6 Basic Watercolor Techniques for Beginners

Hello friends! Today I wanted to share 6 basic watercolor techniques every beginner needs to know. They’re quite simple, but they’re the basis to every watercolor painting (not necessarily all of them are in a single painting, but at least a couple will be!). Today I’ll demonstrate what they are and explain how they’re created!

basic watercolor techniques for beginners

Wet on Wet

wet on wet watercolor techniques for beginners

Wet on wet is the process of laying down a wash of watercolor, then before it’s fully dry, adding another layer of paint.  This allows the paint to really blend together and create soft edges.  You can see in the above photo that my little dot is spreading out and the edges are feathering into a blended look with no sharp edges.

Here’s how it looks after it dried:

wet on wet watercolor technique for beginners


cauliflowers watercolor techniques

Cauliflowers are created the same way as the wet on wet technique, but when it’s taken a little too far.  When adding more paint to a still wet surface, cauliflowers, or blooms, occur when the new layer of paint contains more water than the layer it’s applied to.  So if you saturate your brush in too much water before picking up your paint, that’s when cauliflowers bloom. The above photo is just after I’ve touched the brush to the surface of the paper.

Here’s how it looks after it’s sat for a couple seconds:

watercolor blooms

You can see that the original little splash has really spread out.  Cauliflowers are normally classified as mistakes in watercolor, but they can be quite beautiful if they’re intended.  The key is to know what causes them and how to avoid them if you don’t want them, and create them if you do.

Wet on Dry

wet on dry watercolor techniques for beginners

Wet on dry is the process of laying down a wash of paint, then letting it dry fully before adding another layer.  You can see the difference in the above photo compared to the wet on wet technique.  Wet on dry creates crisp, sharp, saturated layers of paint.  Combine wet on wet and wet on dry techniques to really create a finished looking painting.  Wet on wet is great for blends and base layers, while wet on dry is perfect for details and anything your want to draw attention to.

Dry Brush on Dry

watercolor techniques for beginners

The dry brush on dry technique is a variation of the wet on dry method, but instead of a normal application of watercolor on dried paper, the brush is just barely wet.  It’s just wet enough to activate and pick up the watercolor, then dragged along the dry paper.  This creates skips and streaks in the paint, showing the texture of the paper underneath.  This method is great for painting grass or adding that sparkle to water’s surface.

Pen and Ink

pen and ink watercolor techniques for beginners

Pen and ink is a classic art technique, quite similar to the wet on dry watercolor method, but using a pen instead of more watercolor. All you do is paint your watercolor painting the way you want – this could be using wet on wet or both wet on wet and wet on dry, then letting it completely dry, and coming back to it with a pen.  Use the pen to create sharp outlines and transform your image from a watercolor painting to a crisp illustration. You can outline the entire image or just certain parts, and you can even add stippling and any other ink/drawing techniques on top of the dried paint. This is very popular in mixed media and art journaling works.

Masking Fluid Resist

masking fluid watercolor techniques for beginners

A masking fluid resist is simply using masking fluid to block off areas you don’t want to paint over.  Do it on dry paper, then paint your watercolor overtop.  Once it’s all dry, peel off the masking fluid to reveal what you had covered up.  This is a great way to preserve white areas of your paper, but just know that the masking fluid creates a very sharp line, so make sure that’s the look you’re going for.  You can soften it up a bit afterwards by using some clean water and lightly brushing over the edges, but it will always be somewhat sharp.

So that’s it for this tutorial! If you’re looking for more great watercolor painting techniques, Craftsy has an awesome watercolor video course called Simple and Stunning Watercolor Techniques that builds on the techniques I’ve shown you here, incorporating more techniques and showing how they can all come together to create a bright, beautiful watercolor painting.

watercolor techniques for beginners

The instructor, Mary, walks you through the process of creating an underpainting (something I believe firmly in) and using contrasting colors for vibrancy, then demonstrates different watercolor texture techniques to add visual interest, then demonstrates adding other painting media to watercolor like acrylics and gouache to really make your painting pop!

It’s a great course, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to learn more about or improve their watercolor painting skills.  So let me know in a comment below if you’re given the course a try, and how you liked it!

Thanks so much for stopping by, and till next time, keep creating!

-Ashley <3

***Full disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link to Craftsy and I will be compensated with a small commission from any sale resulting from clicking that link.  This is no extra cost to you, and it helps me afford to keep this site running and the free tutorials coming, so thank you for your support! I only recommend things I fully endorse and believe that my readers will gain real value from, so your support is greatly appreciated <3


An Acrylic Painting for Beginners Tutorial Round-Up!

free online acrylic painting lessons

Hi friends! Happy Monday! Today I wanted to do another little post round-up, similar to the watercolor tutorial round-up I’ve already done.  My goal for these types of posts is to bring light to older tutorials that may be lost in the archives of this blog, so newer readers can enjoy, and maybe my current readers can still enjoy if they haven’t seen something yet on this list.

So let’s get to it! Here’s my list of my favorite/best free acrylic painting tutorials from my archives:

Types of Acrylic Paint – craft, student, artist/professional? What’s the difference? Read this post to make an informed decision on which paints are right for you and your current skill levels.

Acrylic Mediums for Priming and Finishing – Gesso and Varnish, do I need them, and how to use them??

How to Mix Skin Tones – This video is very old, and the lighting is terrible (it was one of my first YouTube videos, before I got proper filming lighting), but the information is still solid, so it’s worth a watch if mixing skin tones with acrylics confuses you. As a head’s up, I am planning on redoing/refilming this tutorial, so stay tuned to this blog for an upgrade to this post!

