Fun and Easy Watercolor Techniques to Learn for Beginners

With its ethereal charm and graceful fluidity, watercolor painting has captured the hearts of artists and art enthusiasts for centuries. The way colors blend seamlessly, creating delicate shades and subtle transitions, is nothing short of mesmerizing. The transparency of watercolors allows light to play upon the paper, lending an almost magical luminosity to the artwork. 

A color swatch of vibrant watercolors

Artists' Watercolor 24 Pan Set

If you're new to the art world or looking to explore a new creative avenue, watercoloring for beginners offers a fantastic entry point! Today, we'll delve into easy watercoloring techniques that not only make your learning process enjoyable but also provide a solid foundation for your artistic journey. So if you’re ready to become a watercoloring pro in no time, grab your paints and brushes, and let's get to it! 

I. Watercoloring for Beginners
II. What Are the Rules of Watercolors?
III. Basic Watercoloring Techniques for Beginners
IV. Advanced Watercolor Techniques for Fun Projects

Watercoloring for Beginners

Watercoloring is a captivating art form that uses pigments suspended in a water-based solution to create delicate and translucent paintings. Particularly popular among artists and beginners alike, watercolor painting offers a unique and versatile medium to express creativity. In the realm of art, the term "watercolor" refers not just to the medium itself but also signifies the gentle yet captivating aesthetic that this technique imparts to the final creations.

A stunning watercolor artwork of a bird

Water-Based Markers

Watercolor is known for its wide range of applications in art, finding its way into everything from traditional paintings to modern illustrations and even architectural renderings. The beauty of watercolors lies in their ability to convey a sense of lightness and ethereality, making them suitable for capturing the subtleties of landscapes, still-life compositions, portraits, and more. 

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Which Watercolor Paints Are Best for Beginners?

For beginners in watercolor painting, it's advisable to start with watercolor paints that are affordable, user-friendly, and offer good quality without being too overwhelming. Here are some recommendations for the best watercolor paints for beginners:

  1. Pan Watercolors: Pan watercolors are a convenient option for beginners as they are pre-dried in small pans or cakes. They are easy to work with, offer good pigment quality, and are less messy compared to tube paints.
  2. Tube Watercolors: As you progress and become more comfortable with watercolors, you should explore tube watercolors. These offer more intense pigments and can be mixed to create a broader range of colors, helping you learn the most fundamental skill of painting: color mixing. 
  3. Watercolor Pencils: Watercolor pencils are an excellent bridge between traditional colored pencils and watercolors. They allow you to draw with them and then blend them with water for a nice watercolor effect. 

A gorgeous watercolor artwork of some fishes

Watercolor Pans

When looking for watercolor paints for beginners, look for sets that offer a good mix of primary and secondary colors. This can help you experiment without having to invest in a large range of individual paints initially.

In addition to paints, using good quality watercolor paper is crucial. Look for papers specifically designed for watercolors, as they can handle moisture and prevent warping. 

What Are the Rules of Watercolors?

Watercolor is a free-flowing and non-restrictive medium. Like how water can be unpredictable, there are almost no rules except for one main principle: water. Water is a crucial part of watercolor painting. You need to learn how to control the water-to-paint ratio to achieve various effects, from vibrant colors to delicate washes. 

A beautiful watercolor artwork of an enchanted door

Fine Liner Pen Set

If you are learning how to paint with watercolors for beginners, the process involves mixing water with the pigments to achieve varying levels of intensity and opacity. It is the act of transferring and combining water and paint to paper. Within this process, there are many different watercolor techniques based on how you apply and spread the pigment onto the paper, which we will tackle today.

Find All the Watercolor Painting Tools You Need Here! 

