Watercolor landscape tutorial for beginners with video

As a beginner, I would see other landscape paintings and wonder how the artist created a stunning piece from blank paper.

Being self-taught, I found it was easier when I watched their process closely and then tried to apply the same methods in my work. I remember feeling frustrated every time I couldn’t seem to get the techniques right.

That’s why I created this simple landscape tutorial for beginners. I hope you enjoy this beginner painting exercise and can learn something new to take with you on your next painting!

Remember, every watercolor artist has their own style/approach. The more you practice the closer you will be to finding yours.

Watercolor landscape tutorial of easy mountain tree and field step by step

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Materials used

  • 300gsm coldpressed paper
  • Round brush size: 18, 8, 4
    • NOTE: the size of the brushes may be different depending on the company. Just choose the sizes according to the size of paper you are using.
  • 2 jars of water
  • paper towel
  • hb pencil/ kneaded eraser
  • Watercolor paint: Cerulean blue; cobalt blue; prussian blue; yellow-orange, lemon yellow; gamboge; burnt sienna; Raw umber; Burnt umber

Landscape Color Scheme:

  • The sky:
    • cerulean blue
    • yellow orange
  • The mountain:
    • Prussian blue+ lemon yellow. (I added more prussian blue in the mixture)
  • The grass field:
    • Prussian blue + Gamboge
    • Cobalt blue+ lemon yellow
    • Prussian blue+ gamboge+ Burnt sienna
  • Foliage:
    • Prussian blue + Gamboge
    • Cobalt blue + lemon yellow
    • Prussian blue+ gamboge+ burnt sienna
  • Tree bark:
    • Burnt umber

Step-by-step tutorial

Video tutorial with subtitles:

If you’re not a fan of reading, don’t worry! You can follow along by watching the video tutorial:

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Basic sketch of a landscape

Before starting with the actual painting I started with a basic sketch. Nothing too fancy or complicated, just a light outline of the basic shapes using a pencil.

  • Start out by drawing the horizon line
  • Then draw the mountains at the back
  • Continue drawing the foliage along the horizon
  • Draw two trees, a big one to the left and a smaller one to the right that’s further away.

You can refer back to the landscape painting in the image at the beginning of this post.

Painting the landscape sketch before painting

Painting the sky

  • Colors on the mixing palette:
    • cerulean blue
    • yellow orange

My favorite part was painting the sky, only because I never know how it’s going to turn out!

Tip: Try using a big brush when painting the sky. It will produce much better results in your painting!

Related post: 9 tips to painting a successful watercolor sky

The sky consisted of two layers.

For the first, I started with the wet-in-wet technique by pre-wetting the paper with clean water (making sure not to use too much).

Then with the size 18 brush, I began painting wavy brush strokes along the top of the sky from right to left.

Painting the sky with cerulean blue

Next, I rinsed my brush and dampened it on a paper towel.

This way I could spread the cerulean blue in curved streaks from the top right corner to the bottom left of the sky without adding too much water and causing a backrun.

Brush technique to painting the sky

It was time to add some yellow-orange towards the horizon like so:

Painting the sunlight in the sky

Next, I cleaned my brush, dampened it on the paper towel, and lifted the yellow-orange pigment from where the tree foliage was.

Let the first layer dry…

For the second layer, I used the wet-on-dry technique. I began adding cerulean blue along the top of the painting and spread it in curves like before.

I continued using a damp brush and picking up streaks of pigment.

how to paint a watercolor sky in a landscape

Once again I added yellow-orange, also in curved brush strokes:

Painting the mountain

In this case, I wanted to make the mountain simple and less detailed. That is why this step is probably the shortest.

  • Mountain colors
    • Prussian blue+ lemon yellow = blueish green (I wanted a darker green so I added more prussian blue)

After switching to a size 8 brush, I pre-wet the mountain area with clean water and then added a light wash of blueish-green mixture.

After It had dampened, I added uneven lines across the top to give them more texture.

Note: When the paint is damp, use a thicker consistency of paint to avoid causing back-runs.

Step 9 of the watercolor landscape tutorial

Painting the field

It was time to paint the field, same as before, I began by preparing the colors on my palette:

  • Colors to prepare:
    • Prussian blue + Gamboge
    • Cobalt blue+ lemon yellow
    • Prussian blue+ gamboge+ Burnt sienna

To paint the field I started by wetting the paper with clean water (not too wet).

On my palette, I mixed Prussian blue and Gamboge to create a lovely medium green. This time I added more gamboge to make the green slightly warmer than the background.

With the green mixture, I painted uneven brush strokes along the horizon.

As I approached the foreground I reduced the concentration of paint by dabbing the brush on a paper towel. You can see this in the image below:

Afterward, I mixed some cobalt blue and lemon yellow to get a lighter more vibrant green. I diluted the mixture and then painted a wash over the bottom left area.

Tip: When painting any field, think of how the ground is uneven and how you can express this through your brushstrokes. If you leave a few streaks and areas with more paint, you’ll have a lot more texture. Also, remember there are different shades of green. If you only use one shade of green your paintings will appear more flat.

Related article: How to mix stunning landscape greens

This can be difficult to master in your paintings, which is why for this painting I included only two to three shades to help you practice.

In my palette, I mixed together Prussian blue+ Gamboge + a touch of burnt sienna in order to get a shade of olive green:

I made sure to blend it into the field with a damp brush so that it doesn’t form a hard edge.

Let it dry…

Painting the foliage

Painting the trees:

  • Foliage:
    • Prussian blue + Gamboge
    • Cobalt blue + lemon yellow
    • Prussian blue+ gamboge+ burnt sienna

For this next step, I started by mixing cobalt blue and lemon yellow to create a bright vivid green. I used the tip of the brush to dab and drop paint into the tree.

After the paint had dried, I added Prussian blue+gamboge, to get a darker medium green I added more Prussian blue.

It was important that I keep the tree foliage lighter on the top areas and darker at the bottom to give it more depth and dimension.

watercolor tree in a landscape tutorial for beginners

Without adding too much detail, I continued to paint the second tree further away. Here I used Prussian blue + Gamboge.

I simply used more pigment for the bottom and diluted the mixture with more water for the top. I didn’t bother too much with the details.

Next, it was time to paint the foliage behind the first tree. I used a mixture of Prussian blue + Gamboge + a touch of burnt sienna. To make it a light wash I used more water in the mixture.

let it dry…

Adding some grass:

I wanted to give the field more texture so I decided to paint a few strands of grass.

The colors I mixed on the palette are prussian blue + Gamboge + a small touch of burnt sienna. This made an olive green color. I painted a few streaks with a damp brush like so:

painting the field grass in a watercolor landscape tutorial

Next, I used the point of the brush to paint curved lines to show the grass.

Painting the tree trunks:

It’s finally time to paint the tree trunks!

For this step, I used one color: Burnt Umber.

I started out with a soft layer of burnt umber covering the whole tree trunk:

how to paint a watercolor landscape for beginners step 21

While the paint was still damp I added more burnt umber making the top of the trunk lighter than the bottom.

I didn’t add too many details because this tree is in the distance.

Finishing the landscape

We are almost done with this landscape!

In order to make the foliage in the distance darker I used Prussian blue + Gamboge:

final touches of the watercolor landscape tutorial

If you enjoyed painting this simple watercolor landscape tutorial you may enjoy painting a dramatic watercolor landscape (image below).

Thank you for going through this landscape painting process with me, I hope you enjoyed it!

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