Demonstrations, Everyday Sketching, Learn to Sketch

Satsuma Watercolour Study on Painted Background

I filmed a short video to show how I painted the illustrations for my September daily drawing challenge. Here is a demonstration of a satsuma watercolour study on a painted background.

Satsuma watercolour study step by step

Background watercolour wash

I started with a watercolour wash to create a background. I laid the paint down lightly with lots of water.

Watercolour wash background / underpainting

I put brighter touches and dropped in a few other colours. I find that painting backgrounds is fun to play and experiment with watercolour.

Watercolour background - finishing touches

Draw a pencil outline

I normally only draw a pencil outline on more complex subjects. You might find it helpful to draw a quick pencil outline. If you do, draw quickly and don’t use a rubber to correct any ‘mistakes’.  The lines showing through the final sketch will document your process and give the drawing more character.

Quick pencil outline

Draw a pen outline

I went over the pencil drawing with a waterproof pen. I thickened lines in shadow areas and used line weight to convey a sense of depth.

Drawing the pen line

Watercolour paint

For this satsuma watercolour study,  I mixed a bright orange and started painting the dark areas. I pulled the paint with a clean wet brush into the lighter areas.

First watercolour wash

I painted the shadows with a dark cool grey and softened the edges with a clean wet brush. I added a little green to my orange to create a darker colour and paint a new layer in the darker areas of the satsuma. Here I used the paint to show the texture of the fruit.

Adding shadows and darks

I finished off with a few splashes of green watercolour and left the painting to dry. To make splashes – load your brush with paint and tap it on your hand above your painting.

A few paint splashes to complete my Satsuma Watercolour Study

Finishing touches

After the paint dried, I added a few highlights with a white gel pen.

White gel pen outlines

And here is the finished paintingSatsuma Watercolour demonstration on painted background

Satsuma Watercolour Study Demonstration


  1. Isabel Patchett

    Hello Sophie,
    thank you for sharing this with us, I appreciate it very much. I am really enjoying your website and have spent the last hour reading through and looking at your lovely paintings. Thank you also for the “how to do” areas . I am new to this and I cannot wait to get started, I am doing lots of reading first, taking notes and advice from people such as yourself. Thanks again.


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