Beginner Watercolor Tutorial: 12 Tips You Will Love

Embarking on your watercolor journey can feel overwhelming, but fear not! In this comprehensive tutorial, we will share 12 invaluable tips to enhance your watercolor paintings. From navigating the transparency of colors to taming the unpredictability of the medium, we’ve got you covered.

First and foremost, we will delve into the art of color mixing. Understanding how different hues interact and blend is crucial for achieving the desired results in your artwork. We’ll explore various techniques to create harmonious color palettes that breathe life into your paintings.

Next, we’ll tackle the challenge of observing and capturing values accurately. Mastering value observation allows you to convey depth, dimension, and light in your watercolor pieces. We’ll provide practical exercises and guidance to improve your skills in this fundamental aspect.

So, whether you’re a beginner artist or seeking to refine your watercolor skills, these 12 tips will undoubtedly elevate your artwork. Get ready to unleash your creativity and embrace the beauty of watercolor painting like never before!

12 Beginner Watercolor Tutorials
Abstract watercolor portrait

12 Beginner Watercolor Tutorials for Improvement

As you delve into these invaluable tips, remember that understanding values and mastering color mixing are pivotal challenges for most beginners. These areas often pose difficulties for watercolor painters, overshadowing even their drawing skills. It’s crucial not to neglect these foundational building blocks in the pursuit of finished artwork.

While it’s true that luck may occasionally bless us with a few remarkable pieces, imagine the true power of being able to approach any scene or subject and make it uniquely yours. To possess the freedom to explore without limitations! This level of artistic prowess can only be achieved through a solid foundation, with no shortcuts or compromises.

Throughout this guide, we’ll equip you with the essential skills and knowledge to overcome these challenges. From understanding and manipulating values to mastering the art of color mixing, we’ll provide practical techniques and insights that will empower you to unlock your full potential as a watercolor artist.

Remember, every stroke and every decision you make contributes to your growth. Embrace the process, dedicate yourself to building a strong foundation, and watch as your artistic abilities flourish. With these 12 incredible tips, you’ll be well on your way to creating breathtaking watercolor masterpieces.

So, whether you’re just starting your watercolor journey or seeking to enhance your existing skills, prepare to be amazed by the transformative power of these foundational techniques. Let’s embark on this artistic adventure together!

Simple value gradation chart with watercolors
Simple value gradation chart with watercolors
Three value chart with watercolors
Three value chart with watercolors
Beginner watercolor study with values
Beginner watercolor study with values
Inspiration image for value studies
Inspiration image for value studies

Tip #1: Master Color Mixing with a Simple Value Chart & Study

Enhancing your color mixing skills can greatly improve your watercolor paintings. One effective technique to achieve this is by creating a simple value chart. This chart allows you to visualize the range of values within each color and how they interact with one another.

Begin by painting a light value gray on a piece of paper. Gradually add varying amounts of black to the gray to create different values. Remember to label each value with a corresponding number and take note of the colors you used.

Creating value studies is a fundamental aspect of this beginner watercolor tutorial, and its impact on your progress cannot be overstated. From personal experience, I can attest to the dramatic improvement that comes from dedicating time to value studies.

Once you have your value chart, you can apply this knowledge to create a simple value study using any object as your subject. In my demonstration, I chose a tube of paint as an example. If you’re unsure about what to paint, feel free to use this suggestion.

When painting a value study in watercolors, it’s crucial to closely observe the value of each color. In the following demonstrations, I intentionally desaturated the images to focus solely on values. I used a limited palette consisting of neutral tint, yellow ochre, and ultramarine blue for all the value studies presented in this article.

Regarding color selection, I utilized ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, cadmium yellow lemon, yellow ochre, alizarin crimson, cadmium red light, burnt sienna, and neutral tint. Restricting your palette to a minimal number of hues facilitates quicker color mixing mastery. Additionally, I personally employ this palette in my own artwork, which will prove beneficial in the next tip!

Beginner watercolor color study
Beginner watercolor color study

Tip #2: Enhance Your Understanding with a Simple Color Study

Having observed the values of each color, it’s time to dive into mixing them and exploring their interactions. By painting a color study, you can gain insight into how different colors blend and create various effects.

