Introduction: Painting a Watercolor Using One Dominant Color

This is a quick tutorial on using a dominant color to bring out the details in a painting. Watercolor is a tricky medium to use, but with tips and tricks, you can easily get used to it and create a single (or so) color piece!

Step 1: Gathering Your Materials

For this project, you will need certain materials to make your painting.

The necessary materials needed are:

  • A pencil with an eraser
  • A canvas, paper, or anything else you want to paint on (Tip: the most useful paper to use is either mixed media or watercolor paper. This way, your paper will not warp or rip when painting)
  • Watercolor Paints (any type)
  • Brushes (at least 1 large brush, 1 medium brush, and 1 small brush for fine details)
  • A cup of water (you might need to wash and refill this several times through the painting process)

Optional but recommended materials include:

  • An old towel, or one that you do not mind getting dirty
  • A reference picture
  • A thin tipped pen
  • White pen for details

Step 2: Picking a Reference Photo (optional)

Even optional, I still recommend using a reference photo, especially if you are new with drawing and painting. It is very useful when trying to position something in your painting. Feel free to use one of these models, or you can do a simple Google search for anything you want to paint. Your options are limitless!

Step 3: Pick Your Color(s)

For this specific project, the goal is to use two colors, max, however, you can use different shades of the main color. For example, for this painting, I would use the basic color blue, but many different types/shades of it. I can use dark, almost purple blues, turquoises, or blue-grey colors. Remember, you can also make these simple colors lighter or darker depending on the amount of water you use.

Tip: Blend your colors! You can expand your pallet easier this way, and make unique colors to match what you want.

Step 4: Start Your Base Drawing

For the start of your painting, always plan out a simple sketch to begin with, so you can later paint over it. I usually start with simple shapes and guidelines.

Tip: You don't have to follow your reference picture exactly! It is just there to help you with placement and proportions. Expand your creativity by making small changes here and there!

Step 5: Add Necessary Details Until Complete

Now is the time to explore your drawing style. Everyone has their own ways of personalizing there drawings, so that it fits them in a way they're happy with. Try new things, and don't be afraid to start over until you like what you have created. In my drawing, there are still eraser marks from where I changed things.

Tip: It doesn't have to be perfect! You might not even want to make your sketch detailed.

Step 6: Prepare for Painting

Before painting, it is a good idea to erase your pencil marks slightly, so they are lighter. This makes it so you won't be able to see your rough sketch after finishing the painting. Then, brush a very light layer of water with your biggest brush to dampen the paper just slightly.

Tip: Fully erase your guidelines! They are no longer needed.

Step 7: Start Painting!

Now is the time to start with your watercolors. There is no "right" or "wrong" way to do this, but one helpful way to start, is to use light shades to start, slowly layering until you have what you want. (A "swatch" is a good way to see what your colors look like on paper! This way,you won't be surprised if they look different than you thought.)

Tip: Not only layer, but start with the lightest colors first- then move on to dark colors so they don't bleed.

Step 8: Add Finer Details

Once you have your base colors and shading done and dry, you can start with the details, such as line work or highlights, if you chose to use water color for this. You can also use a thin pen for the line work, if you are more comfortable with a pen.

Tip: Save line art for when you are absolutely sure you are finished painting. It can be very hard to go over pen, especially with watercolor.

Step 9: Sign and Share!

You are finished! Personalize your painting with a signature, and share with your family and friends.

Good Job!