Metallic watercolor painting (without metallic paint)

You’d be forgiven for thinking you need to use metallic watercolor paint to achieve iridescent effects in your artwork.

But it’s perfectly possible to achieve a metallic look without using metallic watercolor paint

You can create the illusion of a bright, shimmering metallic appearance using ordinary watercolor paint.

The secret? To replicate nature.

Often in nature, iridescence and metallic effects are the result of many thin layers of cells that each reflect a different colour from the light spectrum, creating an overall shimmering look.

With close observation of the various colour areas on our subject, we can identify what those component colours are. Then with thin layers of paint, we replicate nature, building up the layers until we achieve that elusive iridescent effect: without a spot of metallic watercolor paint in sight!

In this mini class, I show you exactly how to do this. The subject is a pretty beetle called Plagiosterna aenea. They have a very long hibernation period, from August right the way through until the following April!

How to paint an iridescent subject without metallic watercolor paint:

I hope this mini class has shown you what can be achieved with using ordinary watercolors, and that you don’t need to use metallic paints to achieve realistic looking metallic effects in your paintings.

And I hope that like me, you find it inspiring that we can replicate nature with our paintbrushes to create the beautiful illusion of iridescence.

Are you inspired to paint more iridescent subjects from nature?

Check out these mini classes that show you how to paint iridescent feathers and how to paint an iridescent bluebell flower.

If you paint the beautiful metallic beetle from this class and then want to paint a friend for him, check out the ladybug mini class.

I’d love to know if you’ve found this mini class helpful.

Did you paint this pretty bug too? Do you feel inspired to paint more metallic subjects without using metallic watercolor paint? Are there any iridescent subjects in nature you’d now like to try painting after watching this class?

Please leave a comment to let me know. I love hearing from you.

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  1. Dora Brown on January 16, 2024 at 4:29 pm

    Beautiful and inspiring as ever!

  2. Pat Wakeford on January 16, 2024 at 6:34 pm

    Really enjoyed the class, who would have thought painting a bug could be so much fun.

  3. Deni on January 16, 2024 at 7:28 pm

    Thank you so much for going to the effort of creating this class. It was deeply appreciated.

  4. Deirdre on January 17, 2024 at 2:01 pm

    Hi Anna, I’m slowly working my way through your free tutorials and loving them!
    I watched the beetle mini class in the middle of the night and he’s gorgeous…. another one to add to my ever increasing list of your tutorials.

  5. Wendy on January 17, 2024 at 3:51 pm

    The effect of the Sheen and shimmer is quite astounding. Thank you.

  6. Pam on January 17, 2024 at 9:50 pm

    Congratulations Anna, great job and the end was priceless. SUCCESS!!!!

    • Angela on February 27, 2024 at 4:57 pm

      i’ve just come across your tutorial videos and i’m very impressed as they are so informative stage by stage . Thank you . ????????????????

  7. Loliaba on January 18, 2024 at 10:10 pm

    amazing painting , I really enjoy that , thank you so much for the tutorial ????

  8. Cindy on January 24, 2024 at 12:45 am

    Hi Anna, I love the free tutorials I done the Lilly and very proud of what I done.
    At the moment I’m practicing my drawings with sketches that has shading and highlights in them. I done a few drawings with shading in it. I want to get a bit more confident before I tackle the pear lol. I sure am looking forward to using paints , colour pencils etc. I want to do the beetle one also.
    I’m trying not to rush as I got alot to learn.
    Thanks Cindy

  9. Sandi on March 5, 2024 at 7:52 pm

    Wow loved it. Thank you for inspiring demo

  10. Avril Ross on March 5, 2024 at 11:26 pm

    Dear Anna

    On this email the iridescent bluebell and and iridescent feathers mini class would not open up. Please can you redo or fix
    Thanks heaps

  11. Gill on April 10, 2024 at 6:33 am

    Dear Anna

    Enjoying your tutorials. Always inspirational and fascinating to watch. The end results are amazing. Thank you

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