  • To begin your color study, mix the same grays used in your value study. For yellow tones, consider using cadmium yellow lemon and yellow ochre.
  • Once you have mixed the grays and yellows, paint swatches of each color side by side on your paper. Remember to label each color for future reference.
  • Start by painting the grays first, allowing them to dry completely before proceeding to the yellows. In my demonstration, I applied two layers of paint to enhance the depth, and you may find it beneficial to do the same.
  • Allow each layer to fully dry before adding the next, ensuring optimal results in your color study.

By conducting a color study, you will gain valuable insights into color mixing and how different hues interact. This exploration will enhance your artistic skills and expand your ability to create captivating watercolor paintings. Stay tuned for more tips to elevate your watercolor artistry!

Wet-in-wet watercolor tutorial
Wet-in-wet watercolor tutorial demo

Tip #3: Explore Wet-in-Wet Technique with Value and Color

Practicing wet-in-wet technique is a fantastic way to enhance your watercolor skills. This method involves applying wet paint onto wet paper, resulting in soft edges and captivating textures.

  • To begin your wet-in-wet study, wet your paper using a damp brush. Then, proceed to paint your chosen subject using wet-in-wet techniques. For this demonstration, I’ve selected the same tube of paint as before.
  • Observe how the edges of the yellow label and the grays within the paint tube appear soft and blurred. This effect is achieved by painting while the paper is still wet. Additionally, the colors blend harmoniously, creating a unified and visually appealing artwork.

By experimenting with wet-in-wet technique, you can unlock a world of artistic possibilities. This approach allows for the creation of captivating textures and seamless color transitions in your watercolor paintings. Stay tuned for more valuable tips to elevate your watercolor artistry!

Learn high key values using grayscale
Learn high key values using grayscale

Tip #4: Embrace High-Key Value Study in Watercolor

Exploring high-key value studies in watercolor allows you to focus on painting with light colors, providing valuable practice in capturing lighter values.

Before diving into a high-key value study, it’s essential to understand its concept. A high-key painting predominantly features light values, with bright and cheerful colors and minimal contrast between lights and darks.

To paint a high-key value study, you can follow a similar exercise as Tip #1, but this time, emphasize lighter values. Push your values up a few notches and start with lighter tones than you initially think. Manipulating values is another valuable gem from this beginner watercolor tutorial. Embrace this technique to enhance your understanding and mastery of watercolor painting.

By immersing yourself in high-key value studies, you will gain proficiency in capturing and expressing lighter values effectively. This technique can add a sense of brightness and vibrancy to your artwork. Stay tuned for more insightful tips to elevate your watercolor skills!

Learn high key values using colors
Learn high key values using colors

Tip #5: Explore High-Key Color Study in Watercolor

Building upon the foundation of high-key value studies, we can now delve into high-key color studies. This technique allows you to infuse vibrant colors into your watercolor paintings while maintaining a predominantly light and cheerful atmosphere.

  • To begin a high-key color study, you can revisit the previous exercise and introduce colors into the mix. For instance, I have opted for yellow and red, mixed with gray for the scissors in this demonstration.
  • Start by painting the gray scissors and, while the paint is still wet, introduce the red and yellow hues. It’s important to note that red can be deceptive in terms of value, so exercise caution and keep the values very light.
  • Once the scissors have dried, proceed to paint the cast shadow, making any necessary adjustments by adding darker tones if required.

High-key color studies allow you to experiment with vibrant hues while maintaining a light and joyful overall composition. By practicing this technique, you’ll gain confidence in working with colors and creating visually captivating watercolor artworks. Stay tuned for more valuable tips to enhance your watercolor skills!

Explore Low-Key Value Study in Watercolor
Explore Low-Key Value Study in Watercolor

Tip #6: Explore Low-Key Value Study in Watercolor

Delving into the realm of low-key value studies allows you to embrace the allure of dark colors and minimal contrast between lights and darks. This technique is particularly beneficial for honing your skills in capturing shadows and mastering the art of mixing different dark values.

To embark on a low-key value study, commence by painting the scissors with a significantly darker shade of gray than you initially anticipate. Once the paint has dried, proceed to add the darker hues on the form shadows of the scissors. Ensure that each layer is dry before moving on to the next. Finally, paint the cast shadow to complete the composition.

