Watercolour Fun - A Beginners Guide to Watercolour | Denise Hughes | Skillshare

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Watercolour Fun - A Beginners Guide to Watercolour

teacher avatar Denise Hughes, Illustrator, Designer, Tutor

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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.

      Which Paints to Buy?


    • 3.

      Learning about Paper Types


    • 4.

      Stretching Paper


    • 5.



    • 6.

      Practising Brush Marks


    • 7.

      How to Paint Washes


    • 8.

      The Wet in Wet Technique


    • 9.

      The Wet on Dry Technique


    • 10.

      Painting 3D Shapes


    • 11.

      Final Thoughts


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About This Class

Hello everyone, 

So you want to start painting with watercolours? Great!

There seems to be such a lot to learn - right?

Don't worry, I'm here to help you with the "Beginners Guide". In this class you will learn everything you need to know to start your exciting journey into watercolours!

You will learn all about the materials you need paints, brushes, paper. I will teach you the best materials to buy to get you started, how to use them and what they do. I will give you resources so that you can easily find the equipment online. Then you will discover 4 basic techniques that any new watercolourist needs to know. I will guide you through the processes clearly,  step by step. 

So, let's get painting!



Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Denise Hughes

Illustrator, Designer, Tutor


Denise Hughes is a freelance illustrator, surface designer and obsessive doodler who lives and works in Hampshire, UK. Denise works from her studio at The Sorting Office in Hampshire which she shares with 8 other makers and designers.

Denise has worked as a freelance illustrator for 10 years and currently licenses her designs internationally.  She is represented by The Bright Group International.  Denise combines digital work, watercolor and drawing to create her beautiful, contemporary images. 

Running workshops and sharing my skills with others online is really rewarding.

I hope you enjoy my classes.  



