The Moist-In-Moist Watercolor Method: Mastering The Fundamentals To Paint Unique Fish

Discover ways to grasp the wet-in-wet watercolor approach from an award-winning painter, William “Invoice” Dunn, as he options this method whereas portray a pair of unique fish. This course is the right observe for water management and mixing colours on paper, and is particularly applicable for these inquisitive about making use of the fundamentals to a whole and colourful portray. Wish to watch the video model? The complete tutorial is out there to members of our Watercolor University.

Supplies Used In This Moist-In-Moist Watercolor Class:

  • Reference footage of colourful unique fish (click on here and here for Invoice’s footage)
  • A sheet of Arches tough watercolor paper (140lb, dimension 10″ x 14″)
  • A sheet of scrap paper
  • Pentel Graphgear 1000 automated drafting pencil, 0.9mm lead dimension with HB or 2B lead
  • Kneaded eraser
  • Mr. Clear Magic Eraser (authentic)
  • Artists’ tape
  • Portray palette for watercolor paints (with 24 wells)
  • Auxiliary plate or palette for gouache paint
  • A container of water
  • A towel or rag
  • Tissue or paper towels
  • Spray bottle with clear water
  • Tilted wood board

Paints (Holbein Artists’ Watercolors)

  • Cadmium Yellow Lemon
  • Cadmium Yellow Deep
  • Sensible Orange
  • Cadmium Purple Purple
  • Quinacridone Magenta
  • Cobalt Violet Gentle (or Lavender)
  • Mineral Violet
  • Olive Inexperienced
  • Cobalt Inexperienced (or Turquoise)
  • Everlasting Inexperienced #1
  • Peacock Blue
  • Prussian Blue (or Ultramarine Blue)
  • Indigo
  • Payne’s Grey
  • Impartial Tint
  • Ivory Black

Winsor & Newton’s Designers’ Gouache

  • Everlasting White
  • Cadmium Purple


  • Neef Rigger Supreme Taklon Sequence: Lengthy deal with rigger brush (no. 6)
  • Escoda Perla Joseph Zbukvic Sequence: Spherical brush (no. 12)
  • Escoda Perla Joseph Zbukvic Sequence: Spherical brush (no. 20)
  • Winsor & Newton Sequence 7: Kolinsky Sable spherical brush (dimension 1)
  • Winsor & Newton College Sequence 223: Spherical brush (no. 2)
  • Previous toothbrush

Step 1: Thumbnails And Sketching Methods


Prep your watercolor block or sheet of paper by taping the edges all the way down to a tilted board with artist’s tape, making a ½” margin for a great clear edge for future framing functions. Then, plan your composition by doing a fast thumbnail sketch that’s scaled to your watercolor paper. A trick to do that is to think about a diagonal line operating by your watercolor paper, then lay your scrap paper on prime. The borders of your thumbnail sketch ought to share the identical diagonal line, despite the fact that the floor space is smaller. On this fast sketch, draw the place every fish ought to go, and have enjoyable with the background – you possibly can embody underwater crops or rays of sunshine in your composition to make it extra attention-grabbing. Strive to not overdo it although as the principle focus continues to be on the pair of fish. One other tip is to not place the fish lifeless middle within the composition; as an alternative, use the Rule of Thirds for a extra energetic design.

When you’re achieved, switch the sketch to the bigger watercolor paper, ensuring to maintain your traces unfastened and lightweight to attenuate eraser utilization because the eraser could change the paper’s floor. You additionally don’t want so as to add too many particulars, as a few of them will be added later with your paintbrush. Be sure to maintain the fish in proportion although, particularly the eyes and fins, and attempt to preserve the fins inside the taped border so the main target gained’t be drawn away and off the web page. You may exaggerate a number of the shapes and features as wanted on your composition, holding your pencil sideways when drawing broad strokes, and switching to a traditional grip when penciling in smaller particulars. Attempt to get a great impression of two fish swimming in water, however don’t make it too messy or else it will likely be troublesome to color, and look sloppy in addition.

Beneath is a close-up of Invoice’s sketch:


Step 2: Breaking Down Moist-In-Moist Watercolor Fundamentals


About 5-10minutes earlier than portray, spray the paints in your palette with clear water to melt them. You may assume forward of learn how to paint your fish and which colours to make use of, as a result of whereas the reference photographs are there, they need to act extra as a information to your portray and fewer of a strict rule. You’re not aiming to breed an actual copy of the image; you need a energetic portray that reveals off a few of your creative fashion! For good compositional ideas, Invoice recommends working from huge to small shapes, light to dark colours, and to have a great contrast of heat (i.e. reds, oranges, yellows) and funky colours (i.e. greens, blues, purples) at a ratio of three:7.

