Introduction to Watercolor




Introduction: Introduction to Watercolor


In this Instructable I'm going to show you the basics of painting with watercolor by painting a simple sunset.

I love art and learning how to make my artwork better. If you're interested in learning watercolor this is just a start!

P.S. It will be helpful to read the entire Intructable before starting your painting.


The things needed to complete this Instructable are:

- Watercolor paper (Strathmore is a nice brand you can start with.)

- Watercolor paints

- Paint brushes (Different sizes are preferred but not absolutely necessary.)

- Pencil (If using art pencils use a HB or a 2B for sketching)

- Art Palette

- Syringe

- Eraser

- Paper towel

- Water in cup

You can find most of these things at Hobby Lobby.

Step 1: Prepare Paint

- Get out your paints and palette. Choose the colors you would like to use in your picture. If you are using a picture as a guide look closely and try to see all the colors you will need.

Once selected, put a small amount of each color onto the palette. You can mix colors together to get exactly what you want (see picture).

- Use the syringe to fill all the paint sections with water. Note: Don't put too much! The more water you use the lighter your paint will be on paper. So, if you want it light, add more, if not, add less.

- Use paintbrush to mix the paint pigment with the water.

- If you want to make sure your colors are just right test them out on a scrap piece of paper. If it's too light, add more pigment (or don't put as much water). If it's too dark add more water.

Step 2: Sketch

This step is not always needed and can be skipped depending on the picture and/or the artist.

- Make a sketch of your picture. Note: If you draw it too dark, you might be able to see the sketch through the paint, so make sure you draw lightly. When I did mine, I used the eraser so that you could just see the basic outline. Remember sketches are NOT detailed drawings. They are fast and simple.

In the example I'm drawing a sunset with a tree in front, so I lightly outlined the tree.

Step 3: Painting the Background

Make sure you're ready because it's time to paint!

Very Important! When painting with watercolor, always start with the lightest colors and move to the darker ones.

- Start with the lightest color and a medium sized brush. (It will help cover the paper faster.) Start painting the background. The direction in which you make your paint strokes is important to the texture of the painting. If you want a smooth background paint horizontally from the top moving down. (That's what I did in the example because I want the strokes for the sky to move horizontally.) Make sure that the paint doesn't dry before you're done. To keep the color consistent, add more paint as you go down. (I did not keep a consistent color because I wanted the sunset to be brighter/lighter at the bottom.)

- If you want to add more color to your background then move on to the next lightest color. (See all the pictures above to see the gradual steps.) For my sunset I wanted the sky to be darker the further away from the sun so I added the darker color but made sure that I didn't cover up the yellow near the sun. The color will blend together some. If you don't want this to happen let each color dry before moving on to the next one.

- Continue the previous step until you reach your darkest color. If you noticed in the picture I did not paint the bottom half of the paper. That is because the sun is setting over the ocean. When I was done with the sky, I painted the ocean using the same technique. Always start with the lighter color! :)

Note: If a section of your paining is looking to light layer on more color. If it's looking to dark rinse your brush and use it to put water on the paper to try to thin the paint. If it's still to dark you can use a paper towel to dab the paper and get some of the paint up and try again. Be careful though not to let your paint dry or the paper towel won't work.

- Once done let your painting dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Step 4: Painting the Main Object

Very Important: Before starting the next step make sure that the paint is completely dry. If it's not the paint will bleed into the background.

- Now it's time to paint the main object of the painting. For mine I choose to make the tree black so I no longer have to worry about how light or dark the paint is. If you're painting the main object with color, you will again have to start with the lightest color. If the color for your main object is lighter than the background then you will need to leave the space for the object white. If it's darker you can paint over it. In the picture I painted a simple outline for my tree and filled it in. The paint was not as dark as I wanted, so I added pigment to the paint and added layers to the tree.

Step 5: Adding Details

- For the details use a small brush. In my painting I started by adding more branches to the tree and putting more roots sticking out of the water. Then I painted the leaves. I used the brush and just dotted the leaves in. First using a lighter black then layering with a black that had very little water. After that I used my darkest red and black (red first) to make the reflection of the tree and roots on the water. Lastly, I added some birds because why not? :)

Be careful when painting the overall object and the details. Sometimes you can layer the details over but if you need to use a lighter color you need to leave room for it on the page. Remember light colors first! :) If you're using a photo as a guide look at it closely and make sure you don't paint something dark only to realize later that something with a lighter color needed to be painted first.

Step 6: Summary

I hope that this all made sense and is a good starter for you as you learn to paint with watercolor!

Below are some key points to painting with watercolor:

- Always paint lighter colors first.

- Never paint two wet colors next to each other unless you want them to blend/bleed together. Give it plenty of time to dry.

- Use different size brushes depending on what you're painting.

- If you use an eraser before you paint make sure that none of the shavings are left on the paper.

- Use the right amount of water in the paint. More water = lighter/ More pigment = darker

Now go make something beautiful!

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    3 years ago on Step 6

    I posted this today and I entered it in the paint contest. But I have now edited it. I went to see if I could see the edits from my profile page and couldn't. I unpublished and republished it to see if that would help. I still can't see the edits unless I go in to the instructable to edit it again and I'm now wondering if it was received for the contest. I would like the edited version of my instructable to be in the paint challenge. I want to make sure that I've done everything correctly and that it will work.


    Best Answer 3 years ago

    Everything looks just fine to me! I also accepted this ible into the Paint Contest for you ^_^


    Reply 3 years ago

    Thank you very much! The edits that were made were grammatical such as changing “your” to “you’re” when needed. If possible I would like to have the edited version in the contest.


    Reply 3 years ago

    I now see the edits that were made. :) maybe it just needed time.