Everything You Need to Know About Watercolor Painting

Watercoloring has been around since the Renaissance period, and it remains a popular hobby even today. In fact, with all the new watercolor painting ideas, materials, and techniques that have surfaced recently, it’s safe to assume that watercolor art has gotten even more popular than before. So, if you’ve decided to take up this hobby yourself, let us help you get started. From choosing the best watercolor markers to trying different techniques, read on to learn all you need to know about how to start this hobby. But before we get into all that, let’s first discuss the basics.

What is Watercoloring?

As its name suggests, watercoloring is a painting method that uses watercolors as its primary medium. Now, what is watercolor, actually? How does it differ from other paints? Watercolors are water-soluble paints that are notable for their translucency. For this reason, watercolor textures  are known for having soft, beautiful light and flowy effects. Of course, you can use different techniques to achieve different results. You can even use other painting mediums like acrylic and gouache (both water-soluble but have an opaque finish) to produce more detailed works. As for the canvas, watercolor paper is commonly used. These are thick specialty papers that are more absorbent of water, making them more resistant to buckling or disintegrating, unlike traditional or regular papers.

With changing times, the method and use of watercolors have evolved. There are now multiple  watercoloring options all across the world. Before, artists were restricted to pans and tubes, but now, there are watercolor pencils, pens, markers, and more. Not only can they make your painting easy and convenient, but they can also offer different effects and results.

This write-up will help you develop a better understanding of the art of watercoloring. In this article, we will discuss the following topics:

  • What is watercolor paint made of?
  • Advantages of watercolor paints
  • Types of watercolor
  • Watercolor painting techniques
  • Watercoloring tips and tricks
  • Other uses of watercolor paints
  • FAQs

What is Watercolor Paint made of?

Paint is made up of solvents, pigments, resins, and other additives. The pigments offer paint color, and solvents simplify the application process. Meanwhile, the resins help with drying  and the additives act as a filler agent. You may come across both natural and synthetic pigments.  However, it is wise to opt for natural pigments for beautiful and easy watercoloring.

How is Watercolor Paint made?

  • The paste is prepared - Bags of fine grain pigments are sent to manufacturers. At the paint plants, the pigments are premixed with resins and additives to form a paste.
  •  Disperse the pigment - This paste along with consumer paints is transmitted in a sand mill. A huge cylinder is used to grind the pigment particles. This mixture is then filtered to eliminate all the sand particles.
  •  Thinning the paste - The paste is then thinned to generate the final product and is transferred to bottles.
  • Canning the paint - The final product is then carried to the canning room. The bottles are labelled and sealed.

Advantages of Watercolor Paints

  • Reduced wastage: You can save wastage of paint and colors with the use of watercolour pens and a pencil.
  • Easy to clean: Watercolour pens and pencils are easy to clean. Liquid watercolor is also easier to clean than other colors.
  • Organic raw materials: There is a negligible chance of getting a skin infection or any rashes. Most of the supplies are made of organic raw materials and good for regular use.
  • Affordable: You don’t have to spend exorbitantly high prices to design a good art. These organic and good brushes and pencils are quite efficient.

Types of Watercolors

Today, you can find watercolors in varied different types. You also get a unique set of colors that was earlier difficult to find. Every budding and experienced artist uses a particular watercolor pencil and pen. This mainly depends on the form of their design, technique, and comfort.

However, some of the commonly used watercolor pens for artwork include:

Pan Watercolor

Altenew watercolor kit

Watercolor Essential 12 Pan Set

These are available in little solid dry cakes. They appear to be inexpensive kid’s versions of kits. A lot of renowned artists also make use of these sets.

As a matter of fact, the inexpensive pan watercolors also provide you exceptional designs. Poor quality watercolors with low pigment versions can be harmful to your skin and for daily use. Make sure that you use good quality colors to avoid any such instance.

Pan watercolors are easy to use and quite self-contained. This makes them a more preferred choice than the other. It is easy to mix these colors in your color palette. And, you can simply shut the lid once done with your work. It is comparatively easier to use dry cakes for your designs.

Liquid watercolors from Altenew

Liquid Watercolor from Altenew

Liquid Watercolor

These watercolors are high on the wish list of several artists. Liquid watercolors are quite vivid as compared to others. You get variation in the inks and are very easy to use.

Watercoloring with these is an entirely different experience than the other options.

Altenew watercolor brush pens

Watercolor Brush Markers from Altenew

Watercolor Brush Markers or Pens

These markers act as an alternative and make your task convenient. They are usually used as a normal marker.

You can easily find a wide array of colors in these watercolor brush pens. These markers have a good brush tip. Apply the color on the paper and put the wet brush on the color. Then move the pigment and watch the color flow like any other watercolor ink.

