How to paint a simple seascape with watercolors

How to paint a simple seascape with watercolors for beginners.

Seascapes are something I don’t paint that often even though I probably should. My favorite thing to paint when it comes to Seascapes would probably be Palm trees. I love how their feather like leaves bring a sense of liveliness to the painting.

In this painting the palm trees are the focal point and I thought why not share the step by step process of how to paint it with everyone!

Lets get started!

Colors used:

The colors I used to paint this seascape are listed below, however you can always use what you have on hand or prefer.

  • Sky
    • Light gray: Cerulean blue (PB 35) + Burnt Sienna (PR 101) + Touch of Rose madder(PV19)
    • Light blue: Cerulean blue
  • Ocean
    • Light blue green: Prussian blue (PB27) + lemon yellow (PY3) (only a touch)
    • Prussian blue (PB 27)
  • Beach
    • Burnt umber(PBR 7)
    • Yellow ochre (PR 101, PY 42)
    • Dark brown: Burnt Umber + Paynes Gray(PB 15, PB 29, PBK 9)
  • Palm tree
    • Light green: Lemon yellow (PY 3) + Cobalt blue (PB 28)
    • Medium green: Prussian blue (PB 27) +Lemon yellow (PY 3)
    • Dark green: Prussian blue (PB 27) + Gamboge (PY 97, PY 110) + Burnt sienna (PR 101)

Step by Step Tutorial

Video tutorial

Basic sketch

Before painting the seascape, it’s important to include a basic sketch on your paper.

Start with drawing the horizon line then lightly sketch the shore line and the three palm trees. In the image below you can see how I drew the basic shape of the tree leaves without too much detail. I also made sure the trees in the background were smaller in size.


Start by pre-mixing a light gray color on your palette. Continue by wetting the sky portion of the paper with clean water. After the paper is wet enough paint in the clouds with wavy brushstrokes, while doing this make sure you leave some spaces in between the clouds and where the palm tree foliage will be.

Remember not to rush through and instead take your time and let the colors bleed though the paper.

While the paper is still wet, drop in cerulean blue in between the spaces of the gray clouds. Also notice how the clouds get smaller closer to the horizon line and fluffy and big towards the top of the sky:

Before the paper dries, paint in a few strokes of light green where the palm tree leaves will be. Don’t make it to dark, the key is to later build up layers.


After the sky has dried, start by wetting the area where the ocean will be with clean water. Continue by dropping in prussian blue in the distance of the ocean. Below you can see how I made it darker in the top right corner of the ocean. This shows that the ocean gets deeper and therefore darker in the distance.

Closer to the shore, I used a light wash of blue green. You can mix a small amount of lemon yellow and prussian blue to get a light blue green color. Keep in mind if you add too much yellow it will be roo green for the ocean.

Now that the first layer is done, it’s time to let it dry and move on to the beach. As tempting as it may be, don’t disturb the drying paint. Remember you can always add more layers after.


It is time to paint the beach. Start by painting in a light wash of yellow ochre close to the shoreline. Dab in dark brown further away from the shore. You can see how I’ve done this in the image below:

While the paper is still wet, start dabbing in spots and bumps of dark brown to give the sand more texture.

painting the beach sand in watercolor

When you finish with the spots, let the beach dry.

By now the ocean layer should be dry, continue to take your brush and paint in a few lines to express ocean waves. They don’t have to be too obvious as this is not the main focus of the painting.

how to paint the ocean in watercolor

Palm tree

Now comes my favorite part: painting the palm tree!

First make sure the paper is completely dry before adding a new layer. Next, by take a light wash of brown and fill in the tree trunk.

Easy watercolor landscape step by step process

While the trunk is still wet, dab in a few spot of dark brown. Make the trunk darker from underneath where there is usually less sunlight. You can see how I used the tip of the brush to paint curved lines and streaks throughout the whole trunk. I also kept the lines irregular making some of them longer than others.

One thing to keep in mind is that the trunk should be darker than the beach sand.

how to paint a palm tree trunk in watercolor

Once the trunk is done you can begin painting the leaves. Start with a light wash of light green, you can see how I have painted thick strokes going in different directions. The idea is to paint the general outline of the palm tree shape before adding the smaller details.

Do this with the trees in the background as well.

watercolor process of beach landscape

After the first layer dries it’s time to paint in the smaller details of the palm tree leaves, you can see I am painting small lines going in the direction of growth.

Make the centre darker, and use a medium tone green for the leaves.

how to paint palm tree with watercolor

Also notice how the trees in the distance have fewer details.

Final touches

Watercolor beach scenery tutorial

Continue painting in a few leaves coming in from the corner. If you look closely you’ll see how I’ve left a narrow space in the centre of the leaves, this gives the impression of a branch without actually painting it.

Finish off by darkening some of the darker areas. This includes the tree leaves, the ocean in the distance and the sand beneath the first palm tree.

Watercolor beachscape

And there you have it! We have come to the end of this seascape tutorial, if you enjoyed following along make sure to grab your colors and get painting!

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