Woman Underwater – Acrylic Painting [Photo tutorial for the non-professional]


See how I painted a 20 by 30 inches, woman underwater acrylic painting in 12 hours. Step by step with pictures and a list of all the tools I used.

With this Easy-Set-Up I used, you won’t need a fancy easel stand or big art studio.

Making this the perfect tutorial for the art student and enthusiast. So whether you’re self thought or schooled, you can follow along and do this right in the comfort of your own home.

Plus, get my PSP tip or ‘Painting Sabotage Prevention Tip’ that many either don’t know about or forget to do, which is literally complete sabotage of your painting before you even lift a brush.

So if you’re ready, let’s begin with a glimpse of what the final piece looks like, and then work our way from start to the end in more detail.

Glimpse overview of the Final Acrylic Painting : Summer Immerse

Stage 1 set up and preparationStage 2 adding base colorsStage 3 adding top colorsStage 4 adding final details

Stages for this Step by Step tutorial :

1- Set up and preparation
2- Adding base colors
3- Adding top colors
4- Adding final details

Stage 1- Set up and preparation

Tools needed :

  1. Acrylic Paint set
  2. Paint brushes
  3. Stopwatch to record the time
  4. Empty cups for water
  5. Apron to cover clothes
  6. Old cloth to dry wet brushes
  7. Pallet to blend colors
  8. Stretched Canvas to do our painting on

Now lets begin:

Once you’re tummy is full and you got your mind and body in tact. Start that stopwatch and let’s get this thing going!

First, decide in what medium you want your painting, like stretched canvas, canvas panels, board, paper, rocks etc. Then there’s also different types of paint like oil, acrylic and watercolor.

In my case, I used (Reeves) Acrylic Paint on stretched canvas. This is just a DIY canvas that was cut from the roll, and then stretched over wood columns cut in the right size for this 20 by 30 inch painting.

This was already prepared and covered with plastic to prevent it from soiling.

diy covered stretched canvas for acrylic paintingdiy stretched canvas for acrylic painting back view of diy stretched canvas for acrylic painting

Get a comfy and distraction free zone to work. It doesn’t have to be fancy or huge like a paint studio. Just make sure you have space to lay out all your tools, and can position your painting in an upright position. You can even do it in your own room.

See my simple set up below, with everything I need in a small corner of the room.

home set up for acrylic painting tutorial brush set up for acrylic painting tutorial

Then line out all your tools within eyesight and arm reach for easy grabbing. This includes water cups filled with water, and clothes for drying brushes.

Stage 2- Adding base colors

Then here’s the part where you can ruin your painting before you even paint a stroke.

It’s one of the tips from a catalogue I plan to make, called Ultimate List of ‘Painting Sabotage Prevention Tips.’

But before then, here’s just one of the points from that List.

It’s not using your head before you use your hands!

Before you even lift a paintbrush, do some brainstorming first. Remember, this is not digital art. Any mistake you do is permanent, and you’ll have to remember how to fix it back to normal.

If you’re using a sample image to do your painting. Start by analysing it.

If you’re going by your head, then it’s best you get a sketch done first, and then the above step applies to this as well.

Decide on a few things like:

  • What are the main objects & colors in this painting?

These are usually the largest objects in your painting. We’ll use this to decide on the base colors to fill up the canvas as seen below.

base colors stage for acrylic painting tutorialcomplete base colors stage for acrylic painting tutorial

In this case, the base colors chosen represent the 3 main objects :
The woman,
her bath suit,
and the water in the background.

Make sure you stop those fingers from adding in any details apart from the base objects. Adding details will only make it hard to fix your painting when you realise your proportions aren’t right.

Adding base colors helps you to choose the right colors, and also get all the proportions done right. This is like building a good foundation for your painting.

It’s a waste to spend time on one thing, and then realise you have to throw away all that work, and start over, when you start to see the errors in the ‘bigger picture.

Other questions could be:

  • What position do I want my main object? Whether it will be in the centre, on the side or at the top. You can even draw lines as guides to help you do this right.
  • Will I be painting this exactly as the sample image, or add my own touch? You can decide to make your painting a bit different like making it into a cartoon, making certain colors more defined etc.

Stage 3- Adding top colors

Once the base colors are added, start by adding a top layer of colors. This means, the base colors of objects (light reflection) that are above the selected main object (woman) stated above.

Think of this as another layer that sits on top of the base color.

In this case, I started adding the light rays reflecting through the water above onto the lady’s skin first.

mixing light tones for acrylic painting tutorialadding light tones for acrylic painting tutorial

Agin, notice how I start off simple.

I added the base colors for the light reflections first. This is that light peach color in the top image on the right. Then I started adding more colors onto it like orange.

detail layer for for acrylic painting tutorialfinal layer for acrylic painting tutorial

But you don’t have to do it in that order.

If you ever get stuck, and just can’t see what you’re doing wrong. You can move on to other parts and then go back to it later with fresh eyes. Make sure to pause and resume your stop watch whenever you decide to take breaks.

Once you’ve completed one main object, go ahead and move on to another. In my case,I completed the skin, and then moved on to the water in the background, and then the bathsuit last.

It’s also ok if you make mistakes. Notice how the reflection of the face in the photo on the left from a previous version, and that of a more recent photo seen on the right don’t look the same.

This is just one of those times when you’ll have to just paint over an entire area and then start fresh again. It happens to the best of us.

“But it’s best to admit that it’s wrong and move on, than trying to fix it.”

That’s like trying to get the correct answer from a math formula that is wrong to begin with.

Start by getting the correct formula, and the proceed to working it out again.

Stage 4- Adding final details

When all major sections are done, go ahead and add in more details.

In my case, this is the light reflecting from the ground in the bottom parts of the water.

When you’re done, take note of the final time it took, and don’t forget to add the date and your signature. We don’t want anyone taking credit for your masterpiece.

Then you’re done!

woman underwater tutorial framed painting

You did a painting all on your own. We’re all proud of you!

Now after you’ve hung your masterpiece on your wall, you can take note of the time so you can improve for future paintings.

“The difference between a mediocre and a professional artist, is the time it takes if both can produce the same level of art.”

tip graphicBonus: Get a Print or the Original Painting above (If you’re lucky) here in our shop.

I hope this was useful, and that you’ll help others by sharing it.