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How to Use Liquid Watercolor?

how to use liquid watercolor

Is this the first time you have heard of liquid watercolors and you have gotten quite interested in them? This medium might seem strange to some people, especially those who have only known regular cake watercolors. However, liquid watercolors are quite easy to use. Even kids can get the hang of it after just a couple of lessons.

If you want to learn how to use liquid watercolor, then this article is for you. Not only will you learn how to use it but you will also get some tips on proper storage and more. Do not be too intimidated. Using liquid watercolors is not that difficult as you will soon see.

Step-by-Step Guide

What to prepare:

  • Liquid watercolors
  • Plastic containers – Small plastic cups will suffice, but it will be better to use small resealable jars so you can save excess paint for later.
  • Brushes
  • Lots of paper – You do not need to use proper watercolor paper yet since you will only be practicing for now.

Detailed Steps:

Step 1 – Choose your liquid watercolors. There are lots of brands of liquid watercolors out there, though not quite as many as regular watercolors. However, since you just want to try it to see if you will be liking the medium, you should settle for the cheaper sets that come from reliable brands.

This way, you will get a feel of what it is like to use proper watercolors, but you will not be spending a lot of money.

Step 2 – Prepare your watercolors. The thing about liquid watercolors is that you need to prepare a batch of colors before you start painting. This makes it different from regular watercolors where you can use any color whenever you want. However, you can save the watercolors you previously prepared for future projects.

To prepare your liquid watercolors, mix equal amounts of paint with water. This is the basic formulation, but you can use less water to make the colors more vibrant or add more to give your colors a more pastel look. I usually use small plastic condiment containers (that come with lids) although you can choose whatever containers you have at hand.

Step 3 – Start painting. Aside from the prepared watercolors, you should also have two more jars of water prepared: one for rinsing the brushes and another for blending the colors. You can then use the liquid watercolors like you would any regular watercolors. You can blend and fade the colors just like you would normally.

In addition, if you want to give your artwork a bit of personality, you can use the liquid watercolor straight without diluting it with water. Not only will the colors be a bit more vibrant but they will also have a kind of distinctive effect on them.

Mixing Liquid Watercolors

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There will be times when you will need to mix colors to create secondary and tertiary colors, and this process is a bit tricky when you are using liquid watercolors.

Step 1 – Mix the base color. The thing with liquid watercolors is that you should not mix them prior to adding water. Liquid watercolors are highly concentrated, which means you will not get an accurate blend when you start mixing them undiluted.

You need to first make a batch of one color. So for instance, if you want to make periwinkle, you should make a batch of blue watercolor first.

Step 2 – Add the second color gradually. Now that you have made a batch of the base color, you should slowly add the other color until you reach the shade that you are going for.

Using the previous example for making periwinkle, once you have a batch of blue, you should then add purple gradually. I advise you to add purple drop-by-drop until you attain the right shade of periwinkle that you want. This means you have to do a test strip with every drop.

You need to be very careful as you will need to redo the entire batch if you add too much of the second color.

Pros and Cons of Using Liquid Watercolor

using liquid watercolor

Liquid watercolor is a concentrated form of watercolor paint and typically comes in small plastic bottles. This type of watercolor is best for when you like making large watercolor paintings, or if you are a teacher and you have an entire class of students who will be using watercolors.

To get you even more familiar with this medium, here are some of its pros and cons:


You can easily control the vibrancy – These paints are typically mixed with clean water at a 1:1 ratio. However, you can use less water if you want a more vibrant color. This ability to increase the vibrancy of the color is one of the distinct advantages that liquid watercolor has over pan watercolors.

They are great for covering large areas quickly – Another benefit of liquid watercolors is you can use them best when you need to cover a large area quickly and evenly. Just mix up a big batch of color and then use a wide brush to apply the color.

It is a better choice compared to pan watercolors where you can only make small batches of color and you have to try your best to make the next batch identical to the last.

They are cheaper – Yes, the initial cost may be higher compared to buying a single set of pan watercolors. However, if you consider the fact that you are getting highly concentrated pigments, you are actually receiving a better deal with liquid watercolors.


Mixing colors is a bit tedious – Unlike pan watercolors where you can mix colors straight in the palette, this is not the case with liquid watercolors. For instance, if you need a tertiary color, like a marigold, you first need to mix a batch of yellow, and then gradually add orange into the batch.

You will be stuck with a huge stock of watercolors – If you are thinking of trying out liquid watercolor, I suggest that you only get the three primary colors for starters. If you buy an entire gamut of colors, you will be stuck using them for a very long time, or else you’re stuck with an entire drawer full of bottles of the stuff.

It is unlike pan watercolors where you can just switch from one brand to another without having to spend a lot of money and waste storage space.


How to use liquid watercolors? Technically, you use liquid watercolors the same way you would other types. However, the difference is that you will need to prepare batches of the colors you will be using beforehand. Because of their high concentration of pigment, it is inadvisable to use liquid watercolor straight but it is possible.

Who is it for? If you like using watercolors for large art pieces, you will like how liquid watercolors can cover large areas evenly and quickly. On the other hand, if you typically make small paintings, then you might want to reconsider.

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