Zoë Evamy
Water Media Artist / Illustrator / Instructor


Newbies Watercolour #2

Lesson #2 - LINE

Recapping on Lesson #1, we learned the 5 elements of design, Line, Shape, Tone, Colour and Texture.

Lesson #2 focuses on the 1st element Line and how it relates to watercolour:

Lines are infinitely variable! They can be thin as hairs, tapered, wiggly, straight, thick, broken etc. It's up to you - you're making them!

Lines can also refer to the line between shapes or the Edge - in watercolour we can make soft wet-in-wet lines, hard wet on dry lines or a combination of both. Lines can define shapes by an outline, they can be blended or faded. Whatever your choices, the lines you make in watercolour should always be gestural and descriptive.


Have a look at these samples:

Lesson #2 - Line qualities

Lesson #2 - Line qualities

  1. Hard edged line
  2. Tapered line
  3. Broken line
  4. Fading line
  5. Outline
  6. Soft and hard line
Lesson #2 - Trees

Lesson #2 - Trees

In this painting exercise we practised:

1. Choosing a limited palette - Pthalo blue, Scarlet lake and Lemon yellow

2. Wetting only parts of the paper with a big wet, Chinese brush loaded with Lemon yellow, then carefully painting vertical lines across the paper. This gives a series of varied soft and hard edges lines for the distant trees

3. Laying in progressively darker, richer lines from background to foreground. Notice how the line qualities change as the paper dries at different rates.

4. Having fun with splattering and flicking paint! I like the way this adds sparkle and a sense of light through the leaves.

5. Mixing and blending colours within the tree shapes.

6. Defining and describing leaf and fern shapes on the forest floor and thin branches on the trees.


And here is the design so you can try it out on your own!

Line design

Line design

A note about line placement and rhythm:

Example 1. shows lines evenly spaced on the paper. This can feel regimented, repetitive and monotonous. Think about a musical beat that plays out this way, it has a regular rhythm like a military march!

Example 2. shows varied lines arranged at different intervals. Notice how much more interesting both positive and negative shapes are and the tension between them. Think jazz where the rhythms are unexpected and surprising.


Line placement

Line placement