7 Watercolor Art Ideas and Projects (Beginner-Friendly!)

Last Updated: January 18, 2023

If you're looking for a new way to add interest and texture to your paper crafting projects, then watercolor art might be just what you need. This type of art is perfect for beginners, as it doesn't require any special skills or fancy equipment. With just a few basic watercoloring supplies, you can create beautiful DIY watercolor projects that will impress anyone. In this blog post, we'll explore some basic watercolor techniques and share a handful of fun ideas that you can try in your own paper crafting projects. Let’s get started!

Watercolor Pencil Art from Altenew's Watercolor Coloring Book

Exotic Blooms Watercolor Coloring Book & Artists' Watercolor 24 Pan Set Bundle

How do you start painting with watercolors?

There’s no magic formula when it comes to starting watercolor painting. You just need to do it! Just like when you’re doing a new hobby or activity, don’t overthink it. Learn the basics, gather a few essential supplies and tools, and just go for it! Here are a few important reminders for those starting out:

  1. Choose the right paper. A high-quality watercolor paper or cardstock might be a bit pricey, but it’s a worthy investment.
  2. Find the best watercolor medium that meets your needs, preferences, and budget. The video below will help you decide which type of watercolor suits you best!

  1. It goes without saying that you also need a few decent paintbrushes. It’s okay to have cheap ones for practice purposes, but it’s better to use quality watercolor brushes once you start creating your watercolor projects.
  2. Swatch your watercolor paints! Swatching allows you to discover color variations and gradations of your chosen watercolor set. This process is also a good time to test out those watercolor brushes.
  3. You need a few basic watercolor techniques under your belt. Even the best watercolor artists today started with basic techniques. Don’t get frustrated, and start simple! Watercolor is an easy medium, but it could get a bit complicated as you start exploring more techniques. Master the basics first, then learn new watercolor art ideas as you continue your journey.

Here are a few basic watercolor techniques to keep in mind. To get a better idea of how each technique works, check out this FREE online watercoloring class.

  1. Wet-on-wet
  2. Wet-on-dry
  3. Ink smooshing
  4. Creating gradients
  5. Color layering
  6. Scribbling

    Which watercolors are best for beginners?

    Watercolors are a beautiful way to add color and life to your crafting projects. But which watercolors should you choose if you're just getting started? We’ll break down the most common types of watercolors and recommend our favorite options for beginners.

    Handmade watercolored card with metallic watercolor pan set

    Metallic Watercolor Artist Bundle

    1. Pan Watercolor
    • This watercolor comes in small plastic pans in two sizes - half pans (usually 2ml) and full pans.
    • You can buy this in a set or individually. It comes in solid, dry cake form.
    • This can be semi-transparent to transparent to semi-opaque.
    • It usually comes in a set of 12, 24, 36, or 48 colors.
    • It is the best watercolor for beginners because it’s compact, easy to use, and ready to use! You can activate it with a bit of water and start painting.
    • Depending on the brand, it is more affordable compared to watercolor tubes.
    • You can use it straight from the pan or dilute it more by adding some paint into a palette and mixing it with water.
    1. Liquid Watercolor
    • This is either pigment-based or dye-based.
    • You can get it in individual bottles - either plastic or glass - or as a set.
    • This type of watercolor is completely transparent. It’s also easier to control and distribute the paint.
    • It has a handy pipette or dropper.
    • It’s in a more liquid form, so you can start painting with it immediately - no need to activate it with water unless you still want to dilute the colors or adjust the intensity.
    • It’s great for illustrations and hand-lettering.
    • If you have some excess liquid watercolor paint, you can simply pick it up with the pipette and return it into the bottle - as long as it’s still untouched or unmixed.

    Woodless Watercolor Pencils from Altenew

    1. Watercolor Pencil
    • This is a type of watercolor in the form of a pencil.
    • It perfectly combines drawing and painting, making it easier to create watercolor pencil art.
    • Its versatility and the variety of results make it more appealing than other coloring mediums.
    • Great for beginners who are still testing the waters and experimenting with various color combinations.
    • It’s relatively easier to play around with some unique color combinations.
    • These pencils can either be used dry (like a colored pencil) or wet (like watercolors). Activating it with water will give it the look and feel of watercolors.

    If you want a more in-depth guide to different types of watercolor, check out this post.

    Is watercolor painting difficult?

    The simple answer here is yes. But it isn’t that difficult. While watercolor paint is known to be unforgiving and unpredictable, its flowy and fluid nature makes it easier to control, especially for beginners. As a result, it’s not impossible to master watercolors and create stunning watercolor art.

    There is a learning curve, and you will have to practice a lot, master a few techniques, and thoroughly understand the medium. At the end of the day, watercoloring is just like any other skill you’re trying to master - consistent practice is required.

