Water color painting tray

How to watercolor? A beginner’s guide

The painting mediums can be broadly divided into two categories:

  1. Dry Mediums: These include oil pastels, chalk pastels, crayons, pencil colors, charcoal etc.
  2. Wet Mediums: Most popular wet mediums are watercolor, acrylic, oil and gouache. Gouache medium is gaining a lot of popularity these days among the learners and the professional artists alike.

Dry and wet coloring mediums

In this article, I will talk about…..


Many people can draw, but only few can paint well. For many of us, the very thought of applying colors in their drawing can be daunting due to the fear of spoiling the drawing. Are you one of them?

One reason for your dislike of putting colors in your drawings could be the bad experience you have had with the dry mediums (oil pastels, crayons, pencil colors etc) because these are slow and tiresome as I find them. But really it’s just personal preference; artists make them look completely effortless. So if you are on the same line as me, the perfect answer to your problem is the Watercolors.

Watercolor medium is good for people who are starting to learn the wet mediums. The name itself suggests that these are water based. These paints are transparent in nature. The painting process generally involves going from lighter tones to the darker. Once a darker tone is applied, a lighter color cannot be applied over it. And the best thing about watercolors is that they are least messy compared to other mediums. And they flow easily on the paper.

The first step is to know what kind of materials should be used. Here is a quick guide:

Materials Required

  • Pencil and eraser
  • Paints: A Common mistake that people do while buying the watercolors is that they buy poster colors. They are different and there is a difference between how both types of colors work. Any good quality watercolor paints will work. I would suggest that you buy artist watercolors instead of student watercolors because the latter are not very good quality.
  • Recommended shades: Gamboge Hue, Yellow Ochre, Crimson Red, Prussian Blue, Sap Green, Burnt Sienna

Just these six and you are good to go. And you don’t need white and black 😉

  • Brushes: Medium sized round synthetic brush is good if you are a beginner.
  • Paper: any paper that absorbs the water well and does not warp too much is fine for watercolors. The commonly available sketchbooks in the market are fine for learning.
  • A piece of cotton cloth to wipe your brush.
  • A container for water: make sure the water is clean.
  • A mixing plate: you can use the ones commonly available in the market. Or you can also use any plate from your home. But it is best to use a white surface as you will be able to see the proper shade of colors that you are mixing.

Materials used in water coloring


Painting Steps

Now that you got your materials, here are few General rules to keep in mind before you start painting-

  1. Decide where the light is coming from in your composition. Colors will be applied accordingly
  2. Hold the brush like you would hold a pencil or a pen, not too close to the bristles
  3. Never use too much water with the paints
  4. The more water you mix, the lighter shade of the color
  5. Clean your brush into the water every time you use a new color

STEP 1. Start with drawing a simple object or composition. Keep your pencil lines light.

STEP 2. Start by painting the part where the light is falling directly. This is done either by applying small strokes or a whole patch of color.

Step 3. Now mix a darker shade and repeat this process again and again while moving towards the darker side of your object.

Step 4. To obtain a really dark color like black to color the shadiest areas of your object or drawing, mix red, blue, brown and maybe green. We don’t usually use black because if you have ever looked closely around you, even in shade you will see different colors, it is never completely black. The more you observe the more you learn.

Step 5. Paint the surface on which your object rests and make a shadow of the object.

And it’s done!!!!!! 😉

You can see the application of these steps in my next post as I create a painting of an apple using water colors.

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