Thursday, December 10, 2009

...Watercoloring Tutorial

As promised, I am so excited to bring you my watercoloring tutorial! I have received so many emails and questions regarding how I color my images, how I achieve shadows and highlights, etc. Hopefully this will address any and all aspects of my certain type of coloring. Keep in mind this is how I color, and others may do things quite differently...but this has worked for me so far! LOL! Here we go...


  • Watercolor Paper (I use 90 lb. Fabriano Watercolor Paper)
  • Water-filled Painter Pen (I purchased mine from Hobby Lobby in the painting section, or you can use the Aquapainter from SU)
  • Water-Based Ink Pads and Refills (I use SU's Classic Ink Pads)
  • Solvent Ink Pad (I use Jet Black Staz-On Ink, or you can stamp the image in Black Craft Ink and emboss it)
  • Paper Towel
  • Outlined Image to Color

Step One:
I always start by checking my watercolor brush to make sure that I do not have too much water in it. I brush it across the side of my finger...if a bead of water rolls off, then there is too much in it. It should only leave a faint trail of water, but if it doesn't you can simply wipe off the excess onto a paper towel. This may have to be done several times until the right amount of water is in the brush.

Step Two:
Choose an image to be colored. I like using outlined images like these Bugga-Boos Gingersnaps from C.C. Designs.

Step Three: Stamp image onto Watercolor Paper. Normally I would stamp the image in Basic Black Craft Ink, then emboss it with Clear Embossing Powder if it has simple lines like these. For more intricate and detailed images, I would stamp them in Jet Black Staz-On Ink without embossing them. This allows you to get color into every little nook and cranny without having to worry about blank spaces.

Step Four:

Start coloring! I always start with the face...don't know why, but I do! LOL! I use SU Classic Ink Pads, because you can create a palette by simply squeezing the lid of the pad against the ink pad while it's closed. If there isn't enough ink in the lid you can also add a drop or two of ink from a refill bottle (in picture: left pad has a drop added while the right pad was just squeezed).

Step Five:
I always start with the light this case Blush Blossom. I completely fill in the face with the same amount of color all over. I allow it to dry, then add more of the same color where I want the shadow to fall (you can also speed up dry time using a Heat Tool/Gun). Usually I have my light source coming in from the left, so the left side should be lighter than the right.

Step Six:
I make the shadows stand out by adding a darker color in the same color this case Creamy Caramel. I only add it where the shadows would fall, though...the right side of her face, and under her hair line.

***TIP: Be sure to always clean your brush before moving on to the next color. Simply whip it on the paper towel until the brush runs clear. If I'm using a darker shade of one color, I will wait to clean it until I move on to a totally different color family.

Step Seven:
If you would like to create more highlight than is already visible, simply brush WATER ONLY over the area you wish to make lighter...

Step Eight:
...and while the area is still wet, dab it with a paper towel. This will remove the color, and it can be repeated until you get the look you want.

***TIP: Steps 7 & 8 can be used if you color outside the lines, and wish to correct it. Simple repeat until the unwanted color is gone.

Step Nine:
I add a little blush on her cheeks using Cameo Coral. If the blush needs to be lightened, repeat Steps 7 & 8 on that area.

Step Ten:
Move on to the next colors...I used So Saffron and Crushed Curry on the inner parts of the wings, and repeated Steps 5-8 starting with saffron until the desired look was achieved. Remember to pay special attention to the highlights and shadows, and remember which way the light source is directed.

Step Eleven:
Same as Step 10 using Pretty in Pink and Regal Rose starting with the lightest shade to color her bodice and tights. Remember to add highlights and shadows!

Step Twelve:
Move on to her leotard, and repeat Step 1o using Certainly Celery and Old Olive starting with celery.

Step Thirteen:
Finish her wings by repeating Step 10 with Almost Amethyst and Lavender Lace starting with amethyst.

