3 Advanced Watercolor Techniques for Stunning Results
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 5 min read


  1. Technique One: Glazing
  2. Technique Two: Wet on Wet
  3. Technique Three: Gradient Washes

If you've mastered the basics of watercolor painting and are itching to take your skills to the next level, you're in the right place. This blog is all about three advanced watercolor techniques that can add depth and complexity to your artwork. Whether you're painting a serene landscape, a vibrant cityscape, or an expressive portrait, these techniques can make your work truly stand out. So, grab your paintbrush, because we're about to dive into the stunning world of advanced watercolor techniques.

Technique One: Glazing

Glazing is an advanced watercolor technique that involves layering thin, transparent washes of color on your painting. This technique can add dimension and depth to your artwork, giving it an ethereal, luminous quality that's hard to achieve with other methods.

What You Need

For glazing, you'll need your regular watercolor paints, a clean brush, and most importantly—patience. Remember, each layer needs to dry completely before you add the next one. Diving in too soon can lead to muddy colors, which is the exact opposite of what we're aiming for with this technique.

How to Glaze

  1. Start with a base layer: Apply a thin, smooth wash of color on your paper and let it dry completely.
  2. Layering: Once the base layer is dry, apply a second layer of a different color on top. The magic of glazing is in how the colors interact and blend together, creating new hues and depths in your painting.
  3. Repeat: Continue adding layers, always allowing each one to dry before proceeding. The more layers you add, the more depth and complexity you'll achieve in your artwork.

Glazing Tips

There are a few things to keep in mind when using this advanced watercolor technique:

  • Keep it light: Always use thin, transparent washes of color. This allows the layers beneath to shine through and contribute to the overall effect.
  • Patience is key: Let each layer dry completely before adding the next. Rushing this process can lead to unwanted color mixes and a loss of luminosity in your painting.
  • Experiment with colors: Don't be afraid to play around with different color combinations. You might be surprised at the beautiful effects you can achieve with unexpected pairings.

Glazing might take some time to master, but once you get the hang of it, you'll find it to be a versatile and rewarding addition to your arsenal of advanced watercolor techniques. It's all about taking your time and enjoying the process, so relax, breathe, and let the colors guide you.

Technique Two: Wet on Wet

Next on our list of advanced watercolor techniques is Wet on Wet. This playful, spontaneous method involves applying wet paint onto a wet surface, leading to colors blending and spreading in unpredictable, beautiful ways. It's ideal for painting soft, dreamy backgrounds or capturing the dynamic beauty of nature.

What You Need

You'll need your usual watercolor paints, a large brush for wetting the paper, and a smaller one for applying the paint. And, of course, a willingness to let go and see where the colors take you. This technique is all about embracing unpredictability and making the most of happy accidents.

How to Paint Wet on Wet

  1. Wet the paper: Use a large brush to wet the surface of your paper. You want it to be damp, but not soaking wet.
  2. Apply the paint: With your smaller brush, pick up some paint and touch it to the wet surface. Watch in awe as the color spreads and blends on its own, creating unique patterns and gradients.
  3. Let it flow: Continue adding colors, allowing them to flow and blend together. Remember, you're not in total control here—the water is. That's part of the fun!

Wet on Wet Tips

Here are a few tips to help you make the most of this advanced watercolor technique:

  • Embrace chaos: This technique is all about unpredictability. Don't try to control the paint too much—let it do its thing and enjoy the surprising results.
  • Work quickly: Wet on Wet is a fast technique. The paper dries quickly, so you need to apply your colors while it's still wet to achieve the desired effect.
  • Try different papers: This technique works differently on various types of paper. Experiment with a few to see which one gives you the results you like best.

Wet on Wet can be a fun and liberating technique to add to your watercolor repertoire. It's about letting go, embracing the unexpected, and allowing the paints to create their own magic. So, don't be afraid to dive in and let the colors flow—they might just lead you to your next masterpiece.

Technique Three: Gradient Washes

Moving on to our third advanced watercolor technique, let's explore Gradient Washes. This method is all about creating a smooth transition of color from dark to light. It's a great technique for painting beautiful skies, sunsets, and backgrounds that add depth and dimension to your artwork.

What You Need

For Gradient Washes, you'll need your usual watercolor paints, a flat brush for applying the paint, and a water container for diluting the color. Patience and a steady hand are also key—creating a smooth gradient takes a bit of practice, but the results are worth it.

How to Paint Gradient Washes

  1. Start with a saturated color: Begin at the top of your paper with a saturated color. This will be the darkest part of your gradient.
  2. Dilute the color: As you move down the paper, gradually add more water to your brush to dilute the color. This creates a gradual transition from dark to light.
  3. Smooth out the transitions: To avoid harsh lines, make sure each stroke overlaps with the previous one. This is what creates that smooth, seamless gradient.

Gradient Washes Tips

Here are a few tips to help you master this advanced watercolor technique:

  • Keep the paper angle: To help the paint flow, keep your paper at a slight angle. Gravity will do the work for you.
  • Work quickly: Like with the Wet on Wet technique, you need to work quickly before the paper dries. This ensures a smooth, even gradient.
  • Practice makes perfect: It takes time to create a perfect gradient. Don't be discouraged if your first few attempts aren't perfect. Keep practicing—you'll get there!

Gradient Washes can add a whole new level of depth and dimension to your watercolor pieces. It's a technique that requires patience and precision, but once you master it, you'll be able to bring a whole new layer of realism and beauty to your artwork. So, why not give it a try? You might just find your new favorite technique.

If you enjoyed learning about advanced watercolor techniques and want to expand your skills further, check out Rachel Christopoulos' workshop, 'Improve Your Acrylic Painting Skills.' Although focused on acrylics, the workshop offers valuable insights and techniques that can be adapted to your watercolor practice, helping you achieve stunning results in your artwork.