See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: - Hello . My name is Denise. Use a lot of illustrates a watercolor artist I've always loved for color, and I painted since I was very young. It definitely was. Coming is my favorite medium. The great thing about it is that you can adapt it how much time you have. You can create a very simple and beautiful painting in a matter of minutes. Or you can choose to spend several days on the reading complex masterpiece. In this course, I'll teach you some of the basics to help you get started. And then if you find you enjoy, you could go into have a look at some of my other courses. So in the Beginner's Guide will start talk by having a look of materials, paints, brushes, a memo, progress onto some basic techniques. We'll have a look, washes, sweating away. Wait one and then right at the end, we'll have progressed to having a look. A three D shapes and how to make your painting have form. So by the end of this beginner's course, you should have a solid basis to start your individual journey into to cover 2. Which Paints to Buy?: you could buy paint any the tubes or blocks medical pans. Afoa pan is about one inch long. Andi half pans are a bit smaller. You can see the half pans in this picture. So which paints to buy? I think it's widely accepted that pens are a bit easier to use. They're just more convenient and need wetting to make them workable. They're really easily portable. So if you want to paint outside their ideal, I mostly used pans myself. Some people worry that they might dry out completely, but every set of Pam paints contain something called gum Arabic, which prevents this happening. All you need to do is to work a bit of water into them, and you create color. This is my favorite set of paints. As you can see, they're very well used, Um, and that really quite messy as well. But there's nothing wrong with that twosies for when you need a large amount of paint. Say, for example, when you're painting a wash, the paint in the tubes comes already moistened and therefore there much quicker to dissolve into a usable paint mixture. Pence coming to qualities student artist colors, artist quality paints of the best. They have the higher density of pigment and produce deep, rich colors and are easier to dissolve. They do come at a price, however, so I did. Voice is to buy a student pan set on when your paints need replacing, replaced some with artist colors. And there are some colors that I think a noticeably better in artist paints, and those would be ultra Marine. Anything with a blue green tint. Onda littering, Crimson said. These would be the first ones I'd go for. I have always used Windsor and Newton paints, and I've always found them to be very good. Other good brands include Cinelli, a shrink and Dale around. Don't be tempted to buy cheap for two colors. They won't work in the same way as a good set to stay away from the pound or thrift stores and go to a good are shocked by yours. 3. Learning about Paper Types: watercolors are painted on white paper. What color paintings have a characteristically luminous quality. This is due to the whiteness of the paper, which is reflected back through the fine layer of paint on top. So therefore, the paper itself is an integral part of your artwork. It is really important to get yourself some water kind of paper. I have seen some students try to paint on cartridge or copier paper at this paper is just too far of what happens is it buckles on. Git has large ripples in it and sometimes it content, so copy paper and cartridge paper just don't work. So if you invest in one thing, make sure it's an art shot. Watercolor paper. Now the absolute top quality watercolor papers are made from pure linen rag. But if you're a beginner, you really don't need them. I mean, personally, I paint on papers that I get from my art supplies shop. They're absolutely fine. There are three types of watercolor paper. This is rough. It's a very textured paper. This paper isn't pressed, all rolled in its manufacture and has a distinctly textured surface. It's great for creating shimmering light on water with a dry brush. Personally, I don't use this paper much as I don't really like the very textured look. But if you do, then this paper might be for you. This is cold pressed watercolor paper, or it's sometimes referred to as not surface. This paper is rolled through an unheated set of rollers. It has a moderately rough surface and is good if you would like to see some of the detail of the paper through the paint. And finally, this is hot, pressed or to kind of paper. Now this paper has a smooth surface, and in the manufacturing process it is passed through a set of heated rollers and that flattens the surface. If you do really detailed work, this paper is ideal, but it does like the surface texture that is associated with water color. I use this paper a lot because I do lots of fine work. In my illustrations, you can buy watercolor paper pads or blocks, which have gunned edges or single sheets. It's really your choice. Your notice On the paper blocks, they have a paperweight, which is normally measured in GSM. Best answer. Grams per square meter thin of the paper more likely it is to buckle and bend when you paint on it. So like to wait. Papers will need stretching before use. Stretching paper is a really easy process that I'll show you in the next section and as a beginner one that I would encourage you to them. Now a lightweight paper would be around 142 160 GS. A medium weight paper would be approximately 250 GSM, well, slightly above on a heavyweight. Papers come in it around 400 GSM and Congar to 600 years. As a rule, anything above about 400 GSM won't need to be stretched and will stay relatively flat. Walls painting. Now, of course, as a beginner, you probably won't want to go spend a lot of money on really heavyweight paper because it is more expensive. So it is important that you learned to stretch the lightweight, cheaper paper, and