Textures in Watercolour

Written by Paul, November 01, 2022

Textures in watercolour

Check out my article in this months issue of The Artist Magazine.

There comes a stage when one is working on a still life or costume life watercolour where one requires a specific texture but is a little uncertain as to how to achieve it.

For me a challenge of this type is to be relished. I love to experiment and try to achieve an effect by indirect methods. Normally, one can gain the required impression by intensive detail work using a fine brush. However, there are other ways sometimes not even using a brush. For aspiring or even advanced painters I have put together some of my own techniques which may prove useful. Some I have invented, some may be common knowledge. In using the methods described I add a word of caution. Over use can look mannered so gently does it. Mask the hand as it were. That way you can retain a certain magic!

Basic brush techniques using different hair types including sable, hogs hair bristle and squirrel. Depending on how the brush is manipulated various effects can be produced.

a. Mouth diffuser to spray.

b. Comb for striped scoring

c. Straight edge for straight lines 

d. School compass with brush for circles and arcs. 

e. Salt both course and fine for “snowflake type” texture. Sprinkle onto painting whilst damp. 

Top Right 

f.  Profile cutter for cutting shapes in masking tape; sponge for stippling; 

g. Wax candle for resist ( rocks etc ); rubber shaper leaf shapes. 

h. Dipper for both black and white ink, also watercolour; scalpel for engraving and scratching

i. A stiffer mount cutting knife for picking out highlights.


Preliminary sketches and detailed studies including exploring the texture challenge in this case the dress pattern. I tried various methods using masking fluid and acrylic white ink. The successful one on the right adopted a bit of both with the dip pen and  sable brush doing the work. You can see the funky shoes in the final image.


The finished image. Once I had established, and more importantly, practised the “Frock” texture the painting came together r