Watercolor is a remarkable art medium because it’s just so approachable. With just a cup of water and a few paints, you can create incredible pieces of art.
Then again, if you don’t know what you’re doing you’ll just end up with a soggy mess.
Attending watercolor workshops in person isn’t very practical at this moment in history, so I’ve put together this list of the best watercolor classes online to help. It pulls from several online course platforms and covers a variety of subject matter.
I’ve also included a few resources with watercolor classes online for free at the end of the article. These are a bit less comprehensive, but can way to test the waters (so to speak). Let’s get to it!
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Best watercolor classes online:
- Modern Watercolor Techniques
- Architectural Sketching with Watercolor and Ink
- Watercolor Illustration with Japanese Influence
- Artistic Watercolor Techniques for Illustrating Birds
- Botanical Illustration with Watercolors
- Watercolor in the Woods
- Watercolor Landscapes – A Master Class for Beginners
- Watercolor Painting For Beginners
- The Mechanics of Watercolor Painting
- Getting Started with Watercolor & Gouache Paints
How to choose the best watercolor class for you
Despite their simplicity, there’s a lot of techniques involved with watercolor painting. When it comes to picking a course, I recommend choosing based on themes.
By picking a theme or subject you’re interested in, like architectural illustration, children’s books, or nature, you’ll learn precisely how to apply certain watercolor skills to your art.
You’ll also learn a few secondary skills so you can start drawing and painting finished pieces right away!
Best platforms for learning
Before we get to the list of the best watercolor classes, it’s worth mentioning that there are a variety of platforms to choose from.
Well, each class features both a professional artist to teach you the ropes and a professional production crew. This pushes production values well beyond what you’ll find on other platforms.
Also, courses are one-time purchases with no subscription required, and are frequently on sale for less than $10. Check out my picks for the best courses on Domestika or create a free account to learn more.
Best watercolor classes online
Now it’s time to get down to business. These are my picks for the best watercolor classes online for beginners and above.
Modern Watercolor Techniques
Teacher: Ana Victoria Calderon (@anavictoriana)
Duration: 32 Lessons (3h 20m)
First up is this quirky watercolor class taught by illustrator and artist Ana Victoria Calderon based in Mexico City. As such, it’s in Spanish with English subtitles — but she has other courses in English, too.
While it starts with the basics, the main point of this course is to learn more unique techniques by mixing watercolor painting with other materials like salt, alcohol, nail polish remover, chlorine, and more.
This one is all about experimenting and becoming comfortable with watercolors to create deeply intricate textures. The final project is creating a galaxy or nebula design, which can be adapted for patterns, landscapes, and countless other types of illustrations.
Ana has two other watercolor courses on Domestika, as well as a host of shorter courses on Skillshare. These Skillshare watercolor classes don’t have the same level of production value as the Domestika course linked below, but they are in English and you can enjoy them for free with a 14-day trial subscription to Skillshare.
Architectural Sketching with Watercolor and Ink
Teacher: Alex Hillkurtz (@hillkurtz)
Duration: 20 lessons (3h 31m)
For urban sketchers or architecture fans who want to add a splash of color to their works, this is the best online watercolor class to take. It’s once again on Domestika (so expect the same great production values), but this time the course is in English.
While it doesn’t go as in-depth into watercolor techniques as the course above, it does cover a bunch of other useful topics. You’ll learn how to create light and shadows with watercolor, the basics of perspective drawing, as well as how to compose and frame your images for the best dramatic effect.
If you want to lean into urban sketching even harder, check out this urban sketching course by Lupin, which still uses watercolors but focuses more on building a scene with people and other details.
Watercolor Illustration with Japanese Influence
Teacher: Flor Kaneshiro (@flor_kaneshiro)
Duration: 22 lessons (3h 15m)
If you’re someone who loves Japanese brushwork or artwork from Studio Ghibli films, stop what you’re doing and check out this watercolor course.
Taught by Argentine illustrator Flor Kaneshiro, it teaches you the basics of watercolor with a Japanese flair that you won’t find anywhere else.
Read the interview: Illustrator Flor Kaneshiro on finding her personal style
You’ll learn ancient Sumi-e techniques, which create monochromatic nature paintings with precise brush movements. Then, Flor shows how to adapt them into colorful watercolor paintings that look like they were lifted from a Japanese children’s book.
Artistic Watercolor Techniques for Illustrating Birds
Teacher: Sarah Stokes (@sarahstokesartist)
Duration: 18 lessons (3h 14m)
Animals can be a difficult subject to draw for beginners — even more so when you add the unpredictable nature of watercolors. Thankfully, this excellent watercolor class online covers exactly that.
This course is specifically focused on drawing birds, which is a great way to get used to working with bright watercolor paints. UK-based artist Sarah Stokes walks you through the entire process, making this an ideal watercolor class for beginners, too.
Keep in mind that although the final project is four birds on a branch, the techniques can easily be applied to any other wildlife. If you want a more freeform take on painting nature, check out this similar course which uses both watercolors and colored pencils.
Botanical Illustration with Watercolors
Teacher: Paulina Maciel (@canela_estudio)
Duration: 17 Lessons (2h 32m)
Speaking of nature, we can’t leave out the wonderful world of plants and flowers. There are a number of watercolor courses focused on floral techniques, but I chose this one because it runs through the full process of painting and digitizing your work to create gorgeous custom stationery.
