How to paint with watercolor

How to paint with watercolor – Watercolor painting techniques

Have you ever wondered how to paint with watercolor? Well, the gist is that painting with watercolor can be fun and adventurous, the same way it can be exasperating if you don’t get the basics. When I started painting with watercolor, I’d always thought it to be as simple as learning the alphabets.

Of course, it is, once you get the trick, but I have learned the tips and tricks for a successful watercolor painting over time, and now I am proud to share these tips with you.

Even though painting with watercolor doesn’t have to be complex, it may end up being a difficult task unless you truly understand basics like how to control your paintbrush during use, finding the right depth and dimension for your painting, and the perfect way to shadow.

Without an understanding of these, your pictures will look nothing more than a kid trying his hands on crayons.

There are different steps to follow as you prep for watercolor painting to get a satisfactory result with little or no mess.

Step 1: Get your supplies ready

How to paint with watercolor

To avoid running around midway into your painting in search of a painting tool or material, it is best to get them all set and ready before you begin the task. Some of the supplies are up for sale at most art stores, or you can simply order them online.

They are easy to find; once you know the exact type you need to do the job. Some of these supplies include:

  • Watercolors

This is the most important supply you need for a watercolor painting, or what is a watercolor painting without the watercolor? Watercolors are available in different types or grades; children, students, and professional grade.

The ideal setting for a beginner is the student grade. Some of these watercolor sets come in 12 or 24 colors. With the 24-color option, you don’t have to mix so many colors, but with one great palette, you are all set for painting. Some watercolors also come in tubes, pans, or mini containers.

  • Painting paper

Another supply you’d need is painting paper. Now, you have to understand that because watercolor painting needs a lot of water, using regular paper may not work too well for the painting as regular papers can’t hold much water.

However, there are specific watercolor painting papers that are more absorbent and well suited for painting. These papers may be of different types, but the two most common ones you’d find in stores are the cold-pressed, characterized by its fine texture, and the hot-pressed, known for its smoother appearance.

  • Brush

Your brush choice depends on your preference; however, you should know that paintbrushes vary from tiny to large sizes. Most paintbrushes have size numbers which make it easy to identify them in stores.

It is best to buy a paintbrush set that offers a wide range of brushes from flat brushes for large area washing, round brushes, and thin brushes perfect for detailed drawing, lines, and lettering.

  • Masking tape

This is usually needed to tape down your paint paper to avoid crumples or folds as you work on the paper. Some painters also use masking tape as a dividing line on their paintings to keep one part of the painting from mixing or touching the other part, especially if there will be a color separation. Maybe this is where the tape got the name-masking tape.

  • Water jars

While some painters are comfortable using one jar or bowl for water, some professionals have identified the trick in using two jars – one to hold clean water for mixing colors while painting and the other jar for rinsing out used brushes. This saves you the stress of leaving your painting at intervals just to replace the used water with a clean one.

Step 2: simple tricks in watercolor painting

How to paint with watercolor

  • Make a color chart

When I started watercolor painting, I made so many mistakes with my colors, especially getting the colors right. A light-yellow color on the set may look deeper on paper when dry, which gives my painting a different result than I imagined.

Therefore, for every newbie in watercolor painting, I wouldn’t want you making the same mistakes I made, so I will advise that you create a watercolor chart once you purchase a new watercolor set.

Making a color chart is basically you cutting out a piece of paper (watercolor paper) where you get to paint each of the colors in your set.

You may choose to label these colors unless you know all the colors by heart. This gives you an idea of what color you get each time you put a brush on the paint. You may pin this chart on the wall of your painting room, fit it into your color set, or tape it to your painting book. Just make sure it is somewhere you can always see it whenever you chose to paint.

How to mix watercolor paint with water

You can either mix your colors on a lid, a plate, or using a palette. Add a drop or two drops of water, and then use your brush on the paint pigment you want to use and mix with the water on the palette.

It is best to test the mix on scrap paper before painting directly on your painting paper. If you have water pooling on the paper, it means you have mixed with too much water, which may run down on your paper.

Getting the right shade

You can get your desired shade of any pigment by regulating the level of water you add to the pigment. For a light pigment shade, dip your brush in water and let it soak up some amount of water while you just use the tip of the brush on the color.

For in-between shades, a little more pigment on the brush than you applied for the light tone would give you a balanced in-between shade. And if you prefer a darker shade, use your brush while still damp (not too wet this time) to pick the color without diluting.

Mixing two colors

Remember when you were taught primary and secondary colors? Well, you will need that knowledge in watercolor painting for times when you don’t have a full-color set, and you need a color outside the ones available.

It is very easy to mix your color; all you need do is to dampen your paintbrush and use it to pick the first color onto a palette, rinse and do the same for the second color and mix together on the palette.

  • Some basic color mixes are:
  • Yellow and red = orange
  • Orange and blue = brown
  • Red and blue = purple
  • Blue and yellow =green
  • Yellow, blue, and red =black

Step 3: Basic watercolor techniques

How to paint with watercolor

There are five known methods of applying watercolor paint, and while these techniques are applied differently to achieve different results, they can also be used together. These painting techniques include:

  • Wet on wet
  • Wet on dry
  • Mark making
  • Layering and blending
  • Paint lifting.

As long as you are able to get the trick to using these methods perfectly, you will soon be making real paintings like a professional. In our next article on easy watercolor painting for beginners, I will discuss more on these painting techniques.


Learning how to paint with watercolor shouldn’t be difficult once you are able to learn the hacks and tricks of the whole idea. With the information I have shared with you, I hope you no longer have to halt your painting plans.

Painting begins when you actually start painting. I know you have lots of images you want to paint in your head; grab a brush and begin to paint.