Photo of Mario Robinson

Painting Realistic Watercolors

with Mario Robinson
Painting Realistic Watercolors
Learn watercolor techniques used by the masters! Advance your painting skills and create dynamic, realistic watercolors like never before.

Learn realist techniques every watercolorist should know! Join Mario Robinson as he shares the secrets to radiant watercolor works. Establish your subject’s light, middle and dark values with a tonal underdrawing. Learn proper techniques for stretching your paper to achieve a pristine surface. Create symmetrical features and mass big shapes using intuition to achieve a more natural appearance. Work through a monotone wash, explore water manipulation and work wet into wet for optical color mixing. Finally, build form and dimension into your watercolor with a special drybrush technique. Discover the keys to luminous, expressive watercolor paintings today!

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Lesson plan


Lesson 1. Preparatory Study

  • Meet your instructor, noted watercolor and realist painter Mario Robinson, before exploring methods for creating reference sketches that have interesting compositions, dynamic value choices and carefully selected details.


Lesson 2. Preparing to Paint

  • Learn the best practices for preparing your paper by submerging it in water, drying it and taping it to a board. Robinson demonstrates the most effective ways to prevent warping as you create an ideal surface for your paints. Then practice transferring the underdrawing you made as a reference sketch to the scale and composition you desire on your stretched paper.


Lesson 3. Monochromatic Block-In

  • Using the underdrawing you created in Lesson 2, youíll create a monochromatic block-in of your work using a photo as a reference. Robinson walks you through each step of the process as he creates a value study of his subject, including tips for working with challenging areas such as eyes and hair.


Lesson 4. Adding Color

  • Bring your subject to life as you add color to your monochromatic block-in. Learn how to mix the best colors for skin tones, use glazing techniques and add a second layer to bring more complexity, realism and dimension to your work.


Lesson 5. Water Manipulation

  • Delve deeper into the unique aspects of working with watercolor as you use a wash technique to create an even tone across your paper. Then explore wet-into-wet methods that are used to blend pigments into wet paper for a more blurred, ethereal effect. Robinson completes the lesson with a tutorial on creating various glazes and washes to achieve the color and effect you desire.


Lesson 6. Drybrush Techniques

  • Discover the virtues of drybrush techniques as you refine details and use crosshatching lines to create shading, contours and more. Robinson illustrates a wide variety of ways to add intrigue, outlines and a more informed sense of shape and volume to your work. Youíll finish the class with a new repertoire of watercolor techniques that will help inspire and refine all of your future works!

"I've taken 32 weeks of watercolor classes at a local college, but am still learning some new tips in this class. The instructor has a relaxed, fluid teaching style that is engaging. I've enjoyed my "live" classes, but love the convenience of being able to rewind to review techniques here at the Craftsy site. It's like having your teacher on call 24 hours a day."
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