How to Paint with Watercolours for Beginners

March 29, 2023 1 Comment

How to Paint with Watercolours for Beginners

Crafting Tutorial: How to Paint with Watercolours for Beginners

If you are new to watercolours and watercolour painting, you might feel overwhelmed by the process. Perhaps you’re unsure of what you need to get started or apprehensive about the next steps. In this beginner's guide to watercolours, we will take you through the products needed to start painting and basic techniques. You’ll be fully prepared to unleash your creativity with this popular art medium!

What is Watercolour Painting?

Watercolour painting is the process of painting with colour pigments that are water-soluble. The pigments dissolve when you add water to create a paint finish. Watercolour painting gives a transparent colour through the thin wash application as opposed to acrylic paints which give a more opaque finish.

What Is Needed for Watercolour Painting?

It’s easy and inexpensive to learn how to paint using watercolours. Here is a list of basic watercolour art supplies:

  • A set of watercolour pencils
  • A waterbrush or paintbrush set
  • Watercolour paper
  • Water
  • Paper towel


Watercolour Pencils

Watercolour paint sets can be purchased in various forms which include tubes, pens and pencils. Watercolour pencils give greater control for beginners who are not experienced with a brush. You can vary the pressure and line thickness more easily with the same controlled grip that you would use for a standard pencil.

Uniquely Creative stocks two sets of high-quality woodless watercolour pencils that each contain 12 different colours. They’re highly pigmented and great for beginners and experienced watercolour artists alike.

Waterbrushes & Paintbrushes

To add water to the set, you can use a waterbrush or paintbrush. A waterbrush is particularly useful as it has a leakproof barrel that prevents spillage. When you give the barrel of the brush a squeeze, water flows to the bristles. And to get more water to flow, simply squeeze a little harder and for a little longer.

To refill the brush, you unscrew the barrel and fill it under a tap. Cleaning is also easy, just wipe the excess paint from the brush, dab it onto a paper towel and squeeze the barrel to get more water to flow through the bristles. Repeat this process once or twice until the brush is clean.

One of the many perks of a waterbrush is that it’s portable — practice your watercolouring wherever you may be. Alternatively, you can use a good brush set. Get a brush set with a mix of round brushes and flat brushes as these are good for different brush strokes.

Watercolour Paper

Be sure to use some decent watercolour paper that effectively absorbs moisture. Unfortunately, regular printer paper is bound to warp or tear. Watercolour paper is generally between 250-300gsm and is able to absorb water without warping and wrinkling. If you want to know more about paper thickness and weight check out our GSM paper guide.

Once you have your equipment, you're ready to learn how to paint with watercolour pencils.

Beginners Watercolour Painting: Techniques to Try

Here are some step-by-step tutorials for 3 watercolour techniques that are suitable for beginners. We recommend trying all the techniques and practising often.

Technique One: Draw, Colour and Add Water

Step 1:
Using your watercolour pencils, draw the outline of your subject with the main colour onto your dry paper.



Step 2:
Colour in your subject using the main colour.



Step 3:
Add in other colours, starting with light colours first.



Step 4:
Go back and darken up any areas that you feel need to be darker or more defined.



Step 5:
Add in any shadows or shading as required.



Step 6:
Now it’s time to add the water. Using your waterbrush, or paint brush if you prefer, add water to the lightest areas of your picture.  You only need to add a small amount of water to start to see the effects. The pigments will now become paint-like.


Step 7: 

Clean your brush and move on to adding water to another colour.



Step 8:
Continue cleaning your brush and adding water to each colour until you have completed the entire painting.

And now your first watercolour painting is done!
This technique enables you to have a lot of control over your painting and creates sharp, defined edges.



Technique Two: Dry Watercolour Pencils on Wet Paper

Step 1:
Wet your watercolour paper by using a clean brush, or a spray bottle, and clean water. Concentrate the water on the area where you plan to draw. Do not saturate the paper, but get an even coverage of water.

Step 2:

Using your dry watercolour pencils, draw the outline of your subject with the main colour.

Step 3:
Colour in your subject using the main colour. Then, move on to the other colours, ensuring that you start with the lighter shades.

Step 4:
Add in any shadows or shading as required.

As you are colouring, you will see the pigment reacts with the wet paper and you get bright vibrant colours.



Technique Three:  Wet Watercolour Pencils on Wet Paper

Step 1:
Wet your watercolour paper by using a clean brush, or a spray bottle, and clean water. Concentrate the water on the area where you plan to draw. Ensure an even coverage of water, but not too much.

Step 2:
Wet your watercolour pencil. You can do this either by wetting the pencil tip with your wet brush or you can submerge the tip in water.

Step 3:
Using your wet watercolour pencils, draw the outline of your subject with the main colour. The pigments in the wet pencil have been activated so you will see the colour start to spread immediately.

Step 4:
Continue to colour in your subject using the main colour and then the other colours from light to dark.

Step 5:
Go back over any areas that you need to darken up.

Step 6:
Add in any shadows or shading as required.

This technique is very unpredictable, and you will see the wet pigment and wet paper starting to spread the colour straight away.  The end result is often an ethereal, flowing effect. In the example below you can see the soft edges of the petals as the colour flows beyond the initial shape drawn.




Painting with watercolour is a fun craft that does require some practice as it can be tricky to master. But sometimes the most amazing results come from mistakes, especially where watercolours are concerned.

Related Questions

Can watercolour be used on canvas?

Yes, you can use watercolours on canvas, but you will need to look for a watercolour canvas that is specifically designed for watercolours. Alternatively, you will need to prime your ordinary canvas with a watercolour ground.

What are watercolour brush pens?
A watercolour brush pen is a brush that has synthetic bristles and a leakproof barren that you can fill and refill with water.  You can also control the flow of water depending on how much you squeeze the barren.

Can watercolour pencils be used dry?
Yes, watercolour pencils can be used dry. They can even be used just like ordinary colouring pencils to create drawings.  They can also be used dry to add fine lines and details on top of dry watercolour paintings.


1 Response


April 01, 2023

great article, I’ve always wanted to use watercolours and didn’t realise there was more than one technique of dry colouring and wetting with water!

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