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How to Relax and Play with Watercolor

How to use watercolor for relaxation instead of creating a mastepiece. Paint a free illustrated letter D, and practice lettering the D as well.

Watercolor painting is simple and easy if you want to just relax and are not aiming at a masterpiece. It’s an excellent way to unplug and requires nothing more than a love of playing with color. I have drawn a simple illustrated letter that you can download, print out and trace- and then just play with colors as they create their own magic in a pool of water. 

The letter D illustration is based on an alphabet that I have created, and you can download a practice sheet for letter D as well. For those who keep a bullet journal or who just love journaling, you can cut out a smaller version of the illustrated letter and paste into your journal. Color it, and why not write an inspiring quote starting with the letter D?

Below is a step-by-step watercolor tutorial for this illustrated letter.

First, let me show you the drawing I made. I drew the clean version with fine liner and this is the drawing you can download, enlarged to A4 size.

Drawing an illustrated letter D. Cecilie Okada
Tracing the illustrated letter D drawing. Cecilie Okada

Before painting, I decided on a color scheme. I used Adobe Color, a simple, free website (or app) where you upload a photo to create a color scheme. It only allows for five colors, so I added red and blue when I mixed my watercolor palette. 

Finding a color scheme. Cecilie Okada

I wanted the letter itself to be blue in order to contrast the yellow bird illustration. Here you can see how I mixed the colors in order to create the colors selected from the photo.

Mixing the colors in my color scheme. Cecilie Okada

Follow these simple steps to trace the printout of the letter D illustration onto any kind of watercolor paper. In my case, I printed it out on 190g watercolor paper with a laser printer. I then stretched the watercolor paper onto a piece of wood. This video shows you how to do that. You want to avoid that the paper buckles with all the water; that's the reason for making the paper wet, stretching it and then fastening with watercolor tape. But you can also use ordinary sketching paper and fasten with any kind of tape. The paper will still buckle but less, and you can flatten the paper underneath a pile of books afterward. 

Water is your painting tool! I painted the outline of the letter with WATER first, lots of water, while excluding the bird and the little decoration to the right. 

Paint with generous amounts of water before painting with colors. Cecilie Okada

I then painted with blue, and some purple. The water distributes the colors in beautiful, surprising ways. You dab some blue, then dab some purple and magic happen. Don’t paint in a linear way, use your brush to just drop the colors, as in dropping dots. Then move your brush gently and see how the colors create beautiful shades with the help of the water. Watch what happens to the colors, then use your brush to refine.

Playing with blue and purple. Cecilie Okada
Playing with blue and purple. Cecilie Okada

When the blue was all dry, I laid down a base of sun yellow for the bird. Again, lots of water using the same process. I added the two greens (grass green and pastel green) and terracotta. This was a dance of back and forth, making sure to create sufficient contrasts. It could just as easily have turned into a dull soup of indescribable color. Contrasts create dynamism.

Painting a base of sun yellow. Cecilie Okada
Adding greens to the yellow. Cecilie Okada
Adding greens and terracotta. Cecilie Okada

When the bird was dry too, I experimented with the muted purple, red and green to color the small details.

Adding purple to the details. Cecilie Okada
Adding red and green to the details. Cecilie Okada

Not quite satisfied with the result, I added white lines with a white gel pen

Drawing with a white gel pen. Cecilie Okada

And finally- done! Now your turn. Try it out and see how satisfying it is to play with watercolor. My best wishes for your creative fun!

All done. Process for painting an illustrated letter D with watercolor. Cecilie Okada

Download the line drawing in A4 size, a small version to cut and glue, and a practice sheet for letter D! 

Free download. Cecilie Okada

Share this tutorial on Pinterest!

How to relax and play with watercolor. Click to download the free line art and lettering practice sheet (letter D). Follow the tutorial and have fun! Use a small version for journalling. By Cecilie Okada. #watercolor #watercolorarts #watercolourpainting #handlettering #illuminatedletters #journalideas #colorscheme

How to relax and play with watercolor. Click to download the free A4 line art and lettering practice sheet (letter D). Glue a small version into your journal. By Cecilie Okada. #watercolor #watercolorarts #watercolourpainting #handlettering #illuminatedletters #journalideas #colorscheme
How to relax and play with watercolor. Click to follow the easy step-by-step tutorial. Free download of line art and lettering (letter D) practice sheet. Small version for journalling. By Cecilie Okada. #watercolor #watercolorarts #watercolourpainting #handlettering #illuminatedletters #journalideas #colorscheme
How to relax and play with watercolor. Click to learn this simple process. Download free line art and lettering practice sheet (letter D). Small version for journalling. By Cecilie Okada. #watercolor #watercolorarts #watercolourpainting #handlettering #illuminatedletters #journalideas #colorscheme