Painting with Watercolors for Beginners – The Postman’s Knock

Watercolor is a fantastic, versatile culture medium — and one that scares many beginners out of their wits ! In this article, I hope to dispel that concern. We ’ ll spill the beans about which palette to start with, how to mix colors, and how to contour. This article includes a tutorial video and a release worksheet to boot ! ( This article was primitively written in May of 2015. It was updated to include new information, a new video, and a worksheet in August of 2020. ) Painting with Watercolors for BeginnersPainting with Watercolors for Beginners
Before I started writing this position, I decided to conduct some on-line research on painting with watercolors for beginners. That room, I reasoned, I wouldn ’ metric ton glossary over any points, and I could craft an raw better military post. And … holy place moly. I personally use watercolors all the time, and the information I found on Google overwhelmed me. After reading besides many “ data overload ” articles, I threw up my hands and decided to go rogue. In this post, you ’ ll find the simple points that I think are crucial if you ’ re trying your hand at watercolors for the first time.
The completed letter!The completed letter!


Before you get started with watercolors, you ’ ll need a few basic supplies. They include :

1. Watercolors

Watercolors come in three different grades : children ’ randomness, scholar grade, and artist grade. I believe that the best watercolors for beginners are student grade. I love this Winsor & Newton set because it ’ sulfur got 24 colors — which means you won ’ t need to mix your own colors as much. You actually equitable need one commodity palette, and you ’ rhenium good to go !
Winsor & Newton Set of 24 WatercolorsWinsor & Newton Set of 24 Watercolors
Whatever typeset you decide on, the foremost thing you should do upon receiving your watercolors is create a color chart. I like to make a chart that fits into my hardened container, then I tape the chart in ! We ’ ll talk about how to make a watercolor graph in a future tutorial ; but basically, you cut a piece of watercolor paper that ’ s slightly smaller than your set up. Paint samples of each color onto it, label the colors, and your chart is finished !
Winsor & Netwon Cotman SetWinsor & Netwon Cotman Set

2. Brushes

once you ’ ve got your watercolor palette, it ’ sulfur meter to think about brushes .
Painting with Watercolors for Beginners | The Postman's KnockPainting with Watercolors for Beginners | The Postman's Knock
Brush preferences will vary by artist. I like bantam details, which means I like bantam brushes. My “ basic ” brushes are :

3. Watercolor Paper

It ’ mho crucial to apply your watercolors to high-quality newspaper that doesn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate absorb the pigment. Watercolor newspaper is your dependable count !
Painting with Watercolors for BeginnersPainting with Watercolors for Beginners
Watercolor requires special paper because of absorbency. Watercolor paper basically lets the rouge ride on top of the paper until it dries preferably than allowing the paint to spiderweb out. If you try to paint on, say, standard 20 # printer newspaper, the watercolor will bleed at the edges because the paper is super absorbent. ( Note that you don ’ t have to paint on watercolor newspaper ! I love using watercolors in my sketchbook, as detailed in this tutorial. )

4. Water + Cloth

The last watercolor issue you ’ ll indigence is clean water to hydrate pigments and clean off your paintbrush. You ’ ll besides need a fabric for blotting your brush .
Painting with Watercolors for Beginners Painting with Watercolors for Beginners

The General Process

Watercolors are very low-maintenance. First, start with a palette of watercolors. Next, use a small spray bottle, a blunt syringe, or a spoon to hydrate the colors you wish to use. then, dip your brush in water to moisten it, dab the brush onto a pigment, and put the pigment-rich brush on paper. That ’ s it !

You can control the shade of any pigment by adjusting the sum of urine on your brush. If you want a very luminosity shade, saturate your brush in water and scantily touch the brush ’ s tip to the pigment. For medium tones, you ’ ll still apply pigment to a moisture brush, but you ’ ll apply a bit more pigment than you would for a light shade. For night tones, I blot water off my brush ( it will placid be wet, but not saturated ), then I use the drizzle paint straight off the pallette .

