Painting A Yellow Apple

How to paint a yellow apple step by step.


9" x 12" cold-press watercolor block
HB pencil
one mid size round Chinese brush
watercolor paint: red, yellow, blue, burnt umber

In this demonstration, I will show you how to use the different values of color to make an apple appear three-dimensional. (Definition: the value of a color is how light or dark it is.)

How to paint a yellow apple step by step.

Rough Sketch

Place the apple where light can be seen coming strongly from one side. The apple will have areas of highlight, mid-light and shadow. There will be light reflected from the surface the apple is placed on and the apple will cast a shadow on that surface. Sketch the apple and its shadow, using an HB pencil. When I sketch, I use straight lines and try to keep it simple. Think of this as the first step in the entire creation. We don't need to completely define the value in the first step. We will be building the form using different values of color, painting layer by layer, to build-up the forms.

How to paint a yellow apple step by step.

First Layer of Color

I usually use the three primary colors: red, yellow, and blue and burnt umber. Use the white of the paper for the lightest areas of highlight and do not paint over them. Mix yellow with water then apply to the lighter side of the apple, covering about 80% of it. Be careful not to cover the highlight area. Then, mix burnt umber with a similar amount of water and apply to the dark side of the apple. Let this dry before going on.

How to paint a yellow apple step by step.

Second Layer of Color

When the first layer is dry, mix a cool grey color using all three primaries. Adding more blue will make the color appear cool. Paint the apple’s shadow. Use your brush side-ways so that brush-tip (with its heavier load of paint) is touching the side of the shadow nearest you. The shadow nearest you should be darker and fade gently to a lighter value as it goes away from you. Then, mix a green color (yellow and blue) and apply onto the light area of the apple. Be sure not to let these two new colors touch each other. Let dry.

How to paint a yellow apple step by step.

Building up the Value

When the painting is dry, apply a layer of green color wash to the dark side of the yellow apple and in the hollow where the stem is attached.

Leave some area to untouched, these area will be the area for the highlight area. At the step, it is important to keep your mind on the overall look and big block comparison, keep everything alive, each step has a goal, and this is building up the value.

With this sideway stroke technique, now I have completed the preliminary wash of this flower painting.

How to paint a yellow apple step by step.

Add Contrast to the highlights

Now that we have built up the color values, we give the apple more life. in this last step, we add a touch of complementary color (red-orange) to the lighter side of the apple. (Definition: Complementary Colors are two colors that are positioned opposite each other on the color wheel.)The complementary color to use here is yellow mixed with red. Then you can add just a bit of red for the top.

How to paint a yellow apple step by step.

Reflected Light and add the darkest point

Clean your brush before you apply clean water to wash away some of the paint color at the bottom of the apple to show light reflection from the surface under and around the apple. Be sure to brush softly, take your time, and not damage the watercolor paper surface.

Then use the tip of the brush to paint into the apple stem and its shadow area.

How to paint a yellow apple step by step.

Add texture

Are you satisfied with the value and color balance of the painting? Now is the time to add the final touch - texture. If your apple is has speckles, make little dots of brown where the speckles appear. Sign your name to your beautiful apple painting!

Sometime is important to know when to stop painting. Sit back, look at your painting from distance.