Three essential factors to achieving granulation with watercolour

If you’re trying to capture a certain element – whether that’s painting a foggy or cloudy scene, or portraying the haze of beach waves, you might want to try using a granulation technique. Many artists opt to use watercolour paints for their ability to convey a granulated aesthetic. As a natural property of certain watercolours, granulation causes the pigment within the paint to settle outside the binder, clinging to the valleys of textured watercolour paper.

There are three main factors to be aware of when it comes to controlling the level of granulation in your watercolour scene: medium, paper and colour. Read on to find out more.



Granulation Medium

Want to add interesting dimensions to flat areas? Winsor & Newton Granulation Medium enhances granulated texture. It gives a mottled appearance to colours that normally have a smooth wash, or it can enhance the effect of granulating colours. This medium is useful for all watercolour techniques, including landscape, seascape and figurative work.

For maximum effect, dilute watercolours with the medium alone. By diluting the colour further with water, a variety of results can be achieved. Granulation Medium is resoluble simply by re-wetting.

Granulated paper

Rough-surfaced papers give much stronger granulated effects as the roughness will exaggerate the granulation. The pigment clings on to the texture of a granulation-friendly surface, like our Cotman Watercolour Paper Pads.

If using the Granulation Medium, be aware that it is also greatly affected by different watercolour papers. For maximum granulation use rough paper; for less granulation use a medium texture surface.

Winsor & Newton's Granulating Water Colours
Winsor & Newton’s Granulating Water Colours

Granulating colour

A useful method for checking where a certain colour lies on the granulation spectrum involves wetting your paper and adding some colour on top. Gently rock the paper back and forth until the pigment settles, and you’ll have your answer.

Some colours achieve a more intensely granulated texture on professional paper. These may granulate on their own, but to take it one step further, or to test granulating effects in otherwise smooth pigments like Winsor Blue (Green Shade), again try the Granulation Medium.

Watch our Masterclass on Granulation Medium for Watercolour here.