that's what I'm going to show you in the next step. 4. Stretching Paper: When paper becomes really wet, it has a tendency to buckle and bend. This means that any paint will lay in the valleys of the buckle paper on. You won't have perfect call in the paint booth. If you're working with a thinner to middleweight paper, it's always a good idea to stretch it first. Here's what you'll need to stretch your paper. A wooden board larger than your paper. You're watercolor paper. A bowl of clean water, a sponge until gun strip gum strip can be bought online for founded art shops or frameless , the one you need is the removable worth. It is made of brand paper and has one gun side. When wet, this gum becomes Tuckey, and this is what will hold our paper flat against the board. Firstly, commercial paper in a bath of cold water bull run it under a cold tap like I do. It's really important to ensure that both sides of the paper completely wet before taking it back to your board. Let any excess water drip all you don't want the paper to be too wet. What you're aiming for is a wet paper but not dripping wet when you're done. Place your wet paper on the board in a position that you're happy with. Think carefully about where you place it because you want to be able to sit comfortably and paint. What you don't want is to be stretching to reach your painting. Now with dry hands. Take your gun strip and cut or tear pieces that a slightly longer about one inch longer on the sides of the painting paper. You could do this before you went the paper. If you prefer now, dampen your sponge. I run a wet sponge over the paper strips. This is the bit that can require some practice. The tape has a tendency to curl up and stick to itself, so be careful or straighten the tape. At first it takes experience to gauge the right amount of water to apply too little, and it won't stick a total and too much and you want the glue off and then that one sticky this it really can take a bit of practice to get it right. But just keep trying. The tape should overlap the edge of the paper by about one centimeter. When the paper is damn, it becomes slightly transparent, and you'll be able to see the edge of the paper through the tape to gauge whether you're applying it in a straight line. You could just see it here. - Smooth the take down onto the paper, avoid increases and removing any excess water with squeezed out sponge. Well still wet paper made buckle a little, but it will dry flat. Now Leave the board to dry thoroughly. If you're in a hurry, top tip is can use a bit of gentle heat from the hairdryer or pop it outside in a sunny spot. 5. Brushes: no brushes come in many shapes, sizes, fibers. All will be made of her, either natural or synthetic. Bush has come in different sizes, the lower the number is smaller. The brush here is a tiny number one round sable brush. This is not the smallest by any means. I occasionally use a 000 brush for very, very fine detail. This is a number 10 synthetic round brush, and here is a large, flat brush. Large brushes, including some wash brushes, is inches as a size guide. This one is a one inch brush. The traditional brush of choice for water color is a brush made of natural sable hair. Sables hold a good deal of water and have springy hairs, which hold their shape. Because of this, they have firm tips that hold a point well. This means that even the largest sable brush should be able to produce a fine line of paint . Sable brushes are expensive, but they are a really good investment, so if you can afford it due by one or two and if looked after, they should last two years. Synthetic brushes are cheaper, alternative disable, and they have a slightly different feel to them. They're more springy, and they don't hold as much water as a sable, so they require you toe frequently. Load them with water and paint. Here are selection of brushes in different shapes I regular use in my painting. This is around sable brush Notice. It has a good fine point. These brushes often come with plastic covers, which protect the delicate brushes. This type of brush is your go to brush of choice than most watercolor painting. The next set of brushes are primarily used for washes. The large one is called a hate brush and produces a very wide brush drink. These brushes are made with goat hair on a very soft. They're great for applying a large amount of color quickly and soft enough to cause minimum disturbance to any painting. Underneath. This is a one inch synthetic wash brush, and this is a 3/4 inch over wash brush. Made with a mixture of pony and synthetic hairs. This is a synthetic flat shader. Notice the flak tick, which can make some really interesting marks. Now. These are my absolutely favorite brushes, the Windsor and Newton Siri seven sable brushes, finding the right brush for you is really down to personal choice, but I haven't found anything to beat these. Plus, they come in this cute presentation books, and all of them have plastic covers to protect the brushes. This is a really fine set with brush ranges from 0 to 3, but you can buy them individually in a range of sizes. The brush is there really soft, springy and hold lots of water and have exceptionally fine tips. They were bought online at Kim Bromley Art Supplies. Don't worry about getting away these brushes To start with, you don't need a fast about to start painting. One wash brush and maybe to round brushes of various sizes should be enough to get you going, and you can slowly build up your collection according to your preferences and your pocket. Other types of brush used are Riggers. These brushes have long, thin hairs under for producing long thin strokes. On also hog her brushes, which convicted for lifting up color in wet areas. You can find a list of online stores in the class resources 6. Practising Brush Marks: One of the most important things about water color is to remember to keep your brushes clean in between changing covers and to get into the habit of