So you've found the perfect watercolor paper for your next project. Before you prep your palette and grab your brush, you may have to stretch it. Most watercolorists do so before painting, especially when using a thinner variety, as the process expands the fibers of the paper so it doesn't buckle or warp. After all, it's much more enjoyable to paint on a flat surface and be able to use as much water as you want.
Fact: no one wants a dull painting. But that doesn't mean you should overlook the power of mixing muted and dull colors. These seemingly drab tones will help your paintings reach a whole new level of depth and realism, and it's all done with an understanding of color intensity.
Not all watercolors look the same. In fact, each color is one of three qualities when put to paper: transparent, semi-transparent and opaque. Each cover the surface of your watercolor paper to a different degree, letting more or less of the light reflected from the paper show through the pigment.
When it comes to value, watercolors are incredibly versatile. Color value simply refers to the levels of darkness and lightness of any particular color, and depending on the amount of water you use to pick up a hue, your brushstroke can be bright and saturated, incredibly sheer or somewhere in between.
Using the right (or wrong) type of paper can truly make or break your painting, and there's no better feeling than finding the perfect one for your project. If you're just getting started in the realm of watercolor — or you've just never tried different varieties — there are a few things to consider before picking up your paint brush.