Watercolor on Yupo®

by Dina Kowal

Learn tips for watercoloring on this unique surface.


  • Yupo Synthetic Paper (heavy weight (144#) white Yupo used here)
  • Watercolor medium (QoR watercolor tube paints used here)
  • Watercolor brush (#8 round used here)
  • Mister bottles
  • Water
  • Rubbing alcohol (91% used here)
  • Paper towel
  • Stamps (Inkadinkado Hummingbird with Flowers used here)
  • Solvent or hybrid ink (Stazon Jet Black ink used here; hybrid ink is compatible with water and alcohol techniques)
  • Spray fixative (Krylon Workable Fixatif used here)
  • Other supplies as needed to complete the project (MISTI, Spellbinders Grand Squares Nestabilities, Impression Obsession CL491 Life Stuff Sentiments clear set, Stampendous detail white embossing powder, Scraperfect Best Glue Ever)


  1. Step 1

    Take some time to experiment with how your watercolor medium moves and reacts on the Yupo surface. Brush and blend it. Try pushing and pulling the brush, and dotting it into the paint. Observe the effects.

  2. Step 2

    Add in other colors and see how the paint moves together. The paint stays on the surface of the Yupo, instead of soaking in, so the effects will be different from what you may be used to on paper.

  3. Step 3

    Experiment with spritzed or splattered water on the wet paint. Spritz lightly, from a distance. Less is more.

    Water will create a speckled texture in your painting. This will dry ‘as is’ if left alone, or can be repeated and layered as the piece dries slightly.

  4. Step 4

    Try spritzing the panel with rubbing alcohol for another interesting effect. Rubbing alcohol repels the watercolor and changes the surface tension of the Yupo, pushing the paint into beads. Again, spritz lightly, from a distance. Less is more.

  5. The alcohol will also ‘move’ on the surface of the Yupo, pushing beads of color together. (Be sure to watch the video to see this cool effect!)

  6. Step 5

    While the paint is still wet, you can use a paper towel to remove paint from unwanted areas. (If the paint has dried, dampen a paper towel to wipe areas of color away, or wet a brush to lift color.) This is great when you're learning and practicing on the Yupo, too - just wipe it clean and start over!

    Some paint may cause staining, especially if mixed with alcohol.

  7. Step 6

    After the background has dried, stamp an image in a solvent or hybrid ink. Allow the ink to dry completely.

  8. NOTE:
    Heat setting is possible, but be very careful to not warp the Yupo. Hold your heat tool at least 10 inches from the surface, and keep it moving.

  9. Step 7

    Add more color as desired.

  10. Spritz with water as desired, to add texture.

    If you want to add the effects of spritzed rubbing alcohol, be sure that you have used a compatible hybrid ink. Stazon will react (lift and bleed).

  11. Step 8

    You may want to use a spray fixative to keep the watercolor paint from rubbing away. If you do so, be very careful. Solvent ink may feather with too heavy a mist (as shown). Spray the fixative from a couple of feet above the panel to allow a light mist to fall, layering very light applications.

  12. Step 9

    Use the panel to complete a card or other project.


Your Turn

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

Dina, thanks for doing this! I'd forgotten about the Yupo that's in my stash. Now I have to find it and play with some of the great techniques that you demonstrated.
Rufus  |  Wed Feb 14, 2018 at 6:42 AM
Thanks for the great tutorial and abundance of information. I'm looking forward to a pencil on Yupo if you decide to share another tutorial.
annie*  |  Wed Feb 14, 2018 at 8:12 AM
Becky Green  |  Wed Feb 14, 2018 at 9:19 AM
I attended a workshop years ago for alcohol inks and Yupo and then set it aside for other techniques - I thought it was "limiting" but now I will have to dig in my stash to try again after your GREAT tutorial; I love watercolor and this will be so much fun to add to my cards. THANKS!
hatm  |  Wed Feb 14, 2018 at 11:42 AM
Wonderful tutorial, Dina, thanks!!
Mary H  |  Fri Feb 23, 2018 at 10:18 AM
Question - if you do not use a fixative, will the watercolor rub off in the average manner of handling a card? Say, the recipient takes the card out of the mailing envelope and fingers on the image, will it smudge off?

Thanks for info on this unusual product.
Sonja Van Laar  |  Mon Feb 26, 2018 at 10:24 PM

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