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Watercolor painting is a versatile and beautiful art form that allows artists to create stunning textures and patterns. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced artist, learning how to create textures and patterns with watercolor can add depth and visual interest to your artwork. In this article, we’ll explore various techniques and methods to help you master the art of creating textures and patterns with watercolor.

Getting Started with Watercolor

Before we dive into creating textures and patterns, let’s quickly go over some basics of working with watercolor:

  1. Gathering Your Supplies: To get started, you’ll need watercolor paper, watercolor paints, brushes, a palette, and water containers. Invest in high-quality materials for the best results.
  2. Understanding Watercolor Techniques: Familiarize yourself with basic watercolor techniques such as wet-on-wet, wet-on-dry, glazing, and dry brushing. These techniques form the foundation for creating textures and patterns.

Creating Textures with Watercolor

Textured surfaces can add depth and visual interest to your watercolor paintings. Here are some techniques to create textures using watercolor:

How to Create Textures and Patterns with Watercolor - splatter
  1. Salt Texture: Sprinkle a pinch of salt onto a wet watercolor wash. As the paint dries, the salt absorbs moisture, leaving behind interesting textures resembling crystals or granules.
  2. Blotting: Use a tissue, sponge, or cloth to blot wet areas of your painting. This technique creates a mottled or stippled effect, adding texture to your artwork.
  3. Splattering: Load a brush with a generous amount of paint and flick it over your painting using your fingers or a toothbrush. This technique produces a splatter effect, creating texture and movement.
  4. Dry Brushing: Load your brush with minimal water and a small amount of paint. Drag the brush lightly over the paper’s surface to create a scratchy, textured effect.
  5. Sgraffito: Apply a layer of paint, let it dry, and then scratch through the paint using a knife, toothpick, or any other sharp tool. This technique reveals the underlying layers, adding texture and visual interest.

Creating Patterns with Watercolor

Patterns can bring a sense of rhythm and harmony to your watercolor paintings. Here are some techniques to create patterns using watercolor:

  1. Masking Fluid: Apply masking fluid on specific areas of your paper before painting. Once the paint dries, remove the masking fluid to reveal the untouched areas, creating patterns.
  2. Stamping: Use various objects like sponge, leaves, or even carved stamps to create repeating patterns. Dip the object in paint and press it onto the paper in a systematic manner to create a pattern.
  3. Wax Resist: Apply wax or white crayon on specific areas of your paper. When you paint over these areas, the wax repels the watercolor, creating interesting patterns and designs.
  4. Lifting: While the paint is still wet, use a clean, damp brush or sponge to lift off the paint from certain areas. This technique allows you to create negative space and intricate patterns.

Example 1: How to create a gradient pattern with watercolor

Firefly show watercolor gradient for 2 colours 58831

Here are the steps to create a gradient pattern with watercolor:

  1. Choose the colors you want to use for your gradient pattern.
  2. Apply the first color at the top of your paper and the second color at the bottom.
  3. Blend the two colors together by using a wet brush to create a smooth transition between the two colors more >> 1.
  4. Apply additional layers of color to create a stronger transition and a more vibrant gradient.
  5. Experiment with different techniques, such as using pure sap green to blend in the leaf-green mixture for a foliage gradient.
  6. Practice basic exercises to inspire your painting and improve your skills.

Example 2: How to use plastic wrap to create texture in watercolor

Firefly How to use plastic wrap to create texture in watercolor 96181

Here’s how to use plastic wrap to create texture in watercolor:

  1. Wet your watercolor paper with a sponge dipped in water.
  2. Apply watercolor paint to the wet paper.
  3. Cover the wet paint with plastic wrap, crinkling it up to create texture.
  4. Let the paint dry completely.
  5. Remove the plastic wrap to reveal the textured surface.
  6. Use the textured surface as a background or incorporate it into your painting.

Note: You can also experiment with different types of plastic wrap, such as cling wrap or press’n seal, to achieve different textures


Q: Can I create textures and patterns with watercolor on any type of paper?
A: It’s best to use watercolor paper specifically designed for water-based media. The weight and texture of watercolor paper allow for better absorption and handling of watercolor paints.

Q: How can I fix mistakes when creating textures and patterns with watercolor?
A: If you make a mistake, don’t worry! Allow the paint to dry completely, then gently lift off the unwanted paint using a clean, damp brush or sponge. Alternatively, you can also paint over the mistake with a new layer of watercolor.

Q: Are there any specific brushes that work best for creating textures and patterns?
A: Experiment with different brush types and sizes to discover which ones work best for your desired textures and patterns. For finer details, try using a small round brush, while for broader strokes, a flat brush may be more suitable.

Q: How can I make my patterns look more vibrant and lively?
A: To enhance the vibrancy of your patterns, consider using complementary or contrasting colors. Additionally, you can layer multiple washes to intensify the colors and create depth.

Q: Can I combine different techniques to create unique textures and patterns?
A: Absolutely! In fact, combining various techniques can yield fascinating results. Don’t be afraid to experiment and explore new possibilities.

Q: How can I protect my watercolor artwork from smudging or fading?
A: Once your watercolor painting is complete and fully dry, apply a fixative or sealant specifically designed for watercolor paintings. This will help protect your artwork from smudging and UV damage.


Mastering the art of creating textures and patterns with watercolor requires practice, experimentation, and a willingness to explore new techniques. By incorporating the techniques and methods outlined in this article, you’ll be well on your way to creating stunning watercolor artworks with captivating textures and patterns. Remember, the key is to have fun and let your creativity flow!

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