Watercolour with Acrylic

Liquitex Acrylic colour can be used in the manner of watercolour simply by thinning with water and applying to an absorbent surface. The amount of water used depends on the desired consistency; the more water used the more fluid the paint. Liquitex Soft Body Artist Acrylic
Colour should always be used for acrylic watercolour techniques since it’s fluid consistency dissolves easily in water. Colour values are traditionally built from light to dark when working in this technique.


Advantages of Acrylic Watercolour

The main advantage of using acrylic for watercolour is that washes may be layered without dissolving one another. This is because acrylic paint contains binder and dries to a water resistant film. When working, allow washes to soak into the paper and dry; this way the paper also acts as a binder. Layers of washes will eventually seal the paper fibers and thus limit the amount of layering that is possible. Note: Watercolour paint when dry is still water-soluble and each layer of paint can dissolve the underneath layer.


Watercolour Papers

Paper choice is important and will be significant factor in the final work.

  • High quality/heavier papers made from 100% Cotton Rag are ideal for this application and will yield better results. (They hold more water, warp less and allow more Layers of washes)
  • Cold Press paper is rough and absorbent.
  • Hot Press paper is smooth (not as porous) and less absorbent. When working with Hot Press paper it may be useful to mix colours with Flow-Aid Water (1 part Liquitex Flow-Aid: 20 parts distilled water) to help achieve deeper stains and a more even application.
  • Note: To achieve watercolour effects on a non-absorbent surface such as primed canvas, Liquitex Airbrush Medium can be used to thin colours and will provide adequate binder to create a stable paint film.


Applications and Techniques

Transparent Washes

  • Transparent/translucent colours are the most vibrant.
  • The more water used, the more transparent the wash becomes.


For Hard Edge Brushmarks

  • Use dry paper.


For Soft Edge (“bleed”) Brushmarks

  • Dampen paper with distilled water or Slow-Dri Fluid Retarder (see below) then apply acrylic watercolour.
  • Create acrylic watercolour using Flow-Aid Water (1 part Liquitex Flow-Aid: 20 parts distilled water). Liquitex Flow-Aid reduces surface tension, thereby softening edges.


For Ultra-Soft Edge (“bleed”) Brushmarks

  • Dampen paper with Flow-Aid Water then apply washes for deeper saturation of colour. Working “wet into wet” in this manner is helpful for creating more atmospheric passages.


To Slowing Drying Time

  • Mix Liquitex Slow-Dri Fluid Retarder into distilled water (4 parts distilled water to 1 part Liquitex Slow-Dri). Use this mixture to create acrylic watercolour


Reccomended Products

  • Liquitex Slow-Dri Fluid Retarder gives more “open time”, allowing paint to be manipulated for longer.
  • Liquitex Flow-Aid reduces surface tension, thereby softening edges to help to achieve deeper stains and a more even application.
  • Liquitex Airbrush Medium is very fluid and contains binder making watercolour techniques possible on non-absorbent surfaces.


  • Protects the dry paint film from new paint application by covering passages with masking tapes and/or fluids.
  • May be done before painting to protect white paper.
  • May be done after each colour application, to save specific colour marks and details.


Masking Tape

  • To achieve straight lines use Drafting or ScotchTM 811 tape. It has a low adhesive tack, which will not damage painted areas when removed.


Frisket or Masking Fluid

  • Apply with brush or pen.

  • Masking Fluid may be removed at any time, by rubbing with finger or rubber cement eraser.