The Complete Watercolour Pouring Technique Guide! The fast and simple process for effective results!

So if you’ve found this blog, I’m sure you have used watercolours thousands of times, but now it’s time for something a bit different. Watercolour Pouring is a great technique to create the most beautiful and unique paintings and today Pen and Paper are going to teach you how! In simple terms watercolour pouring is just another technique of painting with watercolour.

What is the Watercolour Pouring Technique?

Well if this is a question that you want answered, you have come to the right place! Watercolour pouring is a method of creating incredibly beautiful and unique designs by pouring paint directly onto the paper and eliminating the use of a brush. This means that colours merge and mix together to create vibrant and distinctive colour combinations. This technique is a fantastic way to get a fluid blend of colours without having to spend hours blending watercolour paints together with a brush. The technique generally involves masking some areas of the design so that they will stand out in the final design.

How can I pour watercolour?

Don’t worry it’s a lot easier than it may sound! Instead of using panned watercolours this technique involved watercolours that come into a tube. That way they can be squeezed out easily into a container and mixed with water to form the perfect consistency for pouring (More on this later..). While pouring your paint instead of brushing is may be alien to some people, learning a new technique such as the watercolour pouring technique is a fun and creative way to acquire a new skill and create amazing art.

Step 1: Watercolour paper

Firstly you need to get some watercolour paper that is suitable for the watercolour pouring technique. Unfortunately you cannot use just any old paper when it comes to using watercolour paints, watercolour paper has a higher weight than normal paper (Usually 140lb). Watercolour paper also uses cotton intertwined in its fibres and has a ‘tooth’ texture  to aid in absorbency.

Now you know the facts, you need to select the best paper for you, here at Pen and Paper we have a wide variety of watercolour paper, for example this Daler-Rowney ‘The Langton’ Spiral Watercolour Paper Pad. This pad is 7″ x 5″ and is of the highest quality and at only £8.15 is an absolute bargain!

This paper then needs to be stretched out onto a board and secured in place with masking tape.

Watercolour Pouring Technique

Daler-Rowney ‘The Langton’ Spiral Watercolour Paper Pad – £8.15


Step 2: The Design

Next you need to decide on your design, there are plenty of places you can look for inspiration when it comes to exploring Watercolour Pouring Technique, however some that we would suggest using Pinterest!

If you’re looking for specific Watercolour pouring technique inspiration then you can checkout this Pinterest page here!

Once you have this design you will need to sketch it out onto your Watercolour paper! Need some advice on sketching? Why not check out this blog post here!

Step 3: Colour Selection

Now that you have your design finalised you need to pick your colour combination. Linda Barker suggests that using a light, mid and dark colour produces the best results. If the colours selected are too close in colour range then the pouring technique will not be effective. If you have never used the Watercolour Pouring Technique before Linda Barker suggests that using the three primary colours,  Red, Blue and Yellow is a good place to begin as any colour in the rainbow can be made from these. Leslie Lambert Redhead recommends Winsor and Newton for watercolour paint, here at Pen and Paper we have a wide variety of Winsor and Newton paint starting at just £2.75!

Cotman Watercolour Paint 21ml Tubes

Cotman Watercolour Paint 8ml Tubes – Windsor & Newton – £2.75

Step 4: Paint Preparation

Now that you have selected what colour paints you are going to use, you will need to prep the paint for pouring. For this you will need three containers to hold the watercolour paint, next you want to add paint to these separate containers and mix with water until it is of a consistency that is suitable to pour fluidly. Make sure you test the colour you have created on a piece of paper to ensure you are happy with it! Remember the more water you add the lighter the shade of paint will be and the more paint you add the more opaque the pour will be.

Step 5: Masking & Pouring

Now comes the bit you’ve been waiting for…THE WATERCOLOUR POURING!

Firstly you need to mask any sections of the design that you do not want to get paint on. Generally people will pick to use the watercolour pouring technique on either the foreground or the background of the painting but not both (unless you use 2 different sets of colours).

Masking fluid is very commonly used to mask certain areas of a painting. There are plenty of ways to do this such as using normal paintbrushes, sponges or dipping pens. The selection of tool to use will most likely be determined by what surface area you are trying to mask! A lot of painters tend to opt for brushes when masking as this is what they are most comfortable with!

Need some extra help with masking your design? Here is a really helpful blogpost!

Now you have masked the areas you do not want to add any paint to via the watercolour pouring technique, it is time to pour your lightest shade on, pour in a fluid motion from one side of the page to the other. Next go in with your mid colour and then your darkest colour.

Once you have done this you can pick your board up and start mixing the colours together. Then once your design is looking how you want it too, it’s time to dispose of the excess paint. Do this into a separate container or some absorbent paper (And try not to make too much of a mess)!

The last step is to add more definition to your painting, Once the first layer of paint has dried completely, you can go in with a second coat of masking fluid. This step is going to define some of the smaller and less prominent shapes in the design. Once the masking fluid has been applied, you can now go in with the second pour, generally people only use the mid and darker colours for this to add more definition to their paintings.

Once this is poured on it can be moved around and the excess can be poured away, This step can be repeated as many times as you want! Often the more layers of colours that are added the more depth and definition a painting will have.

8 Top Watercolour Pouring Technique Tips

  • Work in a diagonal direction when pouring the watercolour this will ensure that your design does not look stripey!
  • Put colours beside each other NOT on top of each other. Mixing colours on top of each other will result in them creating a brown colour this is not the ideal end result. However, if you add the colours next to each other this will ensure that the colours stay as potent as possible and only mix sporadically,
  • When pouring your excess paint off your paper, pour in a diagonal fashion to again avoid any stripes!
  • Use the pouring technique for backgrounds if you are stuck for what to do with them! You can then add plenty of detail once the background has dried.
  • Use lighter colours for the sections that you want to apply a mask to later on, this will help them stand out when the second coat of paint is applied
  • Don’t feel like you need to cover the entire canvas every time you pour. Often only doing smaller areas and then pouring this away will give a painting more depth and ensure colour do not mix to brown.
  • Only allow two colour to mix but adding colours to separate areas of the page, this will allow for more colour combinations and ensure colours stay potent and vibrant.
  • Have fun and experiment! The best tip that we can give you when it comes to a watercolour pouring technique is to have fun and experiment with the technique every time you try it, you never know what you might come up with!

Good luck and have fun learning the watercolour pouring technique!

Ready to take the plunge and give watercolour pouring a go? Checkout our Art Supplies to stock up on all the essentials!

Need extra help with pouring your watercolours? Why not check out this amazing watercolour pouring technique by Leslie Lambert Redhead here!

Did you try out this watercolour pouring technique? Share it with us! Here at Pen and Paper we are committed to shouting out as many local artists as we can so send us your art to our socials!

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