Painting a River Scene in Watercolor

Watercolour Mentor with Darren Yeo
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Nature is filled with all kinds of surprises. While there's structure, there's also complexity and variation in rocks, trees, leaves and branches.

Where water is involved, it can often be tricky to paint. It can shift in tone and colour depending on the surroundings. In this class, we will be tackling how to paint all of these above elements side-by-side.

Learning how to combine elements of a scene together by creating soft or hard edges is crucial. It creates continuity and connectedness. This is a common feature in nature, where interactions create a sense of harmony.

But how do we make those connections by using a brush and paint?

Understanding how to plan and compose your painting from a sketch is crucial in the beginning. It creates a foundation, a blueprint that allows you to focus on painting techniques and detailing.

There are only two main techniques in watercolour. Wet-in-wet and wet-on-dry. Both are crucial and by the end of this class, you will feel confident in applying them to any landscape.

In this class, I will cover the following and more:

  • How to use watercolour to imply light,
  • shade and mood with a variety of colours
  • Materials - what paints, paper, and brushes you will need
  • Understanding light sources and how to paint realistic shadows
  • How to sketch a subject easily by simplifying a landscape into basic shapes, and using a combination of loose and accurate drawing styles.
  • Hands-on lessons on essential watercolour techniques such as wet-in-wet and wet-on-dry
  • How to paint skies, rocks, water trees and shrubs, and other objects

So join me in this class - I'm excited to get started with you, and show you all the best-kept secrets on painting an amazing river scene.


Your class project is to draw and paint your own river landscape! This can be the scene featured in this class or based on one of your own photographs or scenes you have observed outside.

You can also refer to the scanned drawing/painting templates attached below which will allow you to trace the drawings if you choose to do so. I recommend drawing each scene freehand. Drawing is an important step in improving your painting skills. This provides you with an opportunity to compose and plan your painting. Once you've finished the drawing, use the watercolour steps and processes included in the class demonstrations to complete your painting.


Use any permanent black ink pens, watercolour paper, and brushes you have available. I recommend:

  • Pencil
  • Artist-grade watercolour paints (red, blue, yellow, white gouache, neutral tint)
  • 100% cotton watercolour paper or sketchbook
  • Watercolour Brushes - mop brush and a variety of round brushes for detailing.

Getting Started:

Review the class demonstration videos first. You can also download the tracing templates to transfer over your drawing if you wish.

Looking to sketch and paint another scene? Research some free reference photo websites, pick one of your own reference photos, or simply find an outdoor location where you can sit and paint. Using the steps and processes included in this class, create your own unique urban sketch.

Sharing Your Work:

Share your final illustration and progress shots with the class by uploading them to If you have any questions or need more tips, please let me know. I'm happy to help.

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Painting a River Scene in Watercolor

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Buy this