Introduction: Watercolor Techniques for Background

About: Explorer, Artist, electronics lover

If you have tried using water colors many times and failed over and over again, then this is gonna save you. Not all of us are born artists and neither have the time to learn painting. So, in this tutorial You will be learning easy watercolor techniques that can be used for any background, yes, ANY BACKGROUND!

These techniques are not only cool but are great time-savers ;) So, you must give it a try!!

When I started using watercolors, I made a lot of mistakes. That is why this instructable is specially written keeping in mind all the mistakes that a beginner could make. You can use these techniques for a bookmark, a greeting card, a wall poster, in fact, on the wall itself! Also, I have tried mentioning the possible mistakes at each step along with their solutions.So, I hope you find this useful enough.

Let's get started!


⦁ White sheets (thickness 210 gsm, preferably )

⦁ pencil

⦁ pens

⦁ Watercolors

⦁ Paint brushes

⦁ Tissues (optional)

And your patience if something goes wrong in between xD

Step 1: Choosing the Right Brushes and Sheets

This is really important as this makes a huge difference to your artwork.

  • Sheet: For water colors, it's very important to use thick sheets as we have to use a lot of water. When the sheet absorbs water, it becomes either wavy and at times can even end up tearing. I have used sheets of thickness 210 gsm.

Secondly, I prefer using snow-white colored sheets as the colors come out to be quite vibrant on this colored sheet. Do not use a dull white color sheet which has a yellow tinge to it.

  • Brushes: For the specific techniques used described here, I have used thick brushes because no detailing is needed. You can use any kind of brush that can hold enough water at a time and can make you work fast. But make sure that you do remove excess water when you are using a thick brush.

Step 2: ​Getting Started

Collect all the materials. Cut your sheets in the desired size.

I have made a card and a bookmark in this tutorial.

Dimensions for the bookmark: 18 cm x 5 cm

Dimensions for the card : 14 cm x 10 cm

Step 3: ​Technique 1: Gradient Effect

Gradient technique:

The effect starts with one color which then merges into other contrasting colors. I have used four colors for this technique: Lemon yellow, dark yellow, mud brown and orange. Choose your colors such that they can merge into each other well. You can try out different color combinations as per your wish. Just keep in mind that you have to use at least two colors.

Some combinations that I have tried and definitely look good are : yellow, light green and dark green; pink, purple and blue; white, light blue, dark blue; yellow, orange and red.These are some suggested combinations but you can explore beyond these too.

1. Apply a thin coat of water on you sheet.

2. Take the lightest color from your chosen combination on the tip of your brush and start applying the color in horizontal motion.

3. Keep applying this color to one-fourth area of your sheet.

4. Now, take the next color (darker than the previous one) and apply this color in the same manner as done previously. Apply this color to the next one-fourth area of you sheet.

5. Make sure that you merge the two colors well. If you are unable to merge then take a clear brush and dip it in water. Remove the excess water from the brush. Now, apply this moist brush on the boundary of two colors. The colors will merge.

6. Take the third color (darker from the previous one) and fill the next one-fourth area. Repeat the step 5 to merge the two colors.

7. Take the darkest color and fill the remaining part of the sheet with this color.

Merge it with the previous color. Let it dry.


Do not apply a lot of water to your sheet. It can ruin your sheet.

Do not change the motion of your brush. If you are applying the colors horizontally, then follow the same motion throughout your work.

If the sheet gets dried in between, then apply water again. If you don't apply water then the colors will not merge well.

Take the color in your brush only from the tip.

Step 5: ​Circular Technique:

I have used three colors for this technique: white, blue, Prussian blue.

Choose colors that complement each other. You have to use at least two colors for this technique.

1. Draw a small circle in the middle of your sheet using pencil. Draw the circle very light.

2. Apply a thin coat of water on the sheet.

3. Fill the circle with blue color in circular motion.

4. Keep increasing this circle with the same color. use more color to make the outer boundaries darker.

5. Using the darkest color (Prussian blue in this case), fill the remaining part of the sheet in the same circular motion.

6. Using the lightest color (white) make a circle in the middle and, merge it with the blue color at its boundary but don't merge it completely.

Let it dry.


Do not apply excess of water.

Follow a circular motion throughout the coloring process.

In case, you applied excess amounts of color and water, remove it carefully using tissues.

Step 7: ​Writing the Right Way

Now that you have your sheets dried, the next step is to write and draw something on it. For this, it's very important that you choose the right colored pens for the right combination of watercolors that you have used.

  • In case you have used light combination of watercolors (as i have done in the gradient technique), use a dark pen to write. I have chosen black as it is the darkest color and give a good contrasting look.
  • If your color combination is dark (as i have done in the circular technique), then use a bright pen which is clearly visible. Use either a white or silver glitter pen.
  • So, the rule is to use a contrasting color pen for writing. Write whatever you wish to using the right pen.

I have also made some dots on the card (circular technique) to give it a starry effect.

Step 8: Flaunt Your Skills XD

Try these techniques on bookmarks, notebook covers, give wrapping sheets, greeting cards etc.

Try out different combinations of colors, effects and ideas. You don't have to be perfect, just be creative.

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