Watercolor Tutorial | How to create a monochrome landscape | Rijksmuseum

Watercolor Tutorial | How to create a monochrome landscape | Rijksmuseum

Today we’ll show you how to make a landscape in monochrome colors. The word ‘monochrome’ is derived from the ancient Greek ‘monochromos’, which literally means, ‘having one color’. Hi everyone, and welcome to the Rijksmuseam very own creative channel: Rijkscreative! This season, we’ll show you everything you need to know about watercolors, inks and even blue prints! So grab your brushes, and let’s go! This is our teacher for today: Tyas!
-Hello. And our expert from the Rijksmuseum.
-Hello! Tyas, isn’t it boring just to paint with one color? It can be, but I find it very interesting to limit myself to just one color.. instead of using a whole full of range of colors. And as you can see you can do so much with just one color by keep adding layers. And you can, as you can see, create an actual landscape. So for me, I would say no.
How do you feel about it you, Jane? It reminds me of a joke that we had at the opening of the Rijksmuseum.. with our different galleries with 5, rather than 50 shades of gray. And here if you look at this watercolor we see about 30 shades of gray.. and it’s incredible subtle, it creates a sense of distance and recession. It’s like an early morning or a late evening with just a misty dusk when colors disappear. It’s actually extremely subtle, so I wish you success.
-Thank you! And challenge him, most of all, to get the reflections in the water. Okay, let’s do it! Okay, let’s start! We’re going to do a short exercise using watercolor paper.. just a small piece like this for instance. I’ll try to show you how monochrome painting works.. by using just one color, doesn’t really matter
what color you are going to use. For this I’m going to use a slightly dark color,
and you want to make quite a lot of this color. So keep adding water, depending on how much color you would like. You can add of course extra watercolor as long as you have enough to do all the layers. Which I’ll be showing you later. When you have enough water, you can use this flat brush, the big one. You’re going to cover the whole piece of paper with the first layer. Just like this, it doesn’t have to be real precise. As long as you spread it evenly across the paper. And what is important then, is that you let it completely dry
before you apply the next one. otherwise you will end up having this less crisp look which is what we’re trying to achieve. Over here you see, there’s already an example which I let completely dry. So there’s one layer, there is still some paper visible. We’re going to apply a second layer. Just on the bottom part, this will be the first layer.. what you can do, you create a second layer right here. using the same color, the same amount of water.. so you kind of double the layer, using the same water. And as you can see, you will of course get a certain kind of gradient. I’ve already prepared some examples, over here you see for instance what I mean. There is a first layer, the ground layer which we put up first. the second layer, which we just did. The third layer, in order to get the third you have to let it completely dry and then so on to the fourth. If you don’t let it completely dry, which you want to if you want to get this completely crisp and sharp look.. this is what would happen. There’s an example in the darkest layer. Here I wasn’t patient enough and you see water kind of melded together.. and you see that there isn’t a sharp and crisp look as there is
in my better example over here. So keep adding layers, keep adding paint and see how monochrome painting works. I created a frame within my paper.. so I’m going to use this reproduction right here to create at least the same kind of size. And the first thing that you want to do.. you want to use your pencil and try to find the lines of the landscape. So this is what I’ll be doing, since we work from
this reproduction, I will try to copy it as much as I can. Just use a light touch, try not to press to hard on the pencil. Just follow the lines, just like I said: Don’t press too hard. Because we’re going to erase those lines as much as we can when we’re going to apply the paint. This is just to hold on those lines and have a bit of an idea
what you will be doing at some point, like a reference. As you can see, I’ve quickly sketched the landscape across my paper. What we’ll be doing now, is use the eraser. We’re going to try to get rid of the lines, but make you sure
you still see them so don’t completely erase them. Just lightly touch those lines, so they’re hardly visible
and you won’t see them as much in the actually painting. Still make sure you see them enough so you have a bit of an idea where those lines are. Do this for all the lines except of course the outline. So when this is done, this is what you should have. The first layer. But only some pencil lines, hardly visible. And we now going to make our paint, make our watercolor. The color which we’ll be using. Since we’re going to use only one color, make sure you make lots and lots of this color.. so you don’t have to remake it when you’re already working within the same painting. So we’re going to make one color, and lots of it. We choose quite a dark color, of course you
