Watercolor Techniques

Learn how to Paint with Watercolor

Watercolor Techniques

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Painting with watercolors can be great fun, but can also quickly lead to unexpected results if you don’t have proper control over the paint. It is especially important for beginners to get familiar with a few techniques of watercolor painting and to work with the right supplies.

Paint Transparent

The intensity of color on paper can be controlled by the mixing ratio of watercolors and water. Little water makes the watercolor intense, while a lot of water makes it transparent. To get a feel for how much or how little water your watercolors need for different results, you should test this on a separate piece of paper.

Monochrome Watercolor Gradient

Painting transparent is perfect if you want a sketch to shine through the paint.

You need to make sure that your preliminary drawing is not water-soluble though. Charcoal, for example, would mix immediately with the watercolor, whereas a pencil remains exactly as it is.

Watercolor Painting of Goldfish

Watercolor Glaze

A glaze is a way of transparent paint application. You draw a line or fill an area with transparent paint, wait for it to dry completely, and then put another layer of transparent paint over it.

With glazes, you work your way through your painting in stages, which has a different look than if you mix the watercolors while they are still wet.

Watercolor Techniques: Glaze

Watercolor Washes

Watercolor washes are seamless color gradients, which you can paint with thick brushes and lots of water.

Watercolor Techniques: Wash

Watercolor Gradient

For some motives, a sunset, for example, you will need to paint perfect gradients. For a start, you can practice simple gradients going from color to water.

You achieve precise color gradients by placing strokes next to each other with decreasing or increasing amounts of water mixed in.

Watercolor Painting Technique: Red Color Gradient

The same is true for gradients going from one color to another.

In the example, the strokes started with a strong blue including a small amount of water. Towards the middle, not only the amount of water has increased, but also the amount of red color. Continuously, the amount of water was reduced and the amount of red color increased.

Watercolor Painting Technique: Gradient Blue to Red

Wet-in-Wet Watercolor

First, you apply clear water or very wet paint to an area. While this area is still wet, dab paint into it with the wet brush.

The color pigments spread slowly across the wet area and create interesting color gradients.

Watercolor Painting Technique: Wet-on-Wet

Dry-on-Dry Watercolor

For the Dry-on-Dry Watercolor technique to work the paper must be dry. It does not have to be blank, but all previously painted areas should be dry before working with this technique.

You paint with a dry brush on dry paper. Technically speaking, the brush is not completely dry, but the amount of water is very low compared to other techniques.

The point is to make the brush look more like a pencil so that you can draw with it just as precisely. Hair or grass can be painted with this technique pretty well.

Watercolor Painting Technique: Dry-on-Dry


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