Water drops are one of those subjects that seem more difficult and intimidating to paint than they truly are. In reality, they are very simple and rather quick to paint too. Especially, when you know this very easy-to-follow method you can use to paint them.
Creating Realistic Waterscapes in Mixed Media
Ready to learn how to paint drops of water? Let’s begin!
One of the most common places where you will find water drops is resting on top of plants and flowers on a dewy morning, right after a refreshing tropical rainfall or fresh after a watering. This is why in today’s tutorial you will learn how to paint water drops on three colors commonly found in nature: green, pink and brown.
But this method is so convenient, that you can apply it for drops on any other surface — you only need to change the background color!
Anatomy of a water drop
First we will analyze the structure and composition of a drop of water. This allows you to become familiar with all the parts that make it look like such, and simplify the painting process.
As we already know, the volume and three-dimensionality of any object is shown through light and shadow. Water drops are no exception. In fact, these are the two most important elements, even making color pretty much irrelevant. This is because you can apply the same lights and shadows that we will analyze below over a background of any given color, and it will still be identifiable as a water drop.
Begin by painting the background surface over which you will be painting the water drops. This can either be a solid color like in the image above, or a flower petal, leaf, tree trunk, etc. Feel free to choose whichever medium you like.
Here, the first two swatches are watercolor and the third is acrylic (you could even use color pencils, if you’d like). One thing you want to keep in mind when working with mixed media is determining which supplies you will be using on top of your background surface. If you are using acrylics, gouache or color pencils remember that you won’t be able to paint layers of watercolor on top of it. For layering, the most versatile is watercolor, but you shouldn’t feel limited by this in any way.
Draw the shape of your water drops with pencil over the background color. Using watercolor, color pencil or any other medium, paint the shadows of the water drops by mixing a darker color than the background.
Use watercolor or watercolor pencils to paint, in a darker color than the background, the side opposing the drop’s outer shadow, as shown above.
If you used watercolor pencils in the previous step, you’ll want to use a clean brush and water to paint over the pencil. Make the area closest to the drop’s edge is darker than the inside and paint a gradient.
Mix a light colored gouache with your background color to lighten the edge of the water drop that is closest to the outer shadow.
Using a white gel pen or white acrylic, paint the whitest spot on the drop to represent the reflected light.
You can also add a very faint hint of the lighter color over the outer shadow as shown on the green drops. To recap, the top two mixed media drops were painted with watercolor, watercolor pencils, gouache and gel pen.
The third set of water drops were painted with acrylics and gel pen. I invite you to try out this tutorial using as many different mediums in one drop as you can come up with. Do you have some oils, markers or even puffy paint around the house? I dare you to get creative and try to come up with new mixed media combinations.