• Kirsty Partridge

12 Genius Watercolour Hacks You Need to Know

Here are twelve important hacks to help improve your watercolour paintings, especially if you are a beginner!


Hack 1

To create natural looking night skies and galaxies try using white gouache on a flat brush, and then flick the brush upwards with your finger. This can create beautiful and varied stars. You can even use a toothbrush!



Hack 2

To remove excess water puddles from your painting use a pipette to suck up the water. This can be more successful than tissue, as it removes water without damaging any effects or techniques you have used.



Hack 3

This hack prevents tape from ripping your paper. Before applying the tape to your paper, use your jeans (or any other material that fibres can be removed from e.g. carpet) and stick the tape to this – this will reduce the stickiness of the tape. When removing the tape, these fibres allow the tape to peel right off the paper without any damage.



Hack 4

Using a watercolour pencil instead of a graphite pencil can prevent your sketch outline showing through your painting. Watercolour pencils are water soluble and allows the sketch outline to dissolve in the beautiful watercolour paint you apply on top.



Hack 5

Tired of constantly changing your water jar? Use two water jars! Rinse off your brush in the first jar and then rinse again in the second jar – this second jar will take a lot longer to get dirty and reduce those annoying trips to the sink.




Hack 6

Keeping your highlights white can be tricky. Use a white-coloured pencil (or a white wax-based pencil) to create a ‘resist’ – this waxy pigment will not allow the watercolour to get through and creates bright, white highlights. Extra tip: use an eraser over your highlights to remove any watercolour stains and make them pop even more!



Hack 7

If you are tired of waiting hours for each layer of your painting to dry, then don’t worry; you can speed up the process by using a heat tool (I use a hairdryer). Be careful though and use low heat and speed settings so you don’t damage your paintings.



Hack 8

Want to do a beautiful background but don’t want to get paint on your main subject? Use a masking pen or masking fluid to protect it. This allows you to not have to worry and makes the whole process quicker and easier. Make sure the watercolour has dried completely before rubbing the masking fluid off with your finger and then you can get started on all those beautiful details you have planned for the main subject.



Hack 9

Make your watercolour wash look that much more exciting with household products. Personally, I love to use salt and cling film to create snow and ice effects. When your watercolour is not too wet (but not too dry either!) apply them and wait overnight for fantastic results!



Hack 10

A simple trick to prevent your paper from warping. Dampen the back of your paper slightly and then place heavy objects on top and leave overnight; this will dry the paper out into a nice flat sheet.




Hack 11

White gouache is a saviour and works amazingly with watercolours! If you didn’t highlight enough or simply made a mistake then don’t worry, just go over it with white gouache and either your white highlights are bright and dazzling again or your mistake is invisible. Extra tip: remember white gouache dries slightly darker than how it looks when wet.



Hack 12

Use a clean, damp brush to lift up watercolour; this can reveal some really pretty highlights. Remember to do this when the watercolour is still wet! A tissue can be a great alternative for clouds etc., but be careful, it does create harsher edges compared to the brush.


If you want to level up your watercolour skills check out my watercolour courses and learn all of the techniques you need to create impressive paintings.


To watch these hacks in action check out the video:


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