Watercolor Tutorial part 2: Blending

Watercolor Tutorial part 2: Blending
July 9, 2013 Alison Faulkner

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Are you all as excited as I am for part 2 of Yao’s amazing Watercolor Tutorial series!?! If you need to catch up check out Watercolor Tutorial pt 1: Basics & Supplies!

Now take it away Yao!

watercolor tutorial on blending
Well hello folks!

Here is the second tutorial on watercolor, and today I’m going to share with you guys how I use the blending technique. Watercolor is all about letting loose and having a little fun, and there’s nothing more fun than blending with watercolor! With blending, you can get an extraordinary range of saturation and tone. You can start an area with a rich amount of pigment, and as you add more water, it will eventually blend into delicate and soft tones. It’s the perfect way to capture those gorgeous summer flowers in your garden!

I’ve provided a step by step of a bouquet of flowers that I did for this post to show you how I approach painting flowers using blending. So come follow along, and soon you’ll be on your way to creating your own beautiful watercolor pieces!
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I don’t typically sketch my painting out beforehand in pencil, only because it can be difficult to erase the pencil lines after the painting is done. I do recommend sketching out your ideas and working out the composition if you don’t feel confident going straight into painting. Another way of sketching is to do some small paintings to see what colors you’d like to use, what techniques, and etc…

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Everyone has a different approach to how to start a painting, but with flora, I like to start with the flower itself. My art teacher once told me that you should always paint flowers in the same way that they bloom in nature. So as you start from the center of the flower and work your way out, imagine how a petal might blossom outwards. You end up capturing the life of the flower that way!
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With lighter-colored flowers, try going over the flower with a light wash first, and dip more pigment into the wet area to get a faded effect.
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Adding a different color, like I did with pink here, to a light orange flower will achieve a soft blend of the two colors.
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Adding more water to an already wet area with lighten the color even more.
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Another reason why I like to start with the flowers themselves is because it helps me figure out where to add the stems and leaves later on! A quick note about stems, even though you may not see the entire stem, pay attention to where they would actually connect to the flower.
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I have the most fun with leaves because they are easily created with a quick few dabs of the brush. I will talk more about mark-making in an upcoming post and how to create nice leaves and trees using your brush! Try creating different tones of leaves ranging from dark, saturated ones to others that are light and airy!
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Here I am adding more pigment to the stem areas that are still wet. You can see how the dark green starts to flow naturally into some of the other stemmed areas, creating a nice range in shades of dark and light greens!
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Lastly, as your painting dries, go back and add more color to areas of the flowers to give them more definition!


Here are some tips and exercises that you can do if you want to practice seeing how colors blend and work together.
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Blend two colors together by starting at one spot with a color and while that area is still wet, begin to paint a second color. Make sure to paint the second color with some distance separating it from the original color. Pull the second color towards the original and watch it slowly blend together in a lovely transition! This works great with sunsets and landscapes.
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Wet the surface first with just water, and then add pigment to that area. Then, just sit back and admire the way the colors expand and fade! Make sure you are on a flat surface while you are painting (and also while they dry!) so that the pigment doesn’t run in ways you don’t want it to.
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Taking a dark color and pulling away from it with more and more water will create interesting striations and gradations!
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Last but not least, blending using edges or corners of a shape will allow the colors and water to flow into each other in a concentrated way. It is really fun to watch how colors interact when they first come into contact with each other! Call me a watercolor nerd, but I can do this all day!

Well, I hope you enjoyed this post of a step by step to painting flora and different tips on blending with watercolor! Some people find this aspect of watercolor frustrating and difficult to work with, but once you learn to let loose a bit you will see why watercolor is such a wonderful way to let your creative juices go!

Until next time!


Updated April 2015Yao now offers an online tutorial! Check it out! 

Thank you so much Yao! I cannot wait to become a watercolor master! Yao has sweetly offered you guys 20% off at her shop or etsy shop using the code THEALISONSHOW !! So be sure to check out her gorgeous work.


  1. Cristina 5 years ago

    I’m always on the fence about whether I like watercolors or not. These flowers are so gorgeous, though. Makes me want to put away my acrylics and give watercolors a shot.

    • Author
      Alison Faulkner 5 years ago

      i feel the same way! Yao’s work has totally made me a watercolor fan again!

