The Stages of Watercolor Painting

Hi all!

A few days ago I published a YouTube vid that I think a lot can benefit from.
I want to share some highlights in this post.

If you want to watch the full video, you can check it out here:

The Stages of Watercolor Painting

When I got started in watercolors, I ran into some issues I couldn’t find a solution for.
They mainly revolved around the actual process of painting, on a macro level.

What should I start with?
Do I cover everything up in the initial wash?
Should I use wet-in-wet? When?

This video and tutorial are my attempt of answering some of these questions.
I’ll do this using this painting’s process:

So let’s talk about the different stages of watercolor painting…


This is MY personal approach. I encourage you to learn from it, and then seek out advice of others.
This way you’ll learn what works best for YOU, and what’s most suitable to your style and desired final result.

I personally like to finish a painting in as few layers as possible.
This means I don’t do a huge amount of glazes. I usually wrap a painting up in 3-5 layers.

Also, as I like to make the most out of each layer, I make a lot of use of wet-in-wet and lifting when necessary.
I do these in every layer, as I see fit.

So here’s the initial drawing, ready to be painted.

My approach to this is going to be fairly simple.
The figures are my focus of attention.
The background is going to be secondary and simplistic.

This is why I decided on first painting the figures fully, and only then attending to the background.

Every “type” of painting is going to be different.
If this was a landscape painting, my initial wash would have probably covered much more of the paper.

More on that near the end of the post, under Conclusion

The first stage is the initial wash.

The Initial Wash (AKA First layer)

This is the first layer we will paint.
With this one, my main concern is to keep things flowing and even.
I don’t care about the colors mixing into one another.

I know I can tighten things up and even correct some mistakes in the next washes.

This is what my initial wash looks like.
Do you see all the blooms and cauliflowers?
This is cause by wet paint “bleeding” into a somewhat dry paint.

I really don’t care about it!
The first wash, to me, is adventure time. This is perfectly fine.

Here’s a close up of how some of the colors blended.

I’m really pleased with this result.

The 2nd Wash

This is the time to paint in all the mid-values.
This is basically everything that’s darker than the initial wash.

Here’s my 2nd wash for this one.

I usually find this to be the most difficult wash.
This is because this one REALLY sets the tone for the entire painting.
It’s a really important one that will start building the shapes of the people in the painting, as well as the feeling of light and shadow.

The 2nd wash also demands more attention to edges.
You want a nice mix of soft and hard edges. This really helps create interest.

Here’s the 2nd wash done.

The 3rd Wash

This is the time to put in the richest, darkest shadows.
You will probably also go over many areas you already covered earlier, in the 2nd wash.

You want to make sure to push the value range as much as necessary.
Most realistic scenes have a very wide range of values, from the lightest whites to some really dark blacks.

Notice how this stage really makes things pop.
This is because by painting the shadows, we actually paint the lights and highlights.

4th Wash and Beyond

For me, this stage is for darkening things that are supposed to be darker.
At this point I also add some final details that perhaps I didn’t get the chance to so far.

In this particular painting, all I did for the 4th wash was to add that background.
And we are done!


This is it for the process.
I want to mention something important. Every painting is different.

I use different approaches for each painting, and for every “type” of scene.
So for landscapes, I’ll probably cover everything up.
For portraits or people, I’ll probably work on them and only add the background in the end.

With time, you’ll learn what works best for you, for each type of subject and painting.
It’s almost like you’ll have a blueprint for each type of painting.

If you are a beginner, don’t worry.
This will come with time and experience

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial.
If you have, make sure to check out the full video to see more of the process:
The Stages of Watercolor Painting

And this is it!
Let me know what you think in a comment below.

Is this similar to your approach?
Do you treat the stages differently?

– Liron

Improving the Composition of Your Paintings

Hi, Liron here! Today we’ll briefly talk about how to improve the composition of our paintings and artwork.

I decided to translate my videos to blog posts as well. And I decided to do so on a regular basis, as much as I possibly can!

So in this one, I want to talk to you about this video, on improving your paintings’ composition.

In the video I talk about how I approached doing this, and the things I focused on.

So let’s get started!

Improving My Composition

For the last 2 months or so I’ve been really focused on improving my composition.

I find watercolor to be such a fascinating and challenging learning curve. I basically keep learning the same principles, only at different levels.

In any case, I’ve been really focused on composition and believe I made some progress.

Where I Used to Be

So here’s an example of a typical painting I would make. Aside from the multiple mistakes and inaccurate representation – what really bugged me was the composition.

The building’s just stuck in there, dead in the middle. Sure, there’s that car, but even that doesn’t read as well.

Here are several other examples. Some may even look good in terms of the technique, but the composition, to me, is obviously not thought through enough.

Now, here’s an interesting example from when I got lucky and accidentally got a nice composition going.

Lot’s of things to improve, and the style doesn’t feel like it’s “mine”, but at least there’s some movement and interest.

Where I am Now

So here’s the first painting in which I REALLY devoted my thoughts and work process to composition.

With this one I took some time to carefully plan where everything is going to be placed.

The main change I’ve gone through is avoiding the centers, and putting more emphasis on uneven space divisions that create more interest.

I show more of how I do this in the video. If you want to see it make sure you watch it HERE, or by scrolling to the top of this post.

Here’s another good example.

Notice how the distances between the trees are varied. This is true for the trees in the background as well, and pretty much for most elements in this painting.

Here’s another example, simpler this time. What I love about this one is how simple yet effective it is, in my opinion.

And a final, more detailed one.

Notice how it is quite even when you examine it horizontally. I tried creating interest here around the vertical axis.


And this is it!

I hope this encourages you to devote more time to composition and more careful preparation for your paintings.

I know this was (and still is) one of my weaknesses, and I sometimes have to forcibly slow down my work process.

Again, you can check out the full vid with my explanations HERE.

Let me know if this helped in any way!

– Liron