One of the things that many beginners struggle with is the pressure of painting something “beautiful”. The fear of filling the blank page is very real. That is why one of the best ways to improve your skills is by painting easy watercolor doodles.
You’ll be able to practice basic watercolor techniques and color mixing without the pressure of creating a finished piece!
In this post, I’ll show you 6 simple, step-by-step watercolor doodles you can practice with!
Let’s get started…
Benefits of painting watercolor doodles
One of the difficult things about watercolor painting, especially if you’re a beginner, is deciding what to paint. Of course, the more you practice, the more your skills will grow.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, the best way to practice watercolor is to choose simple subjects. This will allow you to focus on the basics without being discouraged by the thought of how to put a final piece together.
Doodling is about creating tiny paintings of different objects so have fun with it and don’t worry about the outcome too much!
- Watercolor Value Exercises
- Negative Painting Exercises
- 9 Watercolor Practice Exercises for Beginners
- 5 Watercolor Warm Up Exercises
6 Easy Watercolor Doodles Step by Step
Painting watercolor feathers can be super fun! In this exercise, you’ll practice the wet-on-wet technique.
How to doodle feathers with watercolor:
- Start with a simple outline of the feathers.
- Mix the colors you plan to use on your palette. A light shade and a dark shade should be enough.
- Wet the area around the middle and start dropping in the lighter shade, spread the paint with the tip of your brush.
- While the paint is still wet, drop in the darker color along the stem in the middle of the feather. Let it dry.
- Paint the middle of the feather using Paynes gray.
- Dilute the mixture of the colors you used for the first layer and lightly paint some lines for texture.
- You can also paint some patterns!
That’s how to doodle some watercolor feathers! Feel free to experiment and get creative with different patterns and colors.
2. Butterflies (easy watercolor doodle)
Another easy watercolor doodle you can try is painting butterflies. In this exercise, you’ll be practicing the wet-on-wet, blending and glazing techniques.
The great thing about this exercise is that you can also practice your color-mixing skills by experimenting with different color schemes! This can help you learn what colors work well together and which ones don’t.
How to doodle watercolor butterflies:
- Start with a basic outline of the butterfly using an HB pencil.
- Wet the wings with clean water then drop in yellow and blend it out. I used Gamboge for this step.
- While the paper is still wet, drop in scarlet along the edges of the wings. Let the colors blend together on the paper without disturbing them.
- Let it dry then start painting the body and head of the butterfly. I used Paynes Gray for this step.
- Dilute the mixture of red and paint long thin lines along the wings. (Image below)
- Mix a darker shade of red-brown then using a smaller brush paint some patterns of the butterfly wings. I used a mixture of Prussian blue (small touch) + Pyrrol Scarlet
Feel free to repeat this exercise with different colors and patterns! The image below shows a few more examples using the same method:
3. Watercolor Mushrooms
Doodling watercolor mushrooms can be more challenging than the previous ones because you’ll be focusing on the values and details more.
How to paint watercolor mushrooms:
- Begin by outlining the mushrooms with a pencil.
- Using yellow ochre, paint over the mushrooms. Leave out some curved lines on the mushroom head white.
- Let it dry.
- Mix a yellow-brown by using a mixture of Prussian blue (small touch) + Pyrrol scarlet + Gamboge. Dilute the mixture then paint some lines along the stem.
- Mix the same yellow-brown and this time don’t dilute it too much. Paint some of the darker values and lines of the mushroom. You can use the blending technique by painting an area and then dragging out the edge to soften it.
If you’re new to blending check out this article: How to blend watercolors
You can use the same techniques with different types of mushrooms:
This is probably the simplest watercolor doodle you could try! To make it easier I only included two layers.
How to paint a watercolor cactus step by step:
- Draw a simple outline in pencil
- Mix a light green shade and a dark green shade. For the light green, I used Cobalt blue and lemon yellow. For a darker green, I used gamboge and Prussian blue.
- For the first layer, paint over the cactus with the light green.
- Mix a thicker consistency of light green shade with a touch more blue than yellow. Use this mixture to paint some lines from top to bottom. Let it dry.
- With the dark green shade, paint some lines and needles over the cactus.
That’s how you paint a quick watercolor cactus!!
5. Jellyfish Watercolor Doodle
In this exercise, you’ll practice adjusting the ratio between two colors to create different shades. I only used Ultramarine and Quinacridone rose to paint the jellyfish!
How to doodle a watercolor jellyfish step-by-step:
- Outline the top of the jellyfish.
- Mix equal amounts of Ultramarine and Q.Rose then paint the top of the jellyfish.
- As you move towards the bottom swirls of the jellyfish add a touch more red than blue in your mixture.
- Paint some squiggly lines indicating the tentacles of the jellyfish.
- Let it dry then paint some curved lines along the head of the jellyfish.
- Mix a thicker consistency of purple with a touch more blue in the mixture then paint the area just underneath the head of the jellyfish.
- Using a small brush paint the squiggly lines to show the tentacles.
That’s how you paint a simple watercolor jellyfish. You can add some splatters or try it with different colors!
6. Leaves/trees (Watercolor Doodle)
The last watercolor doodle is painting trees and leaves for fun! We’ll start with painting individual watercolor leaves.
For this exercise, you don’t have to worry too much about color, instead, I want you to pay attention to brush control. Changing the amount of pressure you apply, for example, can change the brush stroke.
You’ll need a good round brush for this exercise. One that can hold enough water and can form a pointy tip. Read more about watercolor brushes here:
How to paint a watercolor leaf step by step:
- Start by mixing your colors. I used green by mixing cobalt blue and lemon yellow.
- Using the tip of your brush paint a thin line indicating the stem. Slowly apply pressure and paint the rest of the leaf using the belly of the brush.
- Leave a space in the middle of the leaf
Try and experiment with different leaf shapes and see how your brush can create different strokes.
The image below shows a few examples:
Doodling Watercolor Trees:
The next part of this exercise is doodling with watercolor trees. I have written a complete guide to painting trees if you’re interested:
How to doodle a watercolor tree:
- Draw a basic outline of the foliage and trunk.
- Using the side of your brush paint the first layer of the foliage with light green. Try not to load your brush with too much moisture.
- Leave some spaces in between strokes.
- Mix a darker green and paint the second layer while maintaining some lighter spaces.
- Let the paint dry then using burnt sienna paint the trunk.
- Drop some burnt umber along the left side of the tree trunk to make it darker. Then paint the branches in between the foliage.
You can also explore different types of trees such as the one below:
You have reached the end of this post! Hopefully, you feel inspired to have fun creating tiny watercolor doodles!
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