13 Watercolor Painting Tips For Beginners Step by Step Guide (That Works)

watercolor painting tips

Art is the perfect medium to unleash all the creativity that is trapped inside you.

Hence to help you out we have put together a list of important watercolor painting tips.

Prolific artists like Claude Monet was highly known for his impressionistic painting made with the help of watercolors.

Impressionistic paintings are highly recommended for this medium whereas an oil painting is a preferred medium for realistic and highly detailed work.

Let us have a look at the different types of brushes which are generally available in the market.

1. The Basic Types of Brushes:

  • Bristle:
  • Sable:

These brushes are made with hog’s hair.

They are tough and springy.

These brushes are usually soft and springy.

Its features make it a great choice for various painting techniques such as tempera, acrylics, watercolors and more.

  • Synthetic:

It is a much more economical alternative in comparison to the other hairbrushes and even more humane some would say.

The synthetic brush is suggested for beginners as it is not expensive and one can switch to the other brushes later on depending on their technique and experience.

One can also distinguish these brushes into different categories based on their shapes.

Types of brushes 01

In general, the brushes come in three shapes:

  • Flat brush:
  • Round brush:
  • Filbert brush:

These brushes form a rectangular shape towards its end.

It is mostly used for wide strokes and sharp strokes.

These brushes are used to make fine lines or create minute details as it has a pointed tip, for example, human hair.

The filbert brush is a combination of the above-mentioned brushes.

It has circular edges and becomes flat towards its center.

It is recommended that the beginner uses a round brush at the start and later change his brush according to his technique and strokes.

The brush hair should be soft but be careful that it isn’t too soft.

It must have at least a little strength.

Please refrain from buying a pony hairbrush.

If you don’t know what a pony hairbrush is.

Follow a simple exercise:- dip the brush in water and bend the bristles of the brush towards one side.

If it retains its original shape when it is of good quality but if it does not then this type of brush is what we call a pony hairbrush.

We advise you against using this kind of brush.

2. Forms of Watercolors:

Watercolors are available in two forms i.e.

  • Cakes
  • Tubes
Cake 01
Tubes 01

Cakes are small round pieces of pigment usually placed in a small plastic box.

These plastic boxes generally have a lid to protect the paints from any sort of damage.

The cake is recommended for a newbie.

This is because, in the starting, a newcomer does not have enough knowledge as to how much paint should be used.

A tube as the name suggests is when the colors come inside a tube.

When using a tube the individual has to remove the paint from the tube so that he can use it.

If he removes more paint than what is required, it gets wasted because there is no way of recovering that paint or putting it back inside.

A lot of paint will be wasted and that is why a cake is ideal for the beginner.

3. The Surrounding Environment:

Let us now discuss the surrounding environment.

It is necessary that you choose a place which is devoid of all sorts of distractions and chaos.

The place should be well lit and should be free from dust.

The reason behind this is that the dust may get stuck to the canvas.

Once this happens the succeeding layers will not bond properly with the earlier ones, thus ruining the look of the painting.

  1. Easel:
  2. Invest in Good Paper:
  3. The Position:

An easel is basically a stand or support that is used by a painter while they are working on their painting.

It is an essential part of any artist’s itinerary.

The easel should be kept preferably at an angle of 15 degrees.

Most of the newcomers go for cartridge paper to practice their watercolor painting.

A cartridge paper is one which is usually sold at your local general store.

But this kind of paper is not made for watercolor painting.

Most people tend to buy this because it is cheaper.

The drawback is that you do not feel satisfied with your painting even after putting in lots of efforts thus making you quit.

We suggest that you purchase a handmade paper which is made specially, for this medium of paint.

Position 01

Remember that the position in which you hold the brush is of utmost importance.

It is recommended that you hold the brush as far away from the bristle as possible.

This will allow you more freedom for better wrist movement and also help you view the painting better.

It will also significantly reduce the chances of your hand coming in contact with the paper by accident.

4. The Sketch:

Sketch 01

Preparing a sketch is recommended for all beginners.

You must make sure to prepare your sketch with a medium that is water-soluble.

Watercolors are usually more transparent than oil paints thus one should be careful as to make a very light sketch.

  1. Paint to Surface Area Ratio:
  2. Pressure:
  3. Stretching:
  4. Core Technique:

Every beginner in the starting is confused as to how much paint should be used for a certain area.

In every aspect of life practice is the key to mastery, the same principle applies here.

We have thus described an exercise for you which will help you gain mastery.

Draw little boxes of 1 by 3 inches, take a little paint and practice filling up these boxes.

As time passes by you will get the perfect judgment as to how much color should be used.

The next pivotal part that we shall discuss is the pressure.

It is recommended that you apply less pressure, so that it is possible, to achieve light and confident strokes.

Doing this will also increase the lifespan of your paintbrush.

It is recommended that you stretch the paper before you start your portrait.

The very first step is to clean the easel.

After you have finished cleaning the easel, place your painting on it.

Stick pieces of tape to the four corners of the painting and remove all the air gaps that are present.

Now that the air gaps are removed stick all the sides of the painting with tape.

Please make sure that you stretch the paper gently and not cause any form of damage to it.

In watercolor paintings, we will move from the lighter shades to the darker ones i.e.

We will begin with the lighter colors in the first layer and later move on to the layer with the darker colors.

One must note that watercolors dry up fast.

Hence it is tougher to make changes in watercolor paintings.

So one must take the utmost care and precaution while using watercolor paints.

It is not recommended that we make changes especially after the paint has dried up.

5. Masking Fluid:

Masking 01

Masking fluid is an immensely helpful tool for all the watercolor artists out there.

It is also known as liquid frisket.

It is generally used to safeguard the white areas that are too small or complex to paint around.

It is made up of a mixture of latex in water and is lightly tinted to make it more visible on a sheet of paper.

It is advised that you plan your painting in detail so that you know precisely where the areas that are to be preserved are located.

6. Cleaning up:

Cleaningup 01

After you are done with your painting, clean the brush with turpentine.

Afterward, wash the brush with a mild soap so that the brush gets cleaned thoroughly.

A brush cleaning soap is also available in the market.

Keeping the brushes clean is often a task which is overlooked but is almost as essential as the painting itself.  

We have thus put together a list of all the important aspects that are required for the creation of a marvelous painting.

Every professional was once an amateur and every expert was once a beginner.

The only difference between them is the time and determination that they put in.

So what are you waiting for!

Get started and you may even land up surprising yourself with your artistic abilities in the process.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”   – Pablo Picasso

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