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Watercolor Techniques – Splatter, Crayon or Wax, and Glazing

So far I have discussed seven different methods to use with watercolors. Today I will talk about three more. At the bottom of this post I have links to the other posts on this subject in case you missed one of the articles.

More Techniques:

• Splatter – Splatter is a great way to create texture on paper. I use splatter for pebbles on the beach, small rocks on a trail, or even texture on leaves in nature. You can use a paintbrush or a toothbrush to create splatter. The splatter can be large droplets of paint or it can be a fine mist. This depends on how wet your brush is and how carried away you get.

Splatter far apart.

Splatter far apart.


I usually do not want my whole painting covered in splatter. So, I cover up areas with paper towels or cardboard to protect parts of my painting. You can try to control where the splatter goes, but often you will have some random splatter do somewhere that looks strange. For instance, splatter does not work well in a sky.
More Splatter.

A mixture of large drops and fine mist.


There are several ways to create the splatter. One way is to dip a toothbrush in paint. Then run your thumb across the bristles with the brush pointed towards to paper. Splatter will fly off the brush and on to the paper.
Toothbrush splatter.

Making Splatter with Toothbrush.

Practice first on a paper towel to see where the paint goes. Make sure you have your paint area covered with plastic or something to protect table tops or counters. Parents need to supervise their children when they are using this technique. My students have enjoyed doing this techniques so much that they ended up splattering their clothes, the wall, and a friend.

Another way to splatter is to fill a paintbrush with paint and tap it across your fingers. When you tap, the paint will drop from the brush onto the paper. Or you can hold one finger out and press the paintbrush down and across that finger letting it come off near the fingertip. Your finger will get paint on it and will also splatter on the paper. Practice this technique until you can create different sizes of splatter.

Splatter with a brush.

Rub the brush across fingertip to create splatter.


If you decide you do not like the splatter on your painting, you can get rid of it if you work quickly before it dries. Dip your paintbrush in clean water. Wipe the clean brush across the splatter to blend it together. Then lift the paint up with a tissue by dabbing.

• Crayon or wax – Crayon or wax can be used as a resist. This means the crayon or wax does not allow the paint to go on the paper where it is used. Take a white crayon or a wax candle and draw a design on your paper.

Draw on paper with wax or crayola.

Draw on paper with wax or Crayola.

When the design is complete, paint over the area with watercolor. The drawing will show up because it has created a waxy area that the paint cannot penetrate. Crayons work better that candles. You can use any color of crayon that you want. My students liked using white and yellow the best.

In the example below I used a candle. The candle skipped across the paper and left areas that were not solid. I could not find a single crayon in my house so I opted for the next best thing. My preference is to use a crayon. You have more control over the results. You need to press down with consistent pressure as you draw.

Drawing with a Candle.

Drawing with a Candle.

• Glazing – With glazing you are painting layers of paint. Each time you paint a layer you let it dry. When you paint another layer over the previous layer, the paint color changes even when using the same color. The change may just be the value of the color but often it is the color. When using this technique you want your paint to be transparent. You want to be able to see through the paint to the paper. Being able to see through the upper layer of paint to see the bottom layer creates the effect.

You can see what I mean if you create a plaid using primary colors. First step: Paint a stripe of red, yellow, and blue horizontally. Do not let the stripes touch each other. Let the stripes dry completely.

First Step

First Step to Glazing Plaid


Then paint a stripe of red, blue and yellow vertically over the horizontal stripes. Do not let the stripes touch. Let dry.
Plaid from glazes.

Plaid made from glazes.

Look at the stripes closely. You will see 9 boxes where the different stripes crossed over each other. Where the blue stripe crosses over the yellow stripe you will probably see green. Where the red stripe crosses the blue, you may see purple. Where the yellow stripe crosses the yellow, you will see a darker value of yellow.
Close up.

Close up.


I use glazing when I am trying to create shadows or different values to create depth. Sometime I may not know how dark to paint when I put in a wash. If the first glaze is too light, I can always go over it again with another glaze to create a richer, darker color.

With these three watercolor techniques you now have a total of ten you can use when you paint. If anyone has a question or suggestion about learning the techniques, please let me know. I am including a link to the two previous articles that discuss the others. Thanks for stopping by. Have fun painting!

Easy Watercolor Terminology and Techniques
More Watercolor Techniques – Dry Brush, Salt, & Plastic Wrap

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