The best pens leave a lot of pigment, blends well, and have flexible, yet sturdy bristles. Watercolor markers have soft and flexible brush tips. These soft tips are great for filling in sections with washes or blending colors together. Diverse uses of brushes makes watercolor painting with markers more fun and creative.

Watercolor Pencils

If you've ever wanted to watercolor without all the mess, watercolor pencils are your answer! They're water-soluble pencils that you can use, like regular coloring or drawing pencils - but when water is added to the pencil's barrel or directly to the page, the pigment dissolves and creates watercolor effects on your paper. These watercolor pencils create brilliant and blendable watercolors with minimal supplies (only a brush and water!) and make producing beautiful watercolor art easy. 

With a watercolor pencil, all you need to do is draw, add water, and watch as your sketch transforms into a beautiful watercolor painting. Like regular watercolors, watercolor pencils come in an array of colors allowing for unique and vibrant artwork. Watercolor pencils are a great way to start painting easily and affordably, whether you're a beginner or want to expand your creative abilities.

Watercolor painting techniques

There are many ways to explore the latest trends. You can explore them by naturally working on your art or simply following the work of an artist. No matter which technique you use, there are certain aspects that you should be mindful of while learning, all of them are mentioned here:

The Effective Water Effect

Watercolored floral handmade card

Paint-A-Flower: Poppy Outline Stamp Set

Take a fresh sheet of watercolor paper and spread clear water in a particular area. Put your brush in your color bottle and then add it to the water splash on your sheet. If you haven’t tried this ever, then do so? You are likely to enjoy the water effect. You can also use a watercolor pencil to try this out.

The color will spread across the water patch and you will see a striking look on the page. This is a classic and age-old tip that lasts even today!

You can use different ideas for the water effect. You can use a single or multiple colors for the background of the design. If you are not confident about a single color, then you can use multiple colors. You can create a design only with the help of water. You can learn watercoloring basics to explore this trend.

Unique Texture Effect

Easy watercolor card with floral stamps

Are you looking for yet another water coloring trend? Then, you must explore the texture.

The water effect allows you to create mind-blowing and impeccable textures that you are less likely to observe through any design. The way water blends with other colors, how it flows across the canvas, and how it changes the saturation of the color are some essential features to explore texture.

The texture helps to create depth and interest in watercolor art.

Have a Focal Point

Watercolor handmade card with dahlia stencil

Bursting Dahlia Stencil

One of the best tips is that you must have a focal point in your design. The focal point is not necessarily something grand but simply the heart of your design. It could be a unique background, logo font, or the framework of your design.

If you try to focus on multiple aspects simultaneously, then you are bound to lose focus. It is tricky to have an exceptional, background, logo, and also text. That could be exhausting and the end-picture might not be pleasing.

Imperfect Yet Perfect Look

The most unique attribute of watercolor ink is that you don’t have to be perfect about this art. The imperfect strokes, shades and color patterns can also give an exceptional design.

You can always learn watercoloring basics to have an elementary understanding of the art. However, you can naturally develop this art with practice. You can pick easy ideas from logos, web design, book covers, business cards, and packaging.

Other techniques

What are some techniques that every aspiring artist should master? Here are just a few of them:

  • No-line Watercolor Technique - This technique has become one of the best painting ideas to try for beginners. It gives off a freehand vibe, making it look like a real artist painted it. Do you want to learn how to do this technique? CLICK HERE.
  • Wet on Wet Watercolor Technique - This technique means adding wet pigment onto a wet paper. Water is used mainly to wet the paper. It gives fast results, and that’s why it is recommended for beginners.
  • Ghost Watercolor Technique - The technique is another quick and easy one that even the little ones can do. Read more about it HERE.
  • Watercolor Wash Technique - A watercolor wash is done by applying a layer of diluted pigment, which is slightly transparent, onto watercolor paper. This is often used as an effective and quick background for handmade cards, scrapbook pages, and other smaller paper crafts. 
  • Lifting or Blotting Watercolor Technique - With this technique, you just add pigment onto your paper, and then, while the pigment is still wet, you lift the color. This is done by gently blotting it with tissue paper or paper towels. Depending on how you blot the pigment, it will either give a diluted color or leave a white area on your paper.

