Simple Child on Beach Watercolor Tutorial for Beginners

simple watercolor tutorial painting girl on beach

Paint YOUR child or grandchild on the beach – this tutorial is quick and easy even for total beginners.

Start with easy washes of color for this simple child on the beach watercolor tutorial. Add a few shadows or ripples, adjust your values and you are quickly done.

Downloads for Child on Beach for Beginners

Original Reference Photo on Pixabay

Suggested Colors

  • Red – any red or pink will work. (Transparent reds with Quinacridone pigments are most user friendly.)
  • Blue – Cobalt Blue or Cerulean Blue are lighter but Ultramarine Blue will also work.
  • Yellow – any yellow.
  • Brown – Burnt Sienna or your favorite brown
  • Black – mix brown + dark blue for your best black with this palette.
  • Opaque white – Bleed Proof White by Dr. Martin or Pro White by Daler Rowney are inexpensive and cover in one coat.

Value is IMPORTANT!- Getting the values correct is the key to a good looking painting. The water should a medium value while the light part of the hoodie, pants and legs are a very light value. The shadow parts of the body are a dark value. This lets the figure stand out.

Deb Watson

Step by Step Painting Instructions for Child on Beach for Beginners

Step 1 – Draw or trace.

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

Outline for Simple child on beach watercolor tutorial


Larger wash brush for large areas.

Smaller round or flat watercolor brush for figure, ripples and birds.

Step 2 – Paint the sky.

I changed the waves at the top into a storm sky. It’s easier to paint and gives this watercolor painting more depth.

Mix a watery puddle of blue plus a little brown – a light value.

Wet the sky with clean water. You can paint over the head, because the sky is light and the head will be darker

Paint the sky with the light blue/gray.

Reference photo for watercolor tutorial simple child on beach

Step 3 – Paint the water.

Mix a puddle of blue – a medium value.

Paint the water blue – this time go AROUND the girl’s body.

Don’t forget to paint between the legs.

Step 4 – Paint the wet sand.

watercolor tutorial simple child on beach in progress

Mix a brownish gray color for the sand, using a little more brown than blue – medium value.

Paint the sand a medium value (not as dark as it looks in the photo!)

Add a shadow line (darker line) under the lip of the water.

Step 5 – Add ripples to the water using leftover sand color.

Keep your ripples light in value. Dark ripples pull too much attention and don’t look right.

Step 6 – Add the girl’s shadow.

Paint a dark blue or blue/gray shadow from the girl’s feet going right. (Check the reference photo.)

Stop before the edge of the painting so that the dark line doesn’t take your viewer’s eye out of the composition.

Reference photo for simple child on Beach watercolor tutorial

Step 7 – Paint the first wash of pink on the shirt.

Mix a light pink color and paint the entire hoodie a solid light pink. This is your base color and we’ll add shadows once it is dry.

Step 8 – Paint the first wash of skin color on the legs and reflections.

Skin color is between a brown and an orange. The part in the sunlight is very light and watery.

Mix your skin color with Brown + a little red and yellow and a lot of water. Test it on scrap paper until it looks right. You want the skin color much lighter than the water.

Paint both legs and the reflection.

Step 9 – Paint the shorts

Close up photo of girls shorts for watercolor tutorial

Mix a dark brown – (brown + blue).

Paint the shorts a watery dark brown for the light value.

Dry and paint the medium areas, then make the wet part of the shorts at the bottom of the legs very dark brown. Add a very dark brown for a shadow under the hoodie.

Step 10 – Paint the hair and neck brown.

Head close up for simple child on beach watercolor tutorial

The hair is lighter on the left, getting darker to the left side.

Highlight at top – paint around the highlight, or use a damp brush to reactivate the paint where the highlight is and dab it up with a paper towel.

Step 11 – Paint the bucket.

The bucket can be any color you like. The challenge is to make the bucket light at the bottom, getting gradually darker at the top. This will give you a nice sense of light reflecting off the water.

Step 12 – Add shadows to girl.

Reference photo for simple child on Beach watercolor tutorial
  • Hair – darker on right, highlight on top – paint around the highlight or lift it off.
  • Neck – very dark on right to skin color on left.
  • Hoodie – darken pink with any leftover colors. Paint the shadows on. Dry. Then add dark lines under hoodie and on right side.
  • Legs/reflections – darker skin color (with more paint).
  • Shorts – medium brown on most, darker at leg bottom and under hoodie.

Step 13 – Evaluate your colors and values. Tweak as needed.

Step 14 – Seagulls.

Seagulls look best in groups of three – with different shapes. Not too dark, as they’re very far away. For more interest, paint the head and wingtips darker.

Step 15 – Opaque white – add white ripples in water or highlights to the cloth, hair or legs.

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see - Edgar Degas