How to Paint a Stone Bridge in Watercolor – Easy Demo

Stone bridges are a popular subject in watercolor demos and this one is a stand out! Work back to front with deep rich colors for eye catching watercolor realism. The entire painting is done with only four colors, which guarantees professional looking results, and makes it easier to paint successfully.

Stone Bridge Watercolor Landscape Downloads:

Suggested Colors:

  • Light blue – Cerulean or Cobalt
  • Dark blue – Indanthrone or Ultramarine
  • Orange or brown – Transparent Pyrrole Orange, Burnt Sienna or Quinacridone Rust
  • Yellow – any good semi-transparent yellow

Step by Step Painting for Watercolor Stone Bridge Landscape

Below is the main reference photo (from Pixabay). I simplified the composition and added a large tree on the left.

Step 1 – Outline on Watercolor Paper

Draw or trace your outline onto your watercolor paper using graphite paper.

Step 2 – Paint the far away areas – sky and under stone bridge.

Watercolor Stone Bridge landscape Tutorial Step 1

Sky – Mix a small puddle of light blue and a small puddle of light green (light blue + yellow).

Wet the sky with clean water and charge in some blue and some red – leaving some unpainted areas. You want a light but pretty sky mix.

Under the bridge – mix a puddle of light brown (orange + blue or use burnt sienna). Paint the area under the bridge with light green and some light brown.

Step 3 – Paint the mossy green rocks.

Watercolor Stone Bridge Landscape Tutorial - Step 3 Painting the mossy rocks.

Colors – mix light blue + yellow for light green and dark blue + yellow for dark green.

Paint the mossy rocks, lighter at the top and darker at the bottom, going around the fall leaves that are laying on the rocks.

Texture? – For more texture, dot in water to the drying rocks or sprinkle with salt.

Step 4 – Painting the shrubs your favorite fall colors.

Colors – Pick your favorite colors for fall and paint the shrubs a mix of the those colors. Remember, stick with your original 4 paints! Yellows, oranges, browns and greens are all available to you.

Areas to paint – Add a light green under the bridge, paint the two side shrubs and add a darker green to the area above the left mossy rock and at the base of the tree.

Watercolor Stone Bridge Landscape Tutorial - Step 4 -painting shrubbery

Step 5 – Add distant trees to the background of the watercolor stone bridge.

Trees – Use watery mixes of browns and grays to suggest a few distant trees in the background. You want variety – trees of different sizes, colors and different widths apart. Leave some area open, without trees. If they look too dark, dab up some of the wet paint or rewet and lift up so the trees look misty and far away.

Leaves – (sponging) use a small piece of natural sponge to dab on leaves with any of these colors – yellow, light green, darker green and/or orange.

Watercolor Stone Bridge Landscape Tutorial - Step 5 Background Trees

Step 6 – Painting the watercolor river light to dark – a graded wash.

Colors – mix a puddle of light blue and a puddle of dark blue.

How to Paint a Graded Wash

Paint – Paint the top of the water with clean water, then start with the light blue and paint down, using horizontal strokes. You can add darker blue or brown under the shrubs, if you want shading. Continue down, switching to dark blue. At the very bottom, add some of your darkest colors.

Watercolor Stone Bridge Landscape Tutorial - Step 6 painting the water from light to dark

Step 7 – Painting a stone bridge in watercolor.

Your bridge does not need to be as dark as mine, but painting the stone with a mixed wash of different grays is a most pleasing effect.

Colors –

  • blue gray (blue + a little orange or brown)
  • brown gray (blue + more orange or brown)
  • black – dark blue + orange or brown
  • green? – feel free to add the moss on the bridge with green

Paint the underside of the bridge with black. Outline the stones with black and draw a black line under the top of the bridge. Dry.

Paint the bridge on dry paper or wet the bridge area first for more blending. As it starts to dry, dot in clean water to make blooms.

Watercolor Stone Bridge Landscape Tutorial - Step 7 Painting a stone bridge with variegated wash of blue and brown

Step 8 – Finish painting the rocks in the watercolor landscape river.

Reflections – Add a dark reflection under the right side rock, leaving a thin line of white between the rock and water.

Gray rocks – Paint the gray river rocks white at the top, light gray in the middle and dark at the bottom.

Evaluate the mossy rocks – if they need more color saturation, repeat Step 3.

Step 9 – Paint the front trees.

Color – use leftover brown and gray.

Paint the trees with a light gray color. Add a darker shadow across the big tree to add interest.

You could also add some mossy green to the bottom of the tree, if desired – it seems to grown on everything in this woodlands.

Step 10 – Paint the posts on the top of the stone bridge.

Color – use light and darker gray mixes to paint the four posts on the top of the bridge. The shorter, farther away posts should be lighter and the larger posts, darker. Add shading to the two darker posts – Lift up some gray from the left side of the darker posts. Add darker shading under the top and dark front square.

Step 11 – Add beautiful fall leaves!

Paint the leaves yellows, oranges – some glowing fall colors.

Shading – add a dark line of shadow under each leaf.

Step 12 – Finishing touches for this stone bridge in watercolor demo.

Under the bridge – if you feel you need more definition in the area under the bridge, sponge in tree leaves of more fall colors.

Rock reflections – draw a darker line under the rocks in the water for a reflection, leaving a thin line unpainted between the rock and the reflection area.

Right side bare tree – Use dark paint or a pen (or make a white tree) to add a small bare tree on the right side. Be sure it extends up past the bridge edge to connect the sky with the bottom of the painting.

Lines for the guardrail – use a black ink pen or liner brush to add the thin lines across the top.

watercolor stone bridge finished painting by Deb Watson

Don't be an art critic, but a painter - Paul Cezanne