Painting Watercolor in Procreate

Digital Watercolor Portrait of Black Woman

I’d never dared to paint black skin before. I didn’t want to fall into the trappings of my eye telling me that black skin is a certain color. So I have been avoiding it. Same thing with brown skin, although me, being Latina, I forgive the faux pas some of us make.

Here is a portrait I made recently. And I want to describe the process. I didn’t film the real time panting because if I do, I lose focus.

For many of self-taught artists impatience is a constant presence in our minds. Chipping away at our creativity, at our desire to draw or paint a specific subject. Truth is, it’s taken me a long time to be able to get to this point and I still have to learn more stuff.

Whenever I talk to my clients or to my patrons, I insist a lot that nothing is ever wasted, that every sketch, whether successful or not will teach you something. You learn either way.

For this portrait I thought about all the classes I took, the materials I tested, the brands of paint, and hours of practice that I have under my cape now. (yes, cape!)

So here is the time-lapse and below you will find a list of resources that I’ve combined to be able to make it.

For drawing:

Chris Hong’s Portrait Drawing class on Skillshare: There are so many ways to learn how to draw portraits. From the traditional oval shape divided to place the features, to the atelier method where you spend a lifetime drawing form life with dagger-like pencils, an approach that seems to be favored in Russian art schools. But I like the freehand method combined with the boxed in method. It is quick, quite easy to work with and correct. 

I also took Marco Mazonni’s Chiaroscuro class, though short and not as good as I expected it, helped me to understand how to shade and add drama to images.


Before using watercolor on Procreate, I painted lots of watercolours on paper. Two classes that opened the world for me were Ana Santos’ Illustrated Portrait in Watercolor  and  Carlos Rodriguez Casado’s  Watercolor Portrait Sketchbook on Domestika.

From Ana I learned how the skin contains many more undertones and lots of layers to make it look beautiful and from Carlos I learned how to dilute and dilute so things blend just right.

I also took Ale Casanova’s Artistic Portrait with Watercolors, surprising because he uses some very strange undertones but the result is vibrant and luminous, but not as saturated as Ana’s work. Plus, he teaches you to be bolder with your brushstrokes.

So all of this prepared me to dig into Procreate.

I’ve also taken several classes to learn to use the app, those abound mostly on Skillshare. Learning to use Procreate is as easy as learning the basics of layers and blending modes. 

The next things is choosing your brushes. 

I’m sorry to say but the native Procreate watercolor brush is not good. As I mentioned in my post Procreate and Me, I use mostly the DrifterStudio Watercolor kit. There is nothing like it, the blending you can achieve is so realistic I could spend hours creating abstracts and landscapes. 

Other favourites are ViviBrushes All-Stars, which I use for final details and backgrounds as they have lovely granulation, but if I had to choose one kit  it would be DrifterStudio. Just a heads-up it is a very heavy file so it might not work with normal iPads, only with iPad pro. 

So as you can see, I made an initial sketch (using what I learned from Chris Hong’s class), I shaded first remembering the concepts from Marco’s class, then started to apply watercolor layers using a combination of techniques from Ana’s, Carlos’ and Ale’s classes. 

Finalized the sketch importing a paper texture (although DrifterStudio’s kit comes with one) but I wanted a creamier paper. Then finalized the background with ViviBrushes.

I hope this helps you to keep working towards your portrait work and encourages you to combine skills, to take what best serves you from the classes you take and make the work truly your own. 

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Digital Watercolor Portrait of black woman

*There are affiliate links to classes I’ve taken and recommend!

By Luisa Fernanda

Artist, Illustrator, Cruelty-Free Advocate. Notion Geek.