How to Mix Common Paint Colors – read this post before you buy another tube of paint! Maybe you already have what you need to mix it yourself?

The Right Way to Start a Painting – before you start painting on your blank canvas, here’s the secret to a more professional look.

Shiny Ball Syndrome – a common ailment of beginner painters.  Adding too much highlight, too soon in your painting, can be a recipe for disaster. Here’s how to resist the temptation!

How to Wire Hang a Canvas – got your painting finished, but not sure how to get it on your wall? Here’s how to wire hang a canvas! (It’s easy, I promise!)

Acrylic Painting Glossary for Beginners – are you hearing words being used by artists and other art tutorials makers that have you a little confused? Here’s a list of acrylic painting words that beginners may be a bit fuzzy about.

How to Stop Acrylic Paint from Drying – prevent acrylic paint from drying too fast both on your canvas and your palette.

The Ugly Painting Phase – acrylics are all about layers, and sometimes it can be disheartening to see your painting in an “ugly” state.  But have faith and keep going! Hopefully this post will give you a little inspiration and open your eyes to the reality of what those first layers of a painting really look like.

Full Length Beginner Acrylic Painting Tutorial – Juicy Pear – a full length, step-by-step acrylic painting tutorial video where I walk you thought the painting process of painting a pear in still life.  Learn about grounds, underpainting, layering, blending, glazing, and bit of color theory as we go! Yes it’s free! Go watch it! 🙂

How to Transfer a Drawing to Canvas – using Photoshop, I’ll show how I resize my sketchbook drawings to scale them to large canvases, then physically transfer my drawings onto canvas, ready for painting!

So there they are, friends! My most popular/best free acrylic painting tutorials from my archives. I hope these are helpful to you, leave me a comment if they are, and till next time, keep creating!

-Ashley <3

Zentangle for Beginners: Shading & Highlights!

Hi friends! In this video we’re adding some shading to our finished tangle from last time, and since we’re on toned tan paper, we can add highlights using a Gellyroll white pen too!

The white highlights really add extra dimension that you can’t get on white paper, so this tangle will be something a little special. I’ll also give tips along the way on how to go about shading your tangles and best practices to making your shadows and highlights make sense, and knowing where to put them.

I hope you enjoy, thanks so much for watching, and leave me a comment if you found this video helpful, thanks!

My previous videos in this series are all here!

-Ashley <3

Free Full Length Tutorial & Planning! WIPs This Week

Hi friends! Happy Fri-yay! Is it really Friday already?? Today I wanted to share with you what I’ve been up to this week!

First, in my stationery store I released a new Boho Geometric sticker set to fit the Happy Planner. My stationery store right now is focused on planner inserts and stickers, but very soon I will be expanding it to include greeting cards (including Pupcake birthday cards!) and more decorative stickers (not just ones that are for planners). So stay tuned and I will keep you guys updated here on this blog when I have added more to the shop that you might be more interested in! (My long-term plans for the stationery shop is to carry greeting cards, notebooks, stickers, and other stationery things in addition to the planner inserts and stickers, but I’m focusing on one thing at a time).

Ultimately I want this site to carry my art prints and tutorials/ebooks/classes and my stationery shop to carry other things with my art on them, like greeting cards and stickers.

So in other news I painted and filmed a new full length step-by-step painting tutorial! This one will be a little more advanced than my other beginner painting projects, but it’s still totally doable for beginners. Here’s the finished painting on my easel:

pear acrylic painting tutorial
A juicy pear!

I’m going to edit it next week, so it’ll be up for next Saturday. Tomorrow’s video is going to be another Zentangle for Beginners tutorial, so I hope you’re looking forward to it!

I’ve also planned out my next ebook, and will begin on the painting for that next week. I have all of the sections planned out, so once I have the painting finished it should come together fairly quickly. I’m aiming to have it done by the end of this month.

So that’s it for now, guys! Have a happy Mother’s Day this Sunday, and till next time, keep creating!

-Ashley <3

3 Free Watercolor Painting Tutorials

Hi friends! Happy Monday! Today I wanted to share a few really great watercolor tutorials I found on Pinterest, and the best part is that they’re all free! These tutorials can help if you’re looking for watercolor painting techniques, how to blend watercolors, or how to add detail to a watercolor painting.  Click on the pictures to be taken to the tutorials, and enjoy!

Starry Night Watercolor Tutorial

This tutorial by Zakkiya of Inkstruck deonstrates how to create a pretty galaxy-style watercolor painting with a silhouetted landscape. It demonstrates the basics of painting wet-in-wet, which is how watercolors get their beautiful loose, flowy designs:

watercolor wet in wet technique

Watercolor Feather Designs in 3 Ways

This next tutorial by Rachel of Adventures in Making demonstrates how to paint a beautiful feather in watercolor using three different techniques.  The watercolor techniques demonstrated in this tutorial can be used in any other watercolor painting, so it’s worth taking a look!

watercolor painting techniques

Beginner Color Mistakes

This last tutorial by Singarl on DeviantArt shows the common mistakes beginners make when attempting to paint a scene. The tutorial itself is done on the computer, but the principles apply to watercolor, acrylics, oils, any color medium! It’s great color theory rules to keep in mind when you’re working on a watercolor landscape or still life.

watercolor blending techniques
Click the image to see the full tutorial.


So that’s it for now, guys! I hope these free resources help you in your watercolor adventures! It can be a big difficult to get the hang of, but painting with watercolors is one of my most favorite mediums because it can produce gorgeous effects that other mediums simply can’t. So stick with it, and till next time, keep creating!

Thanks for stopping by!

-Ashley <3