Creating 3D through tone – a quick demo

So this is really the total crux of my watercolour technique. Using tone to create 3D effects.

It’s taken from the full Step-by-Step video I created for my online School which I suggest everyone tries first as the beginner tutorial.

What’s great about painting this basil leaf is that the hue is the same all the way through, but the tonal range is pretty wide.

So we don’t need to even THINK about hues! Nice.

I even have us work from a grey-scale photo so that we don’t get distracted by hue at all.

Instead, we just work with the CONSISTENCY of the paint, to change its tone, and also use LAYERS to darken the tone gradually. Importantly it’s FUN and we start to get 3D effects really early on – which I always enjoy.

Whilst we develop the dark and midtones, we leave our highlights – only to work on them in the final stages.

Working in this way helps you to RELAX, knowing it’s much harder to accidentally take your highlights too dark.

It gives you a great feel for what you can achieve just by altering the consistency of the paint – a feature that really is at the heart of using watercolour.

So enjoy the demo and have a go yourself.

Let me know what you think of the demo in the comments below.

Happy painting!


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  1. Carrie on January 6, 2017 at 12:40 am

    Where can I find your Basil Leaf Tutorial???

    • Anna Mason on January 6, 2017 at 8:40 am

      Are you a School member Carrie – if so it’s in the Tutorial Library – found via the homepage or main menu.

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