Easy Watercolor Cityscape Step-by-Step Tutorial. This watercolor cityscape is so easy to paint. You can make it in about a million different ways. Grab you watercolors and let’s get painting!
Hi again friends! It’s Torrie from Fox + Hazel, and I have an essential question for you: Do you have your watercolors handy?
Because once you see how easy this watercolor cityscape is to make, you’ll be grabbing your paints ASAP!
This watercolor cityscape is so easy to paint, and you can create it in about a million different ways. The skyline and the colors can be changed for whatever you want, so this can also be a great handmade gift for a friend. I know so many of you want some fun beginner-level watercolor projects, and this watercolor cityscape is easy enough for any skill level.
You only need a few supplies, about 30 minutes and you’ll have your piece of art! Let’s jump into it below.
Watercolor Cityscape Supply List
- Hot press watercolor paper or heavyweight mixed media paper
- WatercolorPalettee. I’m using the Kurteake Gansai Tambi 36 count.
- Hard lead pencil, like a 2H- these are my favorite drawing pencils.
- Tombow Mono Zero Eraser
- Kneaded eraser
- Favorite white gel pen – you know mine is a Uniball Signo Broad!
- Watercolor paintbrushes. I’m using a No.1 and No. 3 Round.
Let’s start creating!
Before you get to painting your watercolor cityscape, you will need to sketch out your city first. Using a ruler lightly mark a horizontal line with your pencil a bit less than halfway down the paper (I’m using a 6″ x 9″ piece of mixed media paper for reference.)
Use this line as the base for all your buildings in your skyline. Sketch in as many buildings in any design you like. You want the taller buildings in the center and for the buildings to get gradually smaller towards the ends. This will help create the nice sloped shape of the finished cityscape.
This next step seems counterintuitive, but it’s necessary. Once you’ve drawn your city skyline, you will need to erase it. Not all of it! We want to lighten the lines so that they don’t show through the paint once your painting is complete. I find that lots of pencils, even harder leads, still show through. So you can use the Tombow Mono eraser or a kneaded eraser to lightly erase most (but not all!) of your pencil sketches. As you can see in my photo, my pencil marks sort of a ghost of what they were. The photo below shows what they should look like after erasing.
Onto painting! We will be using a sort of wet-on-wet technique to help blend the colors in the cityscape. This means that we will prime the paper with a bit of water before putting paint down. So wet your #3 round brush and paint a bit of water onto the area you’re starting in, making sure to stay within the lines of your sketch.
Note: my brush had a bit of paint in Then choose your first color and load your brush with a bit of paint, and start painting away where the water is. You’ll notice the water wick away the paint and spread. This is what helps watercolors blend so wonderfully. You’ll keep repeating this method as you work across the cityscape.
Repeat step three! Ha. But really, you’ll be painting the sketch you made with different colors for roughly every building. Keep priming the paper with a bit of water, then go back with paint.
Be sure to use quite a bit of paint if you’d like the rich, bold colors, or use less paint if you prefer a more pastel palette.
As you continue to paint, be sure to go back and re-wet the edge of the cityscape (along with the bottom), so it doesn’t dry into a set edge. We want this to be wet for the sort of drippy effect later.
**Tip: Choose analogous colors (meaning colors beside each other on the color wheel) when picking the color for your next building. Trying to put complementary colors next to one another (i.e. red and green) has a high chance of muddying and turning brown since they cancel each other. So if you choose red for a building, try to choose red, yellow or pink for the next one. If it’s a green building, choose blue, yellow or turquoise.**
Feel free to rotate the paper as you need to paint and make sure the edges & corners of your buildings are straight. I am not skilled enough to paint everything in one direction, so I am always rotating my page. Having a great result is more important (to me) than following rules about what’s “proper” in painting.
Also, I thought you might find it amusing to see my natural painting position – headphones on and my head about 6 inches from the paper. Haha! I wanted to share a more candid photo because sometimes the pictures in these tutorials make it seem like I can paint with my work 2 feet away from me always facing upwards, and that just isn’t true at all! So if you feel weird about the way you paint – DON’T! 😉
Once you have painted the skyline, you can go back and re-wet the entire edge of your watercolor cityscape. If some of the paint has dried a bit, then use your brush with water to “scrub” away from the side a bit and soften that dried edge.
Load your brush with just water and then paint down a loose shape that reflects the shape of your cityscape. Now go back in with the watercolors and paint the same color below each building to fill in the watery shape.
**Tip: If you have too much water happening, don’t fret! Dry your brush off a bit and then use it absorb some of the water on your paper. Super easy fix!**
Use your paintbrush to add some splatters around the edge of your watercolor cityscape. Add each color of the buildings relatively near it. Despite the photo, I recommend using your hand to cover your cityscape, so you don’t get any splatters on it! Let this dry thoroughly before moving on to the last step.
Using your favorite white gel pen, add some details to your buildings. I chose not to add too many because I didn’t want it to feel overwhelming or busy. Just a few windows here & there.
You’re done! Ya did it! You painted a fantastic and gorgeous watercolor cityscape! I hope you found this project easy to do and fun. I love sharing my watercolor knowledge with you because it is such a fun medium to work with.
If you’re looking for more watercolor tutorials, then be sure to head over to my blog for this Cactus Watercolor Tutorial or click the image below!
Meet Torrie, the artist behind Fox + Hazel. She is an artist, graphic designer, wife, & mother of three kids 5 and under. She shares her artistic endeavors on Instagram and YouTube and shares free art + design goodies on her blog. Through process videos, blogging, and teaching online workshops, Torrie is passionate about sharing her creativity in hopes of igniting that passion in others. She loves art journaling, painting, punk music and would have a coffee IV if they existed.