Dating back thousands of years, watercolour is a tricky medium to master, but there ares various watercolour techniques you can adopt to help, and it’s certainly a skill worth pursuing. When you create a painting in watercolours, light reflects off the white of the paper and bounces up through the colours, giving it a luminosity that can be truly magical.
Get to grips with the medium with these must-know watercolour techniques.
Buy a range of brushes
It’s important to have a range of brushes. Your choices will depend on how large or small you work. I tend to work on the smaller side so my brushes range from 000 to 6. Experiment with different sizes to work out what your favourites are, but I’d also recommend getting hold of brushes that are smaller than you think you’ll use. These will come in handy for those little details you don’t anticipate.
Get some good quality paints
It’s important to invest in good quality watercolour. It will last longer and won’t yellow or degrade as much over time. There are lots of different brands and levels available in stores and online. I use a variety from Holbien and Winsor & Newton. Buy a few colours from different brands and find out which you prefer. Start small: you can mix a variety of colours using a limited palette.
Explore dry versus wet
There are two major factors to consider when painting with watercolours: wet and dry. As the name suggests, watercolour is a water-based medium. You can manipulate the darkness and saturation of the pigment depending on how much water you add.
There are many ways to paint in watercolour and as you try them, you’ll find the ones that work best for you. I’ve found working dry to wet helps me achieve more control.
Work from light to dark
Another important watercolour technique to remember is that you’re working from light to dark. This means that anything you’re keeping white or light in your painting needs to stay that way for the whole duration of the work. Build your values up layer by layer to arrive at the effect you want. This does take a lot of planning but the results will be worth it.
Splatter your watercolours
One handy trick to add some energy to your watercolour painting is to use a splatter watercolour technique. This can help suggest water spray or floating dust.
Hold your paintbrush between your thumb and middle fingers. Using your index finger, pull back on the bristles and let them snap forward. This method is a bit unpredictable, but can yield some very fun results, so I’d urge you to give it a try.
Get the textures right
You’ll notice that working in watercolours on a rougher paper does have its advantages. One of the obvious ones is that you don’t have to work to hard to achieve a nice texture. That said, it’s important to try to depict objects and materials with their textures included. This means using lights and darks as well as wets and drys.