As soon as your paints are comfortable, you’re prepared to make use of the wet-in-wet watercolor approach! For this, use the Escoda Perla no. 20 spherical brush. Be sure the paintbrush is clear, then along with your brush, moist the primary bigger fish with water, being cautious across the edges of your fish. It’s okay to go over all the small print such because the eyes, fins, and some other traces. In the event you by chance put an excessive amount of water, you possibly can lift the surplus water out with a clear dry brush. Let this layer of water soak into the paper for a minute or two earlier than you begin portray.

Beginning with the lightest colours, combine Cadmium Yellow Deep with Sensible Orange in your palette, then drop on this combination to the highest fin and the face of the higher fish. The paint will unfold because of the moist floor, however that is high quality for the wet-in-wet watercolor approach. If it begins pooling in a single space, you possibly can elevate out the surplus with a dry brush or a paper towel or rag. Maintain working on this manner, altering to Cobalt Violet Gentle and dropping it subsequent to the sunshine orange areas for distinction within the fish’s most important physique, then add a contact of Cadmium Yellow Lemon close to the highest space and alongside the mouth. Swap to Peacock Blue and patch it in to a number of the white areas in the principle physique and tail, and the paint will naturally fill within the moist areas on paper. Use extra of the Cobalt Violet Gentle to carry out some particulars within the tail, and add some shadows to the underside of the physique. You may intensify the shadows by mixing in Prussian Blue with the purple combination, and use the identical paint for the underside fins. Flick your brush outwards ranging from the fish’s physique to create tapered lines for the fins, and add in some Cobalt Inexperienced for extra splashes of colour.

Step 3: Utilizing The Moist-In-Moist Watercolor Method For Fluid Blends In Fish


Proceed dropping the identical darkish blue into the orange-yellow areas in the principle physique to tone down the warmth of those colours. As a result of moist floor, the paint will create comfortable blends with one another, which is the aim of utilizing the wet-in-wet watercolor approach. For the ends of the tail, combine within the darker blues corresponding to Payne’s Grey, Indigo, and Prussian Blue, and paint in some traces for the fins’ skeletal construction. Combine in additional Cobalt Violet Gentle for a deep indigo colour and paint the gill space, then change again to a hotter colour by mixing Cadmium Purple Purple, Sensible Orange, Cadmium Yellow Lemon, and a contact of Cobalt Violet Gentle to color the realm the place the decrease fin attaches to the principle physique. Remember the fact that you possibly can all the time change the composition for the sake of a greater portray, and lift out any puddles with a clear dry brush. Paint will all the time dry lighter than while you first put it on paper as effectively, so don’t fear if the portray appears too darkish when it’s moist. In actual fact, because the floor you’re portray on is already moist, including extra water will create a white “rind” in your portray whereas growing the probabilities of damaging the paper, so attempt to maintain off from diluting the paints an excessive amount of.

Step 4: Portray Shadows And Particulars On Fins


Use the blue combination for the information of spikes alongside the highest fin, however strive to not overwork your portray or use too many colours. Add just a few extra particulars corresponding to the colourful orange for the face, smoothing out any onerous edges with clear water. Paint the final fin alongside the fish’s stomach with Cobalt Inexperienced, and a contact of Cadmium Purple Purple for the fin’s muscle mass and jawline. Create as a lot contrast as doable by including some Payne’s Grey and Indigo to the darkest shadows.

Swap to the no. 12 Escoda Perla spherical brush, and re-wet the highest fin with clear water because it’s in all probability fairly dry by now. Utilizing the wet-in-wet watercolor approach once more, use Sensible Orange and add just a few skeletal traces for the fin.  Use pure Cadmium Yellow Deep to spotlight the fish’s backside lip, and work in any ending touches the place vital.

Step 5: Reusing The Moist-In-Moist Watercolor Method For A Totally different Fish


For the underside fish, because it’s within the entrance, lift out the paint the place the fins of the higher fish overlap with the underside one utilizing a clear brush and water. You may even use the Mr. Clear Magic Eraser to softly scrub over this space to take the paint out fully, though a number of the graphite out of your pencil traces could also be left behind. Even so, that is high quality as they’ll be coated as soon as there are sufficient layers of paint on prime. Dry the realm with a paper towel or rag, and as soon as once more, use the wet-in-wet watercolor approach and the no. 12 Escoda brush to moist the second fish with clear water. You’ll start to note that this method helps create a really pure and fluid mix of colours which are typically sudden, but can nonetheless create pleasing outcomes, which is ideal for portray undefined areas of colour.

