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The Best Ways to Make Watercolor Darker

The Best Ways to Make Watercolor Darker

Do you want to know how to make dark watercolor to enhance your painting?

Are you a watercolorist and looking for some effective ways that can help you create strong colors and intense values?

Lucky for you, we can help! We are here to discover how you can get the darkest of darks in your watercolor paintings without getting confused and overwhelmed!

dark watercolor

All About Watercolor

Watercolor is an effective painting method that artists can apply by mixing pigments with a binder. The watercolor paint is, then, mixed with the water-soluble vehicle to apply on a paper or any other material.

The most common material that is used for watercolor paintings is paper. However, there are other materials as well in which the water-soluble colors are applied. These include vellum, plastic, canvas, papyrus, fabric, and wood.

Also known as Aquarelle, watercolor is a little bit complicated coloring method that can make a painting worth pursuing if handled correctly. The paintings made with watercolors are simply magical because the light reflects off the white color of the paper and then bounces to other colors which make the painting illuminated and beautiful.

At times, it becomes tricky to create pure, strong and intense colors using the water coloring technique. To get a full range of values from your watercolors, it is very essential to adjust your coloring method and style.

Using a variety of brushes and just hoping for the best does not always create beautiful paintings. There is much more than picking a brush!

How Do Beginners Start With Watercolors

Many watercolorists start their painting very beautifully but when they reach in the middle of the painting process, they get worried about how to proceed further with their creative process. The fact is such watercolor artists are afraid of moving next and using dark watercolors, leading to half-finished paintings.

If you are one of them, then there is no need to get worried as we can help you to grow in this technique. This guide tends to highlight some of the best ways by which you can achieve strong values as well as darker colors in your paintings.

So, do not stop anymore, get ready and take notes of what we are about to uncover in this guide as it will help you a lot to enhance your paintings. Let’s discover these must-know dark watercolor techniques!

Effective ways to make watercolor darker

The following are some important tricks by which you can make watercolor darker.

Always makes use of Artist-Grade Watercolors

Some colors do not get dark, no matter how many colors you mix into them to create a darker tone. For example, take an example of the Cobalt Blue color. If you mix some other colors in it to make it darker, it will not be more than the middle value.

Moreover, you cannot get a dark value in Yellow unless it is mixed with some power color that can make it darker and darker. So, to get dark value in your watercolor, you need to use artist-grade watercolors.

Pigment-rich watercolors always lead to better colors and better paintings!

Artist-grade water paints play an important role in enhancing your artwork as they have high concentrated intensity. The reason is such types of paints have less binding capabilities and come in a wider range of colors. They have more color and results in creating strong and intense pigments on the paper. These pigments help in making dark colors happen.

Artist-grade watercolors are so vibrant that a little goes a long way. The best part is you can lift the artist-grade colors from the pan even by using a damp brush. These colors have the same intensity when dried up as they look when they are wet. In short, the artist-grade watercolors are well worth the price.

Using paint from the tube

Do you want to create a fantastic masterpiece by adding dark colors and leaving some sections of your painting soft as a contrast? If yes, then try using water paints right from the tube because, by this technique, you can get strong as well as intense shade of a color.

For using paint right from the tube, first, you need to select a color. (You can use the color wheel to understand relationships between colors). After that, squeeze the tube, take a brush, dip it in the color and apply. Before applying to your painting, try to apply a small amount of color on a scrap paper to see the result.

Believe me, it is one of the best techniques for getting the darkest darks in your watercolor paintings. After applying the color on a paper, you can make it smooth with a brush and give it full coverage or leave it as-it-is to give a rough and dry-brush look.

Try some color combinations

To get dark watercolor in your artwork, it is very crucial to try some color combinations and see if they are making some intense and rich dark tones or not. There are mainly three types of black color.

These include Mars Black, Lamp Black, and Ivory Black. For getting dark shade, the black color usually works for small surfaces as it may look dirty and dull sometimes. To replace black, you can use Paynes grey.

If you want to get Dark Violet color in your painting, you need to mix Prussian blue with rose. Dark Violet color can also be achieved by mixing permanent Alizarin crimson or Perylene maroon with ultramarine blue. Also, get Dark Green color by the combination of Winsor yellow and Prussian blue.

You can also mix Alizarin crimson with green to get a warm shade of black or grey. The same shade can also be achieved by adding Burnt Sienna with blue. Before applying the color combinations to your final work, it is better to experiment first as some color combinations can give muddy results!

