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How to Use Watercolor Pencils

Read Time:5 Minute, 35 Second

Watercolor pencils allow you to create colorful paintings without using paints. They can use to draw on waterproof or thick enough paper. Then the drawing is wetted with water using a wet brush or a spray bottle. You can also apply watercolor to multiple coats for a richer painting. Feel free to explore and try various ways!


Part 1 of 4: Draw the drawing and apply the primary colors

  1. Use waterproof paper or thick cardboard for 3d drawing. Since watercolor pencils require the subsequent application of water, you need to choose a material that will not get wet. Waterproof paper or thick cardboard works well for this.
    • If you prefer a smoother surface than waterproof paper, you can use the drawing board. It is thick enough not to get wet and has a smoother surface than waterproof paper.
  2. Sketching on a rough sketch with a simple pencil. Before using watercolor pencils, make a rough sketch. Don’t worry about accuracy, and don’t add too much detail – you’ll do this later with watercolor pencils.
  3. Add some primary colors to the sketch. Once you made a rough sketch, you can fill it with primary colors. Don’t use watercolor pencils like regular pencils, and don’t paint over the entire drawing. Instead, apply colors in general terms and directions and leave open spaces between them.
    • While it is not necessary to add too much detail to the drawing at this stage, be careful and apply the strokes of the primary colors in the right directions. After you add water, these directions are still visible.
  4. Do not add color to areas where you will only apply light shades. Eventually, you dilute the watercolor with water, and the white areas will take on the tints of the adjacent painted areas. Leave these areas white when applying primary colors.

Part 2 of 4: touch up the sketch with a wet brush

  1. Apply water to the sketch painted in primary colors. The dimension of the bush depends on the extent of the painting and what effect you want to achieve. For a more accurate and detailed drawing, it is better to use relatively thin brushes. Thicker brushes will give your picture a more abstract look. Dip the brush in a small cup of clean water and then gently wipe it on the side of the cup.
  2. Carefully apply water to the drawing. Use smooth brush strokes to spread the watercolor on the picture. While doing this, repeat the shape and direction of the previous pencil strokes. It’s similar to painting with water paints, but you don’t dip the brush in the paint, which is already in the line drawing, but in plain water. Once the meeting is dry, dip it again in water.
  3. Wait for the first coat to dry before applying the second coat of paint. To create a more dramatic watercolor effect, you can use a layer over the water. Wait for the water to dry completely before applying the second coat. Gently examine the paper with your finger – it should feel dry to the touch. Check the paint every five minutes or so.
    • The time required to dry the layers depends on the amount of water applied and the wet spot area.

Part 3 of 4: Add depth and detail to watercolor and water layers

  1. Add another layer of watercolor. At this stage, you can make the colors more saturated. When the first coat depleted, you can add the same colors to make the base color deeper or different from creating a layered effect.
    • For example, if you want to paint a shadow, overlay layers of blue and brown watercolor. When the water is dry and the colors are mixing, you will have an almost black color.
  2. Put another layer of water. At this stage, the choice of a brush depends on which layers you want to get. If you work in a small area and enjoy a richer color, use a thin brush. For larger sizes, use a thicker brush.
  3. Wet the tip of your pencil before capturing the small details. It will make the ink appear slightly lighter on the paper. Next, dip the pencil’s information in a cup of water and trace it on paper to outline and refine the details. You can also wet the pencil and apply the parties to the areas already painted.

Part 4 of 4: Use watercolor pencils and a spray bottle

  1. Complete the drawing. Since you will only be applying one layer of water, make sure the entire picture covers watercolor. You can use as many colors as you want to the drawing and add different details.
  2. Fill a spray bottle with clean water—no need to fill the bottle to the brim. About 100 milliliters of water is enough unless you are creating a large canvas. In the latter case, you may need an entire bottle of water!
  3. Spray the strip with water. It is necessary to use enough water so that the colors begin to mix well with each other. Spray water slowly and gently because excess water in a short time can wash off and thoroughly mix the paint.
    • Keep the spray bottle at a convenient distance from the paper. At the same time, keep in mind that if the space is too small, the colors will noticeably mix, and the drawing will lose small details. The more you touch the bottle, the less the colors will mix, and the more detailed the picture will be.
  4. Wait 1 hour for the drawing to dry. If the photo area exceeds 22 cm by 28 cm (typically A4 sheet), it may take more than an hour to dry. Lightly touch the paint with your finger to check if it is dry. If the drawing is dry, you will not feel the moisture.
  5. Add details with a watercolor pencil. If desired, you can add details to the drawing after it dries. For example, you can define more explicit boundaries and add small pieces or leave the picture like this!
    • If you want to brighten up the details, lightly dip the tip of your watercolor pencil in water before painting it with it.


  • Consider testing with your pencils first. Paint a small strip on each pencil, wet the brush, and put water on about half of these pieces. This way, you can see how the different colors will change when exposed to water.
  • The water leads to the transfer of adjacent colors to each other. Keep this in mind as you start in the dark and work towards a lighter area.
  • To remove a wrong color, blot a piece of cotton wool or a cotton swab with water and gently wipe the paint off.
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