Basic Watercolor Techniques: How to Create a Glazed Wash

Learn the watercolor glazed wash - a fundamental watercolor technique.

There are three main washes used in watercolor painting. The flat wash, graded wash and glazed wash. The main idea of watercolor glazed wash is applying thin transparent color over a totally dry layer of colors and this will create a new blend of colors. The good thing about watercolor painting is the unpredictability of it. You may have the idea of the painting you are making but you will not know how the colors will react with each other when combined that makes it more fun and exciting.

In watercolor painting it is essential to appreciate the unique characteristic of watercolor and to know on how to control each characteristic. The glazed wash works best using transparent and semi-transparent colors. Although transparency of color is very common in watercolor painting, it is also important to know what the transparent colors are. It is very relevant to identify transparent colors when you make a glazed wash.

In order to identify transparent color you will need watercolor paper, black marker and different colors of watercolors. In a watercolor paper make an inch thick horizontal line using the black marker. After that, pick one color of the watercolor colors, with the use of flat brush paint a vertical line over the black mark, do this process with all the colors and let it dry. Then observe the section where the watercolor colors met with the black mark. If the black mark is still very visible then you have a transparent color. If there’s only a slight trace of black mark then you have semi-transparent color. And if you totally don’t see the black mark then that is opaque color. In glazed wash you will be using the transparent and semi-transparent colors because these two types of color easily glaze. While opaque will have a chalky result and don’t glaze well.

The very concept of glazing is how you mix color through viewer eye instead of on the palette. In glazing technique, when you apply the color, you must consider the layer prior and make sure that the first layer is still visible after you apply the second layer color. The previous layer must show through to the next layer. Usually, it uses two or more color to be mix and create a smooth or subtle alteration of color surface.

It is important that the first layer of color is very well diluted since this level will soften the paper which will create clumps. The successive layers will have intense dilution than the first layer. Every layer must polish the color transition and other color irregularities of the prior color.        

In doing the glazing technique, it is best to use soft brush and do not apply too much pressure on your hand while applying so that the color will mix smoothly. Another tip to make your glazed wash successful is to completely dry the first layer before adding a new layer and to make the drying fast use a hair dryer.

The watercolor glazed technique is use by watercolorist and they usually apply even a hundred or more glazes in order to make a piece of painting. The popularity of this method is very common especially for high contrast and complex theme. It is also effective for bringing out composite flesh tones in a portrait painting. Letting the color do its own way is the best thing about watercolor painting.

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Sheila B  - Thanks   |:
Looking forward to trying this technique with fog.
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