Unlike most other watercolor classes online, this one has you paint from a real flower so you can see all aspects of the plant in three dimensions. Also, you don’t need any art supplies other than a watercolor set, so it’s perfect for beginners.
If you do want to branch out from watercolors, the same teacher has another course called Botanical Watercolor Sketchbook. It combines watercolor techniques with colored pencils for added detail.
Watercolor in the Woods: A Beginner’s Guide to Painting the Natural World
Teacher: Rosalie Haizlett (@rosaliehaizlett)
Duration: 13 Lessons (41m)
Flowers are a beautiful subject, but there’s so much more to the natural world that’s begging to be painted. This excellent course from artist and illustrator Rosalie Haizlett will teach you how to draw and paint mushrooms, leaves, and all sorts of plant life you can find near your home.
Needless to say, this is a dream course for fans of cottagecore.
This course is on Skillshare, which is a subscription-based platform. This means that thousands of courses are unlocked with a single yearly subscription. However, there’s also a two-week free trial available at the link below, which is more than enough time to finish this class and many others.
This class is on the shorter side, which is great for those who want to cut straight to the chase. Plus, the teacher has two more short watercolor classes for natural textures and landscapes with even more techniques.
Watercolor Landscapes – A Master Class for Beginners
Teacher: Zaneena Nabeel (@aurorabyz)
Duration: 18 Lessons (3h 29m)
As far as the best watercolor classes on Skillshare go, this is by far one of the most exhaustive. Focusing on landscapes, it covers a wide variety of watercolor skills — but always with a practical application in mind.
Once you’ve finished learning specific techniques for skies, trees, and mountains, you’ll put them together to create a finished landscape painting. Or more accurately, four finished landscape paintings.
The teacher Zaneena Nabeel has many more online watercolor classes on Skillshare, each with a specific focus like pine trees, seascapes, galaxies, and more. Check out the courses and start your free 14-day trial at the link below!
Watercolor Painting For Beginners
Teacher: Broderick Wong
Duration: 130 lectures (6h 51m)
If you’re looking for a true masterclass in watercolor, look no further than this in-depth beginner’s course on Udemy. Taught by award-winning artist Broderick Wong, you’ll learn everything you need to know and then some over 130 video lessons.
What’s great about this course (apart from the nearly 7 hours of content) is just how engaging it is. You won’t have to worry about dull theory explanations and can get right to hands-on exercises. It’s also impeccably produced with perfect lighting and camera work.
Since it’s on Udemy, it’s available for a one-time purchase, with no need for a persistent subscription. It can be pricey (when not on sale), but it’s worth it. If you enjoy this watercolor class, the same teacher has two more courses on painting watercolor landscapes and more advanced techniques, too.
The Mechanics of Watercolor Painting
Teacher: Jill Poyerd
Duration: 38 lectures (3h 59m)
For those of you who already have a well-defined art style, some of these watercolor classes might not suit what you want to do. Thankfully, this Udemy course is focused on mechanical techniques and skills with watercolor, so you can apply them however you want.
The course is broken into three large sections: brush handling, mixing paints, and applying paints to paper. Each section has a host of exercises to practice, although there isn’t really a big finished project.
This online watercolor course is great for beginners and intermediate painters who want to truly understand how watercolor paints work. While this is the most complete, Jill has several more deep-dive courses to check out on Udemy.
Getting Started with Watercolor & Gouache Paints
Teacher: Mary Jane Begin
Duration: 13 lessons (2h 37m)
The last entry on our list of the best watercolor classes goes a bit beyond just watercolor and into gouache painting. It’s also my only pick from CreativeLive, which is another great course platform for creatives.
Taught by illustrator and professor Mary Jane Begin, it gets away from techniques and goes deeper into material options. You’ll learn about all the different types of watercolor paints, papers, and brushes, as well as how to pick which ones are right for you.
Essentially, it demystifies watercolor paints for beginners. It’s just one course in a series called Exploring Art Supplies, and it provides a lot of first-hand knowledge about materials that can be difficult to find in online watercolor courses.
Online watercolor classes for free
Although none of these are as comprehensive as the watercolor classes above, these free videos can be a good way to dip your toes into the medium.
Of course, you can also get a free 14-day trial of Skillshare to check out more polished courses without spending a dime.
The best source of free watercolor tutorials is YouTube. Here are a few of my favorite watercolor YouTube channels to get you started:
- Watercolor by Shibasaki — Fantastic (subtitled) watercolor tutorials from everyone’s favorite Japanese grandpa. Think Bob Ross, but Japanese and for watercolors.
- Watercolor Misfit — Great tutorials and tips for watercolor painting. She also has a few of her own watercolor classes online linked in her channel.
- Jay Lee Painting — One of the biggest (and best) painting channels on YouTube. Excellent tutorials and techniques posted several times a week.
- Maria Raczynska — Beautiful painting videos covering a wide variety of styles and subject matter. On YouTube the videos just have music, but if you subscribe on Patreon you can watch them with instructional voiceovers.
That’s it for this guide to the best watercolor classes. Have you taken any of these classes (or others)? Let everyone know your thoughts in the comments below!