we're gonna start adding water color. 5. Adding Watercolor: before you get started. It's a good idea to do some color studies just to see what kind of colors you want to use for your piece. And if you look good together, how they look if they're layered. So just to get an idea of what's out there, I recommend doing those for this piece. In particular, I am going to be using a mixture of burnt Sienna and Bert number for the base matter, like deep for her lips in blush tones, permanent red, deep viral orange and Juan Brilliant number two, which is just a light, peachy shade for her hair and then into go for the hat and the shirt. So jumping in, um, just starting out, laying out that mixture of burnt CNN Bert number for her face. I'm keeping the wash pretty light at this point and just kind of moving the pain around the page, just trying to cover her whole face. But I am keeping in mind there's areas I want to leave the white space of the paper of showing through, like some areas on her nose to highlight and around her lips there's some highlighting, so I'm gonna try and probably keep the paper showing through there just to save myself some detail ing with that whiting later, um, again, just trying to keep things light here and moving the pain around, trying not to let any harsh edges dry. So just kind of pushing that around. Um, if any area start to pull, I can just go in with a more a dry brush and just couldn't lift that color out. I'm going in with a little bit more color this time, and the paper is still pretty damp at this point. It's, um, kind of allowing the color to lead into it and kind of create a nice Grady int. But if there are harsh lines like this one, you can go in with, um, a dance or a dry brush and just kind of feather that out yourself to gonna pick up that color where, where you don't want it. Domina. Add some of that red to her lips and her cheeks, just kind of sloppily putting that on their um and then kind of refining it a little bit. Make me for the edges, aren't too harsh and then pulling that color into her nose area and around her eye a little bit. So it's the paper still a little damp at this point, Um, and it allows the lip color to kind of bleed into the rest of her face. And I like that look. I think it looks a little bit more natural than just slapping of red lip on their, um, so it looks a lot more pigmented now than it will be when it dries. And then you can see here again, leaving some white space for the highlights. A saying in Watercolor goes, If it looks right when it's wet, it's wrong, because watercolor tends to look way more pigmented and darker when it's wet and versus when it's dried. So I know this will dry down to a pretty muted red, and I'm okay with that. So right now I'm just trying to keep an eye on how much bleeding is happening with her lip color, and I think I'll go back in and try and control some of that. So here I'm taking a a brush. I have just squeezed all the color off over the water, so it's pretty dry, and I'm just taking it in tow. Lift off some of that bleeding. And here I'm just feathering some of these edges that dried a little too hard. Purple, I think, is a great shadow color. So I'm kind of going to start using that here, here and there, under the nose, a little bit under the lips and under the chin to kind of give indications of shadows. - Okay . And here's where the fun starts happening. I have loaded my brush with that one brilliant, peachy color and also a mixture of the red and orange. And I'm just kind of trying to lay this down. Um, not really trying to follow any set hair pattern. I'm just trying to add some blocks of color and make it look, um, kind of fun and splotchy and trying to feather some areas out and making some areas pretty dark and deep. Um, but I wanted to have, like, sort of a greedy int from that one brilliant at the top of her hair and then kind of bleed down into the more ready orangish colors. So I'm just adding a little accents of, um, kind of water droplets here. I think that might look pretty cool in the end if I can kind of work that into the my detail ing so saying with over here, adding that peach color PCI tan color to the top and then trying to feather that in with more reds towards the bottom. And you can see this squirrel hairbrush that I talked about earlier really holds so much pigment in water. It's amazing. It's like a really good watercolor brush. I really recommend natural hair brushes if you want to hold. Like I said, a lot of pigment and water at once. So I'm just working it around here, adding a little more, a little more color where it needs it and taking some away. Like right there. I was just lifting some color with a dry brush, adding some more, a little fun dots of color, kind of giving it a splatter look. And here I'm starting to add some flour shapes, kind of intermingling with her hair, kind of because I wanted to look like fun and energetic and not like structured elements that are like intertwined. So I'm really happy that these farmers could just like bleeding or hair and kind of look like they're almost a part of it in a way, S so I think that's going to kind of give a nice little fun element to this portrait. Last but not least, is adding the indigo for her shirt and hat. Um, I picked into go, cause it's probably my favorite color, but I think it contrasts like, really nice, but that read it really pops. So I'm just adding this in kind of blah chilli. Um, just trying to make the pattern look somewhat interesting and not, like, just a triangle of color. You know, I'm trying to mimic what I did with the hair and kind of add some feathering to it and some lighter areas and darker areas to kind of give it some interesting movement. And I'm gonna paint her hat in pretty much the same way. I'm just gonna add a flat wash here first, and then I'll add some darker color to the base. Okay, That wraps this video up, stick around for the next video, and I'm gonna be going over final details and wrapping. Piece up 6. Final Details: Okay, so now I want to start adding in some of my final detail work. Um, I'm just going in here and kind of accentuating these flower petals of the kind of blobby flowers that I added in in the previous video. Um, I'm just kind of messily going in, kind of like I did with the outlining. With the multi liners, I'm not trying to be, like, precise and outline every single petal, like, uniformly. I kind of want to make things a little uneven, a little sketchy, a little freeform. So that's what I've kind of done here. And now I'm gonna add in some more little detail work, um, with little petal shapes and adding some leaves to the flowers. Um, just kind of keeping things loose and not really abstract, but but fun, if that makes sense, Um, not trying to make it look too stagnant. I'm trying to get this piece movement and some flair, so I'm just kind using that blew that. I used in her hat in her shirt and then the same red from her hair. And again, I'm kind of, um, not being too precise with how I, um pain in these leaves and details that kind of wanted to feel more fluid. So I'm just gonna add some little specks and dots and little leaf patterns here and there where I think it needs it. And then I was looking at it a little bit more, and I thought her shirt needed something else. So I'm gonna add some stripes to it and a little bit on her hat as well. And then now my favorite part adding the white detail. So the white kind of for me pulls everything together. Um, it adds highlights to places that need it. That didn't that I didn't leave the white of the paper showing through it kind of gives it a more illustrative look, just adding a little bit of detail here, and they're not trying to overload on the white outlining, but just in places where I think it needs a little bit more attention. - And this is where the boo boo happens. This is why, in the beginning I mentioned alternately using a fine liner instead of a depend, Um, depends. Con's sometimes be a little bit unpredictable, especially if we knew it using them, and I was going a little bit too fast and not really noticing how much and I had on there. So that's why that kind of happened. But I'm trying to salvage it as much as I can and make thicker areas of white in her hair to kind of mimic that spot and make it look intentional. But in the end, I might just photoshopped that out if I ever make Prince of this. So lesson learned to be cautious with a dip pen and maybe just use a fine liner. And lastly, I'm going in with this spread color pencil just to add in some more red readiness to her cheeks and her lips, which I don't always do. But it's another option if you're looking to add a little bit more texture into your work or another dimension, and you don't just want flat watercolor works, adding color pencil, it's a great idea. Um, I usually just like the texture of watercolor and just help how smooth it looks. But I did want to add some more red in, so I figured I would show you what color pencil could Dio. Thank you so much for taking my class. I really hope us help to you and give you some pointers or ideas or even inspiration to start your own portrait. I would love to see what you make, so be sure and show me until next time. Bye.