Let’s Color! Watercolor Techniques
The soft color tones and translucent washes of watercolor are ideal for the spring card-making season.
While I may be most recognized for my Copic® coloring, I do like to switch it up on occasion and use other coloring media. I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite techniques with some of those media in my column this year.
Spring always reminds me of watercolor with its soft tones and translucent washes, so I think that is the perfect place to start. While each technique below is listed with a specific watercolor product, many of them may be used with other watercolor products as well.
Most dye ink markers are water-based and can be used for watercoloring. Some will blend better and be more forgiving than others, so make sure to test your favorite brands.
Step 1: Using brush nib of marker, color directly on stamp. Use as many colors as necessary to ink entire image.
Step 2: Spritz lightly with water to activate ink.
Step 3: Gently press stamp onto watercolor paper to transfer image (Photo 1).
Watercolor paper Dye ink markers Line image stamp Water in spray bottle Small paintbrush Cup of water Paper towels Plastic surface to use as palette
There are a number of different types of watercolor paints, from cakes to liquid to concentrated pigment on paper. While I love liquid watercolors for their vibrant hues, the cakes are a bit more travel friendly, and I can take a small palette with me when I want to create outside of my studio.
Step 1: Stamp image in waterproof ink. If using dye inks, make sure they are completely dry before watercoloring. Step 2: Add water to watercolor cakes to activate paints. Step 3: Using clean water, wet area to be painted. Make sure to apply water only to one section at a time or paints will run together (Photo 4).
Watercolor paper Watercolor pan set Line image stamp Dye ink Small paintbrush Cup of water Paper towels
I love that watercolor pencils give me the look of watercolor while giving me the control of a pencil. If you are new to watercoloring, give these a try for instant success.
Step 1: Stamp image in waterproof ink. If using dye inks, make sure they are completely dry before watercoloring.
Step 2: Starting with lightest color, apply a thick layer of color to most of the stamped image. Leave any areas of highlight uncolored. You can apply pencil by rubbing in circles, lines or randomly (Photo 7).
Watercolor paper Watercolor pencils Line image stamp Dye ink Small paintbrush Cup of water Paper towels
Watercolor crayons are a versatile way to add soft color to an image. They can be used directly on paper like watercolor pencils, or they can be colored onto a stamp and then transferred to paper like watercolor markers. The following technique uses Gelatos (a form of watercolor crayon) colored directly onto a stamp and layered to create a unique, watercolor image.
Step 1: Beginning with largest image, apply lightest color to stamp by gently rubbing crayon across surface. Use your finger to spread color if necessary.
Step 2: Spritz colored stamp lightly with water and stamp onto watercolor paper. The color will be inconsistent and the image may be indistinct. That’s okay. Let it dry completely (Photo 11).
A Note About Papers
While these techniques can be used on most any paper, you will find the best results by using a good quality paper meant for watercolor media. Unlike smooth papers, watercolor papers are made to absorb water consistently and slowly to avoid pilling and tearing. The surface texture allows paints to flow and settle, giving a unique look to the finished image.
Step 5: If deeper shading or additional color is desired, scribble marker ink directly onto a plastic surface and use as a paint palette. With a wet brush, pick up marker ink and apply it to stamped image (Photo 3).
Step 4: Using a wet paintbrush, begin “pulling” color from stamped lines into image. Add more water as necessary and remember to clean brush between colors (Photo 2).
Step 4: Load desired paint color onto a wet brush and begin painting by touching loaded brush to wet area of image. The paint will flow from brush tip onto surface of water (Photo 5).
Step 5: Spread and direct paint as desired. Add more water to lighten color and create a soft wash (Photo 6).
Step 6: For a darker color, use less water or allow area to dry completely before adding more paint.
Step 3: Add shading with additional colors. Apply pencil directly over previous layers to create visual depth (Photo 8).
Step 5: If a line image is included, stamp over watercolor layers with a coordinating color of dye ink (Photo 14).
Step 4: Dip paintbrush into clean water and begin spreading and blending pencil color. Start in darkest areas and pull color into highlight areas. Clean brush periodically to keep colors from turning muddy. Use water to “pick up” color from dried areas to lighten if necessary (Photo 9). Step 5: Add detail or highlight definition by dipping a pencil into water and applying directly to paper (Photo 10).
Step 4: Apply darkest color to smallest layer stamp, spread, spritz with water, and stamp creating another layer (Photo 13).
Step 3: Apply a darker color to a smaller layer stamp and spread if necessary. Spritz with water and stamp directly over first image (Photo 12).