Watercolor Techniques

Watercolor Technique Wet-On-Dry

The watercolor technique wet-on-dry is the process of applying a brush wet with watercolor paint to dry paper. This method allows a more controlled brush stroke for defining shapes and details and is the method most commonly used in watercolor painting.

Wet-On-Dry Technique

A variety of wet-on-dry brush strokes can be achieved for making natural-looking marks, lines from thin to thick, sharp edges, and textures depending upon how the brush is held and how much watercolor paint is on the brush.

  • Lightly touching the tip of a wet brush to the dry paper produces a thin line.
  • Pressing the side of a wet brush down onto the dry paper produces a thicker mark or line.
  • Lightly stroking a dry brush (one with very little watercolor paint on it) produces texture.

Wet-On-Dry Wash Technique

Unlike the wet-on-wet wash technique, it is difficult to lay a wet-on-dry wash without the brush strokes showing. So, the wash will have streaks if you don’t work quickly.

The paper should be tilted slightly on an easel or board so that the watercolor paintbrush strokes flow downward more evenly. This will make the brush strokes less visible.

For covering large areas, use a one-inch flat brush or an oval “wash brush” (also called a “mop brush”). To paint smaller areas with a wet-on-dry wash, use a round brush size 10 or larger.

The brush needs to be full of watercolor paint. Apply the brush in an even stroke across the full width of the paper. Then immediately fill the brush again and brush across the bottom edge of the previous brush stroke the full width of the paper. Repeat this process until the desired area is covered with paint.

When the wet-on-dry wash is completed, leave the paper tilted at a slight angle on a board or easel until it has dried completely. Then proceed with painting the rest of your watercolor composition.

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