Watercolor Tips for Creating Water Reflections in Landscape Paintings

Check out this helpful video demo on painting reflections with watercolors. It provides a breakdown of the design process.

Watercolor Tips for Creating Water Reflections in Landscape Paintings
Reflections (detail) by Robert Joyner

If you're seeking guidance on painting reflections using watercolors, you'll find this video demonstration and breakdown extremely helpful. Additionally, I've included an image of the finished artwork, an inspiring reference image, and a list of materials used.

Plus, if you are a paid-member you will love the lengthy video tutorial below the public preview.

Watercolor Tips for Creating Reflections in Landscape Paintings
Reflections by Robert Joyner

Tips for Achieving Watercolor Reflections

The video tutorial below covers a variety of techniques, but here are my top tips to enhance your next masterpiece featuring reflections:

Begin with the right materials

Invest in high-quality, artist-grade paints, excellent paper, and brushes. You don't have to break the bank; simply select a range of limited hues, purchase paper in bulk, and opt for synthetic brushes. Brushes can be costly, so here's an informative article on the top watercolor materials I use and where to buy them.

Materials used:

  • Fabriano Artistico cold press paper, 15 x 11 inches
  • Holbein Paint: Yellow ochre, cadmium yellow lemon, alizarin crimson, cadmium red light, ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, burnt sienna, neutral tint, and white gouache matte acrylic.
  • Silver Brush Quill #12
  • Princeton Neptune Dagger 1/2"
Reference image for painting watercolor reflections
Inspiration image

Find a suitable reference image

Ensure that the subject you're painting excites you! The image I'm using motivated me to pick up my brush and start painting. However, before you begin applying paint, plan out the values, point of interest, and color choices. You can search for great reflection photos on Google.

Are you a beginner? If so, be sure to check out our beginner's guide to learning watercolors, click the link card below!

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Design and composition study
Design and composition study

Focus on design and composition

Personally, I prefer using the small, medium, and large rule of thirds, as opposed to the traditional grid dividing the area into nine equal parts. In the quick study I completed above (which took about one minute), you can observe the three different-sized grids represented by 'S', 'M', and 'L' (indicating small, medium, and large). This article on designing captivating watercolor landscapes is a great resource.

Strive to allocate a large area for both the horizontal and vertical spaces. In this case, I deliberately positioned the large areas towards the bottom to capture the reflections. Additionally, the large space is centered horizontally due to the presence of the building. I aimed to manipulate elements vertically and horizontally to enhance visual harmony.

Want more watercolor landscape painting ideas? If so, check out the link card below!

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Value hierarchy study for reflections
Value hierarchy study

Establish a value hierarchy

I seldom begin a painting without fully comprehending the placement of values. This involves adjusting values until the scene is simplified and connected within the value structure. The image above is another quick sketch I did on scrap drawing paper, demonstrating how the values will be organized.

IMPORTANT! This is where the fun ends unless you are a paid-member. If you are, congrats, you will have access the the step-by-step video tutorial below along with more tips for painting awesome landscape artwork.