3 Ways to Create Watercolor Gradients

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

In this tutorial, learn how to create three different gradient effects using watercolor

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Today I thought that I would do a short little tutorial on watercolor gradients because I have been using them a lot more recently. Using gradients with watercolor adds a lot more dimension and interest to your artwork than if you just use a single color, so it's definitely a good technique to have in your arsenal! 

Now, before we start, here's some basic tips for working with watercolor gradients:

  • Make sure that you have a good amount of water on your brush
  • Work quickly - if your colors start to dry, then they won't mix to make that pretty and subtle gradient effect.
  • When working with different/multiple colors make sure to have them all mixed and ready to go before you start painting because if you put one color down and then have to stop to mix colors, your first color will dry (see previous point).

3 Ways to Create Watercolor Gradients

  1. Single Color - The first and easiest way to incorporate gradients is by using a single color and just keep gradually adding water to dilute it. This method is really nice if you want an ombré effect. For this example, I used my *Winsor & Newton Professional Watercolor in Opera Rose to make a fun little ombré strawberry. 
  2. Monochromatic - The second method involves using different shades of the same hue, in this case, green. So for the monstera leaf, I mixed the colors Viridian and Lemon Yellow from my Winsor & Newton Cotman Watercolor Pocket PLUS Set of 24 Half Pans. To break it down, first I painted pure Viridian at the top of the leaf, then added my mixture of  Viridian + a small amount of Lemon Yellow, then I added the mixture with slightly more of the yellow added, and so on and so forth. This method is perfect for when painting leaves and plants!  
  3. Analogous - The last method is to use analogous colors, or colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. So instead of using different shades of one hue, you're going to use multiple different colors. I often love to use red, orange, and yellow for this type of gradient because it's perfect for a dreamy sunset effect. I didn't really mix any colors for this one and just used Cadmium Red Pale Hue, Cadmium Orange Hue, and Cadmium Yellow Hue straight from my half pan set.
So now you know 3 different ways to incorporate watercolor gradients into your artwork. Which one's your favorite? I am partial to the monochromatic look :) 

Anyway, for more art tutorials, feel free to check out my Art Tutorials board on Pinterest!

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