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EXPLORE THE ARTIST WITHIN

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EXPLORE THE ARTIST WITHIN

6 helpful ways to paint People Figures in Watercolor: Magic of effective Loose Style

Are you afraid of using figures in your paintings? If you love Urban paintings then figures are an important part of it. Painting figures can be intimidating but it does not have to be so!

Loose Watercolor people figures
Loose Watercolor people figures

Once you learn this technique, both your urban as well as natural landscapes will have that added stress free human element to it! Yow will see what a difference it makes!

Follow these six techniques and easily paint away loose watercolor people figures.

When I paint figures it’s never the idea of painting the beauty of the figure, it is using the figure to get across how I feel.

Jason Shawn Alexander

Watch this video if you want to paint along! Or jump to the tips first if you are more curious to know the secrets!

1 . Keep it Loose in every way

Yes that’s right, its not just about a style! It is about the whole process! That means, keep you hand loose, hold the brush loosely. load the brush loosely (not too much pigment) and keep yourself calm and relaxed as well!

With a bit of practice you will easily be able to play around with shapes and paint these figures easily.

6 helpful ways to paint People Figures in Watercolor
6 helpful ways to paint People Figures in Watercolor

When painting is loose style it is really important to take it easy in the true sense of the word. You have to be in a relaxed state of mind and keep your strokes very light. Try to hold your brush also very lightly, and just do a warm up by lightly making shapes and brush strokes on a scrap paper. Play around with the colors you like, go abstract and enjoy the painting process rather than focusing on perfection.

2. It is all about Shapes

It’s a game of shapes. all sorts of shapes, circles, triangles, squares, rectangles, semi circle, ovals and so on. But not definite shapes, loose shapes. Mix and match these and just see the magic! It will take you only seconds to do this. Use your imagination and paint what you think seems right, leave the viewers imagination to them and let them see what they see! It all about perception in loose style watercolor figures, others might not see what you see and vice versa!

I had the desire to paint the figure without actually painting the figure

Nathan Oliveira
Paint the right Shapes
Paint the right Shapes

3. Proportion is the Key

You don’t have to be a master of this, just keep the proportions somewhat or roughly right. This is a basic rule that I keep in mind even while painting these loose watercolor figures.

It is about a very rough measurement 1-3-4, that’s it, for example if you paint head 1cm, then do the upper body around 3 cm and lower body around 4 cm. For kids you might want to keep upper body and lower body same, so it will be 1-3-3.

Get your proportion right when painting Figures
Get your proportion right when painting Figures

It is just about a rough idea, people come in all shapes and sizes but this will act just as a guide for you.

4. Give life with Shadows

As soon as you add the shadow it is like as if you added the missing salt to the dish. It literally adds the needed flavor and brings it to life. The figures start to look so realistic in spite of being loose and abstract, as if almost alive!

So do not forget this important addition. You can kept it as subtle or as prominent as you like. Remember to follow the same direction if you have more than one figure in your painting to keep the realistic element going on. Paint it short or long as per the time of the day, for example Sunsets will have longer paintings, daytime will have short. If it is night time , paint is as per the position of the light etc.

Shadows - Painting Loose Watercolor People Figures
Shadows – Painting Loose Watercolor People Figures

5. Add movement

You can make your figures appear to move with just as simple distorted brush stroke! Yes it is really as simple as that with the loose style! Once you try this it will start becoming fun as you discover how with just a weird stroke you can make people dance, bend, move or walk.

Just see these figures,

Just use different brush strokes to add movement
Just use different brush strokes to add movement

6. Leave the Details Alone

Don’t even think about this! These are supposed to be loose figures which means no features and absolutely no detailing! Isn’t that so much fun! Especially of you are not a portrait painter! These are just impressions and very typical of this style to be very abstract. So totally forget eyes, ears, nose etc. or the detailing of the hair or dresses.

People Figures in Watercolor: Magic of effective Loose Style
People Figures in Watercolor: Magic of effective Loose Style

7. Bonus tip- Paint using People walking on street as reference!

Simply google it! Google pictures of people walking on the street, random anonymous people, Try to see a silhouette and then follow the steps of painting the figures in shapes. Don’t get into details just observe them from far.

People Figures in Watercolor
People Figures in Watercolor

This will really help you imagine the real life scenes and come up with you perfectly imperfect figures later on. This is in fact a really good exercise, you will have plenty of inspiration around to try this.

Try to observe the things like clothes, accessories, shadows and use it in your painting!

I hope you are going to give this a try!

Save it for later, and don’t forget to share with a friend who is still intimidated by paining figures!

Until next time,