watercolor tutorial part 5: mediums and techniques

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I know I left you all hanging for Part 5 in Yao’s Watercolor Series! But the holidays and all that jazz just tend to take over! But now that Spring is in the air, it feels like the perfect time to bust out some color! So here you go!

This is part 5 of 5! If you need to catch up you can check out Yao’s whole series here.

And DO NOT miss Yao’s free downloadable stationary she did for us here!

Now take it away Yao!

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Well hello!

This week, I want to share with you guys other mediums and techniques that I like to combine with watercolor. As awesome as watercolor is on its own, I like to push the boundaries a little and see what else is out there to enhance my work and the medium. I’m including some of the mediums and techniques out there that are great compliments to watercolor, but there are many more that will also do wonders with watercolor.

To begin with…

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Masking fluid is a medium I often use in my work. The Winsor & Newton pigmented (a slightly yellow color, it helps you see where you’ve painted) masking fluid is what I’ve found to be the best quality. It is perfect for masking and protecting areas of your painting that you want to keep white or retain a certain color. Think of it as a tape that you paint on with! It starts as a fluid, and when it dries, you just peel it away with a rubber block or eraser.

Here’s what you need to know before using this medium for the first time: Keep a jar of soap water near by, as you will need to rinse it in the jar every minute or so to keep the fluid from drying on your brush. I would advise using cheap and throw-away brushes for this medium, because it can ruin your brushes quickly if the fluid dries on the bristles.

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Paint with it just as you would normally. Don’t be afraid to press down the bristles to get different thicknesses of your brush strokes. The best part about this medium is that it retains every detail and brush texture!

After the fluid is completely dried, paint on top of it with watercolor and blend with colors however you’d like.
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I like to use a rubber square that you can purchase at most art supply stores to remove the masking fluid. It’s so easy and doesn’t leave a mess behind.

After the latex is removed, you can go back in and add details to your painting. What I like about working with this method is that you can be more loose with how you apply the watercolor. The definitions of the flower are captured with the masking fluid, so just go for it and paint your heart out!
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This is the same idea as with the flowers. Be sure to clean out your brushes in soapy water every few strokes to avoid having the latex dry in your bristles.

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I use this method a lot when I’m painting fields and grasses. My Rolling Hills and Grass and Field prints both use this same technique!

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Another fun technique to try out is using paper towels to create subtle textures. Sponges and saran wrap works the same way, so be sure to give them a try as well! With saran wrap, crinkle it up a bit to give it some folds and lay it on top of the wet area. Once the paint dries, you will see an interesting texture appear when you remove the saran wrap!

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Because of fast I like to paint, sometimes it’s great for me to sketch and draw the outlines first in pen before I lay down colors. Not all pens are bleed proof, but I’ve had great results with my Muji pens.

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Sumi ink is another medium to try out. It is much more concentrated than watercolors and gouaches, so a little bit of this ink will go a long way! I like to lay down the darkest part of the painting first, and then using a clean brush to drag out some of that ink to create lighter areas.

If you want to add some color to your ink paintings, Winsor & Newton inks offer a range of colors that are fun to play with. I would not recommend mixing inks with watercolor as it dries differently and more permanently.

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Last but not at all the least, gold gouache from Winsor & Newton is a really fun way to give your work that little bit of pizzazz! I’ve tried a couple of different gold gouaches, but this one is definitely the best. It is very opaque and has a great warm hue to it. In addition to using it straight out of the tube, you can mix it with watercolor to give your colors some shimmer.

Well folks, this concludes this week’s tutorial. Even though this is the last one of my watercolor tutorial series, I want to just say again how much I enjoyed sharing with you guys all these weeks my passion for watercolor. A big thanks to Alison and all of you for reading along! I hope I’ve inspired some of you guys to pick up that brush and give this great medium a try. You will be hooked soon, I’m sure!

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. Rosemary Lukich

    Interested in water colour as have only tried pastels and acrylic

  2. I have realy enjoyed the tutorials, thanks so much for your in-put.

  3. sharon

    great idea’s thank you for sharing..I have worked with these little tricks before… do mostly oils now and think it is about time I went back to some watercolour…thank you

  4. Gladys Szell

    Thank you for sharing. Your tutorial helped me so much!

  5. So interesting and helpful. I’ma beginner and this kind of info sets my imagination flowing… Thanks



  7. Margaret Kiernan

    Really enjoyed this. Reminded me of past performances. Always good to start over again. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Denise

    Loved this tutorial series!! I´m just starting and i´m having a hard time with florals.. any advise?


  9. Alexa Roberts

    Hey! I was wondering what brand and set of watercolors you use? The colors are fantastic!

  10. I’m such a huge fan of your work, Yao! These tutorials have been beyond fabulous. I can’t wait to try out some of your fun tips & tricks.

  11. Lynn

    Thank you for getting me inspired again. Enjoyed your tutorials.

  12. laura goslee

    Very cool series to get a quick start and good ideas for trying out watercolor What fun:-) catchy enthusiasm 🙂

  13. Thank you so much – I just found these tutorials, and I’ve been trying to teach myself how to paint with watercolor for 2 years now. This has been VERY helpful! So thank you again, these are so well made 🙂

  14. Terry

    Thanks for sharing. What is the link for Yao’s website? I think it would be enjoyable to follow you both on your creative adventures! 😉

    1. it’s all in the article!

  15. Hun

    Great Inspired. I loved it. Thanks for best guidance.

  16. This series is so amazingly beautiful and helpful! Thank you – I appreciate your sharing all of this!

  17. Thank you so much for this tutorial series! It’s given me the basic knowledge I need to get started with watercolor. Can’t wait to try it out later today!

  18. hii.summer

    so interesting and helpful. Thank you so much!

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