How To Make Handmade Watercolor Paint

How to Make Handmade Watercolor Paint

Creating your own handmade watercolor paint can be a fun and rewarding experience. Not only does it allow you to customize the colors and textures of your paint, but it also gives you a deeper understanding of the art materials you use. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make your own watercolor paint at home.

How Do You Make Homemade Watercolor Paint?

To make homemade watercolor paint, you will need the following materials:

1. Pigments: Pigments are the colorants used in watercolor paint. You can use powdered pigments or grind your own from natural sources such as rocks, minerals, or plants. Make sure the pigments you choose are lightfast and suitable for use in watercolor.

2. Binder: The binder is what holds the pigments together and allows them to adhere to the paper. The most common binder used in watercolor paint is gum arabic, which is a natural gum extracted from the acacia tree. You can purchase gum arabic in powdered form or as a liquid solution.

3. Additives: Optional additives can be added to enhance the properties of your watercolor paint. These can include preservatives to prevent mold or bacterial growth, humectants to keep the paint moist, or dispersing agents to improve the flow and spreadability of the paint.

Now, let’s move on to the process of making homemade watercolor paint:

1. Start by grinding your pigments into a fine powder using a mortar and pestle. If you are using pre-made powdered pigments, skip this step.

2. In a small container, mix a small amount of gum arabic with water to form a thick paste. The ratio of gum arabic to water will depend on the desired consistency of your paint. Start with a 1:1 ratio and adjust as needed.

3. Add the powdered pigments to the gum arabic mixture and stir well until the pigments are fully incorporated. The consistency should be similar to that of commercial watercolor paint.

4. If desired, add any optional additives at this stage and mix thoroughly.

5. Transfer the paint into small pans or containers, and allow it to dry completely. This may take a few days or longer, depending on the humidity levels in your area.

6. Once the paint is dry, it is ready to use. Simply wet your brush with water and mix it with the paint to create beautiful watercolor washes and effects.

What Are the Three Main Ingredients in Watercolor Paint?

Watercolor paint is made up of three main ingredients:

1. Pigments: Pigments are the colorants that give watercolor paint its vibrant hues. They can be sourced from natural minerals, plants, or synthetic compounds. Pigments come in a powdered form and are mixed with a binder to create watercolor paint.

2. Binder: The binder is what holds the pigments together and allows them to adhere to the paper. In watercolor paint, the most common binder is gum arabic, which is a natural gum extracted from the acacia tree. Gum arabic acts as a binding agent, ensuring that the pigments stay in suspension and adhere to the paper when water is applied.

3. Water: Water is the vehicle that allows the pigments to be spread onto the paper. It helps to dissolve the binder and pigments, creating a fluid consistency that can be easily applied with a brush. Water also plays a crucial role in the transparency and flow of watercolor paint.

Can You Mix Acrylic Paint with Water to Make Watercolor?

While acrylic paint and watercolor paint share some similarities, they are different mediums with distinct properties. Acrylic paint is water-based, but once it dries, it becomes water-resistant and forms a plastic-like film. On the other hand, watercolor paint remains water-soluble even after drying, allowing for reactivation with water.

Although you can dilute acrylic paint with water to create a watercolor-like effect, it will not behave exactly like traditional watercolor paint. The pigments in acrylic paint are more opaque and have a different texture compared to watercolor pigments. Additionally, the binder in acrylic paint is not the same as the gum arabic used in watercolor paint.

If you want to achieve the transparency and flow of watercolor, it is best to use watercolor paint specifically designed for that purpose. However, experimenting with different mediums and techniques can lead to interesting and unique results in your artwork.

Can you make regular paint watercolor?

Regular paint and watercolor paint are two different types of paint. Regular paint, also known as acrylic or oil paint, is made with pigments mixed with a binder like acrylic or oil. Watercolor paint, on the other hand, is made with pigments mixed with a water-soluble binder, usually gum arabic.

While it is not possible to turn regular paint into watercolor paint, you can dilute regular paint with water to achieve a watercolor-like effect. This technique is often used in mixed media artwork or for creating washes and transparent layers in acrylic or oil paintings.

Can you make your own liquid watercolor?

Yes, you can make your own liquid watercolor using a few simple ingredients. Here’s a basic recipe:

  1. Start by gathering your materials: dry watercolor pigments, gum arabic (a natural binder), glycerin (optional, for added viscosity), distilled water, and small containers for storing the liquid watercolor.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together 1 part gum arabic and 1 part glycerin (if using).
  3. In a separate container, mix together 1 part dry watercolor pigments and 2 parts distilled water.
  4. Add the gum arabic mixture to the watercolor mixture and stir well to combine.
  5. Transfer the liquid watercolor to small containers for storage.

Keep in mind that homemade liquid watercolor may not have the same consistency or intensity as commercially made watercolors, but it can still be a fun and cost-effective option for creating your own colors.

How long does homemade watercolor paint last?

The shelf life of homemade watercolor paint can vary depending on the ingredients used and how it is stored. Generally, if stored properly, homemade watercolor paint can last for several months to a year.

