Watercolor Basics: Top Techniques for Watercolor
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By now you're probably itching to get to painting. You've got your paper. You've got your paints. You have your brushes, and you know how to stretch watercolors. You're ready to start practicing.
Well fear not, the wait is over! Today we're covering my favorite watercolor techniques for comics, and I've got lots of links below to get you fired up to paint!
Missed a post? Why not catch up?
Other posts in the Watercolor Basics series:
Paper and paint quality can make a huge difference in how these techniques work for you. With Canson Montval (my paper of choice for comics), wet into wet techniques often result in harsh edges and poor color mixing, but on Arches or Moulin du Roy, wet into wet techniques handle like a dream, and color diffusion is fantastic. With cheap paints, glazing techniques often turn to mud, but with Winsor and Newton paints, Daniel Smith, or Holbein, translucent colors glaze well (although you should reserve applying more opaque watercolors towards the end of your illlustration, as they will turn to mud with glazing regardless of paint or paper quality).
Materials Used in this Demonstration:
Fabriano Studio Watercolor (student grade, but with good texture)
Small welled palette
Variety of paints (Mission Gold, Turner, Holbein)
Handful of synthetic brushes
Kosher salt (larger surface area, also what I have on hand)
Wax resist crayon
A wash is one of the most basic techniques- it's the application of pre-mixed paint+water to your paper. For large scale washes, most artists will use either a mop or a flat brush.
Gradiated Wash/Graduated Wash
Sprinkling salt onto damp (not wet) watercolors creates an interesting crystalline effect as the salt absorbs water, drawing pigment towards it.
Wet into Wet
Paint is applied into still wet paint to cause blending and blooming effects. Very common in gestural, abstract, or early stages of a piece.
Dry into Wet
Dry into Dry
Applying relatively dry paint onto actually dried paint. Great for details- usually used towards the end of a painting. Glazing over this may reactivate the paint, causing muddiness.
Wet into Dry
Also commonly referred to as 'glazing'. Applying washes over dried areas of paint. This can influence the color to varying degrees, depending on how saturated the wash is.
Masking Fluid (In Application)
In the above video and photos, I demonstrate a few common watercolor techniques as very distinct techniques, but in reality, most artists use a combination of several to achieve the effects they want. You'll probably have a few favorite and most used techniques that work for the majority of what you want to accomplish in your comics and illustrations, and a few that serve quite well for special effects and emotive
As you create pages and complete studies, you'll find out which techniques are your mainstays, and which techniques will on work on certain papers. There are many wet into wet techniques that work well on handmade cotton papers and higher quality mould made papers that are impossible to execute well on Montval cellulose paper, so I cannot use those techniques in my comics. There are techniques that work on cold press papers that will not work on hot press.
For a wider variety of techniques and uses, I highly recommend exploring the links included in the Resources and Second Opinions section. Rather than replicate and redistribute the information they covered, I focused only on my most commonly used techniques.
My Most Commonly Used Techniques
Wet over Dry
Dry Over Dry
We have a techniques demonstration video in the To Edit queue, so if you need a live action explanation, keep an eye on the YouTube channel for that. If you have any questions, or need further demonstration, don't hesitate to contact me via the email form in the left sidebar.
Resources and Second Opinions:
8 'Techniques' for Beginners
7 Must Know, Widely Used Watercolor Techniques for Beginners
Painting With Watercolors- Watercolor Painting Tips
WatercolorPainting.com-Watercolor Techniques Hub Page
Abstract Watercolor Techniques
Watercolor Techniques: Blending
Watercolor Tips: Salt Lifting
Feathering From Dry Paint
7 Deceptively Simple Watercolor Techniques that will Amaze Your Students
How to Paint Leaf Wreathes (basically dry onto dry techniques)
Watercolors for Beginners: Blending Techniques
Wet on Wet, Yet Again
Watercolors for Beginners: Fun Techniques
Having Trouble with these Techniques?
Here are some resources to help you troubleshoot or make corrections:
6 Common Watercolor Mistakes and How to Correct Them
5 Simple Solutions for Watercolor Problems
5 Beginner Watercolor Painting Mistakes
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