    Watercolor Coloring Book and Artists' Paintbrushes

    What are the easiest things to paint?

    Some of the easiest DIY watercolor projects feature flowers and nature. A breathtaking scenery - think: mountains, sunrise or sunset, beach, forest, lake, etc. - is always a great option. Flowers are fun and easy to paint since it gives you some creative room. You can go for something abstract or do a loose watercoloring technique. It’s up to you!

    Sunflower watercolor card

    What can you make with watercolors?

    Do you love the look of watercolor art but feel intimidated by how difficult it is to create one? Well, you're in luck! These seven easy watercolor ideas are perfect for beginners or seasoned crafters who want to take their watercoloring skills to the next level. From messy watercoloring to more detailed watercoloring, we have a little bit of everything for you to try. So grab your paints and get ready to create some beautiful watercolor projects!

    1. Watercoloring an embossed panel. If you are a beginner in watercoloring, this is a fun technique to try! You can start by dry embossing a watercolor cardstock panel. Choose any 3D embossing folder you want, but floral images are great to work with. Next, add water to your embossed panel. Then, start watercoloring! Feel free to experiment with colors. If you want to recreate Erum’s stunning card, watch the video below.

    PRO TIP! Do not overwork the image. The pigment will flow on its own, and you will end up with a beautiful shade.

    1. Watercoloring white heat-embossed images. What makes loose watercoloring fun and easy? The magic of white heat embossing! The heat-embossed images allow you to easily add pigments to different parts of your images without worrying about bleeding.

     Floral watercolor card with white heat-embossed images

    PRO TIP: Spritz the paper’s surface with water before adding watercolor pigments to it. Then, sprinkle coarse rock salt all over it. This will give it an interesting effect.
    1. Ombre watercolor wash. Another fun and easy DIY watercolor project is creating a watercolor wash. Here’s how Terri achieved that gorgeous ombre watercolor wash in her card below:

     Handmade watercolor card project with watercolor 12 pan set

    Watercolor Essential 12 Pan Set

    • First, add water to the front and back of the cardstock. 
    • Next, lay it onto a glass or plastic surface. You can use the Altenew Watercolor Palette for this.
    • The water above and below will create even surface tension and stop the paper from curling up.
    • Then, use a wide brush to apply your chosen colors, making sure to blend them where they meet.

    DIY watercolor pencil art with watercolor pencils

    Create A Background For A Simple Watercolor Coloring Book Image

    1. Simple watercolor pencil art. If stamping images and heat embossing is still too intimidating, we’ve got just the thing for you! Our Watercolor Coloring Book is the perfect tool for both beginners and experienced watercolor artists. This Altenew-original product features popular Altenew flowers in beautiful compositions. You will enjoy coloring 12 floral designs with both black and gray outlines. Norine took it to the next level in her card above by creating a simple and unique background.

     3 DIY watercolor projects using the same stamp and different types of watercolor

    Mini Delight: Polar Bear Stamp & Die Set

    1. Same watercolor background, different watercolor mediums. Finding the best type of watercolor can be a daunting task. Sometimes, you’ll end up just buying and trying all of them to find the one. This stunning watercolor art idea by Erum shows that you can use any type of watercolor and still get the same beautiful result.
    2. Using negative space for watercoloring light flowers. Although this might be a bit more advanced, you can still give it a try (especially with the convenience of our Watercolor Coloring Book). Emily has a couple of tips to help you achieve this beauty.

    Watercolor art idea using watercolor coloring book

    Watercolor Coloring Book

    • TIP #1: Use a brush with a very fine tip for no-line watercoloring. It will help maintain those light, crisp edges when adding shadows and keep the definition of each petal. Our Detailed Artists' Watercolor Brush Set was perfect for this technique.
    • TIP #2: Light-colored flowers pick up reflections of the colors around them. To add some interest to the petals, she did some glazing and added in very pale reflections of the colors in the background.
    • TIP #3: When watercoloring white images, it's important to use lots and lots of water and only a small amount of watercolor paint. You can always add color, but it's quite challenging to take it away.

    Loose watercoloring on a floral card

    Build-A-Flower: Coneflower Layering Stamp & Die Set

    1. Loose watercoloring. Messy, no-line, loose - whatever you want to call it, mastering this popular watercolor technique can give you a ton of creative watercolor art ideas! If you want step-by-step instructions on how to recreate Erum’s artsy watercolored card above, watch her watercoloring video here.

    We hope you’ve enjoyed this roundup of DIY watercolor project ideas. Remember to practice consistently and just enjoy the process! The more you do something, the better you get at it - so don't be discouraged if things seem difficult in the beginning. If none of these watercolor art projects is your style, we've got plenty more tips, tricks, and paper crafting ideas on our All About Crafting page. Do you have other easy watercolor ideas that we didn’t cover here? Comment them down below!

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