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The Basics

Painting Techniques

Watercolor Projects
So far, you have learned a few of the basic watercolor techniques of painting a controlled wash, charging of colors, softening of edges, and removing watercolor from your paper by either lifting, scrubbing, or blotting.
Watercolor Painting    The Techniques
Page  11 a

More Techniques and Effects

Dry Brush can imitate wood grain  -   Wet-Into-Wet softens colors
Salt creates and adds unique texture
sample of wet-into-wet

To round off this section, I have a few more techniques to introduce that can add additional enhancements, as well as some interesting effects, to your painting.

Dry Brush Technique
Dry brush is a versatile and creative technique that places more pigment and less water onto the surface of your paper. This technique works best on watercolor paper that has a nice texture to it, as in cold-pressed or rough.
sample of dry brush on cold-pressed paper
Dry brush technique:  First, load your brush with color, and blot several times onto a paper towel. Using only the side of your brush hairs, lightly skim over the texture of the paper. To deepen the value, repeat the skimming strokes again, after the surface has been allowed to dry.
finished painting of birdhouse project
close-up of birdhouse project
  This close-up shows how the dry brush technique was used to create the illusion of wood grain on the birdhouse and the weathered fence.

personal note & tipFor best results, use a brush that is more rounded with less of a fine point. A brush with a fine point has a tendency to create a line as you skim it over the texture of the paper.

Wet-Into-Wet Technique
Wet-into-wet is another versatile and popular technique where watercolor, or water, is dropped onto a wet surface. This is a great technique to use for creating the illusion of a soft out of focus background in your painting.
example of wet-into-wet that has dried
wet-into-wet with sheen

Painting wet-into-wet:   Apply clean water to the area you will be painting. When the sheen is almost gone, begin painting in your colors. You can also place water on top of the colors to create more effects.

For best results, keep the values of your colors close to the same. Also, wait for the sheen to be almost gone before dropping another color on top of a previous one. Otherwise, your surface will be too wet and the colors may not create the right effect.
color variations on leaves
close-up of the color variations
  This close-up shows the varying effects of color and texture that this technique can produce.
personal note & tip Colors will dry a great deal lighter when applied to a wet surface. You may want to test your colors value on a scrap piece of paper before using them in your painting.

The salt technique is both a fun and creative way to add a different type of texture to your painting. You can use table salt to achieve a smaller and tighter appearance, or sea salt which will give you a larger pattern and effect.
sample of the salt technique For a salt effect:   First, paint the area where you would like to apply the salt. When the sheen is almost gone, take a pinch of salt and sparingly sprinkle over the area you would like to see the texture.

As soon as the salted area is  completely  dry, lightly brush away the salt with a paper towel.
In the painting below, salt was sprinkled throughout the trees and foliage.
salt used to create texture in trees
close-up of salt texture
  This image gives you a closer look at all the wonderful texture that was created using salt.
personal note & tip  The secret to the salt technique is all in the timing. Hot and arid conditions can cause the paint to dry way too quickly, not allowing enough time for the salt to take effect. Whereas, very humid conditions can have the opposite effect, and have you waiting for what seems like an eternity.
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Watercolor Painting Techniques
Step-By-Step Guide to Painting Realistic Watercolors © 1997 - 2009
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