Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Painting straight lines or edges in watercolor

I just started watercolor painting. Is there an easy way to make straight lines (as when painting a structure that needs to have very straight walls etc? Thanks, Donna

Hi Donna!
It sounds like you are jumping into watercolor with both feet! GOOD FOR YOU!
I do have a few simple tips that will help with getting a clean edge when painting a building or a wall with straight edges.
  1. Use a piece of plastic tape as a guideline to help paint a straight edge. I don't recommend using standard masking tape, it can damage your watercolor paper and sometimes leaves a sticky residue when its removed, but most of all its hard to get it to seal tight enough to keep the wet paint from seeping under the edge of the tape. I prefer to use Artist Tape. It is the best I've found for sticking to the paper and not allowing the paint to "seep" under the tape. And it is easy to remove without damaging the paper's surface. Look for artist tape in most artist's supply stores locally or online. Artist tape is also an archival tape used by framers to mount paintings to mat boards. So you might find it at your local picture framer too. I jokingly call my artist tape a "ruler on a roll" and I frequently use it to clean up straight edges and create highlights after the painting is painted when I'm adding those finishing touches and polishing up the painting.
  2. Use a "stencil" simply made from a scrap piece of watercolor paper or clear transparency film to provide a clean edge and protect the area not being painted.
  3. Making fluid (there are several good brands available) can be applied to the watercolor paper to reserve the white of the paper and create a straight edge.
  4. Another way is to use a ruler or straight edge held at an angle so your brush glides along the elevated straight edge. A picture is worth a thousand words ... see photo examples.

I'll add links to examples for each of these tips this weekend.


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