A ‘Step by Step’ Guide to a Simple Woodland Scene in Watercolour


Monday Night week 6 of the beginners watercolour class at Laity House (Adult Education) was all about recession with a woodland scene.  The colours in the following photographs are somewhat exaggerated as we were working under classroom lighting and I was using my phone to take the pictures with, so I apologise for this.  The image above was taken with my camera and they are more like tha actual painting in colour.

Step 1:  Draw in the main trunks only and the foreground distance line about 1/3 up from the bottom of the paper.

Woodland Scene (1)

Step 2:  Wet all the Paper and apply a thin pale wash (tint) of Blue (Ultramarine Blue) for sky and a tint of Raw Sienna or Yellow Ochre in places to suggest areas of foliage.  Then use the Raw Sienna or Yellow Ochre for the foreground area.  The colour is stronger in the photograph.

Woodland Scene (2)

Step 3:  Ghost in some distance tree trunks and branches in a light mix of Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna, Greyish Brown in colour, with the addition of some foliage in Burnt Sienna.  This is between the main Trunks.  Using a ‘Rigger’ Brush, (a round brush with longer lengths of bristle with a good point) which helps to get thin trunks and branches.

Woodland Scene (3)

Step 4:  With a slightly darker mix of colour, start adding some more trunks and branches for the middle distance trees, and some more foliage.

Woodland Scene (5)

Step 5:  You can now start painting in the Larger Trunks by applying some Pale Raw Sienna or Yellow Ochre and whilst wet adding a stronger mix of Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna allowing it to bleed on its own in places to create some lighter areas.  This mix of colour is more browny than the distant trees.  Adding more branches as well.

Woodland Scene (7)

Woodland Scene (6)

Step 6:   Now its time to paint in the foreground before we work on the main tree trunks again.  Use smaller marks fr the distant areas and increase the size when coming forward.  Using Raw Sienna or Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and a Brown mixed from Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna apply wet in wet dash type marks allowing the paint to merge a little.

Woodland Scene (8)

Step 7:  Continue to fill in the foreground area, apply further marks with splattering making sure you cover the tree’s up with Kitchen Roll, to create further texture.

Woodland Scene (9)

A further 2 Steps are required to finish off this picture, and they are to adjust the strengths of some of the foreground trees and add some texture to them and Shadows to the ground area.

Step 8:  I have reduced the darkness on the 2nd and 3rd tree from the left, and with some dry brush work increased some texture and strength to the other trees, and making sure to have one side lighter on each trunk for my direction of light.


Image taken with my camera and is more like the actual painting in colour.

Step 9:  Mix up a Shadow Colour Using the Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Sienna, this will be a Blueish mix and it should not be thick (a transparent glaze), and apply this colour over the foreground.  Being careful to cast the shadow in the right direction of where you think your light is coming from.

So that should now be finished…  but always give your painting chance to dry and revisit it another day to access it before framing it, hanging it or selling it, remember to sign it before framing it!!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trish Penrose
    Nov 10, 2013 @ 08:30:01

    I love this! Can almost hear the leaves rustling under my feet.


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