changing your water regularly . A little tip for this is to have to water pots a dirty one on a clean one. If I wanted to clean this brush, I would clean it in the dirty water and then rinse it in the clean water hot. Any war to use for diluting colors should come from the clean. Another top tip is to never leave a brush standing in water, because it will bend the brush shares and ruin its shape When you need to clean your brush , you could do so by just rinsing it. Don't forget to clean the metal part of the brush above the hairs that's called the for rule. Your brushes are your tools, so you need to clean them and look after them. But you'll also need to play with them to get to know the types of marks that they can make . I'm sure as you progress, you'll find that each brush could make a huge variety of different box in this next step. I'm going to take you through. The basic brushes have to use them, but I think it's time that I stopped talking and you started painting. Let's practice and brush marks for this. You're going to need watercolor paper. Water paints a wash brush around brush on a flat brush. If you have one, you're set up should look something like this as the wash brush. I'm using a hate brush to produce a flat wash. You might want to use a flat wash one painting a large area flat color like a sky, for example, so load your brush with di muted color. I've already premixed this from achieve and apply the paint with gentle horizontal strikes . Here's the same action with the oval wash brush both brushes. Producer. Nice area of flat color Now for the round brush. This brush is your allrounder. There was so much you can do with it. Using the tip, only you can produce small lines or by alternating using the tip and then pressing the full brush against the paper. You can create this undulating, wavy line, I hope the brush upright to produce really fine lines. There's so much this brush could do. This one is a thin around brush. It's one of my favorites. It's a Windsor and Newton Siri's seven brush. Note how find the lines are and how much paint it can hold before I have to reload it. - This one is a flat brush. You'll notice that this brush could make flat, square shapes. Oh, if you turn it on its side, it could make chiseled shapes. Now try using the tip of the brush to create a textured line. Hold it upright like I'm doing here. This is a great brush to use when painting something like grass in the front of the landscape. If you hold it a slight angle, it can also produce undulating calligraphy style lines. So just keep practicing with your brushes to see what sort of shapes they can make. Once you have a full page of brush marks uploaded to the class gallery, and then this will create a group resource that everyone who takes this course can use. I think you'll find it really helpful 7. How to Paint Washes: a wash is a watercolor technique that involves diluting water color and applying it to paper to cover a large area. There are three types of wash flat braided and very a gated. Send how it's your tend to have a good we're going to paint all three washes together. You'll need your paints. Three pieces of watercolor paper water brushes on a panicked, firstly flat wash. A flat wash, as its name implies, is a large area of painting, which has a single Hugh in the same tonal value, which produces a flat, inconsistent color on the paper so you can see that in my palette. I've already diluted some cerulean blue with water. I'm using an over wash brush for this washed to give us a nice broad strike. Dampen your paper first plain water. This helps the paint to move on the paper. Then, with the brush noted, drag your color in horizontal lines from one edge of your paper to the ever see how it produces a flat color. A graded wash is one where the washes applied in horizontal strokes, as with the flat wash, but water is gradually added to donate the color so starting at the top of the paper, where the color will be the most intense. Lay too broad bands of color. After cleaning your brush, dip it in the clean water and add a band of water just overlapping the last line of paint so that the color disperses into the water. With each subsequent band, you clean your brush and add another band of water. Each band will be less intense than the next time or blend smoothly into the previous band , resulting in a graduation of color. The's graded washes make a lovely effect when painting an atmospheric sky a variegated washes created in same way of grated wash. But by using two or more different colors. It is less predictable than a flat graded wash because different color pigments have different densities, and therefore they travel different distances on the wet paper. Let's speed this up a bit. I often use a very a gated wash to produce sunsets or stormy skies. The result shouldn't get with this conduct. Italy could be really dramatic if you like, you can practice tilting your paper to make the paint running different directions across the page. It's a really fun technique to use, so have a go post what you create into class gallery 8. The Wet in Wet Technique: to demonstrate the wet on wet technique. I'll show you how to create a feather shape, which were then over paint using the wet on dry technique. The wonderful thing about white wet is that it's only partially controllable, and you often get happy accidents. It's exactly how its name implies. You apply each new color without waiting for the previous one to dry. Once the shape is wet, you have to work fairly fast so that the paint doesn't dry out. You might use this technique when painting something that appear so and then afterwards you compare the detail back into it once it's drawing, So now it's your turn to paint along with May. We're going to paint some loose whether shapes which we can, then over paint with the wet on dry technique. So what I want you to start out with is I'm painting a very dialect light blue wash to show the outline of the feather