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  • Writer's pictureVishakha

4 Beginner-Friendly Watercolor Techniques You Must Try

Updated: Jan 19

New painters often find it difficult to work with watercolor because of its fluidity, which makes watercolor techniques hard to control and master. This medium, unlike others, is all about transparency and luminosity and takes a lot of practice to achieve the desired results. 

We at TERAVARNA have been closely working with a lot of artists and we understand their struggles. So here we are with yet another blog covering different beginner-friendly techniques that you can use to start off your tryst with watercolor and embark on your journey of creating masterpieces. 

Watercolor painting of a house and lake

  • Wet-on-Wet Watercolor Technique

As the name suggests, the wet-on-wet implies the application of wet paint over a wet surface, which could either be a wet layer of paint or simply wet paper. Start by adding clear water to your paper to dampen it and then collect some color on your brush and apply it over the damp surface. It will make the color bleed and create amorphous shapes with undefined edges. 

If you want to create specific shapes, create the shape with a wet brush and then add paint to it before the surface dries. You can also use the technique to create depth and add layers to your painting by adding a darker shade to an existing wet layer of lighter shade. Even though it is hard to control the flow of water or the color in this technique, once you learn to balance the use of water and color, you can create some amazing artwork using this watercolor technique.

  • Wet-on-Dry Watercolor Technique

This is a technique that can test your patience as you wait for every layer to dry before adding the other. Unlike the previous technique, this one is where you add additional layers over the previous wash of paint that has already dried up, hence the name, wet-on-dry. It is your best choice if you want to create gradients in your artwork. Remember, when it comes to watercolors, we always work from light to dark to add details. So you start with the lightest shades, once the layer dries, add your warmer pigments and finally the finishing touches with the darker tones.

This technique is especially more common among most watercolor artists, because of the unity it brings to an artwork. You can use it to create glazing effects by adding a lot of water when mixing your colors. The key is to wait until the previous layer dries so your colors don’t bleed and ruin the artwork. If you are an impatient creative, you can use a blow dryer in a low heat setting for a short time. Make sure you constantly keep it moving so the paint doesn’t dry patchy and don’t overdo it.

  • Dry-on-Dry Watercolor Technique

Also known as the dry brush technique, it uses a very minimum amount of water. Of course, you need some water on your brush to pick up color, but with this technique, the quantity of water is minimal. As you might have guessed, the surface has to be dry when going dry-on-dry. You can pat your brush on a paper towel to get rid of excess water before you collect paint with it. Since your paint is only slightly diluted, it doesn't bleed or change much when it dries up.

It is an excellent technique if you want to paint furs, hair, or other textures to your watercolor art. For best results, choose a rough watercolor paper. It gives the best results because when you swipe it with a dry brush, it paints the bumps on the paper, but the indents still remain white, making the texture more realistic. You can start by testing the resulting texture on a rough paper first, to get an idea of how much water you need. Finally, you need to move your brush fast across the surface with this technique to hear the sound of the brush swiping against paper, which means it is working. 

  • Dry-on-Wet Watercolor Technique

The key here is that your paper must be more damp than your brush, hence the name dry-on-wet. Just like the previous technique, you can soak out excess water from your brush by using a paper towel. The technique is quite effective if you want to create subtle shapes and add depth to your artwork. 

While your color would slightly bleed, given the wet paper, it is still far easier to control than in the wet-on-wet watercolor technique because the paint is not so wet. The color results in a fuzzy texture with slight bleeding, which you can reduce by letting the paper dry a bit. To create more vibrant shapes, you can also use paint directly from the tube to see what works best for you.

Master the Basic Watercolor Techniques

What we have covered in this blog are the most basic watercolor techniques that you can practice to build on your skills. Once you start getting comfortable with them, you can start practicing more advanced techniques that have been developed from them. For example, glazing uses wet-on-dry, ombré can be created with both wet-on-wet and wet-on-dry, etc. Remember, these are not the only watercolor techniques, but learning them will help you understand the effects of watercolors and also the proportions in which you should mix your water and color for desired results.


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