Advanced Watercolor Cityscapes: Paint Your Own Urban Scenes
4.2 (78 ratings)
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Advanced Watercolor Cityscapes: Paint Your Own Urban Scenes

Master the skills needed to create awesome watercolor street scenes.
4.2 (78 ratings)
Course Ratings are calculated from individual students’ ratings and a variety of other signals, like age of rating and reliability, to ensure that they reflect course quality fairly and accurately.
2,354 students enrolled
Created by Robert Joyner
Last updated 11/2018
English
Current price: $55.99 Original price: $79.99 Discount: 30% off
5 hours left at this price!
30-Day Money-Back Guarantee
This course includes
  • 3 hours on-demand video
  • 24 downloadable resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
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What you'll learn
  • Learn valuable design skills for planning your artwork.
  • Gain knowledge of building artwork in layers.
  • Develop good focal points and center of interest.
Requirements
  • Must have knowledge of basic watercolor techniques.
  • Good selection of quality brushes, hues and watercolor paper.
Description

Learn Essential Skills On How To Master The Art Of Watercolor Street Scene Paintings

In this class you will learn a smart way to approach complex landscape and cityscape subjects.

When you are finished with these lessons you will realize that the finished painting is a result of the preparation you put into it before the paint hits the paper.

It's all about simplifying the process so you can let the medium do the work for you!

What you will learn

How to plan your art correctly using proper design techniques. Saves you time and money.

What are the three main areas/spaces and what they mean for the design.

Where to place details and where to leave them out.

Practical design concepts to simplify complex scenes.

How to utilize the middle ground and foreground areas.

Who is this class for?

Intermediate and advanced watercolor artists that want to explore more complex painting subjects & techniques.

Who this course is for:
  • Intermediate and advanced watercolor artists.
  • Must have interest in cityscape and street scene subjects.
  • Must be studious and willing to practice skills shared in class.
Course content
Expand all 20 lectures 02:59:46
+ Understanding And Developing The Three Main Spaces
8 lectures 01:32:51

In this tutorial we will discuss the three main areas of your subject. Many of you probably already know these areas. However, how you interpret each one and what role you assign them in a painting can be more elusive for many.

The three main areas are;

  1. Background

  2. Middle-ground

  3. Foreground


Now we will breakdown each one and define a very specific role. This is where things get interesting.

Background- this area contains several key elements. It's common for artists to overpaint this area by including too many details and small shapes. This will only clutter the focal point and become a distraction for the viewer.

Here are a few key guidelines to keep in mind about background;

  • It should be considered as an interesting shape only

  • Always pay attention to how the sky (if included) and positive shape appear in the frame.

  • Keep colors cool and/or neutral

  • Avoid having too much contrast


Middle-ground- This is where the action is! Most artists, including myself, spend that majority of their time in this area. That applies to both the design aspect and the actual painting time when completing finished art.

Here are a few guidelines to consider with middle-grounds;

  • Include a focal point

  • Use more saturated colors

  • Add some contrast

  • In many cases include some white-space

  • Think medium and small shapes


Foreground- Another area that's typically overpainted and misunderstood by many. If you treat the foreground as anything other that a way for the viewer to get in you are probably missing the point of this area.

Here are a few guidelines that may help you design a better foreground;

  • Use it as an entry point

  • Keep it simple so that you don't clutter the middle-ground

  • Think quiet space

  • Look at images of street scenes and always have a list of ideas on what to use as entry points


Moving forward - In the three examples I used quick, gestural style drawing to convey the points mentioned above. It's a great practice to do these types of drawings on a regular basis. They keep you loose and are subtle reminders to always organize your intent for the three main areas.

Materials used in demo

  • Fine point sharpie

  • Print paper

Recommended Exercise

  • Important: Using images from the image resources create similar studies as demonstrated in the lesson. Work quickly and remember to apply some of the tips to the sketch.

  • Use pencil, pen, charcoal, sharpie or whatever else you prefer to draw with.

  • Keep the studies small, 5 works well.

