Watercolor Resist Cards





Introduction: Watercolor Resist Cards

About: I'm an Instructables success story! After relying on the site to DIY my way through art school, I was able to join the Instructables Design Studio in 2012. It's the best! Whe...

Watercolor Resist refers to the process of creating a masked surface before inking with watercolors, or any liquid pigment. In this Instructable, I used rubber cement as a resistive medium to create water-repelling shapes and words on watercolor paper. Dried rubber cement is able to permeate into the paper fibers so that any water-based paint is unable to dye the paper - it's a cool technique!

I recently had a birthday and received some really nice things from some of my favorite people. I wanted to send those folks a nice thing in return as thanks. Everyone loves receiving a letter in the mail, and I thought to make it extra special I would make each card by hand.

This process is really fun, and a little bit like writing a secret message that you have to unlock with a rainbow of watercolors.

Step 1: The Stuff

For this project I used:

All of this stuff is available online or in craft stores. I've had this water color palette for ages, it's nice because you can swap out the tiles when you run out, or if you want to change the colors in the palette.

Step 2: Applying Rubber Cement

I'm a big fan of using glue syringes as applicators.

For these cards, I partially filled a syringe with rubber cement and very carefully wrote out my messages of gratitude on each piece of watercolor paper.

I experimented with using stencils as well, taping down each stencil to the watercolor paper then brushing on the rubber cement in the open areas.

Rubber cement takes about 10 minutes to dry completely. It should barely feel tacky to the touch and appear completely matte.

Step 3: The Fun Part

I have a lot of fun working with watercolors. I've never taken any real training for them, but I have developed a technique that I like a lot.

I carefully flood the paper with water first and then gently dot bits of pigment onto the dampened areas. It makes for a nice tie-dye effect, and the colors bleed together in cool ways.

Step 4: Fold 'em

Wait for each card to dry completely before folding. Folding wet paper can mess up your uncured pigment layer or cause rips in the paper.

Bone folders are great for getting really crisp folds. I folded each card in half and made a sharp crease by dragging a bone folder along the fold.

Step 5: Voila!

That's it! This is a pretty great little trick for watercolor painting, I knocked out 10 hand-painted cards in about an hour with this technique. Don't worry, I'll spend more time filling them with heartfelt messages <3


If you share your own Watercolor Resist project with an 'I Made It' in the comments below, I'll gift you a 3 Month Pro code for Instructables!

Thanks for reading! Happy Making!!



  • Colors of the Rainbow Contest

    Colors of the Rainbow Contest
  • Stick It! Contest

    Stick It! Contest
  • Pets Challenge

    Pets Challenge

We have a be nice policy.
Please be positive and constructive.




Very beautiful cards!, and I look forward to trying this technique soon! tfs

I've done something similar but without the spectacular results you've gotten. Thanks for this instructable, seems easy and unique. Thanks!

It's been awhile since I've done this, but crayons can be used as the "resistive medium." When I was in first grade, back in 1966, my teacher had us draw a Halloween picture with crayons using bright colors, no black. After we finished our masterpieces, we washed the whole thing with black watercolor. The result was our landscape turned into a night picture. I doubt the results were spectacular at the age of five or six, but after 50 years I still remember it.

1 reply

This is pretty much the same principle! There are tons of resistive painting techniques - I want to try white glue next.

Do you rub off the rubber cement after everything has dried, or do you leave it on? I am going to do this next week with a student I tutor, who has showed interest in watercolors before.

1 reply

You can rub off the rubber cement if you like after the water colors have completely dried. Try picking up the rubber cement with an eraser.

Interesting to learn about the glue syringe! Is the rubber cement flush with the painted and dried paper, or is the surface raised?

1 reply

Awesome! This is superb. I am not an art student but still water colors are my favorite.

Your cards are lovely and I look forward to trying this technique soon!

These are cool!!!

Handwritten notes will never beat a lousy Facebook message. These are pretty and thoughtful but not difficult. Thank you for sharing with the Community!