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Hints, Tips & Techniques for Water Colour - Mediums

Mediums are used to create an even wider variety of techniques and effects for your work. The links below will explain how each one works and how you can create special effects with other materials.

Granulation Medium
Blending Medium
Lifting Preparation
Permanent Masking Medium
Texture Medium
Iridescent Medium
Gum Arabic
Ox Gall
Art Masking Fluid
Colourless Art Masking Fluid
Special Effects

Granulation  mediumGranulation Medium

Techniques for use 
This medium is useful in all water colour techniques including landscape, sescape or figrative work. Granulation is popular where ever you want to add interest or dimension to otherwise flat areas.

How is it used?
for maxiumum effect, dilute water colours with medium alone. By diluting the colour further with awater, a variety of results can be achieveed. Granulation Medium is resoluble simple by re-wetting.

Granulation is also greatly affected by different water colour papers. For maximum granulations use Rough and for less granulation use a Cold Pressed/ Not Surface.




Blending MediumBlending Medium

How is it used?
Blending medium can be used in a number of different ways. For maximum blending time, mix the medium directly with the water colour. Alternatively you can apply the medium directly to the paper in preparation for the water colour.

Dilution with water will provide a variety of blending/ drying times. Drying rates wil vary and depend on the temperature and air flow. Any initial beading of colours will disperse as blending continues.

Once dry, further washes can be applied over any washes which include blending medium.





Lifting PreparationLifting Preparation

How is it used?
Lifting Preparation must be applied to the paper first and allowed to dry. Apply to the whole surface and allow to fully dry. Once dry, continue painting washes as normal over the lifting preparation and allow these to dry.

Areas or details can then be removed by taking a soft brush dipped in tap water, gently moistening the area to be removed and blotting off the dissolved colour.      

For larger areas a sponge can be used in place of the brush.

This process can then be repeated until the required degree of removal is achieved. The removed areas can then be left white or overpainted with further washes .   

Washes will be most successfully lifted within five or six hours after the initial application, but will remain more removable than if paper alone had been used.

Lifting Preparation does not make the water colour more soluble so there is no worry about multiple washes becoming muddy.

Permanent Masking MediumPermanent Masking Medium

How is it used?
Permanent Masking Medium can be applied directly to white paper, to dried washes on the paper or mixed with water colours first. All water colour washes mixed with Permanent Masking Medium remain open and workable whilst the wash is still wet. Once dry, the area becomes isolated and cannot be fully penetrated by further washes. A hair dryer can be used to speed the drying. Brushes should be washed in warm water and soap before using other colours.

The example below shows areas of paper treated wtih Permanent Masking Medium and allowed to dry. whne the water colour wash is then painted over these areas they remain isolated.


How does Permanent Masking Medium differ from Art Masking Fluid?

  • Permanent Masking Medium is not removable
  • Permanent Masking Medium can be added to colour
  • Brushes are easier to clean
  • Art Masking Fluid is recommended for crisp whites, larger areas of masking and is faster drying whilst Permanent Masking Medium is recommended for fine detail and expressive effects within the painting.


Texture MediumTexture Medium

How is it used?
Texture Medium can be applied directly onto the paper or mixed with water colours first. More layers of colour can be applied over the top. Texture Medium is resoluble but like all water colour washes, some colour will remain on the paper.








Iridescent MediumIridescent Medium

How is it used?
Iridescent Medium can be mixed directly with water colours or applied over a dried wash. The medium is intermixable with all Winsor & Newton water colours and is particularly effective when mixed with the most transparent colours and over dark backgrounds. 

Iridescent Medium in use


Gum Arabic

Adding Gum Arabic to a water colour wash will have the following effects:

  • it will slow the drying time of your paint, giving you slightly longer to work on creating your image or working wet into wet 
  •  it increases transparency and gloss to give greater brilliance of colour, giving you luminous colours
  • it reduces the staining of pigments, making washes easier to lift

How is it used?
Gum Arabic is usually mixed into the water colour wash but can be added to the jar of water if you prefer to use it throughout the painting. Gum Arabic should not be used directly from the botle because thick films will be brittle 

Ox Gall

How is it used?
A few drops of Ox Gall are added to a jar of water and this is used to dilute the water colour.

Ox Gall is also used on very hard sized papers to reduce surface tension. If a paper is resisting a water colour wash, leave it to dry before covering the paper with the diluted Ox Gall. Once this is dry the painting can be continued as normal.


How is it used?
Aquapasto is mixed with water colours to thicken the wash. It is a gel medium that is squeezed onto the palette and just enough can be added to the water colour wash until the wash thickens.

Tube colours are easier to se for stronger washes or when large amonts are required. Aquaasto washes will not flow into each other so they are excellent for clouds or multi-coloured areas.

Art Masking Fluid

How is it used?
Masking Fluid protects areas of your work when colour is applied in broad washes. Unlike Permanent Masking Medium which is inter-mixable with water colours, Art Masking Fluid works by direct application to the paper. It can be applied to white paper or previously coloured areas.Follow these helpful tips to get the best results when masking.

  • Shake bottle before use.
  • Do not use on wet or damp paper.
  • Use gelatine surface sized paper, this helps to prevent the fluid from adhering too strongly to the paper.
  • Use old brushes or dip pens to avoid damaging valuable brushes.
  • Wash brushes in soapy water immediately after use.
  • Ensure fluid is dry before applying colour.
  • Do not leave fluid on paper for long periods of time.
  • Use Colourless Art Masking Fluid if there is any risk of staining from the pigmented Art Masking Fluid.
  • If spilt by accident, wash item immediately in soapy water. Once dry, the latex can only be removed by picking at it or rubbing with an eraser. There are unfortunately no solvents available.

Boat painted with Art Masking Fluid

Colourless Art Masking Fluid

This is simply a colourless version of Art Masking Fluid.

What is the difference between Colourless Art Masking Fluid and Art Masking Fluid?

Art Masking Fluid has a slight yellow tine making it easier to see where it has been used.

However, if a softer sized paper is used or there is any risk of yellow staining the paper, Colourless Art Masking Fluid should be used.

Special Effects

Water colour is well suited to numerous special effects. Impressive results can be achieved very quickly with these simple tricks of the trade.

•         Salt for added texture

If salt is sprinkled onto a water colour wash, it will absorb the wet colour.Once dry, it is brushed away, leaving a pitted texture. Try fine and coarse salt for different effects.

•         Splatters and Splashes

Extra tone, texture and solidity is provided by splattering colours over an underpainting. Make a stencil to protect the areas you want unsplattered. Mix a darker wash and use a hog brush to flick the colour on in different concentrations. You can also splatter with masking fluid at the beginning of the work if you want white splatters instead. Remember not to leave the fluid on for longer than you have to.

•         Sandpaper

Sanding a finished wash can be a useful rescue technique. If you finish a painting and find it lacking highlights, sanding is an option. Using a coarse sandpaper, lightly remove some of the paper, leaving a mottled wash with highlights. Be careful or you'll rub too much off and make the picture worse! Washes will not go on evenly over sanded paper.

•         Cling film (protective food film)

Intricate washes of various tones are quickly made by the use of cling film! Apply a wash to your chosen area, crumple up some cling film and press it onto the wash, making sure not to smudge or move the wet colour. Leave this to dry whilst you have a break.

When you peel the film away the texture is ready made. Try this with blended washes of more than one colour for even more varied texture.