How to Paint a Boat in Watercolor

watercolor paint for watercolor tutorial how to paint a boat in watercolor

Paint a realistic boat and reflection with watercolor without overdoing it in this simple landscape step by step. Paint your far away trees quick and easy and add reflections with the same color so they’re a snap, too! Add a well saturated foreground and your painting will amaze your family and friends by how professional it looks.

Downloads for How to Paint a Boat in Watercolor

Suggested Colors for Watercolor Boat

  • Blue – Cerulean is a good color, but most blues will work well
  • Green – mix yellow or green gold with your blue or use a tube green
  • Perylene Green (optional) – a great color for dark green
  • Boat color – the boat can be any color. I used brown, light brown (add yellow) and dark brown (add black or dark blue)
  • Opaque white – any opaque white (I use Bleed Proof White by Dr. Martin)
  • Red – for the buoy – any red
  • Black – any black

Step by Step Watercolor Tutorial for How to Paint a Boat

watercolor paint for watercolor tutorial how to paint a boat in watercolor

Step 1 – Draw or trace your outline onto your watercolor paper using graphite paper.

Step 2 – Paint the watercolor sky wet on wet.

watercolor tutorial for paint a loose sky - how to paint a boat in watercolor

NOTE – Your sky will be unique and doesn’t need to look like mine to be a success.

Wet your paper from the top down to the tree and water line, going over the mountains and big tree on the right. Give it plenty of water and hold it up till it quits dripping. The paper needs to be a good wetness for your sky color to spread out.

Mix a puddle of blue that will dry as dark as you want when you paint it on wet paper. You can test the color on a piece of scrap paper and add paint until you have the right concentration.

Paint your sky with a few sweeping brushstrokes – avoid overpainting or trying to control it. Just lay it on and leave it alone. If you can’t control yourself (like me), go get a cup of coffee or something, but let it do it’s own thing.

Step 3 – Paint the distant mountains a light value of blue gray.

mountains for watercolor tutorial How to Paint a Boat in Watercolor by Deb Watson

Mix a blue gray with mostly blue and a little brown or orange.

If your sky is still damp, dab the mountains with a paper towel to mostly dry.

Paint the mountains, starting at the bottom and painting up. If they seem too dark, use a thirsty brush to lift up some color.

Step 4 – Paint the distant trees behind the water and boat.

Mix a gray green with blue or blue gray plus yellow or gold – mix plenty so you have enough for the reflections, also.

Paint the left side distant trees, starting at the bottom and working up. You can tilt the top of your paper up if the trees spread too far and use gravity to keep them in place.

Mix a little darker color for the trees on the right, but not too dark.

Paint them also, going over the big tree on the right. Dry well.

How to paint a boat in watercolor tutorial - distant trees and reflection

Step 5 – Paint the tree reflections with wet on wet watercolor.

Wet the area under the trees in the water with clean water, leaving a line of unpainted paper between the trees and the reflection.

Paint – Use a small brush to add a little tree color, starting closest to the trees, and just let it spread.

Step 6 – Paint the boat with watercolor or other medium.

Reference photo of boat and reflections

Mix a light, medium and dark version of your color – my boat was beige, brown and black, but yours can be any color you like.

Paint the boat very carefully with a good brush or, if you have trouble painting fine detail, you can use pen and ink or colored pencils to put in the boat. Whatever works for you is the best.

Reflections – Add the boat reflections with the same color and jagged edges.

Step 7 – Paint the water light to dark, working wet on wet.

watercolor paint for watercolor tutorial how to paint a boat in watercolor

Mix a big puddle of blue and a smaller puddle of dark blue.

Wet the water area with clean water, going right over the reflections by being careful around the boat. Don’t wet the foreground.

Paint – Start with light blue below the top water line, leaving some unpainted area at the very top. Work the paint so you have light blue at the top, going to darker blue at the bottom, doing as many brushstrokes as you want.

Paint around the red buoy area.

Paint jagged, grassy edges at the bottom where the foreground meets the water.

Step 8 – Paint the foreground with deep, rich color.

Mix a light green and a medium green with your blue and yellow or use tube greens.

Paint the foreground light green on the left to darker green on the very right, using short strokes so you get a texture in your grass area.

Add a few grasses sticking up into the water on the right side with the darker green color.

Step 9 – Add the big tree for this watercolor landscape with boat.

Mix a dark green with green + black or peylene green.

Paint or sponge the dark tree on the right, leaving holes for the birds to fly through. Paint the trunk and shadow the same dark green.

watercolor paint for watercolor tutorial how to paint a boat in watercolor

Step 10 – Adjust your values and add finishing details to your watercolor boat landscape.

Rope and buoy – add a rope with opaque white paint going from the boat to the anchoring buoy. Paint the buoy and reflection red, then add a white highlight.

Birds? – add tiny birds in your sky.

More green? – you can wash over the distant trees with a brighter green if you like.

Summary – How to Paint a Boat in Watercolor Techniques to Improve Your Landscapes.

Landscapes need to have a sense of distance to look realistic. Working back to front, increasing the color and detail as you go forward is an easy way to paint realistic landscapes. You can always rework older landscapes that you aren’t happy with with this technique – rewet and soften your farthest away areas and/or add more color to the closest areas. It’s amazing what a difference this will make. Happy painting!

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance - Aristotle