Step-by-step Tutorials

These are step-by-step watercolor tutorials using a picture-text format to illustrate the process of a painting going from an idea to completion. Each lesson is arranged so that you can easily save it to your computer. Please feel free to share them.

Still-lifes in Watercolor

painting a still-life watercolor

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Every successful painting begins with significant time spent on composition. Once I pick up my brush, I first focus on laying out the main objects, using yellow and red colors for the fruit, I then introduce blue into my palette to create a cooler, darker color for the background as well as for the shadows and shading, and I intentionally leave white areas which will be highlights and spaces for details...

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Free watercolor Painting lesson and demonstration of a green apple

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This is a demonstration on how to capture the light and shadow of a green apple, and the importance of identifying values in a painting and using layering to create a three-dimensional form.

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Free Watercolor still life Painting step by step lesson of a bagel

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Bagels have a soft surface. I will demonstrate how to capture the feel of the surface of a bagel, the color and the very fine details necessary to reveal this bread’s nature by using glazing and lifting-off techniques.

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Free step by step watercolor lesson: Painting Banana and Red Apple Watercolor Demonstration

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In this demonstration, you will learn how to arrange a still-life with multiple objects in a pleasing manner. The composition is as important as the value study in a still-life. Here, two different kinds of objects need to make a pleasing arrangement in one setting. The difference in colors, values, and texture in the two different fruits will add a new challenge to the painting. 

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Watercolor Portraits

Step by step Painting a Watercolor Portrait of a Child from Photo

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The key to a successful portrait painting is producing a good composition, starting painting moving from the bigger shapes, then working on smaller and smaller shapes, and not getting lost in the details too early. Instead, concentrate on the overall painting, paying attention to the color temperature and balance...

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Step by step Painting a Watercolor Portrait of a Child from Photo

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For a portrait painting, I usually begin with a thumbnail study. This is the step where I plan the composition, sort out perspective and relationships, proportion and balance, size and distance. A good drawing is a good base for a painting; it can give you more confidence, so take as much time as you need in this step...

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Free Watercolor Portrait Painting Demonstration of a Woman

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When painting a portrait, it is most important to get to know the subject. To do this, I visited her in her home in order to understand her family, her personality, and listen to her stories...

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Free Watercolor Portrait Painting Demonstration of a man

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In this watercolor demonstration, you will learn the process of moving from an idea to the completion of a watercolor portrait, starting from a few preliminary drawings and a number of high-resolution digital photographs to completion in the studio. 

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Step by step Painting a Watercolor Portrait of a live model in 20 minutes.

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A professional portrait can take days to complete, but there are occasions when you have little time to capture your subject. Here’s how to do it quickly. This study was completed in just 20 minutes...

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Watercolor Landscapes and Seascapes

Step-by-step Color Study for a Home Portrait in Watercolor

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A color study is a process of experimental color composition and value arrangement done before determining your final composition before beginning peinting. It is especially useful when you are combining two or more references for a painting. In a recent home portrait commission, my reference pictures included two photographs of maple trees and a picture of the house taken early in the morning...

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Free Watercolor Home Portrait Painting Demonstration

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It was late in the summer when I received a commission to do watercolor paintings of a series of homes in the area. I worked on the project from August through November, and found I not only enjoyed capturing the detail of these structures on paper, but also was enchanted by the beauty of their surroundings. The gorgeous colors of the trees in the fall would create a drama and interest that only enriched my final rendering...

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step by step free watercolor lesson: The Fog Horn: Watercolor Painting Demonstration

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(This step by step watercolor lesson provided by Mary Churchill)

A seascape is a very popular subject for a watercolor painting. This reference depicts a fishing boat with the men blowing the foghorn, giving the opportunity to learn to paint fog as well as the ocean.

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Children's Book Illustration

Step by step process to children's book illustration in watercolor painting

Yong Chen is both an author and illustrator of children’s books. Here he showcases his process of creating fitting illustrations for another author’s manuscript. The book was "Finding Joy," the story of a family going through the adoption of a child from overseas. The first step in the process, naturally, is to read the story.

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Flowers in Watercolor

Free watercolor online lesson: Painting Flowers in Watercolor Demonstration

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(This step by step watercolor lesson provided by Mary Churchill)

The soft, fragrant flowers of the gardenia plant are complemented by its bright, shiny leaves. I want to capture the subtle colors in the white petals created by the surrounding green leaves and the deep yellow corolla at its center.

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Watercolor Painting and Framing the Calla Lili

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(This watercolor lesson provided by Mary Churchill)

Painting cut flowers requires paying attention to the flower arrangement, the colors in the vase and background, as well as the direction of your light source. If this is a painting to enter an exhibition, you will also need to be planning matting and framing...

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Step by step Painting a Watercolor Portrait of a Child from Photo

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My friend, Mary Churchill, has talked about a special brushwork technique used in her paintings. It is a rendering style created with the blending of two colors together on the same brush. Using a round brush, a beautiful blend of colors, from red to orange to yellow can be created with one stroke...

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Watercolor Gift Cards

Watercolor painting creative Christmas greeting card

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(This lesson provided by Mary Churchill)

 Christmas is a wonderful time of year. Everyone seems to be infected with the spirit of the season. One of the lovely traditions of this season is the exchange of greeting cards with friends and family. Sending original, hand-painted cards shows the recipient that you care.

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Free Watercolor Lesson: Simple Watercolor Painting for a Gift Card Series, a Step-by-step watercolor painting demonstration

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(This lesson provided by Mary Churchill)

Whether a birthday card, get-well-soon card, or just a friendly “hello”, the sea is a pleasant inspiration for an original greeting card. This painting includes water, rocks, and waves. It has been made easier to paint by using a Gouache (Permanent White), for the ocean waves ...

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Free Watercolor Lesson: Simple Watercolor Painting for a Gift Card Series, a Step-by-step watercolor painting demonstration

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(This lesson provided by Mary Churchill)

A cluster of daisies creates a nice hand-made gift card. Here you will find detailed instructions on what to purchase to make this a nice addition to a birthday party, bridal shower, or to a baby shower.

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Free Watercolor Lesson: Simple Watercolor Painting for a Gift Card Series, a Step-by-step watercolor painting demonstration

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(This lesson provided by Mary Churchill)

I found a skiff caught in a tangle of reeds a challenge to paint; therefore, I used masking fluid to draw the reeds. After the mask dried, I painted the negative areas. I painted a few layers and let them dry in between applications. Next, I removed the masking and painted the positive areas...

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