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How to Paint with Watercolors

Watercolor painting is great medium for all skill levels.


  • Step 1: Pick out paints Pick out non-staining watercolor paints, which do not fade in short durations. Check the "Lightfast" indicator on the tube.
  • Step 2: Soak and dry paper Soak a rough 140-pound or thicker stock paper with "tooth" – dips and grooves – which will be less likely to wrinkle when wet. Dry it and tape it to a board inclined about 15 degrees, and smooth it out.
  • Step 3: Sketch an image Sketch a simple box image on the paper in pencil, rinse a number 10 or 12 brush in the water cup and blot it dry. Load it with color from the palette and touch it to the paper.
  • TIP: Use less water to keep the colors bright, and don't go back over an area repeatedly, or you may inadvertently leave dark lines.
  • Step 4: Paint first line Paint a uniform line and lift your brush. If a narrow bead didn't form, you pressed too hard, so try again, releasing the bead as you lift.
  • Step 5: Continue filling Continue filling the area, tilting the brush handle up to maintain a light touch, and letting the watercolor bead paint the wash for you.
  • TIP: Use a hair dryer to work faster, but be careful: you can accidentally make colors bleed or run.
  • Step 6: Absorb excess paint Absorb excess paint with a tissue to blot the brush, instead of rinsing. Touch the dried brush into the paint to draw the excess off the painting's surface.
  • Step 7: Continue experimenting Continue experimenting with color and textures on different paper surfaces, using an array of brushes and color mixes. Read and study to develop your technique over time.
  • FACT: The textures and patterns of watercolor can be computer-generated.

You Will Need

  • Watercolor paints
  • Paper with "tooth"
  • Tape
  • A drawing board
  • Pencils
  • A water cup
  • A number 10 or 12 brush
  • A palette
  • A plastic cup of water
  • A clean cotton rag
  • Some tissue paper
  • A hair dryer (optional)

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