  • Use printer paper if you have it. Save to premium sketch paper for other exercises.


Demo Images Attached

Preview 11:31

Here's an example of a finished painting using techniques discussed in previous lessons. It's important at this time to have a good visual of how these methods work in action.

Demo Image Attached

The Three Main Spaces - Example
03:44

In this tutorial we will look closer into backgrounds. The focus is looking at details, edges and other features that will help balance believability and abstract qualities.

What you need to know

Always get a sense of perspective- using your drawing device is a great way to discover the angles. You can hold the pencil in front of an image and tilt it up to down until you match the angles. Transfer that angle to your paper as best possible. It's rarely perfect but you will get the gist of it.

Pay close attention to the edges- if you look closely at your subjects you will see subtle details that make shapes interesting. Capture some of those characteristics on your loose sketch.

Loosely indicate details- try to discover some of the details within the shapes. In the demo there were architectural details above the windows and doors in the first example. They were loosely indicated in the sketch as a way to acknowledge their existence.

Don't try to create an illustration- as mentioned before you need to keep it loose. Don't add every single window and detail. Work intuitively and quickly to add only those details that catch your eye. It's all about balancing reality and abstract qualities.

Sometimes what you leaveout is more impotent than what is included.

Materials used in demo
#2 pencil
60lb. drawing paper

Close Look At Backgrounds
13:37

In this lesson you will learn how to take some of what we learned in the previous exercise and transfer it to a refined sketch. To do this we will use a frame which is the picture frame. By using a frame you will start to inch closer to a finished design and discover how the background fits within the four edges.

What you need to know

Start with a frame- it doesn't need to be exact but it should include one of the three main layouts. They are portrait, landscape and square. Add the frame layout to the paper so you can start to visualize the shapes within it.

Try a few layouts- it's good to experiment with a few designs. There are usually many solutions to achieving a good design and many times you will get several potential layouts that work.

Transfer the shapes- working loosely you can transfer your shapes to the frame. As you do this your brain will start to remember the subtleties of the image and many of them will appear without having to think too much, or refer to the image.

Start with light lines- try to user light lines in the beginning. Using little pressure into the surface will do the job. Darker lines can be used as you refine the shapes.

Use gestural sketching- try to avoid illustration drawing at all times for this stage. Loose gestural sketching works best. Move quickly! If this is a challenge for you set a timer for three to five minutes for the sketch.

See Attached Demo images

Refine Details
09:40

Here's a demo where I explore painting background only. It's very useful to do this exercises once in a while to keep your skills sharp!

Background Study [BONUS DEMO]
10:43

In this lesson we will have a look at the all important middle ground. As with all aspects of painting you will learn tips to simplify your approach. 

The middles ground should contain the following;

  1. Small and medium size shapes- This is the key to developing contrast with the bigger shapes of the background. The smaller shapes typically consist of figures, cars, and building features that are located near the bottom of the buildings such as awnings and signage.

  2. Interesting arrangement of shapes- How the shapes are placed within the middle ground determines whether or not this area is boring and/or cluttered. Boring usually happens because there's little variation in shape sizes. Cluttered middle grounds usually occur when there isn't any breathing room between the shapes.

  3. Keep figures height at eye level- The tops of figures heads should all be at about the same level unless you are dealing with an hill that is elevating or going lower.

  4. More saturated hues- This is where you place the pops of color. By adding more vibrants hues to this area, assuming you don't fall for the trap of a carnival of colors in the background area, it will immediately register as a focal point area.

  5. A focal point- Always try to have one area of interest. There may be other features in the middle ground that are interesting but choose one are to have more contrast and vibrant hues.

Demo Images Attached

Middle Ground - What To Include
12:49

Now we will take the middle grounds to a new level by turning rectangles into actual objects like figures, cars and building features. Also there are shadows and darker values which play a key role in joining shapes.

Here are some of the key points shared in this tutorial;

  1. Always start by visualizing details as basic rectangles, and an occasional oval if there is some signage. Then turn them into objects that are characteristic of what you would see in street scenes such as figures, cars, buses, awnings and so on.