Take a good watercolor paper

Do you want to create strong colors and intense values in your next painting? Are you trying to get depth to the painting by using several layers of paint? If so, then take a good watercolor paper. The quality and thickness of the watercolor paper are very necessary if you want to apply layers of different colors to achieve a darker tone.

By applying the repeated layers of watercolor, you can get darkness and depth in your artwork as separate layers mean separate pigments, resulting in richer colors. Therefore, it is always recommended to use a paper that can stand up to the layering of colors and repeated wetting.

The reason is if you use a low-quality paper, it will get wet and break. Therefore, it is very necessary to use the right paper that is not only water-absorbent but is capable of accepting multiple washes of color.

Use good quality watercolors

Another must-know watercolor technique to get dark watercolor is to use good-quality water paints as they will not get light in the color and will last for a long time. There are various watercolor brands available in the market which you can choose according to your requirements. It is better to get a few colors from well-known brands and use them to see the desired results.

Use a scrap of watercolor paper

Imagine you have applied watercolor to your painting. You think that you have achieved your desired dark shade. But what happens when it becomes 50 percent lighter than when it was wet? To avoid such situations, it is always better to test the paints and let them dry thoroughly because water paints usually become light when they dry.

By testing the color on a scrap of watercolor paper first before actually applying to the final paper, you can get to know the exact value of the color that you want. You can not only test your shades but can also understand the water-to-paint ratio.

Work from cool tones to warm tones

To enhance your painting with warm tones, you need to work from cool tones to warm tones. The reason is if you apply dark colors first, it will be harder for you to undo it. It is known as the layering method. It is an important water coloring method in which the watercolor artists build up the values layer by layer. As each layer adds pigments, in this way, you can get rich colors.

You can get the right tonal value by working from light to dark!

Moreover, the layering method can help you to assess your painting more accurately after achieving the right tonal value. It can allow you to add more paint, again and again, to make it darker. If you notice that the color is still light, then try to mix the same colors repeatedly and then apply it to your painting. But to get to know how your final painting will look, let it dry thoroughly.

Paint with watercolor pencils

Want to create an eye-catching artwork? Use watercolor pencils instead of using paints. For this, first, you need to make a sketch of your design then choose the base colors. Believe me, they will transform the game of art!

Use a splattering technique

The splattering technique is an amazing and fun dark watercolor technique that can give your painting a unique effect. For this, try to spray the watercolor on the paper using a paintbrush or a toothbrush.

If you are using a paintbrush, try to hold it between your middle finger and your thumb. After that, pull back the bristles of your brush and enjoy the fun results. In short, this technique can create texture on the painting surface!

Add texture by using salt

Many watercolor artists want to add some textural effects in their painting. If you are one of them, then try using salt over the color especially when the color is wet. It can add a unique texture to your art, making it more beautiful and attractive.

Create a sketch of your painting

Create a sketch of your painting by working on a monochrome version of your artwork. Make a sketch before painting by using regular watercolors. Working on the sketch can help you to witness the composition before the actual painting.

Invest in different brushes

Investing in various kinds of brushes is not a bad option at all. You can find various types of brushes in the market that are used especially for watercolor painting. You can choose any of them keeping in view your painting needs. The round brushes are mostly used for watercolors but you can go for other kinds as well. These include round, flat, mop, and spotter brush. Other common types include a liner and a fan brush.

Other Featured Topics About Watercolor


Have you ever thought about which component of your artwork can give it a new and unique look? It is, in fact, the contrast, the beautiful combination of light and dark colors. Yes! You read it right! Contrast plays an important role in contributing real value to your piece of art.

If you have noticed that your paintings are looking dull and they do not sparkle as they should, it means that they are lacking a blend of light and strong colors. Because strong and dark colors can make your artwork not only pleasing and eye-catching but dramatic as well.

If you want to make your paintings eye-catching and appealing, then you need to understand the real concept of color combinations. All the tips and tricks mentioned above can help you in making dark watercolor. They can not only help you to create variation and interest in your painting but can also assist in giving your painting a boost.

How often do you paint in watercolors? Is watercolor one of your favorite mediums to use?


Saturday 29th of May 2021

Hello! Great demo!!! While I like Arches blocks, I think the finish is inconsistent. Can you suggest a good journal for my color reference and a bright white block with 100% cotton? Thank you!

Jae Johns

Saturday 29th of May 2021

I don't know one off the top of my head. I recommend try searching Micheals.

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