Watercolor The Basics

Whether natural artist or not, there are always rules to follow first. Mastery of the rules allows us to break it with wonderful results but that will come later. It all starts with the basics.

In watercolor as with any other disciplines, there are several techniques to be learned first. Mastering the techniques will allow you to gain control of the medium, ease you nicely into the art form aside from cutting the learning curve.


This is the planning stage. Thumbnails are not basics in watercolor painting but unless very skilled, you will experience a lot of difficulties without the thumbnails first. Thumbnails are the sketches you do that in order to break down the images you would finally want on the painting. Doing thumbnails first makes the painting more manageable and prevent errors. And so during this stage, draw thumbnails until satisfied of the image that would finally appear in the finished painting.

The Wash

There are different watercolor washes and corresponding effects. Basically though, a wash is a term used for loading the brush with plenty of water and some pigment and painting it over the paper. Washes are typically used for backgrounds in watercolor painting. It is almost synonymous with laying the foundation from which the images desired in the painting is laid. To develop and learn to control washes, try experimenting with different color intensity and hues. To lighten a particular shade, all you need to do is add water. Conversely, to darken an area would be to add a little more pigment.

The Glaze

Glazing is similar to the wash except that it is used to change the temperature of the color underneath (the wash). To glaze is to add another layer of color to an existing color, not really to erase the coloring underneath but to change the temperament or create another color in combination with the wash color. It is well to note that watercolor being a transparent medium cannot be fully erased or fully covered by another color. To this end, glazing has become a tool unique to watercolor painting.


To apply additional tint to an existing wash or color, wait for the color that was first applied to dry before applying a tint. To apply tint on a wash that is still wet would create effects that unless that is the intent, the painting would be ruined.


Watercolors are never erased totally. When an undesired color has already been painted, this could partially be washed but only to minimize the color strength. Use you brush dipped in water and brush very gently. This way you can lift the pigment from off the paper but avoid damaging it. When part of the paper is damaged, the painting will be damaged too as the color is drawn by the roughness of the scrub done.

Once the basics as mentioned above are mastered, you are well on your way to painting in watercolor. There are different methods that could be learned later but so far, the above are the most important and the most common practices when starting.


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