We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post.
Let’s tempt your creative heart. Learn to paint watercolor using soft bright velvet toy series in this tutorial.
These little paintings of adorable toys will make wonderful baby gift cards or nursery decorations.
In this lesson, the saturated yellow, red, blue, lime green, and purple toys will allow us to learn how
- to create soft transitions to mimic the texture of velvet
- to use color theory to mix colors (analogous colors)
- and review how to paint soft edges to keep the toys round
Supplies for this Learn to paint watercolor Series:
The colors for the learn to paint watercolor soft toy series:
Colors for all of the Soft Toy Series:
- Holbein (H) Permanent Lemon Yellow
- (I also used some Schmincke Aureolin to mix into greens)
- H Cadmium Yellow Light
- H Cadmium Yellow Orange
- Blockx Permanent Orange
- (H) Cadmium Red Light
- (H) Permanent Red
- (H) Permanent Alizarin Crimson
- Schmincke Manganese Violet
- Daniel Smith Cobalt Blue
- (H) Cobalt Turquoise Light
- (H) Sap Green
- (H) Permanent Green
- Winsor Newton Yellow Ochre
- Daniel Smith Quinacridone Gold
- Daniel Smith Sepia
Any brand watercolor pencil Ivory Black
- You will need a small watercolor round
- I use Holbein Gold 001 series and a size 6 is perfect
- You will also need a “scrubbie” brush.
- I especially love the daVinci Nova synthetics series 122 and a size 6
Cold Pressed Watercolor Paper
Watercolor papers are discussed here
Coldpress (CP) watercolor paper works best for the illusion of velvet because CP paper
- allows for sedimentation (link) which will physically make things appear softer and textured,
- is easier to lift to achieve soft edges and color transitions
A set of my templates for the learn to paint watercolor soft toy series is available here.
Instructions for printing on your home computer and cutting and scoring cards have been discussed here. Also, with the lighter yellow lion and duckling toys, to keep them round, I would recommend printing your templates onto regular paper and then transferring as described (here)
In this step-by-step tutorial, we are painting the adorable RED dog.
Because red is a mid to dark value color, red will give us more value changes to help us paint form (discussed here).
It is very important in painting to understand that colors have values.
How to Find a Color’s “Value”
- Identify the “home color”
- definition: the “home red” is neither bleached out by light, nor darkened by shadow.
- Our dog’s “home red” is a perfect full strength Holbein Cadmium Red Light.
- Squint to find where on the value scale, this red matches.
- I love the keyholes in the Grey Scale Value Finder for this.
- Place the keyhole over the paint swatch,
- Squint and move along the scale until the red matches the grey color.
Even as a photograph, when you squint at the cad red light in the value 6 keyhole, the red is darker than value 6. It is also darker than value 5. But it matches the value of value 4. To be sure, the grey of value 3 is darker than cad red light.
To be sure you understand this, let’s try the lion’s “home yellow”.
The lion’s “home yellow” is cad yellow light. The value of cad yellow light is a between value 8 and 9. Yellow is a light value color and there is only one or one and a half-step lighter value to create form. Therefore, to paint form, in a yellow object, we will use changes in color temperature and color saturation. Look at the painted lion and duckling to see this.
To keep these toys vibrant, we will use analogous color mixing.
Analogous Color Mixing
To visually understand this, paint the colors we are using into a color wheel.
- Put the yellow that feels most like the sun (cay yellow light) at 12 o’clock.
- Arrange the other colors so that those containing more yellow (more sun) in each hue (color) are oriented toward12 o’clock in each set.
- Colors with less yellow in a set are oriented more toward 6 o’clock.
Now, mix the colors in sequence (colors in sequence are analogous colors). This set-wise color-mixing will produce beautiful clean rich saturated color changes.
The color swatches Left and Top Right show analogous color mixing
This is compared to the use of desaturated color (yellow ochre) and complementary purple to alter yellow on the right.
To make the toys appear able to be “picked up” from the page and not “stuck on” to the page, we need soft edges.
What are edges and why are they important in painting?
- SQUINT to see edges
- A hard edge is clear and distinct
- A soft edge is fuzzy
- A lost edge disappears
- Look for a soft or lost edges where the edge disappears or merges into the neighboring object or background
- The eye automatically focuses on the sharpest thing that it sees
- Our brain knows that a hard, thin edge means that the object is not dimensional or round
- Instead, our brain knows that a sharp edge means a thin flat object like a leaf or a piece of paper
- Therefore, when beginners paint lines or create hard edges using adjacent flat pieces of color on their work they immediately flatten the area
- Edges allow the painter to create the illusion of three dimensional form on a two-dimensional surface
- on the outside of the form, edges define where the form begins and/or ends
- Edges inside a form occur where the planes of a form change direction
- edges can be lost when same values but different colors are together
- a hard edge exaggerates color or value differences
- a soft or lost edge between contrasting colors or values diminishes the differences between them
- Softening the edges between planes of color, creates rounded form (dimension)
- Edges that face the light source tend to be hard and those facing away tend to be soft
- in shadow, edges tend to be softer than those in light
- Edges are hardest where you want to draw attention
- Softening edges merges adjacent objects
- Edges on figures are harder on boney parts and softer on fleshy parts
How to make soft edges in watercolor:
- Paint into a prewet area and allow the color to gentle spread into the wet area
- Lift the leading edge of a form with a paper towel before it dries
- Scrub out hard edges with a scrubbie brush
Learn to Paint Soft Bright Toys in Watercolor starting with This Little red Pony:
If you would like to see this painted as a demo, it is available here.
- Step 1: Print template onto CP watercolor paper.
- Step 2: Paint Alizarin Crimson onto all the shadow areas of the pony. Let dry completely.
- Step 3: Paint Cad Yellow Light in center of the leg stripes and while wet, drop in some Cad Yellow Orange. Either lift the lighter yellow ares with a piece of paper towel, or paint in as Cad Lemon.
- Step 4: Paint over the Alizarin with Permanent Red and continue into the legs. Then paint clean water into the lighter areas and allow the Permanent Red to bleed into the wet area. Adjust by lifting with pieces of paper towel.
- Step 5: Leave a small area at the lower part of the snout unpainted. Above it, paint Cad Red Light, followed by Permanent Red and then Alizarin Crimson. Do not leave any hard edges between color or value transitions. Work to lift and repaint as necessarywhile the paper is moist.
- Step 6: Prewet all the cast shadow areas with water and drop in dilute Manganese Violet, Cobalt Blue and Alizarin Crimson. Paint the blue foot pads, ears and blue pieces of the mane with lighter and darker Cobalt Blue. Run some of the foot-pad blue into the cast shadows.
- Step 7: Paint the greens of the mane with Permanent Green. Add Sepia to the creases on the mane. Use a wet Ivory Black watercolor pencil to go over the eyes and nostrils.
- Step 8: Correct: Fix any bleeds, hard lines or soften edges of cast shadows with scrubbie brush.
If you don’t have time to create a special hand-painted card, you are welcome to get this set of soft toy cards. As always, they are made to be 5” x 7” but you are welcome to alter the size as you want.
If you are loving the watercolor tutorial series but want more in-depth teaching and direction, please love a comment and we will let you know when more detailed instruction is available.