• Stunning Watercolor House Portrait Tutorial

    In today’s tutorial, I’ll show you how to create a gorgeous watercolor house portrait! Portraits like this one are great to give as gifts or to incorporate into your own home décor.

    Watercolor House Portrait Tutorial
    I made this watercolor house portrait for my mom’s birthday. In today’s tutorial, I’ll show you how to make one like it!

    For many of us, home is a special place — but my mom especially loves her house. It was built by her grandparents in the 1940’s, who ordered the design and all of its components from the Sears Catalog. After my great-grandmother died in 2015, the house became my mother’s. For her, it’s a peaceful haven and a place that represents happy childhood memories. With that in mind, I decided to make her a watercolor house portrait this year for her birthday.

    Watercolor House Portrait Tutorial
    This is a photo of my mom’s house. It’s important to start off with a high-quality reference photo!

    If you like this project, you can learn how to create it in the tutorial below. Feel free to modify the steps to suit your supplies and timeframe!

    Before You Get Started …

    Today’s project isn’t quite a beginner-level endeavor. It requires quite a bit of blending! If you’re new to watercolors, consider enrolling in The Ultimate Beginner’s Watercolor Online Course. Complete that course, and you’ll be able to paint practically any subject.

    Enroll in the TPK Ultimate Beginner's Watercolor Course

    1. Make a Procreate Draft (Optional)

    (If you don’t have an iPad or the Procreate app, you can jump to step 2.) I love using Procreate — an iPad illustration app — to draft out illustrations like this one. It allows me to make an accurate sketch and experiment with layouts and lettering styles. Here’s a timelapse video of how I used Procreate to make a draft:

    And here’s the finished draft:

    Procreate House Portrait Draft
    I like Procreate for house portraits because the app makes it super easy to draw straight lines. The opportunity to trace also saves a ton of time, which I appreciate!

    2. Draw a Pencil Draft

    Now, cut out a square piece of watercolor paper. (I am using a 7″ x 7″ piece of Stonehenge paper, which I’ve been loving lately.) Print out your Procreate draft or, if you don’t have Procreate, a photo of the house. Then, lay the watercolor paper on top of the draft or photo, and put both papers on top of a light box (or against a bright window). Use a pencil to trace over what you see.

    Making a House Portrait Pencil Draft

    Of course, you don’t have to use a light box to do this step. If you prefer to free-hand draw the house portrait, go right ahead! In the end, you’ll want to end up with a pencil draft that looks similar to the one below:

    Pencil Draft of House Portrait
    If your house is very long or very tall, consider enclosing it within an oval (either horizontal or vertical) instead of a circle.

    I like the concept of adding the house’s address with the help of a banner and Sans Serif lettering. In this case, Sans Serif goes with the midcentury style of the house. (I would probably use this hand-lettering style for any watercolor house portrait, though. Since it’s nice and simple, it doesn’t detract from the house illustration.)

    3. Add Waterproof Ink to the Pencil Draft

    Once you’ve got your pencil draft, use a straight pen fitted with a Nikko G nib and Ziller ink to trace over your pencil lines. It’s super important to use waterproof ink (like Ziller) because the house portrait will be exposed to a lot of moisture here in a bit!

    Making an Ink House Portrait
    The Nikko G is the perfect nib for creating this illustration because of its medium flex.

    Keep “inking” until you’ve traced over everything except for the outer circle.

    Making an Ink House Portrait
    Not tracing over the outer circle in ink will give this illustration a cleaner look.

    Once all the ink has dried, erase any pencil draft lines except the outer circle.

    4. Add Watercolor

    Now, get out your favorite watercolor palette and moisten the colors that you’ll need in order to paint the house. For my mom’s house, those colors included:

    • Four different tones of green (for trees, grass, and vines) – “Green Earth” is especially great for this
    • Three tones of orange or red (for the bricks)
    • Gray (“Slate” from Greenleaf & Blueberry – for concrete)
    • Black and “Violet Hematite” – for shadows

    It’s easiest to show you exactly how I went about adding watercolor in a timelapse video:

    Here are some notes that you may find helpful:

    • For the brick, I began with an orangeish-red base layer. After that paint dried, I painted on tiny rectangles of color to give it that brick-like look. I used the same technique for the roof.
    • Most shadows were painted using Violet Hematite, a deep purple. It’s dark, but not as harsh as black, which is why it’s awesome for shadows.
    • The sky was painted with Winsor & Newton “Cobalt Blue”.

    Watercolor House Portrait

    5. Add More Ink to Finish the Watercolor House Portrait

    If you’ve taken the Watercolor Illustrated Maps 101 eCourse, you know that it’s a good idea to use ink to add finishing touches to your piece. That’s exactly what I did to complete this artwork, and I suspect that your watercolor house portrait will benefit from this step, too. Basically, you just go through and use ink to make some shadows a bit more dramatic and reinforce outlines that need it.

    Watercolor House Portrait Tutorial

    I used black ink to reinforce the roof and the sides of the house to help them stand out from the foliage. Then, I drew a few black shadows in the bushes and trees to give them dimension. Finally, I added black shadows to the banner to help it look more realistic.

    Watercolor House Portrait Tutorial

    Of course, houses come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors, so this tutorial isn’t one-size-fits-all. I do hope, however, that you feel inspired to modify its steps in order to paint your own watercolor house portrait! If you take on the challenge, I’d love to see what you come up with. You can share on Instagram (tag @thepostmansknock) or email me at [email protected]. Happy creating!


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