The simplest watercolour painting technique is
the flat wash. A flat wash involves wetting down an area
of your paper with water and then applying pigment, or
colour, in broad, horizontal bands. These bands should
barely overlap each other. Make sure that your wash
dries completely before you add to it.
The next technique is the graded wash. The
graded wash is similar to the flat wash except that each
stroke is diluted slightly, or has less colour, than the
previous horizontal stroke. Like the flat wash, a grade
wash should be completely dry before you take the next
You can also experiment with different coloured
hues in your washes.
Glazing is the process of applying a thin,
transparent pigment over a dried wash. The method is
similar to washes. The purpose is to even out the
colours and tones of your painting. You can apply as
many layers of glazing as you choose, but each layer
should be dry before the next layer is applied.
Wet on wet is similar to flat brush in that the
paper should be wetted down before the pigment is
applied. However, instead of broad strokes, you can
paint in blobs or shapes, resulting in subtle
colorations good for backgrounds. Try using a sponge
instead of a brush for different effects. You can also
use wet on wet on a dried wash.
The dry brush technique is pretty much what it
sounds like. In this technique, the paper is completely
dry. You will have pigment on your brush with a little
bit of water as you paint any crisp, hard lines that you
need in your piece.
When lifting off, you are removing watercolours
from the paper. Simply wet the area down with clean
water on a brush and dab the area with tissue, keeping
in mind that some colours may not lift that well.
Dropping in colour is the exact opposite of
lifting off colour. During this process, you first apply
water and then pigment to a given area and let the
colour drift and bleed as it chooses.
Like other painting forms, your job when using
watercolours isn’t to recreate exactly what you are
seeing. With the right watercolour supplies, watercolour
paints are perfect for creating subtle, ethereal
undertones that will add beauty to the overall theme of