can make it as dark as you like.. but I would like to use the first layer and make it really light. so keep adding water until I have enough. In case you don’t have enough water, you can always remake it, but it’s good to already have a kind of a large amount of the same color.. since otherwise you would maybe, not be able to recreate the same color when you try to make it again. In case you’re not sure what color you have, you could use a small piece of paper so you can see how it looks. It’s quite watery as you can see Add a bit of more color to the water, keep adding water so you at least have enough to work with. When this is done, it’s time to start with our first layer. We have the pencil, we have a bit of an idea where the mountains are. We want to completely cover up the first layer, and this is the
back layer. You are going over this layer at some point, but not all of it. As you can see in the example over here, this layer
right here in the sky this would be the lightest layer. Not the mountains, but the one in the back. This is also what we’re going to try to achieve. Make sure it’s not too dark, you can always double check it.
But I find it okay, maybe a bit of water again. Here we go. Make sure you spread it evenly around, so no dark parts. The same amount of color all over the paper. Of course it doesn’t matter if you go over the edges,
it’s part of the process. Since this is only a fairly small amount of water, make sure you do this rather quickly.. since it will dry up, and when it’s dried up and you go over
the same layer again.. it of course will become darker, as you’ve noticed in the exercises which we did before this. there you have it, our first layer! Now that we have the first layer, we let it completely dry. we’re going to focus on the layers which are most distant. Because this is what we would like to achieve, the distant look
even though this is a flat thing. So when you look at the mountain, you see they only have a
small amount of color. So I’m going to start with those mountains in the far distance. You don’t even need to add too much color on your brush.. you just continue using what you already have. If you even have too much just use a sponge to soak up a bit of the color. In case you still find it too dark. Second mountain in the far distance. Just follow those lines, those pencil lines that you put on there when we started. Make sure, that you want those sharp lines where the mountains cross each other. you let it completely dry before you add the layer next to it.. or do it really careful, so the water doesn’t mix up with the previous layer. but do make sure you don’t see those white spots in between those colors. They’re in front of each of course. Now here’s the fun thing, we’re going to keep adding layers on top of the mountains.. because those darker ones, of course, is not as if they used more paint.. they used more layers. This is also what you want to do, you want to add more layers.. so we’re completely continue our mountains at this point. We’re going all across the things which should be darker at some point.. but leave out the lighter parts. So the mountains in the far distance, they already have one layer., but the ones up front can still use the same layer.. so the same amount of paint, the same color. And in the next step I’ll show you that we’re going to add more layers.. to those parts which are more close to use.. and the ones which are more distant will maybe have just one or two layers. If you would like to make the water look real clean, make sure you don’t cover the water. Which is the bottom part right here. But do add color on the top of the mountains. And if you do add too much water, you can push the water to the middle side.. instead of pushing it outwards, make sure you try to send it back in.. so at least the pencil lines wouldn’t be too watery or too dark. There you have it, this would be what I see as our second layer. All the mountains are covered, the ones in the distant and the ones which are more close to us. Which we’re going keep adding layers so they will become more darker Since I’m working from this reproduction.. I’m looking very closely to see what parts are darker and whats parts are lighter. I currently have two layers, the one in the back and the first layer on the mountains And I would like to really capture the third layer and see where it’s positioned.. so I’m going to start with this mountain right here. Going to add layers, the second layer, starting from that mountain.. then continue downwards, which is of course closer to us. and again over here you can just follow the lines which you already marked with the pencil.. You instantly notice it will become darker, not because you add more paint.. you actually add more paint, but you don’t add in the color you just created. So by adding the same amount of water, the same amount of paint.. You add an extra layer, and that layer makes it seems as if it’s becomes darker. This mountain right here, could be a third layer as well. This is a great example to show you how this works. Now you can create the illusion of depth, it only apply extra layers.. instead of making an extra color or making the color darker. Again make sure you let this completely dry otherwise the water will mix.. and you will not have the sharp look, which I’m looking for. Then we move on to the bottom part, I can do this very quickly.. since this would not be the final layer for this part. It’s just again, an extra layer to make it slightly darker. You might have noticed that I’ve never added any color .. in the paint I created when we started out with the first layer. I’m still using the same amount of water. in case you run out, just recreate it. try to make the same watery color. So that should be about it, there you have it. Third layer, it keeps getting darker at this point.. so it’s kind of clear already what’s happening. Three layer already on top of my paper, I’m