shape. I think it helps to think of the feather shape as a sort of elongated jelly bean. Don't forget to add the nib of the feather so us the paint still wet. I'm painting around the nip and adding some darker blue toe one end to the feather and then I'm taking it along the base of the feather. I've got a little bit too much water on this thing, feather, so I'm just removing some of it. I'm working on the paper towel. Carry on dropping the blue into the wet water on the paper. Just let it bleed. This is where the happy accidents come in. Now I'm taking a color called for fellow green. It's a sort of bluey green shade. I'm very fund off. I'm placing this in the middle of the feather mainly and towards the baht image, just putting a little more ultra Marine blue on one end. Now I'm adding a bit of dark purple to the nip, and I'm going to let it dissolve into the base of the feather. I'm just taking it round the bottom edge of the feather as well. This is a touch more blue, the top edge when I think it's starting to get a bit of form. Now, now we're going to start the orange feather again, paint the shape with water or a light wash, and then what you need to do is add some cadmium yellow, so cover the entire feather with the cap in, you know, and then what you're going to do. It's cleaning your brush at some cadmium orange along the name Onda on the bottom edge of feather. Again. What we're trying to do is give it some form all the time. I'm painting. I'm trying to leave the middle section of the feather yellow. Now I'm taking some cap me and red, and I'm dropping it in to the tip of the feather now, because thesis that this pigment has less water in it, it's not moving about as much as the previous colors did. - So I think I'd like to move it about a bit more. So I'm adding some very wet cadmium orange to it, and you see how it's all bleeding into one another. This is a bit of Ah, I think it's burn number. I'm just adding it to the never the feather on around the base. We're really trying to accentuate that three D people. Do you? You are, Please show this state in the class gallery. It's great for everybody to have a look everybody else's work on. Then in the next section, I'll show you how to add detail with the next technique, which is wet on dry 9. The Wet on Dry Technique: the white on dry technique is painting with wet paint onto dry paper. For this step, I've chosen to pates and chickens using the wet on dry technique. Feel free to have a go yourself now. What you notice with the wet on dry technique is that the brush leaves a definite line. The holiday age and this is because the surrounding paper is dry so that the color doesn't travel on. Bleed into the damp areas I'm painting here, a chicken with a very stylized shape. With a few lines, you can add some tail feathers and some legs. The men Cindy Tad on the wing. And then I've added in the chickens comb. And here's a few more. That's a very basic application of the wet on dry technique, However, what wet on dry is really used for his adding depth and definition to a painting. So if we wanted to work on top of the feather shapes that were created in the last step, then the white on dry technique would be ideal. At the moment. Thes shapes just let like blobs. I'm not much like feathers, a tool, but with the wet on dry technique, weaken layer up this painting and make the subject really come to life. Make sure the paper on the wash are completely dry before you start wet on dry. Could be used to overlay colors on buildup areas, which are richer and have more depth. See how I'm using the tip of the brush to paint a thin line to add the detail of the feathers texture. The danger with wet on dry is to know when to stop, and this comes from practice or being really cautious. What can happen is that you overlay so many different colors that they become muddy. So practice wet on dry with some caution senates. Finish these feathers. 10. Painting 3D Shapes: Okay, So for our final step, we're going to practice making a shape look three dimensional human. I detect the form and shape oven object because of the light that falls onto it. So I want you to join in, grab your paints, paint along with me. So we're going to draw an imaginary light source. Here's mine. I want you to imagine that wherever than, like, two shining. That's where the light will fool. So here's a lemon. Can you see how the light is falling onto the right hand side? I want you to cheers the direction of that. Your light is coming from my light source is on the right, so the light is part of my object will also be on the right, and the left side will be in shade not to practice this. We're not going to be painting anything particularly fancy. Just a simple circle or a sphere. We're using the wet on wet technique, so with plain water paint a circle about two inches round Jesus cover. I'm choosing Catman orange and then paint your circle. It really doesn't need to be perfect thistles. The left edge, which would be in shade so I'm mixing a little orange and red so that the paint is darker and painting it along the bottom left edge. It's already starting to look a bit more three D now with some clean water paint along the right hand side. What you're trying to achieve is a little patch of light on the edge of the sphere. By painting on clean water, the pigment disperses and you're left with the white paper underneath. Keep practicing. Well, maybe try moving your light source around. Just I'm going to pay some more. As with all these techniques, keep practicing and remember to upload your work to the class gallery. 11. Final Thoughts: I hope you enjoyed the beginner's guide towards cover. Do feel free to share anything that you've created in the class gallery. I really do love to see your work on. The thing is about to color. You just need to keep practicing every day. You can. It really does help on. Um just have fun with it. Really? Enjoy the time he's been with you. Okay. Until the next time. Fine.