Mixing Colors

One matter to note about watercolors is you don ’ t have to buy a determine that features a lot of different colors ! It ’ south easy to mix your own colors. Simply moisten one paint with about 1/16 tsp of water, then incorporate the urine into the pigment by stirring with a brush. Dab some of the color onto a slick surface. then, do the lapp thing with another pigment, and add it to the inaugural pigment .

Mix the two pigments, and you ’ ve got an entirely new coloring material !
Painting with Watercolors for BeginnersPainting with Watercolors for Beginners
here are some basic color combinations :

  • Red + blue = purple
  • Yellow + red = orange
  • Yellow + blue = green
  • Orange + blue = brown
  • Yellow + red + blue = black


Watercolors make it easy to create attention-getting subjects because the medium blends so well ! Using a contour proficiency to blend different tones of the same color in a piece grants you the ability to make something look real. With that in mind, I ’ thousand going to show you how to turn a traffic circle into a sphere with blend and different paint opacities :

here are written instructions, precisely in case you ’ ra not in a site where you can watch a television correct now :
1. Choose one color, then use a luminosity shade of it to paint a lap .
Painting with Watercolors for BeginnersPainting with Watercolors for Beginners
2. Pretend that there ’ s a light source near the left side of the circle. efficaciously, a shadow will appear on the right side of the sphere. To start making that shadow, load your brush with more of the same shade. paint that shade so it “ hugs ” the circle in a half-moon form .
Painting with Watercolors for BeginnersPainting with Watercolors for Beginners
3. You can see that there ’ s a definite division between the medium shade and the light up shade above. To get rid of that dispute, use a clean, wet brush to apply urine to the division between the light and medium watercolour shades. As you move your brush in a half-circle motion, the division will fade !
Painting with Watercolors for Beginners Painting with Watercolors for Beginners
4. now it ’ mho time to add the dark shade to the bottom of your circle/sphere. Hug the dark ghost around the bottomland as pictured. Tease out the dark shade good as you did the medium shade, and voilà !
Painting with Watercolors for BeginnersPainting with Watercolors for Beginners
If you want more exercise with giving shapes property, I recommend painting these shapes in different colors. If you understand how to contour a basic shape, you can go on to paint equitable about anything !

Free Worksheet

If you are new to watercolors, you can develop base skills with TPK ’ s exempt printable worksheet ! If your printer can handle printing on watercolor newspaper ( or 80 # drawing wallpaper ), print the worksheet directly on that newspaper. differently, print the worksheet on unconstipated newspaper, then do the worksheet exercises on a separate slice of watercolor newspaper .
TPK's Beginner Watercolor WorksheetTPK's Beginner Watercolor Worksheet

Practicing Watercolors

As with any skill, the more you practice using your watercolors, the more progress you ’ ll understand ! Basic watercolor tutorials abound here on the TPK web site, so you can browse and take your cream of which ones to try. For more lead practice, consider enrolling in the Watercolor Illustrated Maps 101 eCourse. The naturally offers abundant guided practice working with watercolors for beginners : we ’ ll blend, layer, shade, and build to make a adorable illustrate map of Paris together !
The Watercolor Illustrated Map eCourse is Here!The Watercolor Illustrated Map eCourse is Here!

eminence that this blog position was beginning written in May of 2015. It was updated with modern photos, a new video, and a worksheet in August of 2020. This article covers the very basics of working with watercolour, and I ’ megabyte sure you ’ re left with a couple of questions ! To cover some of those questions and give you next-step guidance, I wrote Painting with Watercolors for Beginners Part II. For extra watercolor data, I highly recommend the All About Watercolor Paints article.

Thanks very much for reading TPK, and happy painting !
Warmly ,
Lindsey's Signature | The Postman's KnockLindsey's Signature | The Postman's Knock

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