Watercolors – first stepsNovember 21st, 2018 / Illustrations Basics
When we hear about watercolors, most of us probably have images from our childhood in front of our eyes. The memory of school paints in the form of heavily pressed, dry pastilles, with which we performed our first works with greater or lesser success. These were just watercolors – a simple variant, harder dried and with less pigment.
You could write a separate, multi-page work on these paints, techniques used in their use as well as materials and tools. I will try to focus on the most important aspects, to give you an idea of what watercolors are and why it is worth trying to work with these paints.
Watercolors are used to describe both the type of paints and the images made with them. These are water-based paints created by mixing pigment with a binder – once used only in arabic gum, today it is often a mixture of arabic gum and synthetic binders.
basics first, then freestyle
Despite the fact that many people may associate watercolors with innocent children ‘smearing’, they are quite difficult to use because of the ease with which they can spill out of paper on an uncontrolled basis. Due to their very low coverage (compared to other paints), they require the painter to be aware of and master and apply a few rules that will avoid basic mistakes.
- First of all, we should be sure of the color we apply – all adjustments are extremely difficult, and the paint itself can’t be effectively removed from the paper after previous application.
- The essential is the order in which colors are applied: we start from the lightest to the darkest. Watercolors can not be lightened otherwise as by adding water with a brush on paper.
- When painting with watercolors, we do not use white. Why? Because it will not be visible. Any brightening must be planned and secured with a special masking fluid so that the pigment does not get into the places where we do not want it
- Due to the nature of watercolors – the fact that they are water-based paints – we should obtain a special paper for this type of paint, which has a significant proportion of cotton. It’s good that it is a paper with a higher basis weight than we use with other types of paint, at least 180-300g. There are also papers for watercolors with a much higher basis weight, but 300 is the optimal and most common density.
When it comes to the techniques of applying watercolor paints, we distinguish two basic ones:
Wet on wet and wet on dry. The first of these is to first wet the paper with clean water in the places where you want to apply the paint, and then add the paint with a brush to this place. With this technique, we obtain color patches with blurred edges and a more irregular shape.
The second technique is applying paint with a brush on dry paper. In this way, we will get more precise, clearer and more accurate lines, because the paint will not dissolve in water on paper, as with the first technique.
Watercolors are available in three basic forms of storage:
- cube – paints in the form of dry pastilles / cubes, etc.
- tube – paints in liquid form, are characterized by good solubility. You can easily adjust the amount you need. The consistency resembles oil paints
- bottle – rarely used for typical painting, used to make accurate projects. Less frequently encountered.
If we are in the subject of tools and materials, it is impossible not to mention the brushes we should use. We recommend soft brushes with high absorptivity of paint and water, thanks to which we will have better control over the size of the color patches we apply. We can buy good quality brushes with synthetic bristles, although natural brushes will be best. Professional watercolor artists use brushes with sable bristles, squirrels, goats or pony.
nothing more frustrating than bad improper paper
A very important issue is the selection of the right substrate, i.e. the paper on which we paint. It is worth realizing that the type of paper – its texture and water absorption – depends largely on the final effect of our work and the intensity of colors. Watercolor paper can be divided into three most common types:
- Hot stamping (HP – Hot Pressed) – very smooth paper used for precision work. The paints spread more evenly on it.
- Cold pressed – moderate paper with a delicate texture, the most popular and most convenient. He forgives mistakes and is especially recommended to amateurs. It allows the use of various techniques, making it universal
- Rough – invoiced paper, obtained hot without pressing. Paints applied to this type of paper dry slowly, are harder to use and are therefore not recommended for beginners
The above informations about watercolors are summarized in a very short and relatively brief. I tried to introduce you into the subject of these water-based paints. Using watercolor we are able to create beautiful romantic paintings with pastel colors. However, remember that watercolors can also be used for realistic painting. I encourage you to try your strength and experiment with these paints. Let me know in a comment if you’ve been painting with watercolors or just trying on them.