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Absolute beginner series for Watercolors: Blending

Watercolor painting is an expressive and creative art form that can be enjoyed by people of all skill levels. Whether you're a beginner or an experienced artist, there are always new techniques to learn and master. In this article, we will focus on two important watercolor painting techniques: blending and painting reflections on water.

The Importance of Blending in Watercolor Painting

Blending is one of the most crucial techniques for creating beautiful watercolor paintings. Blending involves merging two or more colors together to create a smooth and seamless transition between them. The result is a painting that looks harmonious and pleasing to the eye. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to master the art of blending.

Preparing Your Paints and Tools

Before you start blending, you'll need to prepare your paints and tools. For this tutorial, we will use French Ultramarine Blue, Cobalt Blue, Alizarin Crimson, and Cadmium Orange. You'll also need a watercolor brush and a palette.

Load the Brush with Paint

Start by loading your brush with water and shaking off the excess. Then, load the brush with the paint and mix it in your palette. The pigment consistency should be creamy, so you can add more water to it.

Create a Gradient Paint

To create a gradient paint, start from the top and paint downwards without lifting the brush. This technique creates a nice gradient effect. It may look off for the first time you try it, but don't be discouraged.

Add Some More Paint

To add more pigment consistency, add some more paint to the top. Then, add more water to the bottom to make it even lighter. This technique gives a good transition.

Mix Different Colors

Now, let's mix different colors using the blending technique. Load your brush with Cobalt Blue and use it to create a gradient. Then, add Winsor Violet and Cadmium Orange to create more color variations in the blending.

Implement What You Have Learned

Practice four or five of these blending techniques to create some beautiful paintings. Let's implement what we have learned so far and create an overcast painting. Most of the colors should be saturated and gray. Start by loading your brush with Cobalt Blue and Neutral Tint. Then, add a little bit of water until you are happy with the mix.

Build Up Your Painting

Start from the top and keep adding water as you go. Make sure that you have more pigment at the top than at the bottom to give the illusion of atmospheric perspective. Build up the wash to at least 60 percent.

Add Warm Colors

To add some warm colors, add Cadmium Orange to your wash. Since the wash is already wet, the colors will blend by themselves. Keep building up the Cadmium Orange until you are happy with the result.

Create the Foreground

Use the leftover Cobalt Blue in your palette to create the foreground. Keep building up the pigment, but make sure the wash is weak at this point. When you reach the foreground, introduce different colors to it.

Use Neutral Tint

Use Neutral Tint to gray the colors as they get thicker and thicker. Keep adding water as you go, and make sure the consistency is thicker and milkier as you get closer to the foreground.

Painting Reflections on Water

Painting reflections on water can add depth and realism to your watercolor paintings. Here are some techniques and tips for painting reflections on water.

Creating Weaker Reflections

To create weaker reflections on the water, you can use a lot of water in your neutral tint.

Start by painting a straight line on the bottom of the boats and at the mid-ground on the platform. Then, make a straight mark from top to bottom near the kayak rider. This will give the impression of reflections on the water. You can use the same treatment for the kayak rider as well by adding a darker tone underneath the boat with neutral tint.

Mirroring the Kayak in the Water

To create reflection of the kayak, you can mirror its shape in the water. First, paint

the shape of the kayak, and then slowly go darker with neutral tint and burnt umber where the kayak sits. After that, create some straight marks to shape the reflection of the kayak and kayak rider, as the water can distort the reflection.

Painting a Deep Blue Water

For a deep blue water effect, use a lot of cool colors. Start by using cobalt blue and add a little water. As soon as you reach 60% of your watercolor paper, introduce yellow ochre to warm up the colors of the horizon. Then, keep building the pigment from the top to the bottom.

Increasing Pigment Consistency

To increase the pigment consistency in the foreground, add a little bit of neutral tint and

French ultramarine blue. This will give you a super dark and thick mix. Add more water to create a gradient, and bring it closer to the foreground to fill in the rest of the areas.

Creating Details with Different Shapes

Adding details to your painting is a great way to make it more realistic. You can create some details by painting docks with different shapes. Instead of creating a straight line for the docks, try using different shapes. This will make your paintings look more natural and interesting.


Blending is an essential/fundamental technique in watercolor painting that can help you

create beautiful and realistic artworks. By practicing different blending techniques, you can achieve seamless transitions between colors. Remember to start with lighter colors, use a clean brush, and practice on scrap paper. Also, avoid common mistakes such as not to worry about colors, using too much water, and remove the excess water. By following these tips and exercises, you can improve your blending skills and create stunning watercolor paintings.

If its hard for follow the article here: You can always refer to the voice over video for Absolute beginner series in Watercolors tutorial on my YouTube channel. The video tutorial for this exercise are below:

Note: This tutorial is for practice blending not try to paint a pretty painting.


1. Is watercolor blending difficult for beginners?

Watercolor blending may seem daunting at first, but with practice, it can be mastered by beginners.

2. What is the best paper to use for blending in watercolor painting?

Cold press with 300 GSM Watercolor paper is the best paper to use for blending in watercolor painting. Student watercolor paper may not give nice blending.

Personally, I use Saunders Waterford cold press and Baohong Cold press

3. Can I blend watercolors with a dry brush?

Yes, you can blend watercolors with a dry brush to create a textured effect. For blending softer brush is recommended to get softer transitions. In the video, I used a softer brush.

4. How can I avoid muddy colors while blending in watercolor painting?

To avoid muddied colors, use a clean brush for each color, start with lighter colors, and avoid overmixing. Don’t worry about color for this exercise.

5. Can I blend colors other than red, yellow, and blue in watercolor painting?

Yes, you can blend other colors in watercolor painting, but it's important to understand color theory to achieve a harmonious color palette. For this exercise don’t worry about the colors since we are learning to blend.

Check my curated collections here: I used the same techniques for this artwork

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