For Beginners, Landscape Painting, Watercolour Tutorials

Bright Morning, Weymouth Harbour – Watercolour Tutorial

Harbours are always full of potential subjects, from boats, reflections and buildings, to quayside clutter and activity. In this example, I liked the way the sunlit rooftops stood out against the dark trees, making a strong focal point with the moored boats on the right.


Winsor & Newton Watercolours
Colours used were a combination of both professional and Cotman paints, as I prefer some of the subtle colour differences between brands. Mix and match as you prefer!

Professional Series
Raw Sienna
Burnt Sienna
Cadmium Yellow
Permanent Rose
Cerulean Blue
French Ultramarine Blue

Cotman Series
Light Red
Cobalt Blue Hue
Raw Umber

Watercolour PaperBockingford 140lb / 300gsm Rough
Panart Series – 1181 Synthetic Squirrel Mop size 16 for all preliminary washes in Step 1 and reflections in Step 6.
Panart Series 1101 Synthetic Sable Watercolour Brush Round size 20 for all other work through Steps 2 – 6.

Get your free printable sketch here and use Transfer Paper to trace it on to your watercolour paper.

Tonal Sketch

The tonal sketch helps me connect with the subject, decide on the composition, assess the pattern of light and dark and decide which details to include. I simplified the buildings and added more trees on the far right to enhance definition further.

Step 1

I carefully drew the composition onto the watercolour paper with a 2B pencil. I then wet the paper all over, apart from the areas I wished to keep white and applied a first wash. Starting with the sky, I used Raw Sienna on the left where the sun was coming from, with a little Permanent Rose and Cerulean Blue on the right.

The buildings on the left were Burnt Sienna, adding Raw Sienna and more Burnt Sienna to suggest reflections into the water below. While all was wet, I added ripples to the water’s surface with a thicker mix of Raw Umber and Cerulean Blue. The small boat was tinted with Permanent Rose and French Ultramarine Blue, the large yacht with Cerulean. The cooler shadows on the buildings on the right were added with a pale mix of Cobalt Blue and Light Red.

Step 2

Once dry, I added the distant trees, starting with a mid tone green of Cadmium yellow and a little French Ultramarine. While still wet, I added the deeper shadows, darkening the mix with more blue and a little Burnt Sienna. I used dry brushwork to create broken edges and leave gaps in the foliage. Note how I’ve cut around the boat mast and cable with these dark shapes, you might prefer to use masking fluid.

Step 3

Once the trees were dry, I developed the distant buildings. I made a warm grey using Cobalt Blue, Light Red and a little Raw Sienna, changing the strength between the rooftops and walls. While the walls were wet, the windows were added with a thicker mix of Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine. This helps keep them subtle as they are in shadow. More foliage was added using the same mixes as before, defining the foreground buildings.

Step 3 rear buildings detail

Step 4

Working left to right, I painted the foreground buildings, being careful to cut around the edges of boats and jetty. The challenge is to keep them simple, suggesting details such as windows and doors with wet in wet and dry brush work to prevent the whole thing getting too busy. I used the same colours as the background buildings, adding a little more blue or brown here and there while all was wet. The sunlit roof on the right was dry brushed with Raw Sienna. The deep shadow under the eves is Light Red and a little Cobalt Blue.

Step 5

The quayside and jetty were painted with a dark mix of Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine. This helps to define the light contours of the boats. The dark boat hull was painted with French Ultramarine and a little Permanent Rose, the yacht hull with Cerulean Blue and a touch of Rose. The sunlit tops of these vessels were left as untouched paper. Fine details were added with Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine.

Step 6

Finally I added the figures on the quayside, the mast and rigging. I used a dark mix of French Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna for the figures and rigging. The same mix used for the hull was used for the mast. These elements were painted with a light touch and dry brush strokes to suggest sunlight and movement. Reflections were added with a mix of Cerulean Blue and a little Raw Umber, making an aqua blue green. The wind blown surface was constantly changing, so I simplified the shapes and used loose brushwork to suggest ripples and movement.

All work ©2024 Paul Weaver

Written by

Paul Weaver

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Paul Weaver is a full-time artist, tutor and demonstrator. His primary inspirations are light and atmospheric effects. Townscapes, markets and the bustle of the city are favourite subjects, as well as landscape, marine and coastal scenes. He currently specialises in watercolour, but also enjoys working in oil, acrylic and line and wash. Paul has exhibited successfully for many years and won several awards. He is an elected member of the Pure Watercolour Society, a regular contributor to ‘The Artist’ magazine and a demonstrator for St Cuthbert’s Mill. For further examples of Paul’s work and details of his painting courses and holidays, please visit his website.
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2 thoughts on “Bright Morning, Weymouth Harbour – Watercolour Tutorial

  1. Thank you so much for this step by step tutorial. I need to slow down in my paintings – it’s an exercise in patience 😉
    Wonderful atmosphere – I want to be there….

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