Watercolor Painting Techniques : How to Create Various Textures

On this page you will learn different watercolor painting techniques which are used to create effects other than what washes can accomplish. Below are the techniques that you are most likely to find useful—in addition to basic washes.

Watercolor techniques #1: Dry Brush

You use a stiff brush with very little water to achieve a rough, textured appearance. The rougher the paper, the more texture you can obtain. Note that it is almost impossible to apply this technique to hot pressed watercolor paper. Hold your brush parallel to the paper so that the paint stays on the “hills” of the paper (and avoids the “valleys”). Almost any shape of brush will work, but in my experience, the large flat ones work best.

watercolor painting techniques dry brush

Watercolor painting techniques #2: Stippling

This technique was more popular with earlier known watercolor artists such as David Cox(1783-1859) and William Holman Hunt (1827-1910). You apply the paint with a pointed brush by gently tapping on the paper (like a tap dance). You can use other tools like a sponge or a crumpled paper to achieve similar effects. You can also fan a small brush with a short stroke to paint blades of grass.

watercolor painting techniques stippling

Watercolor painting techniques #3: Spattering

The technique is similar to stippling, except that the shapes have a little more definition and character. You load a copious amount of paint into a used toothbrush or a pointed round brush. Hold the bristles up and away from you to prevent the paint from getting on your clothes. Then hold the brush above the area where you want to apply paint and strike the brush against the handle of a second brush. The use of the second brush allows you to create spatters that are more rounded and controlled than if you whip the brush around by itself. Make sure you mask or cover the areas you don't want to get spattered.

watercolor painting techniques spattering

Watercolor techniques #4: Salt

Sprinkle a little refined salt on a damp wash and wait a few minutes. The darker the paint, the more pronounced the textures. After the paint is dry, gently loosen the remaining salt crystals with a sponge, and then brush them away. You have to practice a lot in order to learn the right proportions of salt.

Watercolor painting technique #5: Spraying

Hold a pump sprayer about 10 inches (25cm) from the paper. Spray once, then spray again. Continue on until you see the droplets start to merge together. Load your brush with a fairly creamy paint. Touch the tip to the top of the droplets on the paper. The paint will travel from

watercolor painting techniques spraying

There are some other techniques using cheese cloth or plastic wrap that will create interesting textures. click here to learn more watercolor painting techniques of that sort and expand your watercolor skills!

top of page

› Creating Textures With Watercolors


Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape

Share this page:
Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Can't find what you are looking for? Try the search box below.

Custom Search

Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Pan Sets, Field Box Set
Click here to grab Artists' Watercolor Compact Set on the go!

Yes, you can learn to draw ONLINE NOW!
click me

SmartFlix.com How-To DVD Rental

Click here to watch video

Want to know how to Succeed in Art AND Business?
This brand new 3 hour video with 94 page workbook
is packed FULL of powerful practical techniques &
priceless insider knowledge to help you on your way.
Click here to learn more.


Drawing doesn't have to be a struggle.Click here to find the right tool to draw with confidence. And, read my review here.


Site Build It!
Read my journey with SBI here.