Los blancos en la acuarela

How to achieve whites in watercolor?

The use of white pigment in watercolor is a widely debated topic with different points of view. Each artist or practitioner of the technique may or may not prefer using white pigment. It should not be a one-size-fits-all criterion, and it ultimately depends on one’s style and creativity.

How to make the color white with watercolors

Watercolor differs from other paints in that it doesn’t have an opaque white pigment. Therefore, you can’t create the color white simply by adding water to the pigment. The way to make white with watercolors is to leave areas of the painting unpainted. This creates the desired effects of light and brightness. Here are some ways to achieve this:

Masking fluid

1• Masking fluid

To create small areas of white color, you can use a technique called “white reserve”. This involves applying a masking fluid or masking liquid to the area you want to leave white before painting. Then, you paint over the surrounding area. Once the paint dries, you carefully remove the masking fluid to reveal the white area underneath.

Masking fluid is very useful as it is waterproof, dries quickly upon application, and can be easily removed from the paper by rubbing it off. It can also be applied with a brush without damaging it.

Presentación del producto Winsor & Newton 0390658

White watercolor

2• White watercolor

You can also use opaque white watercolor, which some brands offer, although not all. Opaque white watercolor should be used with care and in small amounts. If mixed too much with other colors, it can make them duller.

Opaque white watercolor is used to create highlighting effects or to correct mistakes in a watercolor painting. Unlike other watercolors that are transparent, opaque white watercolor covers the color underneath and can be used to add touches of light to certain areas of the painting.

White watercolor can be found in different formats such as tubes, pans, or watercolor pencils.

It is important to note that white watercolor is not completely opaque, but has some transparency, which makes it more suitable for enhancing small areas of a painting.

It is also important to keep in mind that white watercolor should not be used as a base color in a watercolor painting. It is used as a final touch to highlight specific areas in a finished painting.

Chinese White

Chinese White

Chinese White is the name given to the white color in watercolor paints, which is derived from zinc oxide. Its characteristics include being an extremely lightfast color, semi-transparent, with a medium tinting strength and a cool bluish hue.

This color allows you to mix with other colors without losing transparency entirely in the mixture, and is also an alternative for placing highlights or shine accents in your illustration.

3. Watercolor pencils

They are very useful for accentuating highlights with hatching, drawing lines, white accents on watercolor, or emphasizing a point of interest. You can use them dry or also moisten them to create watercolor effects.

What happens if you use white paint in watercolor?

If you use white paint in watercolor, the effect you achieve is that the color with which you mix it becomes opaque, loses transparency, and dirties your work. Additionally, it may appear as if you are using gouache instead of watercolor.

Keep in mind that when you mix a color with white pigment, the result is a pastel color. In the watercolor technique, pastel colors do not exist.

Oso en acuarela uso del negro

The color white in watercolor for purists

In art, there are many ways to express oneself and experiment. In technique, everyone can choose the one they like the most and that suits their style.

In this article, we will talk about white pigment, its use, and its possibilities in watercolor.

I learned the watercolor technique with purist teachers who did not recommend using white pigment. Nor did they recommend using black directly from the tube or pan.

It may sound strange… right? But there is an explanation for it.

Watercolor is a technique that transmits freedom and spontaneity. But behind that, there is a control of pure technique, which is achieved through learning and practice.

When you are learning, the idea of not using white pigment is to achieve mastery of the technique, controlling the color wash and leaving spaces in white, creating openings or reserves for the brightest points of light.

To complement the information about the watercolor technique, I leave you the following link, click HERE.

The white of the paper is a part of your artwork

As you know, shapes in watercolor are achieved by layering transparent colors, or in other words, by glazing. As you add more water to the mix, the hue of the color lightens and reveals the illuminating white of the paper.

In every composition, there are lights and shadows. The more light there is, the fewer layers of color we apply, and the value of the color is lighter and more translucent. Conversely, when there is less light, we apply more layers of color that darken and define the shapes.

Ojo en acuarela reservando blancos

Materials that can help you achieve white in watercolor

As we know, art is free and the best way to apply it is to enjoy the process, without getting anxious about the outcome. In the market, there are materials that can help you achieve the desired white in your illustration, such as:

The color black in watercolor

Although the article is about the color white, at the beginning I mentioned direct black as a color not recommended in the school by purist teachers.

I found their arguments very interesting and became interested in learning more.

How to make black color with watercolor?

To obtain black with watercolor, it is recommended to use a mixture of other colors instead of direct black. For example, ultramarine blue can be mixed with a dark brown to obtain a more harmonious black that integrates with the other colors in the painting and does not stand out. I invite you to try it!

Black can be used to accentuate shadows, outline or mark a boundary.

Watercolor is a spectacular technique that requires a lot of dedication, letting the color flow and most importantly, learning to observe what is not seen.

Are you interested in learning more? In the upcoming articles, we will see some tips to improve your observation skills.

Acuarela con uso de blanco

Watercolor books to learn how to paint

I recommend these books, they will surely help you!

How to achieve whites in watercolor?
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How to achieve whites in watercolor?
In Pure Watercolor Technique, white color is not used, but art is free and one should experiment. Discover how to achieve it without pigment and what happens when we use white color in the mix.
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