To ensure the longevity of your homemade watercolor paint, it is important to store it in airtight containers away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. This will help prevent the paint from drying out or becoming moldy.

If you notice any changes in the texture, consistency, or smell of your homemade watercolor paint, it is best to discard it and make a fresh batch.

What is handmade watercolor?

Handmade watercolor refers to watercolor paint that is made by hand, often using traditional methods and natural ingredients. Unlike commercially produced watercolors, which are mass-produced using machinery, handmade watercolors are crafted in small batches by artists or small-scale manufacturers.

Handmade watercolors are valued for their unique qualities and the control they offer to artists. They can be made with a variety of pigments, binders, and additives, allowing for a wide range of colors and effects. Some artists prefer handmade watercolors for their vibrancy, transparency, and ability to create subtle washes and delicate layers.

Using handmade watercolors can add a personal touch to your artwork and support independent artists and artisans.

What makes a good watercolor paint?

Several factors contribute to what makes a good watercolor paint:

  • Pigment quality: High-quality watercolor paints use finely ground pigments that are lightfast, meaning they resist fading over time.
  • Color intensity: Good watercolor paints have vibrant and intense colors that remain true when dry.
  • Transparency: Watercolor paints should have good transparency, allowing for layering and creating luminous washes.
  • Flow and consistency: The paint should have a smooth and consistent flow, allowing for easy application and blending.
  • Lightfastness: Watercolor paints should be resistant to fading when exposed to light.
  • Reactivability: Good watercolor paints can be easily reactivated with water, allowing for reworking and lifting of colors.

Ultimately, the choice of watercolor paint depends on the artist’s preferences and the desired effects. Experimenting with different brands and colors can help artists find the paints that best suit their style and techniques.

What is the best material to do watercolor on?

When it comes to watercolor painting, the choice of material is crucial. The best material to do watercolor on is watercolor paper. Watercolor paper is specifically designed to absorb and hold water, allowing the paint to spread and blend smoothly. It is made from cotton or cellulose fibers, which give it a sturdy and absorbent surface. Watercolor paper comes in different weights and textures, such as hot-pressed, cold-pressed, and rough. The weight of the paper refers to its thickness, with heavier weights being more durable and less likely to warp or buckle when wet. The texture of the paper affects how the paint is absorbed and how it interacts with the brush. Overall, using high-quality watercolor paper ensures better results and longevity of your artwork.

What colors do you mix to make watercolor?

Watercolor painting offers a wide range of colors that can be mixed to create various shades and hues. The primary colors used in watercolor are red, blue, and yellow. By mixing these primary colors, you can create secondary colors. For example, mixing red and blue will give you purple, mixing blue and yellow will give you green, and mixing yellow and red will give you orange. Additionally, you can mix these secondary colors to create tertiary colors. Experimenting with different combinations and ratios of colors will allow you to achieve a vast spectrum of hues in your watercolor paintings.

Can you use food coloring as watercolor?

While food coloring may seem like a convenient alternative to watercolor paint, it is not recommended for use in watercolor painting. Food coloring is not designed to be lightfast or permanent, meaning that its colors may fade or change over time. Additionally, food coloring is not formulated to be mixed with water and may not blend well or create the desired effects in watercolor painting. It is best to use watercolor paints specifically made for artistic purposes, as they are formulated to be lightfast, blendable, and long-lasting.

Can you make watercolor paint with eyeshadow?

Yes, it is possible to make watercolor paint with eyeshadow. Eyeshadow contains pigments that can be mixed with water to create a paint-like consistency. To make watercolor paint with eyeshadow, you will need to scrape off a small amount of eyeshadow into a palette or container. Then, add a few drops of water and mix it thoroughly until you achieve a smooth and fluid consistency. Keep in mind that the quality and pigmentation of the eyeshadow will affect the intensity and vibrancy of the resulting watercolor paint. It is recommended to use eyeshadows that are highly pigmented for better results.

How do you make watercolor paint with water?

Making watercolor paint with water is a simple process that requires only a few materials. To make watercolor paint, you will need watercolor pigments or watercolor tubes, a palette or container, and a mixing tool such as a brush or palette knife. Start by squeezing a small amount of watercolor pigment onto the palette or container. Then, gradually add water and mix it with the pigment until you achieve the desired consistency and intensity of color. It is important to add water slowly and mix well to avoid creating a paint that is too diluted or too thick. Adjust the amount of water and pigment as needed until you achieve the desired results.


Choosing the right material for watercolor painting is essential, and watercolor paper is the best surface to work on due to its absorbency and durability. When it comes to mixing colors, primary colors can be combined to create a wide range of secondary and tertiary colors. While food coloring and eyeshadow can be used as alternatives, they may not provide the same quality and permanence as watercolor paints specifically made for artistic purposes. Making watercolor paint with water is a straightforward process that involves mixing watercolor pigments or tubes with water to achieve the desired consistency and color intensity.

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