  2. Shadows play a key role in connecting shapes. Even if your image/subject doesn't have good shadows that connect shapes you should make them up. There are cases where it may be a cloudy day so this isn't possible. In this case you arrange the shapes accordingly so that the design works without them.

  3. Experiment with designing middle ground only. Take some time to study the asset images and see for yourself what types of features you see in middle grounds. Look around at different images and get to know the subject some. This will come in handy when you need to add elements to a street scene.

Give it a try

It's your turn to experiment with middle grounds using the methods shared in the tutorials. 

  • Remember to always indicate objects with basic shapes first. 

  • Avoid copying what you see in images and situate the shapes in an interesting way. 

  • Always have different sized rectangles. Some tall, some short and wide, some horizontal (awnings and signage) and so on. 

  • Once you have something that looks interesting try laying a piece of paper over top of it and turn shapes into recognizable objects. 

  • Now try laying a blank piece of paper over the refined sketch and loosely add the background shape. 

  • You should notice how the smaller middle ground shapes contrast against the more abstract background area.


Remember- The design comes first! Always make the shapes interesting in the very beginning and then add elements that are appropriate to the subject later on.

Most artists work backwards.They copy what they see and then realize later on (usually while painting finished art) that the design isn't working.

Demo Images Attached

Middle Ground - Diving Deeper
18:15

In this lesson we will have a closer look at foregrounds. This area plays a key role in the design for many reasons.

Below is a breakdown of guidelines to consider when approaching the all important foreground.

It's an entry point- you don't have to paint long to know that the viewer needs an entry point into the painting. But it's easy to overlook this basic idea. It's also very common for experienced artists to simply forget about it. 

In doing so they make silly mistakes like placing large objects and highly saturated colors in this area which pull the viewer right out of the painting.

Always consider you subject- when designing the foreground you should consider adding common elements of your subject. For street scenes it can shadows, curbs, sidewalk, tire marks, crosswalks and so on. 

Always take time to study images and get to know your subjects. You should have a list of what to use and a sketchbook with ideas on how to address the entry points.

Demo Image Attached

Foregrounds
12:32
+ Demonstration One
6 lectures 48:06

Paper

Blick Premier Sheet- (affordable alternative)

Holbein Paint

Ultramarine blue

Cobalt blue

Cerulean blue

Cadmium red deep

Alizarin crimson

Gamboge nova

Yellow ochre

Burnt Sienna

Neutral tint

Lavender

White guoache

Brushes

Escoda Pointed Round Set

Da Vinci Squirrel Mop #2

Da Vinci Squirrel Mop #5

Da Vinci Squirrel Mop #8

Isabey Red Sable Rigger(excellent for fine detail, thin lines, etc.)

Palette

Mijello leak-proof

Other

Water Reservoir

Plastic collapsible water pot

Miscellaneous Supplies

Gator-board16x23 inches (tape watercolor paper to for firm backing)

Spray bottle/mister (purchase at target, Michael's)

Masking tape (Home Depot)

Large Sponge (Home Depot)

Getting Started & Materials
03:29

This lesson will cover the design and how the three main areas were addressed. Make no mistake this is where quite a bit of time was spent for the painting. To recommend that you should always invest twice as much time into drawing and designing each painting is a gross understatement.

Design Overview

Here's a breakdown of the design along with thoughts on why I felt it would work.

  • Try to hold your pencil with an underhand grip if you struggle with layout lines that are too dark.

  • A figures was added near the lower right hand side to help lead the viewer into the painting.

  • Several other figures that are situated behind this figure which is nothing more than a continuation of the entry point.

  • Those figures are connected to a larger rectangle which is a car. This will eventually become colorful focal point but for now just know it plays a key role in shape variation and entry point.

  • That rectangle/car is connected to a smaller, medium size shape, rectangle which is a second car.

  • That second car is connected to the bottom of the buildings on the left.

  • The bottom of the building and it's cast shadows are connected to several figures which play a key role in keeping the view inside the artwork/design.