currently going to add the fourth layer. Which means, the ones in the distance will still be the second layer.. the ones right here the third layer.. and the darkest ones, will not the final layer, but at least darker. So they really stand out from the others.. meaning they will be much closer to us. This is when you really start to feel a sense of depth. As you may notice, I always look at my example so I know.. which one should be darker.. what parts can have some more paint on top of it. And in the example right here you notice that even within the mountains.. there is a slight change of colors. So there’s plenty of shades of the same color within the mountain. And since I just ran out of my color I’m just going to recreate some new color. Of course try to make it look like what I’ve just create so just don’t add too much paint. but keep adding water, depending on the quality paint you’re using.. you can only use small amounts.. and if you’re not sure about your color just
use an example paper and see how it looks. I’m happy with this, I’m going to use this to continue with the fourth layer. If you’re not exactly sure what should be darker, just step away for a minute.. try to look at it from a distance, but I think we’re almost about there. So we’re almost at the end, at least layer-wise. Since we’re reaching the final layers within this session. Of course, at some point you’ve got to do the finishing touch. I’ll be looking for the darker parts right now.. So I’m going to use the same trick, just apply some water across the things.. I feel that should be darker. Which means that some parts of the paper actually have way more color and way more water on top of them than others. If you use quality paper that should not be so much of a problem. Your most important step is that you just let every layer completely dry.. before you continue to the next one, which is exactly what I did. And in my example you still have the feeling it’s
build up using the same color of course. You can do the same trick with multiple colors.. but for this exercise I just wanted to stick by using one color. and show you how it works with one color so the idea is very clear. As you notice, I paint rather loosely. I’m still looking, this is my own interpretation, so it doesn’t have to be an exact copy. And in the example right here you see there is some lighter parts in the water.. and some darker parts just next to the mountains and the hills. So this is of course a lighter layer and this is a darker one. There is already something on the water but I’m just going to add a real light color to lightly.. give the idea that there is a sort of shadow across the water or at least the reflection from the parts which I leave open. What might be a good trick is to use a fairly dry brush.. at least, or maybe a different one, which I’ve got right here. To extend those parts which you already have. If you still feel that there are some parts which are too dark.. just make sure you get rid of those with a sponge or a piece of paper. So these would be the final layers, here you can have a look .. at all the parts which you may find too dark or maybe too light.. as you can see there are some darker parts in the hills which are actually more distant and I created some kind of shadowy area in that part as well. Maybe you find these parts, the ones I have over here, are a bit too much the same. So you can of course add an extra layer on top of those just to make it darker But as you can see now there is a huge difference between the first layer, which is actually the sky.. the water and then the second layer which are the mountains, really far away.. and the ones which we are currently creating. So by adding the same color, keep adding the same amount of watery color.. you can really look for that illusion and that feeling of depth.. even though you’re not using so many tricks. you can also add more different colors if you want to, especially within the finishing touch. I’m just going to stick to this blue grayish color, which I personally like a lot.. and also works really well with other darker colors or even with lighter colors.. but make sure you probably need more layers if you want to have the same effect. Impressive, you’ve created an entire world using just one color!
Any final tips? Any final tips? Well, I would always try to look at your painting or drawing.. and make sure you look at it from a distance or maybe.. give it a while, maybe let it dry.. and then look at it once again. Because you can work on it really fast but the fun thing about this.. is that if you let it completely dry you look at the things you really like. I personally like those sharp, crisp looks. I also like when things start to blend, which is a real nice effect in watercolor.. but in this case we’re just looking to add layers, so you don’t want that blending to happen too much
and you would like to have full control on you painting. Awesome, thank you very much and see you next time!
-Thank you, thank you for watching, bye bye. Hi guys, want to learn more about how a famous movie director uses monochrome colors in his films? Check out his episode from our other channel, RijksTube.

1 thought on “Watercolor Tutorial | How to create a monochrome landscape | Rijksmuseum

  1. When I working in COLOURS PENCIL I'm using WATER COLOURS first then I use PENCIL COLOURS on it ! Sometimes only use for PENCIL COLOURS for whole painting , sometimes only use WATER COLOURS for whole painting !
    it looks so much beautiful !
    Are you doing same !?
    I'm from INDIA 🙏🏻🚩🇮🇳

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