Pencil Shaded Watercolor

by Debby Hughes

Add more dimension to a watercolored image by deepening shadows with colored pencil.


  • Outline stamp (Clearly Besotted Merci Beaucoup used here)
  • Embossing ink (Versamark used here)
  • White embossing powder
  • Heat tool
  • Watercolor paper (Arches hot pressed watercolor card used here
  • Painter's tape
  • Watercolor medium (various tube watercolors used here, including Daniel Smith Quinacridone Coral and Quinacridone Gold, Schmincke Olive Green Yellowish and Naples Yellow Reddish)
  • Paint brushes (#1 round and #24 flat brushes used here)
  • Colored pencils (Prismacolor Raspberry, Black Raspberry, Kelp green, 90% Cool Grey, and Goldenrod used here)
  • Blending solvent, such as odorless mineral spirits, baby oil, etc.
  • Paper stumps or other blending tool
  • Other supplies as needed to complete the project (used here: Clearly Besotted Message Me clear stamp set, Foam Tape (3M), Twine (May Arts), embellishments (Little Things From Lucy’s Cards, Champagne Sequin Mix, pink rhinestones – unknown source), Mini MISTI, Adhesive (Ranger Multi Medium Matte), Ink Blender (Ranger mini ink blender), Bone Folder & Stylus, Cardstock (Neenah Desert Storm, Bazzill Lollipop, Antique Linen Distress Ink))


  1. Step 1

    Prepare watercolor paper by cutting it to the desired size.

  2. Step 2

    Stamp an outline image in embossing ink.


    Before stamping, treat the card with an antistatic powder tool to prevent stray embossing powder.

  3. Heat emboss with white embossing powder.

  4. Step 3

    Tape the watercolor card to a board or to your work surface using painter's tape.

  5. Begin with a clear wash of water to dampen the paper in and around the outline of the image. This gives a good base for watercoloring. Use a wide brush for broad, horizontal strokes.

  6. Step 4

    Add color to the darkest areas of the image with a smaller round brush, allowing the water on the paper to move the color into lighter areas. Add more water as needed to assist color flow.

  7. Step 5

    Deepen shading with darker colors after the base colors are complete. This will add dimension and make the flower look more realistic.

  8. Step 6

    Ground the image by adding a background of color around it. Blend out the color with lots of water. Add in colors used in the image for more depth.

    Let the panel dry completely, and remove the tape.

  9. Step 7

    Use colored pencil to add more details and shadows. This preserves the layers of watercolor while adding depth to the image.

  10. Step 8

    Blend out the color using a paper stump dipped in odourless mineral spirits or another solvent. (For instructions on pencil blending with solvents, see our tutorial HERE.)

  11. Step 9

    Add the painted panel to a card or other project.

  12. Step 10

    Complete the project.


Your Turn

You've seen the tutorial, now you try it! We've got a section of the gallery set aside for Pencil Shaded Watercolor. 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.

This is just so lovely, wonderful work, thanks for sharing.
Julie Heyer  |  Wed Sep 14, 2016 at 5:39 AM
So very, very beautiful. It is amazing to see the depth appear in the rose and leaves as you add darker color. Your watercoloring is lovely. Thanks so much for the tutorial.
M Carolyn Willisford  |  Wed Sep 14, 2016 at 6:21 AM
Susanne Gleason  |  Wed Sep 14, 2016 at 6:40 AM
Beautiful work. TFS
Ginny Pender  |  Wed Sep 14, 2016 at 6:46 AM
Stunning!! Love the video tutorial as well, well done smile
Julie Heyer  |  Wed Sep 14, 2016 at 6:48 AM
This is so pretty....great coloring...will have to tried your techniques...tfs
Gloria Westerman  |  Wed Sep 14, 2016 at 7:40 AM
Fabulous- good information- thank you!
Mary McCaslin  |  Wed Sep 14, 2016 at 9:24 AM
Debby, you have created yet another absolutely beautiful card. You continue to amaze me with your beautiful talent!
Shirley Conner  |  Wed Sep 14, 2016 at 10:52 AM
While you make it look so easy, there is no denying you are a gifted artist! Your shading technique is flawless and one I greatly envy. Do you by any chance offer an online class or video on "shading for dummies" for wannabe artists like me? Love your work. Thank you for sharing. Absolutely stunning.
Kathy Dorsey  |  Wed Sep 14, 2016 at 11:53 AM
Stunning and elegantly beautiful! Thank you for a great video on a wonderful technique. Now if only mine could look like yours!
Val  |  Wed Sep 14, 2016 at 12:03 PM
I did a small version. I'm not the artist you are! I'll definitely try again but I need to find a better stamp.
muscrat  |  Wed Sep 14, 2016 at 5:18 PM
Wow! Beautiful card-you make it look so easy...thanks for sharing.
Cindy Kilgannon  |  Wed Sep 14, 2016 at 7:09 PM
You are a talented artist and you make this look so easy. I will keep practicing to see if I can get a little more comfortable with the technique. Thank you for sharing you talent.
Deborah Bee  |  Thu Sep 15, 2016 at 9:51 PM
LOL, Kathy Dorsey! Seriously though, give the shading with pencils a go. It makes such a difference and the placement of your shading doesn't even need to be 'accurate'. Mine certainly isn't :D
Debby Hughes  |  Fri Sep 16, 2016 at 1:24 AM
muscrat, having a stamp with at least a little open areas to work with helps immensely :D
Debby Hughes  |  Fri Sep 16, 2016 at 1:24 AM
Oh, Debby, you are an amazing artist, and I had to giggle at Kathy Dorsey's comment (and your reply)! I feel the same. Thank you so much for doing this tutorial and sharing your gifts with us. I loved the video and also the step-outs you did. What exquisite coloring, and thank you for finishing such a gorgeous card! You have blessed us here at SCS! Hugs!
Cheryl Scrivens  |  Sat Sep 17, 2016 at 4:29 PM
as many times as I have added pencil over water coloring it has never occurred to me to blend that out. COOL thanks for this tutorial Debby.
Stacy Sheldon  |  Sat Sep 17, 2016 at 8:22 PM
Just beautiful!!!
Shelly Schmidt  |  Tue Sep 20, 2016 at 10:06 PM
Absolutely gorgeous. FANTASTIC shadowing technique mix with watercoloring. Thank You so much for sharing this tutorial!
Helen Gullett  |  Thu Sep 22, 2016 at 8:45 AM
Awesome tutorial - thank you!
I often use color pencils with Copics, but never thought about using them with my watercolors. Now I am just itching to try this!
Cara Malmrose  |  Fri Sep 23, 2016 at 7:32 PM

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