  • Additional entry points were added such as curb, tire marks and a shadow on the larger vehicle to the right. This area will highlight bleeding technique which is common with watercolor painting.

Demo Image Attached

Design Layout
05:55

The first wash is added to the painting using a few helpful guidelines. Here are some key points that you need to know.

  • Always use a thin, tea-like mixture for first wash.

  • Avoid adding too dark of a hue to the sky. If you try to match the colors in images it will become too dark.

  • To avoid a flat wash charge other hues into the main color used.

  • Always consider white space. If you want them you need to plan for it!

  • Tilt the board slightly to allow wash to run downhill and avoid puddling.

  • Tilt board in various angles to encourage hues to flow in different directions. Just be cautious here and always consider the white space. It's easy to let the wash go into this space which can potentially ruin the design.

  • Allow it to dry completely before moving forward with second wash.

Demo Image Attached

First Wash
05:23

A second wash is applied to the painting. Here are some key points about the second layer.

  • This is more saturated than the first wash. Always stack your washes from thin to thick.

  • Try to use neutrals for the background and avoid high chroma hues.

  • Since the focus is the background always consider the size of the brush. For most washes I would recommend softer bristles like squirrel and avoid a brush that's too small.

  • Always consider shapes. If you did your homework in the previous lessons you should be way ahead in this area! If you skimmed past it well, you are in for a more challenging experience.

  • Use charging to add warm and cool hues to the wash. 

  • As a rule of thumb add warmer hues to areas that have more light, and cooler hues to areas with shadows.

  • As you add the second wash consider some negative space painting for building details such as awnings, signage and so on.

  • Tilt the board to encourage wash to run in different directions.

Demo Image Attached

Second Wash
09:25

A third wash is added to the painting. Here are a few takeaways from the demo.

  • Always add slightly thicker paint in most cases. In this area consider a milk-like mixture as opposed to tea-like paint.

  • By now you should be working with smaller shapes so select proper brush size for the area(s) you are painting. 

  • For harder edges and details select a pointed round brush with firm bristles. This will help carve out edges better than softer brushes.

  • Where gouache can be useful for adding reflections in car windshields. Consider soften the edges using a clean wet brush.

Demo Image Attached

Third Wash
13:46

The painting is completely finished in this stage. Here are a few key points to consider from the demo.

  • Four washes is probably the most you should need for a painting. Stacking a fifth wash can be detrimental to transparency and other color issues such as muddy hues.

  • Keep to the p[lan and avoid the trap of adding too many details to the background and foreground areas.

  • White gouache can be useful for adding highlights.

Finished Painting Attached

Fourth Wash
10:08
+ Demonstration Two
6 lectures 38:49

Paper
Blick Premier Sheet- (affordable alternative)
Holbein Paint
Ultramarine blue
Cobalt blue
Cerulean blue
Cadmium red deep
Alizarin crimson
Gamboge nova
Yellow ochre
Burnt Sienna
Neutral tint
Lavender
White guoache
Brushes
Escoda Pointed Round Set
Da Vinci Squirrel Mop #2
Da Vinci Squirrel Mop #5
Da Vinci Squirrel Mop #8
Isabey Red Sable Rigger(excellent for fine detail, thin lines, etc.)
Palette
Mijello leak-proof
Other
Water Reservoir
Plastic collapsible water pot
Gator-board16x23 inches (tape watercolor paper to for firm backing)
Spray bottle/mister (purchase at target, Michael's)
Masking tape (Home Depot)
Large Sponge (Home Depot)

Materials
02:47

As you will see in my design many changes were made to complete my vision.

The decisions were mainly based on good design ideas and the medium. Watercolor has it's own unique qualities so it's important to consider them when approaching a new painting.

The inspiration image used in this demo is attached.

Design Layout
04:01

First wash added using the same methods as demo one.

First Wash
04:19

Second wash added using the same methods as demo one.

Second Wash
09:07

Third wash added using the same methods as demo one.

Third Wash
13:30

Add finishing details!

See attached finished demo image.

Fourth Wash
05:05