Learn How To Paint Using Watercolor: Essential Watercolor Techniques All Painters Need to Know


The wet-on-wet approach showcases the best quality of watercolor paint—its ability to create beautiful ethereal washes. To produce this technique, simply wet part of the paper with your brush. (You can use either water or a little pigment.) Then, dip your brush into another color and lightly dot it on the wet area and watch as the pigment feathers.


Dry brush is just as it sounds; take a dry (or mostly dry) brush and dip it into your paint. Afterward, spread it over a dry piece of paper. The result will be a highly textured mark that’s great for implying fur or hair.


Rubber cement (like masking tape) acts as a resist for watercolor. Apply this material in places where you don’t want the pigment to go. Once the watercolor is dry, peel the rubber cement or masking tape from the page. You’ll see the paper underneath. This is a great solution for preserving white paper among the rest of your painting.


When applied to watercolor paper, salt will soak up some of the color and create a sandy-looking effect on the page. Begin by laying down a wash that’s “juicy”—you want to have some extra pigment on the paper. After you’ve painted the color, spread the salt on top of it. Once the painting is completely dry (it’s best to wait overnight), scrape the salt from the page.


There are a few ways to lift paint from the page, and they all involve plastic—saran wrap being them most popular. Like the salt method, began with a wash that’s got some extra pigment to it. Then, place a sheet of plastic wrap on top of the painting; it’s best if you’ve crinkled it or have creased it. Wait for the paint to fully dry. The pigment will pool under the plastic and create an interesting texture.


Watercolor paint and rubbing alcohol are akin to oil and water. Once you paint a wash, take a utensil (like a q-tip) and dab alcohol onto the wet surface. It will create an alluring effect that’s reminiscent of tie-dye.


Scratch-off, or sgraffito, involves scratching the paper to create small indentations. Start by painting a wash where you’d like the scratch texture to go. While still wet, take a sewing needle (or another sharp object) and drag it across the paper. Paint will fill the punctured surface and appear darker and more defined than the rest of your wash.


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