Home / Drawing Techniques / 5 WATERCOLOUR TECHNIQUES-HOW TO DRAW AND PAINT IN WATERCOLOUR. COMPOSITION, DRAWING, MASKING, WASH WET ON DRY, SPATTERING
5 WATERCOLOUR TECHNIQUES-HOW TO DRAW AND PAINT IN WATERCOLOUR.  COMPOSITION, DRAWING, MASKING, WASH WET ON DRY, SPATTERING

5 WATERCOLOUR TECHNIQUES-HOW TO DRAW AND PAINT IN WATERCOLOUR. COMPOSITION, DRAWING, MASKING, WASH WET ON DRY, SPATTERING

HERE ARE 5 BASIC WATERCOLOUR TECHNIQUES TO GET YOUR PAINTING STARTED IN THE RIGHT WAY.

1.  COMPOSITION OF WATERCOLOUR PAINTINGS

In this  watercolour tutorial  5 Watercolour Techniques-How to draw and paint in watercolour, I will draw up my watercolour painting, discuss the process of composition and prepare the watercolour painting for the first wash by masking the areas that would not benefit from the base watercolour wash.  I have talked about this in a previous post so please forgive me for repeating myself but I wanted to expand on the composition process, which I think is really important to the process of painting and especially important in this painting as it was not a simple copying of a scene but a construction of an imaginary scene.

I wanted to draw and paint a watercolour painting that combines my happy holiday photos of a tropical break to Northern Queensland.  I have seen two paintings which, for me, imparted the holiday feel that I wanted to portray.

One was a watercolour painting of a beach which was painted as though suspended over the beach pebbles on string.  I didn’t quite get that but the painting of the beach scene and the beach pebbles was lovely and fresh and full of sunlight and balmy breezes.  I did like the inclusion of a snippet of map showing the area depicted and I have borrowed that for my painting.

The second piece of art was actually several photos of beaches with the common theme of blue sky and water.  They were suspended above a watercolour background of a beach.  Stones, driftwood and shells were glued onto the artwork.  I was thinking of doing that but decided to paint the beach rocks and shells on instead.

I decided to combine three beach scenes in the same watercolour painting and present them as photos scattered in the sand. I will draw and paint in the beach rocks and pebbles, shells, driftwood and leaves.  I have included a small torn piece of a map to show where the painting originates.  So in effect I am painting four watercolour paintings in one-the three photos and the beach background.  I think it tells a lovely story of a beautiful time.

I don’t think this composition would work as well if I had used three photos that did not have a commonality to them.   The beach theme means that the overall effect is much more unified.

The composition process

The composition process

I worked out the composition by laying photos, rocks and shells onto my sketch paper till I was happy with the layout. Drawing the rocks and shells was not too difficult as they can really be any shape or texture you like, you don’t have to be precious about it. I was lucky to have access to a beautiful rock collection.

 

2.  DRAWING UP YOUR WATERCOLOUR PAINTING

Once you are happy with your drawing you can transcribe it onto your watercolour paper via light box, tracing paper or using a grid.  This involves drawing a 1cm grid on your sketch and then either enlarging the grid on your watercolour paper (if you wish to enlarge your drawing) or leaving it the same.  You then use the grid as a reference for carefully drawing your painting up.  See my tutorial on Pacific Gulls and how I draw up my watercolour paintings.

 

The stage is set

The stage is set

3.  MASKING 

I masked out the parts of the ‘photos’ that contained blue and the photo edge strips, as the first wash was going to contain ‘yellow’  and I didn’t want my skies turning green.

I have some hints about masking.  Never use a good brush but always use the best bad brush you have.

I dip my brushes in detergent first then pinch out the excess before using the masking fluid.  It makes brushes easier to clean after.

Never let you brush dry with masking fluid on it.  You can kiss it goodbye if that happens. Wash out as soon as masking is completed.

I have another tool which is actually a blending tool for pastels.  It has a wedge shaped rubber tip and can be used for applying masking fluid in smaller areas.  Care is needed to ensure the surface of the watercolour paper is not damaged with this applicator.

You can also spatter masking fluid on in any of the ways I discuss later in this tutorial.

Protect the areas that will not benefit from the first wash

Protect the areas that will not benefit from the first wash

4. THE WATERCOLOUR WASH-Wet on Dry

The wash was a mix of warm and cool yellows using a mixture of raw sienna, burnt sienna, Potters pink, permanent rose and cobalt blue. This ‘yellow’ mix underpins all the beach and beach objects.I worked from top to bottom adding brushes of the wash modulating between warm and cool yellows remembering that yellow is not just lemon yellow but, more appropriately here, yellow is raw sienna.

I word about the first wash.  This is a unifying detail of the painting and needs careful consideration as to what colour it should be.  Look for the underlying colour.  In a painting on vegetation, foliage or flowers the underlying colour may be yellow.  In a scene depicting distant mountains and blue sky, blue is the most likely choice.

A hint would be to look for the highlights in your source picture and the first wash generally should be that colour. I

t is easy when looking at highlights to think they are white, but look again.  Most are some kind of ‘grey’.  Grey is a term used for a colour that is desaturated  (mixed) with another colour.  The most pure greys are those desaturated with their opposite on the colour wheel.

If you consider the colour wheel, the outside has pure colour and what most of us learnt about colour in school.  Now turn this ‘wheel’ into a sphere with white at the top and black at the bottom and all shades of ‘grey’ in the centre of the sphere and you get a much greater understanding of colour.

See if you can find some online sites of good books that demonstrate this.  I just checked it out and this is what I came up with.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munsell_color_system   or  http://mudcu.be/sphere/#

My palette of modulating 'yellows' for the first wash

My palette of modulating ‘yellows’ for the first wash

5.  SPATTERING

Once the wash is painted in I loaded up a brush with potters pink and spattered that onto the wet/damp wash by hitting one brush against the other. This adds texture and interest.  It gives the impression of shadows in the sand and/or other detritus.

Spattering is most commonly achieved by the method I have described, but I have also loaded up a toothbrush or stiff paintbrush, then scraped my finger along the bristles to create a spattering effect.  Use of an atomiser provides a fine mist of spattering while flinging paint off a loaded brush will provide larger and longer spatters.

The decision on what method is dependant on the desired effect.  Some trial may be necessary before committing to a method on your  painting.

 

Wet on dry wash of watercolour paint over masking

Wet on dry wash of watercolour paint over masking

 

Let this first wash thoroughly dry now.  Then remove the masking fluid by rubbing it off with a clean finger.

Return to my blog to learn how this painting turns out and for more handy hints on watercolour painting.

 

2 comments

  1. Hi Fiona,

    Great post. I’m interested to hear more about how you create the lightbox and use it to portray the image onto your paper? I’ve heard about a number of people doing this in the cartoon and comic industry and I’m interested in finding out more. Can you create a post or maybe point me in the right direction for a website I could find out more?

    Thank you!

    • Hello Byron. Thank you for your comments. I really appreciate the time you have taken to drop me a line and for your question about light boxes.
      I have written a short tutorial on this subject. I hope you find it helpful.
      Thanks again for your question and good luck in your endeavours.
      Fiona

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