Watercolor Shadows for Beginners

Watercolor Shadows for Beginners


4 minute read

Watercolors is a wonderful medium to experiment with but sometimes it also scares the beginners out of their wits! It is important to know some of the basic techniques to get a hang of it. Watercolors are a very flowy medium and knowing it's basic do's and don'ts can help a beginner start his/her watercolor journey smoothly. In this technique of watercolor shadows, I am going to help you with some very basics of lights and shadows.

The only thing you need to keep in mind during this tutorial is:

1) Control the shade of the pigment by adjusting the amount of water. More the water lighter is the pigment and vice versa.
2) If you want a very light shade, load your brush with a good amount of water and barely touch the tip to the pigment.
3) To have medium tones, apply more pigment to a wet brush than you would for the light shade. and for dark tones, I usually dry out the brush a bit with a paper towel (It still remains a bit moisten though) and then directly take the color off the palette

Catch all in action here:

Step 1: Make a light sketch

I am going to make a very basic sketch and use only 2 main colors "Blue" and "Green". This way you don't have to worry too much about the sketching part of the mixing of the colors and our focus remains completely on the technique.
So let's start sketching... I would be making a very basic sketch of a leaf. Remember to keep the sketch light so that the pencil marks aren't visible through the watercolors. 

Step 2: Let's paint base!Watercolor Shadows

I am using "Lemon Grass" to paint the base layer of the leaves, you can use any shade of green that you have. The first technique used to paint the leaf is called the wet-on-dry technique in which you wet your brush slightly with water and take a dab of color to paint the desired area. You can adjust the consistency of the paint by adjusting the amount of water and spread it across the entire leaf evenly.
Another way to do this is by using the wet-on-wet technique. In this technique, you can spread an even layer of clear water on the desired area, load the tip of your brush with the paint and add it to the layer of water. You will notice that the paint spreads wherever the water is present. Gently spread the color with the help of your brush and repeat this with the rest of the leaves. We are done with the base color :)

Step 3: Watercolor Shadows
Watercolor Shadows

Imagine the source of light is from the top left corner, so naturally, the shadows would be on the right side of the leaves. Take a dark green shade of color, in my case, it is "Foliage Green" from the spring set. While the paint on the paper is still wet, load your brush with the darker shade of green and gently dab it across the right edge of the leaves. The color might spread very fast, try not to cover the whole area and keep it limited to the right half of the leaf. You can also dry out your brush and dab on the paper to soak the extra water/color off the paper. In my case, I couldn't blend it that well, but you can have a smoother transition on yours.

Step 4: Metallic blue Sphere

Now I am going to make a semi-circle with "Metallic Blue" to give a nice shimmery finish. Fill the entire shape with sparkling blue giving the painting bit of color pop. I love the way these colors are complementing each other. Finish the painting by simply adding a black outline with your fine liner pen. I am using Sakura Micron Pens. Tada! your doodle is ready :)

I hope you liked this small tutorial about watercolor basics. See you in the next one!

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