Learning how to draw bubbles using just washable markers is deceptively easy. Once you show your kiddos just a few simple steps they’ll be drawing one bubble after another!
Bubble drawing materials…
Part of the reason this project is so great is because the supply list is super minimal. You’ll need washable markers- think Crayola type markers. The fact that these markers are washable is what allows the marker to liquefy and move like paint would.
You’ll also need a pencil and paper, and a soft paint brush. We tried this on copy weight paper as well as card stock. The copy weight paper didn’t hold up well to the amount of water needed for this project. It got soggy and pilled up a bit. The card stock is a bit heavier and held up very well. Of course if you have actual watercolor paper that will work well too!
That’s it! This project requires such a small materials list and is super low less. Yay!
Start by tracing some circles in a variety of sizes. We just grabbed an odd dish or tow, a roll of tape, and a small jar to trace around. Trace around each object as lightly as possible. This is key because we want the bubbles to look real and a harsh black outline makes them a little less believable. They should be so light that you, as the artist, can barely see the edges!
I suggest not trying to overlap any bubbles on the first try. (That can be done, and looks amazing!) Get the hang of the technique first. Get fancy later. I do, however, suggest encouraging your young artists to let the a bubble or two run off the page for the sake of composition and variety.
Still using a pencil with a light touch add a “reflection” to each bubble. This is a curved triangle slice shape. The curve will follow the curve of the bubble. Assuming the light source is the same for each bubble in a composition the reflection will be in approximately the same spot for each bubble. This reflection areas will stay completely white and will really make the bubble “pop!”
Adding color to your bubbles…
The watercolor look on these bubbles comes from washable markers. A few simple marks with a marker will give just enough color to create all the lights and darks needed to make a bubble appear three dimensions.
Partially outline the bubble with marker. I found it most convincing to leave the non outlines portioned lay direct across from the highlighted “reflection.” Outline the reflection with the same color of marker. On some of the larger bubbles I added another line or two of color around the outline. This isn’t a science. Play with a few options on scrap paper and see what you and your young artist like the best!
Just add water…
Now for the magic. Use a super gentle touch and soft brush to add water to the rim of washable marker. The color will follow the water so encourage your artists to keep the water within the shape of the bubble. Paint around the reflection so that it stays clean and white.
Because you’re painting with plain water it can be tempting to think it doesn’t matter if you paint right over that reflection or out around the edges of the bubble. But as soon as the water hits that washable marker you’ll see that it does matter. The marker color will flow into any area there is water.
Now, the magic of this step may take a minute or two to fully develop. Marker lines will soften. Colors move and pool creating convincing bubbles. Every bubble won’t be the same and that’s okay!
Free video bubble drawing lesson…
Are you a visual person? Let me walk you through the process in this step by step video lesson. Grab your kiddo and a handful of markers and let me be the teacher.
One of my favorite things about this project, besides the beautiful drawings, is the fact that it shows kids an easy way to create the appearance of a three dimensional form without an outline. For most kids, and lots of adults, a drawing starts with a dark, rigid outline. Real objects, in real life, do not have black outlines. Cartoons have black outlines.
These bubbles look so real and they’re so simple- one color of marker plus some water!
More washable marker fun…
I love using washable markers in unexpected ways. They’re an inexpensive and easily accessible art supply that most everyone has. Check out these washable marker posts- both contain full, free video tutorial lessons for you and your kiddo to follow along with!
Learn to draw a step by step pine tree in this video tutorial!