As soon as once more, you’ll be working from mild to darkish colours to take advantage of out of the wet-in-wet watercolor approach, so begin with the orange-yellow combination and paint the tail, the backbone, and a number of the fish’s stomach. You may go away some white spots for further “sparkle” or element if you would like. Add a contact of Cobalt Violet Gentle for the underside, then change to Indigo. You should utilize this colour to color subsequent to the orange-yellow areas, permitting a number of the paint to glaze over the underlying layer (i.e. overlapping the colours). Strive to not combine these complementary colors an excessive amount of although or else the colours will grow to be muddy!

For much more distinction, use Prussian Blue for this fish’s most important physique, and blend a deep purple utilizing Mineral Violet, Cobalt Violet Gentle, and Quinacridone Magenta for portray the darkest shadows and the decrease fins.

Step 6: Splashing Round And Layering Daring Colours For Depth


With pure Prussian Blue, add some daring strokes into the fish’s physique, the place it’s too yellow. You may even splash some paint round as effectively to loosen the rigidity of the shapes, and use Cadmium Purple Purple for the brow, across the again of the top, and for the tip of the underside fin. Contact some Cobalt Violet Gentle across the mouth, and paint the skeletal traces within the tail. For shadows, use a powerful Indigo, particularly underneath the highest fin. Bear in mind to not examine your portray to the reference image, as you might be making a portray, not a copy or photocopy! This shouldn’t be too troublesome as by definition, the wet-in-wet watercolor approach doesn’t enable for inflexible portray generally.

Subsequent, paint some traces to the higher fish’s backside fin for definition, then drop in some Cadmium Yellow Deep into the blue areas to tone them down whereas including extra depth. Use Sensible Orange to finalize this layer’s particulars, and attempt to domesticate an intuition for colors and contrasts, which is able to assist in the colour selecting course of for any watercolor portray. Once you’re achieved, go away the portray to dry.

Step 7: Extra Management With The Moist-On-Dry Watercolor Method


When the floor is dry, use Cadmium Yellow Deep once more to color a number of the white areas left, particularly the realm subsequent to the second fish’s gill. And because the floor is dry, you should utilize the wet-on-dry watercolor approach, the place you place moist paint on a dry floor. This permits for way more management over the place the paint goes, which makes it a great approach for portray particulars. Combine Mineral Violent and Cobalt Inexperienced for a toned-down purple, and deepen the traces on the tail and within the stomach’s shadow. Add some previous few marks with the yellow-orange combination to enliven the portray, and with pure Peacock Blue paint, dot in some lighter-colored scales in direction of the again half of the underside fish.

Step 8: Jelly Eyes And Bellies


Subsequent, liven the primary fish’s gills and stomach with Cobalt Violet Gentle paint. Then, for the fish’s jelly-eyes, change to the Winsor & Newton Kolinsky Sable round brush and blend a reddish purple utilizing Mineral Violet and Quinacridone Magenta, diluting it a little bit for a clear impact. Use this colour to color a hoop across the higher fish’s eye, then add in a contact of Prussian Blue and paint a second ring across the first. For the underside fish, combine Payne’s Grey and Indigo for a darker first ring, whereas the outer ring is usually a pure Cadmium Purple Purple to match the fish’s head colour. Watch out to not let the rings contact although, as the colours will bleed into each other such as you did when utilizing the wet-in-wet watercolor approach, solely this time it should seem like a mistake! It is because particulars just like the eyes need to have a selected form so as to seem like an eye fixed, whereas bigger undefined areas have extra leeway when it comes to mixing totally different colours.

Step 9: Watery Background & Moist-In-Moist Watercolor


Whereas the primary layer for the eyes and different particulars are drying, it’s lastly time to color the empty white background. Going again to the big no. 20 Escoda Perla brush, combine a contact of blues with Cobalt Inexperienced to get a great turquoise colour and paint the background utilizing the wet-on-dry approach. Be sure to color across the fish and the 2 stripes of plants, though it’s high quality to overlap a little bit to tie the fish to the encircling water. Maintain selecting up extra water and paint while you really feel the comb start to dry, and go shortly to forestall streaks from forming on prime of each other. It’s high quality to go away patches of white; they are often bubbles and add a little bit “sparkle” to the general portray.

