Watercolor Marker Hints

  • Work from light colors or shades to dark.  If the color is too light, you can always add: but if you start out too dark, you are stuck with that color
  • Use three shades of a single color family; light, medium, and dark. First color with the lightest shade, then a little of the medium and blend the two together using the lightest shade. Last, add just a tiny bit of the darkest shade (a little can go a long way) and ,again, blend using one of the lighter shades of color.
  • To clean a grubby marker tip, scribble the marker off on a piece of paper or paper towel.
  • Always test the color on a scrape piece of paper to make sure the color is right and the right cap was on the marker.  Not realizing the wrong cap was on the wrong color can be an unpleasant surprise!
  • Save dried out markers for blending.
  • Remember that the markers will react and absorb differently on various papers. This can even change how light or dark the color may appear.  Some papers may take longer for the color to dry, so watch where you put your hands (you don't want to smudge anything!).
  • Most watercolor markers are dual tipped (they have a fat brush end and a skinny fine point end). When coloring an image, most of the time you will use the side of the fat brush end of the marker. This way you can color in your image quickly and avoid seeing pen strokes. Be sure you don't use the very tip of the brush end to color a larger area, you may break down the end and you are defeating the purpose of the "brush", you might as well use the fine tip end if that is how you like to color.  The fine tip end is great for the small details in an image, such as outlining.
  • Don't be timid when coloring, you can always start over.  Remember that practice makes perfect. Some "mistakes" can actually look better than what you may have been trying to accomplish.
  • A light gray shadow colored around one side (or half) of an image can make it "pop" off the page and add dimension to a finished piece of work.  Be careful with the gray when using near reds, if you touch the gray to the red it can cause the red to bleed,  actually try to use the gray first if you can.
  • To achieve a shade that is between two actual marker colors, take the tip of the darker marker and lightly tap or brush it to the tip of the lighter marker. Then use the lighter marker (with the darker color on the tip) to color.  This techniques does not ruin your markers, to clean the marker off when you are done, remember to scribble it on a scrap piece of paper or paper towel.
  • Don't be afraid to color outside the lines!
  • To add dimension when coloring in grass, leaves, and foliages, add a soft light blue tone (try to stay away from the teal tones) to the green.  Always try to use more than one color, as one color alone has a tendency to look flat.
  • There is no need to add water to watercolor markers.  They are called that because they are water based not permanent.  If you want a softer look you may try using a Blender of some sort.

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