Basic Watercoloring Techniques for Beginners

Are you looking for some easy watercolor techniques to try as a beginner? Practice and grow your watercoloring skills with these fundamental techniques:

  • Wet-on-Wet Technique: Wet the paper with clean water before applying the paint. Then, drop or brush the paint onto the wet surface. With this technique, you can create soft, diffuse edges, and allow colors to blend seamlessly. 
  • Wet-on-Dry Technique: Apply paint onto dry paper. This technique offers more control over the edges and allows for finer details.
  • Dry Brushing: Load your brush with concentrated paint and apply it to dry paper. This technique creates texture and rough, broken strokes.
  • Washes: Apply a uniform layer of diluted paint over a large area. A "graded wash" involves gradually changing the color's intensity by adding more water as you move across the paper. A "variegated wash" uses multiple colors for an exciting effect.
  • Glazing: Layering transparent washes on each other to create depth and rich color variations.
  • Lifting: Dab a clean, damp brush or a tissue onto a painted area to lift off some of the colors. This is a way to correct mistakes or create highlights.
  • Salt Texture: While the paint is still wet, sprinkle a bit of salt onto the paper. As it dries, the salt absorbs some of the paint, creating one-of-a-kind marks and textures.
  • Blotting: Use a tissue, sponge, or cloth to gently blot or lift off wet paint to create lighter areas or textures.

Find the best watercolor painting techniques here on the Artistry blog!

Artists' Watercolor Brushes - Round

  • Masking Fluid: Apply masking fluid (a liquid latex) to areas you want to keep white. After the painting is complete and dry, you can rub off the masking fluid to reveal the preserved white areas.
  • Wet Edge Techniques: While the paint is still wet, touch the edges with a brush loaded with clean water to create soft, diffused edges.
  • Gradients and Fading: Gradually change the intensity of color within a single stroke by loading your brush with more pigment at the start and gradually using up the paint.
  • Layering: Allow each layer to dry before applying another on top. This technique builds up color intensity and depth.
  • Negative Painting: Paint around a subject, leaving the subject's shape untouched, which creates the illusion of the subject being revealed through the negative space.
  • Sgraffito: Want to create unique and exciting textures? While the paint is wet, scratch it with a tool (like the back of a brush or a palette knife) to reveal the white of the paper underneath.

Find the best watercolor painting tips for beginners here at ArtistrybyAltenew!

Watercolor Accessories

Advanced Watercolor Techniques for Fun Projects 

Are you feeling up for a challenge? Or perhaps you're a seasoned artist already, trying to expand your watercolor repertoire? If you want to learn more advanced watercolor techniques, then try doing these practices:   

  • Pouring and Tipping: Create abstract and unpredictable effects by mixing highly diluted paint and pouring it onto the paper. Tilt the paper to guide the paint in different directions for interesting patterns.
  • Backruns (Blossoms): Intentionally apply water to a painted area, then add more pigment at the edge. Watch as the pigment flows into the wet area, creating delicate veining or bloom-like effects.
  • Saran Wrap Textures: Press plastic wrap (like Saran Wrap) onto the surface while the paint is wet. When it's removed after drying, it leaves behind unique textures.
  • Alcohol Drops: Apply a drop of rubbing alcohol to the wet paint to create a 'bloom' effect where the alcohol pushes away the paint, creating light spots.

Discover water-based markers here for painting here at ArtistrybyAltenew!

Watercolor Brush Markers

  • Wax Resist Techniques: Use a wax crayon or a white oil pastel to draw designs on dry paper before applying watercolor. The wax repels the paint, creating interesting effects.
  • Collage with Watercolor: Incorporate cut paper, tissue paper, or other materials into your watercolor composition for added texture and depth.
  • Heat Embossing with Watercolor: Create uniquely embossed watercolor artwork by using a stamp, embossing ink, embossing powder, and a heating tool. Simply stamp an image with embossing ink, heat set it with embossing powder and a tool, then create fun, water-resistant images! 

Beautiful Watercolor Pan Sets for Your Artwork! 

Master Watercolor Techniques in No Time With This Guide!

In watercoloring, the journey from beginner to advanced holds a universe of creative techniques waiting to be explored. From delicate wet-on-wet washes to the excitement of heat embossing, each stroke brings an opportunity to tell your artistic story. Remember, there are no strict rules here, only guidelines to help you flourish! 

A vibrant painting of a bug made with watercolor

Stationery/Tools for Painting

So, pick up your brushes, let your imagination run wild, and watch your watercolor creations come to life. If you want more watercolor techniques and painting ideas, read the next article on your stop!