Over the past two months, we’ve learned the hard way that a kitchen really is the heart of a home. We started a remodel early last month, and the renovation continues to chug along at a glacial pace. I’m not going to lie; it’s tough to figure out meals when you’ve got two small children and no functional kitchen! That said, the peeling linoleum floor and the dark color scheme had to go. As the kitchen starts to shape up, I’m getting really excited about getting to spend time in it.
In this new kitchen, I’ll get to have open shelving on the north wall. I plan to use that shelving to display my favorite cookbooks, plants, and artwork. That brings me to today’s tutorial: an eye-catching watercolor mint illustration. You can bet it will be right at home on that open shelving, framed and leaning against a clean subway tile backsplash! Today, I’ll show you how to make the illustration with both a basic tutorial and a premium tutorial.
The Premium Watercolor Mint Tutorial
This watercolor mint tutorial comes in two versions: premium and basic. The one-minute-long video below shows you a bit of what the premium tutorial includes:
I’ve never made a premium tutorial before, but this project seemed like a great way to start. This watercolor mint is an involved project, and I knew I couldn’t adequately explain how to make it through photos and text. (I’ve tried before in this watercolor basil tutorial … too many steps simply get skipped.) Then, the idea occurred to me to make a mini-course, essentially. In the How to Paint Watercolor Mint (Premium Tutorial), you’ll find 75 minutes of video instruction plus a PDF that includes a reference photo plus scans of my pencil draft and the final painting. For more information, click the link below:
The Basic Watercolor Mint Tutorial
If you want basic instructions for making a watercolor mint illustration, I’ve got you covered with some screenshots from the premium tutorial videos! Here are the steps for creating a display-in-a-new-kitchen-worthy visual treat:
1. Gather Your Supplies
You’ll need to compile a few supplies in order to make an illustration like this one. You can find a list of supplies (with links) underneath the photo.
- Basics: Pencil, eraser, water in a cup, cleaning cloth or paper towel, blunt art syringe or 1/8 teaspoon to moisten watercolors
- Sunny window or a light box – Do your research and get a light box that works for your budget.
- Photo of a sprig of mint – Print it out for reference. (The premium tutorial includes a printable reference photo.)
- One 5″ x 7″ (12.7 cm x 17.78 cm) piece of watercolor paper
- Two paintbrushes – One size 3 and one size 0
- Any watercolor palette or — if you can get them — the specific watercolors used in the tutorial: Green Earth, Perylene Green, Quinoxalinedione Yellow, Violet Hematite
2. Make a Pencil Draft
Once you’ve got your supplies, print out your reference photo (printing on standard paper is fine). Next, place your watercolor paper over the photo. Put both pieces of paper against a light box or a bright window, then use your pencil to trace what you can see through the watercolor paper.
You won’t be able to see all of the reference photo’s details through the watercolor paper, so just trace what you can. Once you’ve finished drawing the outline, remove the watercolor paper from the photo. Then, use the reference photo and your best judgment to add in the details you didn’t catch before.
3. Add a Base Layer
When you’re happy with the pencil draft, use a size 3 (-ish) paintbrush to fill it in with a layer of light green watercolor. (I like Greenleaf & Blueberry’s “Green Earth”.)
4. Layer and Blend
Okay! This is the part that’s a little bit tough to explain in writing. Wait for the light green paint to dry, then use a dry blending technique to apply a dark green, quilt-like texture to the leaves.
Continue to add dark green paint to the dark parts of the leaves. For the extra dark parts, blend in a deep purple/brown value.
Finish up by blending some yellow into the middle of the leaves and some parts of the stem.
5. Add Finishing Touches to Your Watercolor Mint Illustration
Now — this is important — wait at least 24 hours to regard your illustration with fresh eyes. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to determine where you need to add more contrast or blend in a little more paint!
When you feel like the illustration is finished, look at your illustration from a distance. When you observe the illustration from afar, you may notice improvements that you can make. Those improvements can be tough to recognize when your face has been so close to the illustration for hours!
Make any necessary improvements, then give yourself a big pat on the back for an illustration well done!
I hope that you enjoyed today’s tutorial and that it inspires you to make some art for your home (or your sketchbook). Remember, there’s a premium version of this watercolor mint illustration tutorial available. It is very thorough and teaches you all the techniques necessary to take on any sort of herbal illustration. Thanks so much for reading, and have a fun and creative weekend!