Learn to Paint a Lightbulb on Black Watercolor Paper


Paint a simple and electrifying watercolor painting of a lightbulb on black watercolor paper using these simple steps! Use what watercolor paints you already have and mix with white watercolor paint (like I did) or white gouache.

Painting an electrifying light bulb on black watercolor paper using gouache paint

(Painting the finishing touches on my lightbulb with black paper background)

Step 1: Draw an Outline using White Watercolor Pencil

white watercolor pencil sketch of a lightbulb on black watercolor paper

(Sketch the lightbulb's colorful highlights using a white watercolor pencil. Avoid shadow areas)

To sketch this lightbulb, I used a reference photo from Unsplash for inspiration and guidance.

Unsplash photo for reference of a lightbulb with black background

(Alessandro Bianchi photograph of a light bulb used for inspiration and guidance in my painting and sketch)

Why use black watercolor paper?

For reference photos and paintings that have dark or black backgrounds, black watercolor paper is a great paper option. Use a white paint, like white gouache or white watercolor paint, and mix with your current watercolor collection. Remember, using this black paper acts opposite to using regular watercolor paper. Colors will dry darker, unlike on white watercolor paper. I used Stonehenge black watercolor paper 140lb cotton.

Using a white gouache mix of paint to apply to the watercolor paper and following the lighbulb sketch outlined

(Paint a mixture of water and white watercolor paint or white gouache paint along the brightest sketched lines of your lightbulb on black watercolor paper)

White watercolor gouache paint on the right edge of the black watercolor paper.

(Add highlights to the metallic bottom of the light bulb and the center of its coils using more white paint)

orange gouache paint applied to the dark background.

(Create a mixture of yellow and white watercolor paint. Then, mix with a hint of red to apply the yellow and orange neon center. Use more/less red depending on how orange you want your coils)

positioned brighter white regions for depth

(Position brighter white regions to your painting for depth. Paint in the center rod too)

adding light blue gouache paint to the lightbulb painting

(Use blue and white paint to the outskirts of the left side of your lightbulb)

sharpening the light lines using dark purple and blue paint for metallic lightbulb parts

(Add the light blue color from the previous step to the bottom screw of the lightbulb. Then, use a darker shade for the shadow ridges)

finishing touches on the lightbulb gouache painting

(Clean up any sloppy edges with dark purple and blue watercolors. Add a glow using this technique too)

Next, Read and try out another great watercolor tutorial on black paper, painting the moon!

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