  2. Melany 5 years ago

    So beautiful! I would’ve loved to watched a video of this. I think watching people paint is the most relaxing thing ever. #BobRoss

  3. Yao Cheng 5 years ago

    Thanks so much Melany! I have so much fun creating these tutorials. I agree, I should look into creating a video tutorial for watercolor painting… I was definitely channeling my inner Bob Ross here!

  4. Kelly 5 years ago

    Thanks so much Melany! Your work is always so beautiful and you make it look so easy. I love your blog, keep up the good work!

  5. Mae 5 years ago

    This series is awesome! I absolutely enjoy art& want to do more watercolor. The brush& paint suggestions will be so helpful, thanks yao!


  6. Laura Ashton 5 years ago

    Fabulous so very inspiring… different from my style but simply beautiful!

  7. Kaylee Andersen 5 years ago

    This is beautiful! I used to paint with watercolors all the time in high school for my AP Art Class, but sadly I really don’t remember how to use them anymore and I haven’t touched them in four years. This makes me want to start again.

  8. Ashley 5 years ago

    I LOVE THIS!!! What a great series! Def going to get my paints out and try to work a little magic -what a great idea for a tutorial.

  9. seel 5 years ago

    lovely lovely! me quedo esperando la tercera!

  10. I love the look of watercolors and do them now and again but, I’m so much better with acrylics and oils. Layering is my thing I guess. I love the colors you’ve used here though, so summery. I am getting my watercolors out and giving it a go, letting go! I’m letting go of my control freak self and letting it flow. I can’t wait. Thanks for the tutorial.

  11. Lena 5 years ago

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I’m just beginning to use watercolours and this quick lesson has been super helpful. …And what beautiful, inspiring work by Yao!

  12. Jo Etta McCollum 5 years ago

    Enjoyed this and shared to my page. I do acrylics and water color. Going to try not drawing; this should make my painting looser.

  13. Kristin M 5 years ago

    Thanks to both of you for posting this tut. I’m looking forward to following. I hope you post on your Facebook when you add a new post as I started following you there.

  14. Carole Haring 5 years ago

    Would it be possible for you to email these lessons to me?

  15. Diane 5 years ago

    Fantastic tutorial… Can’t wait to get started… I look forward to seeing more of your work

  16. Barbora 5 years ago

    Aww this is soo amazing!! I am really interested in water color painting and this helped me a lot! I wanna try it today :))

    Xx Barbora

  17. odi paniagua z 4 years ago

    Me gusta mucho la acuarela es bella.

  18. susan witter 4 years ago

    I will learn from this. I am fascinated by flowers. trees and love the shape and colors of iris. Thank you

  19. lois 4 years ago

    Thank you, for having this online. I just started water color painting in college and I love it. This really helps me see some details, I haven’t noticed before.

  20. Anna Lynas 4 years ago

    Thanks so much. I always thought flowers were too difficult to try – but you make it look so easy! Absolutely beautiful. I’ll give it a go.

  21. Susan Rasmussen 4 years ago

    I just discovered your tutorials and think they are terrific. Do let me know when post the next one. Thanks so much for the inspiration.


  22. Thanks for such a great tutorial. Beautiful flowers

  23. Polina 4 years ago

    Thank you!

  24. Mimi Hanna 4 years ago

    Very inspiring tutorial…gives me the chance to create (try) what you are showing
    and having the image in front of me….Will attempt it for sure! Thank You!

  25. Eu Sei 4 years ago

    When I studied watercolor the mixing of two colors unintentionally–as I see in many of your pictures–was called “burning” (loose translation to English). This was something to be avoided at all costs, as I studied with professionals who had their work in museums. I guess rules no longer apply…

  26. Thanks for this series, I recently did this step and posted a photo of my bouquet, I think I’m getting better 🙂 http://withcraftsandlace.tumblr.com/post/111111016630/i-turned-one-of-my-hoarded-notebooks-into-a

  27. Mary marylouiseanne@live.co.uk 3 years ago

    I love your flowers, so bright hopefully I can learn to paint as good as that. Keep up the good work.

  28. Kheefong 2 years ago

    Love your flowers!
    I am a beginner and am so grateful for your tutorials…..would be perfect if we could have videos of them!
    Thank you for sharing and inspiring!

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