Whereas the background continues to be moist, combine in some Indigo paint to darken the background (i.e. the wet-in-wet watercolor approach), particularly the realm across the fish. This provides one other layer of depth to the portray whereas actually serving to the fish to come out of the background. Simply makes positive to not begin portray any patterns or making the background too colourful, as this may distract from the fish, which is the place the main target of the portray needs to be.

Layer in Impartial Tint and Indigo for an excellent darker blue, including a contact of Olive Inexperienced for a slight variation and firming it down if vital with extra Payne’s Grey and Indigo. Don’t neglect to color the gaps between the 2 fish as effectively!

Step 10: An Impression Of Underwater Plant Life


For the underwater crops, combine Everlasting Inexperienced #1 and Cadmium Yellow Lemon for a lighter inexperienced, then fill within the white strips you’ve left behind. You may as well use this colour to streak in just a few further leaves within the background as effectively; simply ensure that the background is semi-dry so the inexperienced gained’t unfold an excessive amount of into the background. Maintain your brushstrokes unfastened for that impressionistic and fluid really feel, and don’t fear an excessive amount of about filling in each white house – the white will assist brighten your total portray, plus you’ll dot extra in later.

Step 11: Including Depth To And Round The Fish’s Eyes


Whereas the background dries, work on the following layer for the eyes. Utilizing the no. 6 Neef rigger brush, combine a darkish colour utilizing Impartial Tint and Ivory Black, and paint within the pupils. Subsequent, squeeze some Everlasting White and Cadmium Purple gouache paint in your facet palette or tray, and use the pink to color across the backside fish’s eye to make it stand out a little bit extra. Attempt to look ahead to the pupil to dry first earlier than doing this in case the colours contact and bleed, and watch out to not contact the background or any moist areas whereas doing this, as this may trigger the paint to smudge.

For extra particulars, combine Peacock Blue with a little bit of the Everlasting White gouache paint to make it extra opaque, then add highlights to each fish’s lips and across the prime half of the eyes of the higher fish.

Step 12: Touching Up The Watery Background


Whereas the eyes are drying, contact up the background by utilizing the no. 12 Escoda brush and Olive Inexperienced paint to color the darker edges of the crops, creating extra shadow and depth. Use the blue combination in your palette to darken some areas within the background, in between the crops, and in between the fish, detailing the place vital.

Step 13: Remaining Layer For Eyes And Scales, And All Fish Tails


When the eyes are dry, you possibly can tidy them up with one other layer of Ivory Black for the pupils, and Cadmium Purple gouache for the ring across the backside fish’s eye. Wait a little bit for this layer to dry, then use the very thick white gouache paint to dot the pupils and so as to add the shiniest scales to the fish’s physique. Put these noticed highlights alongside the tails, the our bodies, and fins, across the eyes, and on prime of the spikes of the higher fish. These little particulars make all of the distinction in a portray like this, and so they actually assist brighten the general environment of your art work.

Step 14: Paint Splattering With A Toothbrush


For the of entirety, take out your previous toothbrush, moist it, and scrub it on a number of the white gouache paint. Maintain it about 1-2 inches above your portray, then gently run a thumb over the bristles when you transfer the toothbrush throughout your portray. The paint will fall in a small splatter in your portray, and isn’t too troublesome to regulate the place it goes, so have enjoyable with it. Simply strive to not overdo the splatter – though it gained’t be as opaque when it’s dry, you continue to don’t need it to distract out of your colourful unique fish.

Step 15: Signing Off


When there’s nothing left to repair or add to your portray, be happy to complete off with one final contact – your signature. Invoice makes use of a tiny round brush (Winsor & Newton College Sequence no. 233) for this, and mixes Peacock Blue with the opaque white gouache earlier than rigorously signing within the backside proper nook. You get one shot at this, so ensure you have sufficient house! Invoice additionally advises utilizing a paintbrush versus a pen or marker, as this may disrupt the continuity of the portray, plus the ink will fade lengthy earlier than the watercolor paint does. Once you’re achieved, let the paint dry, gently take off the artist’s tape, and voila! You’ve simply accomplished a complete portray utilizing solely the wet-on-dry and the wet-in-wet watercolor strategies, so give your self a pat on the again for a job effectively achieved.

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