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Becoming a successful watercolorist means mastering all wash techniques. In this lesson you will discover the common five washes and how to apply them correctly. This is the first step in gaining control over this sometimes unpredictable medium.

Wet In Dry Flat Wash

This is sometimes referred to as glazing since you are applying wet paint to a dry surface. The goal is to apply pigment to the desired area working top to bottom and end and end up with an evenly colored hue.
Here are a few tips;
  • Start with a slight angle on your paper so that gravity will help the paint flow downward.
  • Do not pre-wet the paper.
  • Premix enough color to cover the area.
  • Use a large mop brush, or large flat brush.
  • Start at the top and work down.
  • You will see a bead develop if you are doing it correctly.
Demo Image

Variegated Wash

This is very similar to wet-in-dry but it uses more than one hue. This technique is often necessary when you want to add several hues to the initial wash.
Here are a few tips;
  • Start with a slight angle on your paper so that gravity will help the paint flow downward.
  • Do not pre-wet the paper.
  • Premix a few colors.
  • Clean brush thoroughly before adding second hue.
  • Be sure to keep color saturations the same.
  • Avoid overworking so the colors are crisp.
  • Use a large mop brush, or large flat brush.
  • Start at the top and work down.
  • You will see a bead develop if you are doing it correctly.
Demo Image

Gradated Wash

Similar to wet-in-wet but the hue is more concentrated in one area. So, the end result is a shift from a saturated color to a diluted hue.
Here are a few tips;
  • Start with a slight angle on your paper so that gravity will help the paint flow downward.
  • Pre-wet the paper but use less water towards bottom.
  • Start at the top and work down.
  • Premix a base color.
  • Add more color on the side of the base color for the saturated area but avoid working it into the base mixture.
  • Use more pigment and less water at the top and dilute as you move down.
Demo Image

Wet In Wet & Dry Wash

This technique is perfect for skies and creating a random mix of hard and soft edges.
Here are a few tips;
  • Start with a slight angle on your paper so that gravity will help the paint flow downward.
  • Pre-wet paper but be sure to leave some areas dry.
  • Apply watercolors in desired areas being sure to leave some untouched.
  • This creates hard and soft edges.
Demo Image



Materials Used In Demo

Click here if you need to purchase materials.
Brushes & Paper
Da Vinci Squirrel Mop Brush#5
Blick Watercolor Sketchbook9x12"
Holbein Hues
Ultramarine blue
Yellow ochre
Alizarin crimson

Watercolor Master Class - Techniques & Color

A complete guide for techniques and color.

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