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make your watercolors pop with pastels

How to make your watercolor paintings pop with pastels

Watercolor paintings can sometimes lack a bit of contrast, a great way to add a bit of contrast and texture is to outline some elements with pastels. Watercolor and pastels are great medium to mix because they both are very mat.

This is a technique that can be used by watercolorists but also in any kind of mixed media painting.

You might also like: Dry pastels, alternative ways of using them in mixed media


Here is how you can do it

You will need:

  • Watercolor paper, I used Fabriano 140 lb, cold press
  • Watercolor paint, I used Da Vinci and Yarka watercolors
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Masking fluid, I used Da Vinci masking fluid
  • A silicon brush or an old brush to apply the masking fluid
  • Pastels, I used nupastels
  • A stretching board, staples, pencil, eraser….


drawing and masking fluid.

Once your paper has been stretched, start by transferring your drawing to your watercolor paper. You can preserve some areas with masking fluid or like here, protect the contours so you can paint the background more easily.

Click here to see how to build you own light box

to easily transfer your drawings to your watercolor paper.

background painted wet in wet

Here I am starting by painting the background wet into wet.

alcohol sprinkled on the background

You can add textures to your background by sprinkling some alcohol into the wet watercolor wash.

Removing  the masking fluid.

new layer of masking fluid

This is a new layer of masking fluid, this time to preserve some white highlights.

painting flowers wet into wet

Wet into wet painting.

wet into wet painting

Softening edges on a petal.

This is the watercolor painting, let it dry completely before applying the pastels crayons.

Outline the contours of your painting with the pastels crayons, you can use different colors or just one, as you want.

You can also highlight elements of your choice on the painting, here the pistils.

Scrubbing with a stiff brush to soften hard edges and lighten some areas.

The finished painting: Cherry Blossoms, watercolor and pastels on paper. The pastels did add very vibrant highlights and a bit of texture to the painting. I did fix it with Krylon workable fixative.


Have you try adding pastels or other media to your watercolors?


How to make your watercolor paintings pop with pastels
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