Step Fourteen:
Her hair is the final step! Repeat Step 10 using Pumpkin Pie and Dusty Durango starting with pumpkin.

And VIOLA.....a watercolored image with highlights and shadows!!! I decided to created the ground with a Black Sharpie Pen, and watercolored it before adding the image to the completed card. You can see my Flutter By Wednesday card HERE.

Keep in mind that watercoloring is a technique that must be may or may not get it on the first try, but don't give up! It takes a while to get the hang of moving color around and blending, but the result is just wonderful...and I honestly find watercoloring therapeutic. I love being able to sit down and zone out for a while. It takes me back to my childhood when I would pile up in the floor with all of my crayons and coloring books! LOL!
That's it for me today! I hope you enjoyed the tutorial, and I will see you back here with another Farm Fresh Friday installment. Until then...


the paper bug said...

Awesome tutorial! I need some more ink pads!


Cindy Haffner said...

Thanks for the lesson Mercy, your coloring is superb!!!

Jessica Diedrich said...

This is SUPER DUPER AWESOME my friend! LOVE it! Thanks for working so hard on this for all of us watercolor novices-any change you will link this to your sidebar for quick reference later ;)?

Sandra MacLean said...

Mercy, I had to chuckle at your comment about always starting with the face - I do that too!! Every, single time! I've left a link to your tutorial on my side bar for others to find too! :D

Kimberly S said...

Awesome tutorial, thank you for sharing it!! :)

Vicki Burdick said...

Awesome tutorial Mercy!!! Your coloring is fantastic and it is great to see your step by step technique!!!

Jacqueline said...

Thank you for sharing this Mercy!! Your image is beautiful!! I used to watercolor sometimes...might need to bring out the ink and brush again! I have the same water brush from Hobby Lobby...Do you find they fray easy or have I been too rough on mine?? My brush tip is no longer nice and smooth as yours looks.. I suppose I need to get a new one :D
Love it hun!! Great tutorial! hugs!

Marisa said...

Great tutorial, Mercy! Thanks for taking the time to do it and post pictures of the steps.

Unknown said...

Wonderful tutorial, Mercy! Your coloring is amazing!!

Michelle said...

Thanks for the tutorial - the step by step instructions are perfect. I haven't watercolored in awhile so I may just have to get all my supplies out and give it a whirl.

Danni said...

Wonderful tutorial!!

Giovana said...

Beautiful coloring Mercy! Thanks for the tutorial.

God bless

Silke Ledlow said...

AWESOME TUTORIAL - GF!!! Watercoloring never looked that great :)!!! Hugs ~S~

Jenny Hayward said...

Mercy, Thanks so much for taking the time to do this tutorial on watercolouring. It gives so much detail. I will have to have a go at watercolouring again!!!

Your cards are alway gorgeous!Thanks again.

Julie said...

GORGEOUS, Mercy! Thanks so much for the tutorial! You make it look SO easy! I will definitely be giving this a try! :)

Pam Varnell said...

This tutorial was fantastic Mercy. You did a great job showing all the details. You are the Queen of Watercolor. LOL


Anonymous said...

Wow what a fantastic tutorial. I have only one question. I've purchased a water colour note pad from Michael's but I don't know what side is the right side to colour on. Is it the bumpy side or the smooth side?
Thanks for helping a girl get on the "right" side!!
Beth Greco

Cassie said...

terrific tutorial mercy!

Laural-Lee said...

Wow thanks for that Tutorial Mercy. Watercolouring always makes me nervous. And then I make the excuses that I don't have those popular copics to get that look. But now you've proven to me that I have all the product I need to start colouring like you (with lots of practice of course)

Lisa said...

Thank you so much for your tutorial!!! I have it saved, so that I can refer back to it often, I love watercoloring!!! And thank you for the visit to my blog, I'm just starting, and not sure where to go with it, but it's a bit fun just the same. LOL

God bless!

Lisa Sturgill