Home Watercolour Brush Pen Techniques

Tips and Techniques

Body colour

The Mixing White is unique to the Art-Kure range and completely different in application compared to the other colours. The paint is not transparent watercolour but opaque with a similar consistency to Gouache paint, or what the Old Masters called ‘Body Colour’.
The Old Masters used Body Colour to tint and highlight their art works. It was very rare to use Body Colour fully saturated to make a pure white as you would with Acrylic for example, where the white can be used to cover colour not to mix and tint colour. Although you can tint with acrylic white it can sometimes be too stark and oblique. The Body Colour is not as thick in consistency or as opaque as acrylics.  Instead the highlights are muted or tinted with the underlying colour, creating a more subtle effect.
Also, with Body Colour, there are some interesting effects that can be achieved due to it’s unusual properties. One of these effects is the luminosity of the paint once it has dried on the painting. Turner is a classic example, as he used this kind of paint to get luminous (i.e. glowing or shimmering) skies. The Mixing White has this iridescence as one of its properties, amongst many. If you wish to create a more opaque tint then simply apply more layers. The more layers of White you apply the more opaque and glossy or iridescent the result will be. The less layers you apply the less opaque and mat it will be.
Highlights on fruit or reflected light effects can be achieved very easily with the White and will give you an iridescent or glossy result, also great for misty or snowy skies.
If you want to avoid texture or streaks in your tints then use the Water Sketch Brush to dilute the consistency of the Mixing White. Because the White has a moderately thick consistency it really lends itself to textured techniques
i.e. Scumbling and Cross Hatching.

Tipping Technique


For detailing with fine lines use the tip of the Colour Sketch Brush for full saturated colour. Or if you prefer subtle and translucent lines, transfer some colour from the Colour Sketch Brush to the Water Sketch Brush by touching the tips together and using the colour on the Water Sketch Brush to add to your picture.

Wet into wet

This is where you apply new colour without waiting for the previous colours to dry so that they bleed and blend into each other without any hard edges or backruns. There is not much control with this technique but the results can be very spectacular and rewarding.

Firstly dampen your paper and try to keep it that way until you have finished all the areas that you want to be wet. This technique should not be used exclusively on a painting, as the results may be formless and undefined. It is usually most effective juxtaposed with sharp hard lines, giving your picture variety.

After applying the wet into wet technique wait for the painting to dry and see where you need to sharpen it up. Also be aware that it is difficult to use the paper for highlights with this technique. If you want to highlight your work, wait for the paper to dry and use the Mixing White Colour Sketch Brush.

Step by step using wet into wet

Do a faint outline drawing of your picture or an underpainting (see underpainting technique). Then dampen the page with an Art-Kure Water Sketch Brush. The Large or Chisel are the best for this exercise, as they can cover large areas easily.

Use the Colour Sketch Brushes you have chosen and apply them to the paper gentling dabbing and watch them spread and merge. You may want to add some more water if the colour is too intence.

After your initial layer is down you can add detail and definition to the painting with the Colour Sketch Brushes, or if you want to add subtle/dilute colour you can tip colour onto the Water Sketch Brush and use that. (see tipping technique).

Be careful not to overwork the painting as you may find that you create backruns, especially if you use too much water while building up the definition. There is another method of using wet into wet. First apply your Colour Sketch Brush with the dry brush technique then add water with a Water Sketch Brush. Before the first colour dries apply your second colour directly on top. If you want several colours to bleed into one another, as you would for a stormy sky, apply different colours with the dry brush technique then use the Water Brush after to blend the colours together.


Wet on dry

Applying new wet layers of colour over earlier dried layers is the traditional method of building up a watercolour painting. If you want to create darker and richer areas in your painting, making it more striking and less wishy-washy, this is a great technique. However, be aware that this technique is slightly harder to use with Art-Kure, this is because the watercolour is so sensitive to any addition of water because they are fully water-soluble. You can still use wet on dry but you have to have a lot of patience. In the example provided, I used wet into wet for the sky that covered the whole area, I had to wait for about 20 minutes for it to dry. After it was absolutely dry I used a Colour Sketch Brush directly onto the paper to create a crisp horizon line and the standing stones.

I continued to use the Colour Sketch Brush down the page a little way and then used the Water Sketch Brush to create another graduated wash. The reason why I wanted to separate the bottom wash to the top was so that any addition of water didn’t disturb the colour already on the paper. It is very easy to disturb washes and create unintentional and annoying backruns. It’s also essential to have a completely dry painting before adding new layers, if you want to achieve completely crisp lines, as I have done with the background hills. It only takes a very minute amount of dampness for one colour to bleed into another. Another way to approach this problem is to only wet the area you want and not the whole surface, therefore making it less essential to wait for drying.

Also, be aware that small bleed lines will always appear (blurring crisp lines) if your paper is naturally rough or you have already painted several layers onto the painting. Remember the more layers you paint the more you will degrade your paper.


Graduated and Variegated Wash

A Graduated wash is a wash that shifts in tone and a variegated wash shifts in colour. Using Art-Kure you will approach a graduated wash differently than from the traditional technique.

First you use the colour sketch brush at the top of the area you wish to wash. You must move quickly so that the fully saturated colour does not stain your paper, as soon as you have made a thick line of colour, take the water sketch brush (I recommend a Large or Chisel) and drag the colour down the page in long horizontal strokes. Allow a lot of water to flow from your brush and it’s sometimes easier to have your paper at a slant so that gravity helps you to pull down the colour. Allow each horizontal stroke to flow partially into the previous stroke and never work back into the wash once you have laid it down. As you move further down the page the colour should dilute, so you have full colour saturation at the top and a lovely diluted tone at the bottom. Art-Kure is great for graduated washes as you can achieve quite a uniform tonal change.

For variegated washes the technique is different because you are using two or more different colours and are much less predictable than graduated washes. However you can achieve great and unusual effects by letting colours bleed into each other. This technique is most commonly used for sunsets and sunrises.

The technique I have found most successful is to wet your paper first, as you would traditionally with water and a brush. Using the Water Sketch Brush, whilst squeezing it, flood water onto the page. Then move it around with the brush to cover the whole area you would like to paint. Select your colours and decide where you would like them to be (e.g. at the top or bottom), then using the Colour Sketch Brush cover the area with broad horizontal strokes. The strokes should blend into each other, but if it is looking a bit streaky then go over again with the water brush. Then apply your second colour and do the same. Finally tilt your paper at an angle and allow the colours to bleed into each other, creating a variegated wash.