Type to search

How to Use Watercolor Paints

How to Use Watercolor Paints

  1. Don’t Add Too Much Water.
  2. Know that watercolour Paper Isn’t Identical.
  3. Stretch Thin Watercolour Paper.
  4. Appreciate that watercolours dry lighter.
  5. Test a colour first.
  6. Understand that dry watercolour remains soluble.
  7. Be aware that watercolour paint is transparent.
  8. Work from light to dark.
  9. Use a decent watercolour brush
  10. Use masking fluid to avoid mistakes.


Watercolor paints can be very expensive, particularly from niche art shops. You can save one huge amount of money if you order online. It’s best to buy from a reputable brand as quality can vary considerably. I find the liquid watercolours (out of a tube) to be much more versatile than the hard tabs.
Watercolor paints

How to Use Watercolor Paints

Knowing how to use watercolor paints properly will help ensure your work is to its maximum possible quality. Painting is a fantastic hobby and a great way to unwind, but for landscapes and atmosphere, one of the preferred, classic mediums, is that of water colour paint. The following ‘how to’ provides 10 essential tips to consider when painting with watercolorr.

Photo Credit: Designlazy.com


1- Don’t add too much water. Avoid inadvertently adding more water to your paint after you’ve washed your brush by dabbing the brush onto a dry cloth before putting it in the paint again. If you’ve loaded a brush with paint and decide you needed less paint, hold clean cloth at ferrule end of the brush hairs to soak up some of the excess. Doing it at this end helps keep the pigment at the tip of the brush.

2- Know that watercolour paper isn’t identical. The label “watercolour paper” covers a lot of variations. Not only in the thickness of the paper, but also how smooth the surface is and how ‘white’ it is.

3- Stretch thin watercolour paper. The more paint you use and the thinner the sheet of paper, the greater the likelihood is that the sheet will buckle. This can be prevented by stretching the paper first.

4- Appreciate that watercolours dry lighter. With watercolour paint, a colour will always look more intense (stronger and darker) when it is wet. A colour will always be lighter and paler when dry. It’s something you get a feel for through practice and experience. If your paintings look insipid, make the colours more intense by using more paint and less water, or painting another layer of a colour over the first.

5- Test a colour first. Watercolour paint dries very fast, so test a colour on a scrap of paper or on the edge of your painting before using it. That way you’ll know whether it’s the hue and/or tone you’re after.

6- Understand that dry watercolour remains soluble. Even once watercolour paint has dried, it remains water soluble. You can re-wet the dried paint with water on a brush and it will ‘turn’ back into paint. This means you can lift the paint off the paper to fix a mistake, lighten a colour by removing some of it, or even mix it with new paint. Though you do need to be careful you don’t scrub at the paper too much and damage the surface.

7- Be aware that watercolour paint is transparent. Watercolour paint is transparent. You can see through the layers of colour you’ve painted, making it near impossible to hide mistakes. Don’t fight against this, but embrace it and work with it.

8- Work from light to dark. Because the white in watercolour comes from the white of the paper, not the paint itself, the usual advice is to paint from light to dark. To start with the lightest colours and tones, and build your way up to the darkest. But don’t be afraid to experiment with putting down dark colours early on in a watercolour painting, as it may turn out to be an approach that works for you!

9- Use a decent watercolour brush. Rather have just one, good brush than a handful of cheap ones that splay out and drop hairs. It’ll save you a lot of frustration. A good brush retains its shape so you can get a very fine brush mark from the point; it holds a good quantity of paint so you need to reload it less often.

10- Use masking fluid to avoid mistakes. Masking fluid or frisket is very useful for blocking off areas where you don’t want the paint to be. But do check first that it’ll come off the paper, as it’ll soak into very soft paper and then not come off without destroying the surface of the paper.


The most important tip for water colour painting is to first do back ground washes, then light colours, and finally dark.


You Might also Like

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *