Simple Watercolor Guide For Beginners: Part 2 - Techniques


 
 

Techniques

Before jumping into the fancy effects of watercolor, it is important to learn some foundational techniques.

Having a solid understand of the watercolor medium and it's characteristics will help you decided how to tackle a painting to get the desired effects.

The techniques covered are:

  • Testing Colors

  • Making a Color Chart

  • Glazes

  • Gradients

  • Value

  • Flat Washes

  • Bleeding

  • Control


Testing Colors

When getting a new watercolor set, it's always fun, not to mention a good idea, to sample the colors on paper. This gives you an accurate sample of what the colors look like in use. 

I usually paint out the sample of colors at full strength and then add a bit of water to the pigment and paint out a second sample. 

 Test sheet from a Winsor and Newton Pan set - Sampling Paints lets you know the true color you get.

Test sheet from a Winsor and Newton Pan set - Sampling Paints lets you know the true color you get.


Color Charts

Creating color charts is another useful way in seeing what colors will look like once blended together.

In the samples above I used a glazing technique where a color is layered over the other.

The colors in the diagonal are the result of the same color layered over itself.  

 Sample of glazing Technique  Autumn Leaves layered over EACH OTHER

Sample of glazing Technique

Autumn Leaves layered over EACH OTHER

 

Values

Painting out a highly pigmented sample of color and then adding water to get the lightest color gives you a sample of all the different values you can achieve from any given color.  

 Left - Gradient (Ombré) TeChnique  Right- Blending Technique

Left - Gradient (Ombré) TeChnique

Right- Blending Technique

 

Creating a gradient is also another good way to see the values.

For me, painting gradients are very challenging. It took me a lot of trial and error and is something that I need to continue and practice. 


Control

There are some watercolor artist who do not believe in using white paint to get white details into their projects. These artists believe that it is better to use the white of the paper and use different ways to keep the watercolor off from the area they want to keep white.

Masking fluid, masking tape or wax are some things that can protect the paper from getting paint on unwanted areas. There are times, though, when watercolor seeps under, so the best and most effective way is to control the paint yourself.

This practice, or technique, requires a very steady hand. It requires to paint as close to one painted area without touching it with the other color.

I prefer this control technique as I have had trouble with masking fluid and painter's tape. It either doesn't seal properly and paint gets under it and ruins the white, OR it tears my paper, both of which is equally as frustrating. 


The above techniques are basic building blocks.

The next, and final post will cover all the unique and interesting effects that can be created by adding different substances to the watercolor!

FUN stuff!