A Quick Guide to Watercolour Techniques by Hannah Shepherd & Natasha Alliston

A Quick Guide to Watercolour Techniques by Hannah Shepherd & Natasha Alliston

Watercolour is an extremely versatile and flexible medium that can offer a range of results. Also known as aquarelle, it’s a painting technique in which the paints are made of pigments suspended in a water-soluble vehicle.

Going back thousands of years, watercolour is a difficult medium to master but there’s a variety of watercolour techniques that you can use to help and it’s definitely a skill worth pursuing.

Here’s a look at some watercolour techniques that you can use to your advantage.



Painting a wash of watercolour paint I then added a sprinkling of salt over the top! This soaked up some of the paint and makes a really nice textured effect.



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Oil Pastel Highlights

Using an oil pastel (a wax based crayon would have worked better) I highlighted parts of the balloon where I wanted the highlight to be. I then painted over each balloon shape individually with paint and once dry layered up more balloons to give the illusion of them flying overtop of each other. I then painted the word ‘celebrate’ over the balloons.



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Tissue Dabbed on Paper

I painted a wash of colour and then used a tissue to dab up some of the colour, taking it almost all away in some places but leaving a lovely effect behind.



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Watercolour Pencils

Using watercolour pencils I sketched out a quick design and then wet a brush and blended out the colour. I kept working more into the painting once it dried again and then added some final details with the watercolour pencils and did not use any water to blend these out. They work well used wet or dry. When using watercolour pencils it’s important to remember that you must never dip your pencil into water and use it that way. This will cause your wood around the lead to swell and it will eventually crack. You should always use the pencil as it is and then add water afterwards.



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Washi Tape Border

Using washi tape I taped off a section of my watercolour paper. I like using washi tape for this because it’s usually a bit thinner than masking tape and I also find it never sticks to the paper whereas occasionally masking tape has for me in the past. Taping off a thing section made me able to create a cute floral border with the watercolour paints with extremely neat edges due to the tape. I added a ‘hello’ in the middle to fill the blank space.




Neocolor II

Using the Neocolor II crayons, I blended them and experimented with how well the colour holds its shape when it’s wet. I found they blended very easily and nicely but it was hard to stop the colour running so found that adding in detail later with a dry crayon worked better for me. Unlike the watercolour pencils you can dip Neocolor II crayons into water and use them that way. I’ve also seen artists draw them onto acetate/plastic and then use a brush to pick up several colours to create a two tone effect.



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Granulation Medium

I tested out the Winsor and Newton granulation medium. This works by increasing the granulation of the paint. It does say to work horizontally (which I didn’t do) but it was still very effective.



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Water Soluble Graphite Pencils

Using the water-soluble graphite pencils I sketched out a few flowers and shaded them quite gently as I wasn’t sure how much of my pencil lines would show once I blended the pencil out with water. I think they work really nicely and I actually love the grey tones without colour in this.



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Masking Fluid

Natasha used masking fluid to draw out some little stars and then painted over it once the masking fluid was dry. She then peeled the masking fluid away to reveal the paper underneath. You can also use this over the top of paint to preserve a colour you’re wanting to keep in the painting.



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Wet on Wet

Using the ‘wet on wet’ technique Natasha blended two colours together using quite a wet brush. The colours naturally blended on the paper.





Using a sponge and picking up several different colours Natasha has made a really pretty painting which she thinks would be great for a coloured pencil background.



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Wet on Dry

Using the ‘wet on dry’ technique Natasha has worked straight onto the paper without wetting it first. Letting the base layer of colour dry out she has then added in detail.



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Wax Resist

Using a wax crayon Natasha has written the word ‘wax’ and painted over the top. Wherever the wax was placed the watercolour paint will not stick.



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Pen & Wash

Using a waterproof fineliner Natasha drew out an elephant and then did a simple watercolour wash over the top. The pen does not shift or bleed at all.



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Splatter Effect

Using a brush loaded with paint Natasha tapped the brush onto another brush or pencil and splattered the paper with colour. Using lots of colours makes a really pretty effect.



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Cling Film

Painting a wash of watercolour paint first Natasha then scrunched up cling film and patted it onto the paint which removed some of the colour creating texture.



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