Altenew watercolor brush pens

Explore more options by checking out our selection of products

Watercoloring tips and tricks

If you’re a beginner, chances are your first few art projects won’t be perfect. But with practice, you’ll get better in no time. To help you learn how to paint, here are some easy watercolor tips to get your feet off the ground:

  • Be mindful of the amounts of water you use. The more water you add to your paint, the more transparent and runny your colors become. This is good for large, soft washes, but if you want more vibrant colors, you need to reduce the amount of water you use.
  • Paint in light to dark. It’s easier to paint over light washes and correct mistakes which is why it’s not advisable to start with dark washes immediately at the start. 
  • Choose whether you want wet or dry paper. Painting on wet paper can give a soft look and is good for setting up the atmosphere or painting fluffy materials. You could actually use a washi tape to hold the corners of the paper and still allow the paper to ‘breathe’ as you wet it. Painting on dry paper can be harsh and stark, making it good for detailing and painting hard objects.
  • Use color mixing techniques for effect. Some prefer to mix colors in the palette first before applying the color to paper. Others like to do it directly on wet paper for a beautiful gradient effect. Either works, but will produce different results, so choose the one that can produce the effect you want.
  • Choose the correct brushes. Round brushes are good for painting organic objects. Flat brushes can produce harsher lines and are good for bold strokes. Having a variety of brush shapes and sizes can help you add more effects and details to your work.

These are only some of the many techniques you can use to make a simple watercolor painting. Hopefully, it inspires you to continue with your watercolor journey.

Other uses of watercolor paints

Altenew watercolor sets

Watercoloring supplies are used for varied forms of designs. They are designed for personal and professional purposes. These are some of the common uses of watercolors. Hopefully, you can get some ideas from these suggestions:

Business Cards

A lot of business cards are designed with the help of watercolors and ink. Artists are assigned this professional task to design unique cards. There is a high demand and use of unique watercolor business cards.

Often, people assume only creative businesses to own such cards. But, several corporate businesses as well own watercolor business cards.


Artists also design logos for several businesses. These are authentic and genuine logos designed as per the nature of business. Watercolor brush markers are a good mode to design unique and good quality logos.

Book Covers

Books are often picked from their covers. An attractive book cover is likely to be picked in an increased number than a boring cover. Recently, the watercolor book cover has been in trend.

Bold strokes in vibrant colors are quite captivating and can be utilized to design a striking book cover. It gives a good and elite personality to your book. Artists use watercolor kits to design these covers.

Apparel painting

There is an increasing demand for watercolor painting in apparel. Plain white t-shirts with a vibrant splash of watercolors are in great demand. You don’t have to walk around like a color palette.

Paper crafting

Watercolors have always been part of anything arts and crafts related. Whether it’s a simple DIY project at your kid’s school or a handmade card that you’ve created for someone, it is one of the most useful coloring tools. In fact, a watercolor set is a staple in almost every home. Even the little ones can enjoy some easy ideas with just watercolor pencil and watercolor paper

It is inevitable that different types of watercolor techniques have become trendy and popular in the world of paper crafting. It is one of the most fun, creative, and  challenging card making techniques. Beginners often feel intimidated by the fact that watercolor ink is free flowing and a bit harder to control than other mediums. Experienced card makers find it challenging but exciting. Most would agree, however, that it is a wonderful medium to experiment with.

Are you interested in trying watercoloring supplies and products?

Make sure that you use good quality sets to acquire good watercolor painting. There are several ways to get inspired and work on your design. You have the liberty to use color combinations as per your choice.

As a budding artist, you can always follow techniques for beginners like in the video below.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

You only need 4 things to start - watercolors, watercolor paper, paintbrush, a pot of water
“Wet on Dry” technique: With a damp brush, pick up some pigment. Apply to dry paper for more control and vibrant results. “Wet on Wet” technique: With a brush, apply clean water to the paper. Then, pick up some pigment with a damp brush. Apply to the wet paper - the color with flow easily, and the pigment will be more diluted.
The big answer to this is yes, but there are watercolors (liquid watercolor and watercolor brush marker pens) where it is needed less. Water is needed for watercolor pans to get them to move, as they are dried they will need water to work. Water can also change the look of colors, by adding more water you will get a lighter shade.
This depends on what kind of medium you want to use and how many colors you want to start with. The Altenew Essential 12 Pan Set is a good start if you just want to dip your toe in the world of watercolor, unless you are after more color choices then go for the 36 Pan Set. Watercolor markers are also easy to use and are super vibrant.
This is personal preference, some people like the texture of paper so should then go for cold pressed paper, if you like smoother paper then go for a hot press. Some papers tend to be on the creamy side so if you are after a whiter one the Altenew watercolor papers are great. If you purchase large sheets of paper, you can always cut them down to the size you need.
Acrylic dries more quickly than watercolors, so when watercoloring you have a bit more time to “play” before it is set. Additionally, you can reactivate watercolor that is already dry on your paper by simply going over it with a wet brush. Acrylic is more opaque than watercolor, and therefore it is easier to “cover up” your mistakes.
As with any art form, practicing is a great way to improve your skills! Experiment with various techniques, and find inspiration from other artists. Developing your abilities takes time - you can’t expect an instant improvement.

Now that you have a better understanding of watercolors, it’s time to start painting! Check out our selection of high-quality watercolor materials to help you get started!

Your Ultimate Guide to Paper Crafting

Click on each topic and subtopic to read more!

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