In this low-key painting, you’ll notice the prevalence of dark colors. The stark contrast between the lights and darks evokes a distinct mood, adding depth and intrigue to the overall piece.

By engaging in low-key value studies, you’ll develop a greater understanding of capturing shadows, manipulating dark values, and creating captivating compositions. Stay tuned for more invaluable tips to enhance your watercolor prowess!

Explore Low-Key Color Study in Watercolor
Explore Low-Key Color Study in Watercolor

Tip #7: Exploring Low-Key Color Study in Watercolor

Take your watercolor skills to the next level by delving into the captivating realm of low-key color studies. Unlike their high-key counterparts, these studies emphasize darker, more intense hues and evoke a mood that is both mysterious and compelling.

To embark on a low-key color study, begin by applying a thick layer of brown paint to the scissors. Feel free to choose any arbitrary color that resonates with your artistic vision. For the dark handles, employ the wet-in-wet technique to create intriguing textures.

Ensure that each layer is allowed to dry completely before proceeding to paint additional layers for the form shadows. Once the entire composition has dried, add the cast shadows to enhance the depth and atmospheric quality of the piece.

In this low-key color study, you’ll observe the prominence of dark hues and the stark contrast between light and dark elements, which contribute to the creation of a moody and somewhat sinister ambiance.

By immersing yourself in low-key color studies, you’ll gain invaluable experience in manipulating dark pigments, exploring contrasting tones, and imbuing your artwork with an evocative atmosphere. Stay tuned for more exciting tips to elevate your watercolor techniques!

Connect values using multiple objects
Connect values using multiple objects
Inspiration Image
Inspiration Image

Tip #8: Enhancing Value Connection with Multiple Objects

Ready to take your watercolor skills to new heights? Brace yourself for a challenge that will elevate your artistic abilities—connecting values using multiple objects. By arranging objects in close proximity or touching one another, you’ll learn how to seamlessly merge their values and create a harmonious visual narrative.

As you delve into studying the shadows, try squinting your eyes to simplify the values. This technique allows similar values to blend together, effectively connecting them across different objects. Remember, the goal is to establish a cohesive value relationship rather than treating each object in isolation.

Take a moment to revisit the value study and observe how the objects are connected through their shared values. By mastering the art of value connection, you’ll imbue your artwork with a sense of unity and coherence.

Prepare to push your creative boundaries and unlock the potential of connecting values through multiple objects. Embrace this technique as you continue to explore the captivating world of watercolor painting. Stay tuned for more exciting tips to expand your artistic horizons!

Connecting values using colors
Connecting values using colors

Tip #9: Enhancing Color Connection through Similar Values

In this tip, we’ll build upon the previous concept of connecting values, but this time we’ll explore it through the lens of color. When mixing colors, shift your focus from the specific hue to the value of each color. By doing so, you’ll witness the fascinating phenomenon of different colors bleeding and merging into one another, particularly within the shadows.

While using local colors, don’t fret about achieving perfect color matches. The emphasis here lies in connecting values rather than striving for hyperrealistic representation. Allow the values to guide your color choices and observe how they interact and harmonize.

This technique of connecting colors through similar values adds depth and visual intrigue to your artwork. Embrace the freedom of exploration and embrace the possibilities that arise when colors seamlessly blend and merge.

Emphasize the connection of values in your watercolor paintings and watch as your compositions come alive with a captivating interplay of colors. Stay tuned for more insightful tips to enhance your watercolor skills and elevate your artistic expression!

Explore cool colors
Explore cool colors

Tip #10: Exploring Cool Color Studies

In this tip, we’ll delve into the captivating realm of cool colors. Cool colors, such as blues, greens, and violets, bring a sense of calmness and tranquility to your artwork. They are particularly effective in creating serene landscapes or capturing the stillness of a moment.

When painting a cool color study, embrace the soothing nature of these hues by incorporating shades of blue, green, or violet into your color palette. Allow these cool tones to dominate your composition, while using warm hues sparingly to create subtle contrast and visual interest.

Remember, the key to a successful cool color study lies in maintaining a predominantly cool color scheme. This will evoke a sense of tranquility and enhance the overall mood of your artwork.

Immerse yourself in the serene world of cool colors, and explore the subtle nuances and harmonies that they offer. By mastering the use of cool hues, you’ll be able to evoke specific emotions and create captivating visual experiences in your watercolor paintings.

