4 Drawing Skills to Improve Your Watercolors

4 Drawing Skills to Improve Your Watercolors

When it comes to painting awesome watercolors, some artists have a natural eye for it, while others struggle to get their drawings just right. If you’re the latter type of artist, don’t give up just yet! The 4 drawing skills to improve your watercolors should be practiced regularly. Watercolors are a tricky medium and even the most experienced artists have trouble mastering them from time to time. Fortunately, with the help of these expert tips, you can take your watercolor skills from average to exceptional in no time. Whether you’re brand new to these techniques or just need a refresher on some fundamentals, keep reading for an inside look at how you can develop your watercolor drawing skills.

Start with drawing simple shapes

If you’re just starting out in the world of art, or haven’t picked up a paintbrush in a while, there are some things you can do to improve your drawing skills before you ever lift a brush. Drawing can be a very relaxing hobby, but it can also be very frustrating when you’re just starting out. Don’t rush it. Take your time and focus on each step of the process. Make sure you have enough natural light, and keep your hands relaxed so you don’t tense up. Try to avoid the temptation to rush through the process. When you are relaxed and spending time on your favorite hobby, it’s easier to improve your skills.

Start with simple shapes and fill them in with vertical, horizontal and diagonal strokes. The goal is to avoid going outside the edges as shown in the top left example.

Draw simple shapes
– Draw simple shapes
Draw simple shapes examples
– Draw simple shapes

Gestural drawing skills

When you’re just starting with watercolors, it’s best to stick to the basics of gestural drawing skills. In other words, don’t go for accuracy. Instead, practice using the simplest shapes to create your drawings. If you’re sketching out a flower, for example, use a series of circles to represent its petals. For a face, draw a series of curved lines to represent the eyes, nose, and mouth. You can even add a few squiggly lines for hair to give your sketch a more complete feeling. In other words, don’t go for accuracy. Instead, practice using the simplest shapes to create your drawings. Once you have these skills down, you can work your way toward more accurate drawings.

Below is an example of a taxi cab. I started with an accurate drawing which took about ten minutes. As I progressed to the gestural, or abstract, example i used less time. But the overall scale, accuracy and believability are still present despite the looseness.

Gestural drawing exercise
– Gestural drawing exercise

Design & composition drawing skills

Even if your drawings are perfectly accurate, they won’t look good if they don’t have a balanced, visually appealing composition. To make sure your design is balanced, draw a horizontal line across your paper, then position your subject above or below that line. Remember, your design doesn’t have to be symmetrical. You can use different shapes and sizes to create a more visually appealing design. For example, you can balance out the size of a tall flower with the size of a shorter plant next to it. You can use a variety of shapes to create an interesting overall composition, such as using diamonds, triangles, or curves to draw attention to different parts of your design. Once you have a general idea in mind, sketch it out on paper, then use watercolors to bring your composition to life.

Below is an example of how I arranged shapes, added a point of interest and used good perspective drawing skills. I was also careful to avoid those awkward tangents and symmetry.

Design and composition drawing
– Design and composition drawing

Value planning drawing skills

Once you have your design sketched out, use value planning drawing skills to create the illusion of depth in your design. Simply put, you’ll want to use lighter shades of paint on the parts of your design that are in the background and darker shades on the parts of the design that are in the foreground. When it comes to your watercolors, you can also use value planning techniques to create contrast between certain parts of your design. For example, if you have a dark flower in the foreground of your design, you can use a lighter shade of blue to create contrast with the flower. Now that you have the basics of accurate drawing, gestural drawing, design, and value planning, you’re ready to put all of that knowledge to the test with watercolors.

The image below illustrates value hierarchy. This is VERY helpful because it will guide your color choices.

Value planning drawing
– Value planning drawing

Conclusion

Watercolors are a tricky medium, and even the most experienced artists have trouble mastering them from time to time. Fortunately, with the help of these expert tips, you can take your watercolor skills from average to exceptional in no time. Whether you’re brand new to these techniques or just need a refresher on some fundamentals, keep reading for an inside look at how you can develop your watercolor drawing skills.