Watercolor Wash

by Beate Johns

Create soft backgrounds with this watercolor technique.


  • Watercolor brush
  • Dye reinker
  • Watercolor paper
  • Palette
  • Water misting bottle
  • Stamps
  • Waterproof ink
  • Watercolor crayons or other coloring mediums
  • Adhesive


  1. Step 1

    Add a drop of re-inker to the palette.

    Add another drop in a second compartment if a gradated wash is desired.

  2. Step 2

    Add water to the re-inker. Add more water to one than the other, and mix.

  3. Step 3

    Spray watercolor paper with a water misting bottle to dampen the paper. This will help the colors spread and blend.

  4. Step 4

    Wet a watercolor brush. Dip in the darker re-inker solution.

  5. Step 5

    Apply ink wash from one side of the watercolor to the other with a single stroke.

    I am left handed and brush from right to left. Right handed people will probably do the opposite.

  6. Step 6

    Dip watercolor brush in re-inker solution and add a second stroke underneath the first. Make sure the brush strokes overlap.

  7. Continue adding color.

  8. Step 7

    Repeat until the entire watercolor paper is covered. Let dry.

    For a gradated wash, use the darker mixture for the first half of the paper, then continue with the lighter color. Last go over the upper part with just a wet brush to get the lightest color for the bottom of the paper.

  9. Step 8

    Stamp your main image.

    Here, Real Red, Pink Passion and Always Artichoke Watercolor Crayons were used with the Wet Watercolor Crayon technique.

  10. Step 9

    Over-stamp with an outline stamp and add sentiment.

  11. Step 10

    Add shading with the re-inker mixes and a smaller watercolor brush.

  12. Step 11

    Finished card.



  1. Add Resist!
    Try adding Embossing Resist or Crayon Resist to your card.

    Spray it
    There are several Color Wash sprays out to make this technique easier.

    Multiple Colors
    Add more than one color to your background.

Your Turn

You've seen the tutorial, now you try it! We've got a section of the gallery set aside for Watercolor Wash. Try this technique, then upload your artwork to the gallery. Show us your creations!

***Please note - Internet Explorer/Edge is not a supported browser, and will not allow you to see the videos. Please use Chrome, Firefox or Safari to view our tutorial videos.

Questions and Comments

We'd love to get your feedback or questions. Leave your comment below.

What a great technique !! I'll definately be using this on a card ASAP !!! What a great way to fill up a plain background....another winner my friend !!!
Corinne  |  Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 6:02 AM
Beate, this is awesome! Great tutorial and beautiful card!
Charmaine  |  Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 6:28 AM
How do you do the moon as shown on the example above? I've tried several ways and can't manage to get a white moon on a darker background.
Jean Justice  |  Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 6:29 AM
Looks fun. Thanks for sharing.
Leah  |  Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 6:36 AM
Why don't you double the info on the page so we won't use so much paper. Looks to me like there is plenty of room.
Wanda Smith  |  Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 6:50 AM
I copy and save all the tutorials to Microsoft Word.

My document margins are: Left-.75 inches, Right & Top-.25 inches, Bottom-.5 inches. (My new printer accepts .25 inches for all margins.)

I then put the whole document into 2 columns. That makes this tutorial only 3 pages when printed. I think this works with all of the tutorials I have saved from SCS. Some people make the pictures too large to fit into the two column format.
Nendy  |  Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 7:37 AM
Jean--If you emboss with clear or white embossing powder and then do the watercolor wash, you will get a nice white moon! Be sure to wipe the wash off of the embossed part while it's wet.
Catherine (aka muffincards)  |  Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 7:37 AM
Beate: You are so talented and such a great teacher! Thank you!!!
Catherine (aka muffincards)  |  Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 7:38 AM
What a great idea!! Love the last card with the white moon and trees, great idea for a Father's Day Card. Thanks!
Karen  |  Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 10:28 AM
Beate - Great tutorial. You always do such a fabulous job of explaining things and coming up with super samples!!!

Daven - You all do an awesome job keeping up with the tech side of things - Thank You!!!
Anita  |  Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 10:55 AM
Beate - Again, a fab tutorial! Glad to know there is another leftie in this world! grin
Jeanne (aka momsie)  |  Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 1:06 PM
What beautiful results. I have no re inkers but I guess good old watercolours would work as well? I would use a masking liquid for the moon. This peels off with your fingers when the paint is all dry and leaves a nice white area. (I used to use it for little white flowers in the grass or where-ever when I did a lot of painting) I also followed the link for the watercolour pencils onto stamps. I never would have thought of doing that. What a great idea, it sounds like fun to do!!
Avril  |  Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 1:17 PM
I love both of them.
One stupid question: How did you do the scallops on the heartfelt card?
Samantha  |  Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 1:21 PM
I embossed the circle for the moon with clear embossing powder. The fog before it is white crayon scribbled on before adding the watercolor wash.

I used Square nestabilities die templates to cut the scallop square.
beate  |  Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 2:25 PM
As usual your tutorials are fabulous Beate. Thanks for all the hard work you do.
Darth Debby  |  Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 4:17 PM
love the card, and have noticed several cards with the corner done in a pattern of hole preforations. Is this a template?? I would appreciata a how to on this
kathi schultz  |  Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 5:40 PM
I'm ordering some watercolor paper! This is so beautiful!!
Laura  |  Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 6:38 PM
Another fabulous tutorial Beate...thank you!!!
Joycelyn  |  Wed Jun 11, 2008 at 8:32 PM
What a great idea very motivating. I will spend some of tomorrow trying out my new set of Heartfelt stamps.
Thank you for the newsletters I love to open my emails to see what else is new.
Best wishes
Joan  |  Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 2:24 AM
What do you use for your watercolor paper.

Your work is amazing.

Piedpipurr  |  Thu Jun 12, 2008 at 9:19 AM

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