Stay tuned for more valuable tips as we continue to unlock the secrets of watercolor painting and enhance your artistic journey!

Beginner watercolor tutorial using chromatic colors
Beginner watercolor tutorial using chromatic colors

Tip #11: Embrace the Chromatic Color Study

In this tip, we’ll dive into the captivating realm of chromatic color studies. A chromatic painting features a wide range of distinct and vibrant colors, creating a visually captivating and dynamic artwork. However, executing a successful chromatic painting can be challenging, as it requires careful color mixing to avoid creating muddy tones.

The secret to mastering a chromatic color study lies in meticulous color preparation. Before applying any color to your painting, take the time to mix each hue on your palette. This approach ensures that the colors remain clean, vibrant, and distinct when applied to your artwork.

Embrace the vast spectrum of colors at your disposal, exploring their individual characteristics and interactions. Allow each color to shine in its unique brilliance, creating a harmonious and visually stimulating composition.

As you embark on your chromatic color study, remember to exercise caution and control, avoiding over-mixing or excessive blending that may dull the vibrancy of your colors. Embrace the excitement and challenges that a chromatic color study presents, and let your creativity soar!

Stay tuned for more insightful tips as we continue our journey to enhance your watercolor painting skills and expand your artistic horizons.

Beginner watercolor tutorial using tonal colors
Beginner watercolor tutorial using tonal colors

Tip #12: Mastering the Tonal Color Study

In our final tip of this beginner watercolor tutorial, we delve into the captivating world of tonal color studies. Unlike chromatic paintings that boast a wide array of vibrant hues, tonal paintings employ a limited palette with a focus on toning down colors through the addition of complementary, neutral, or black pigments.

Tonal paintings offer a unique aesthetic, characterized by subdued and less colorful compositions. The careful manipulation of saturation and tone creates a harmonious interplay of muted hues, resulting in a visually pleasing and balanced artwork.

When embarking on a tonal color study, opt for a limited selection of colors and exercise restraint in their application. Use complementary or neutral tones to subtly adjust the saturation and create variations in value. This technique allows for a refined and cohesive tonal effect.

While tonal paintings primarily explore subdued tones, there is still room for a pop of color. However, exercise caution and moderation to ensure that the vibrant element seamlessly integrates into the overall tonal composition.

As you experiment with tonal color studies, embrace the subtleties and delicate balance of muted hues. Explore the interplay between complementary tones and the impact they have on your artwork’s overall atmosphere and visual appeal.

Congratulations on completing this beginner watercolor tutorial! By incorporating these twelve tips into your artistic practice, you have expanded your skills and unlocked new possibilities for creative expression. Continue to explore and refine your watercolor techniques, and let your artistic journey flourish.

Thank you for joining us on this enlightening exploration of watercolor painting. Stay tuned for more inspiring content and further opportunities to enhance your artistic endeavors.

Bonus Tips for Watercolor Success

As we conclude this beginner watercolor tutorial, here are some additional tips to enhance your artistic journey:

  1. Embrace a limited palette: Using a restricted range of colors allows you to become intimately familiar with their characteristics and behavior when mixed. Once you gain confidence, you can gradually expand your palette.
  2. Begin with light values: Starting with lighter tones provides flexibility to add darker shades later. Remember that studies and finished paintings often evolve gradually. Exercise patience and remember that you can always add more paint, but it’s challenging to remove once applied.
  3. Embrace mistakes: Watercolor is a forgiving medium, and even perceived mistakes can be transformed into interesting effects. Allow any unintended areas or mistakes to dry completely, then strategize and make deliberate adjustments.
  4. Value studies matter: Value-based studies play a vital role in creating high-quality artwork. Many of the watercolor tips shared in this article revolve around understanding and mastering values.
Final Thoughts

I trust that you found this beginner watercolor tutorial enriching and enjoyable. Implementing these tips will instantly elevate your art and revolutionize your approach to subjects. Regular practice and application of these techniques will pave the way for your growth as an artist. Embrace the journey, explore new possibilities, and soon you’ll be painting like a pro!

Thank you for joining us on this creative endeavor. Stay inspired and keep nurturing your artistic skills. Remember, the world is your canvas!