Intermediate Guide Wet-in-Wet Watercolor Washes

Welcome back, fellow fanatics, to the next installment of our watercolor journey! In this video tutorial, we’re expanding our options and skills by learning variegated wet-in-wet wash techniques. A great way to level-up watercolor paintings and turn a rather dull wash into something more exciting.

Understanding Variegated Watercolor Washes:

Now that you’ve watched the details video tutorial there should be a better understanding of variegated watercolor washes. But, just incase you missed it, or are a little confused, variegated washes simple use more than one hue. The idea is to use multiple colors so that the end result is more dynamic, and less flat in terms of color and visual aesthetics.

All three wet-in-wet watercolor wash examples
All three wet-in-wet watercolor wash examples

Didi you see the previous Watercolor Wash Tutorials?

Below you will see the other video tutorials include the four part beginner series. Be sure to watch them in order!

Beginner Series

The Creative Process:

In the video demonstration, I guided you through the creation of a simple red barn using variegated wet-in-wet techniques. Actually, I did two versions so that there’s more than one way to get it done.

Tips to make variegated washes more exciting? Here are just a few off the top of my head, but I’m sure I missed a few;

  • Be careful of the timing, too late and you’ll have some issues.
  • Always have a main hue for the dominant shape, like red for the barn. Make sure the other hues aren’t competing too much with that dominant color, just a touch should do it!
  • Use complimentary hues, or mix warm and Cool colors. If the dominant hue is blue, add a touch of warm to give it a pop!
  • Use it wisely! You don’t necessarily have to variegate every object, but selecting a few will usually make for a well-balanced painting. Too much, and well the art just seems a little overworked.

Why Variegated Washes Matter

Variegated washes offer an artistic playground where colors mingle and dance, creating captivating textures and tones. By grasping the art of combining hues within a single wash, you unlock a world of possibilities, making your watercolor creations come alive with vibrancy.

Suggested Material Checklist

Materials can make or break the outcome of a watercolor study. Watch the video that covers the best watercolor materials if you need more specifics about color choices, brush sizes and such. Basically, it’s exactly what I use and recommend for all levels.

Watercolor Paints: Opt for artist-grade watercolor paints in a range of colors. Choose a basic palette that includes six primary colors (one cool and warm hue for each one including red, blue, and yellow) along with earth tones for a versatile collection.

If you aren’t aware of the six primary palette, then check out our in-depth article on how to mix watercolors for beginners. It has the exact hues I use for every painting. And, if I make changes, I always update the article so you know the exact hues that get the best results.

Brushes: Invest in a set of good-quality watercolor brushes with different shapes and sizes. Round brushes are excellent for detailed work, while flat brushes are great for larger washes. I’d recommend one medium and one large pointed round. Then get a large mop brush that will handle those initial washed that are applied in the very beginning.

You only need three brushes to do most of the heavy lifting! However, I do recommend having a dagger and possibly and Motler on hand as well. Check out the article I wrote on how to choose the best watercolor brushes if you have questions on the exact brands, sizes and such.

Paper: I highly recommend selecting watercolor paper specifically designed for this medium. Look for papers labeled “cold-pressed” or “hot-pressed” to suit your preferred texture. Experiment with different weights and brands to find the one that suits your style. Most beginners choose 140 lb. cold press to start their journey. Hot press tends to be a little slick and most used for highly detailed work and portraits.

Avoid cheap, wood pulp papers as they don’t react properly to washes and other techniques. These cheaper papers tend to break down quickly and don’t age well either, basically yellowing over time. Be sure to read the how to choose the best watercolor paper article when you have time.

If you aren’t aware of the six primary palette, then check out our in-depth article on how to mix watercolors for beginners. It has the exact hues I use for every painting. And, if I make changes, I always update the article so you know the exact hues that get the best results.

Palette: A palette is essential for mixing and diluting your watercolors. Choose a palette with wells to hold different colors and a large mixing area. Small palettes tend to get dirty too quick and I found it difficult to have enough free space to mix enough colors without having to stop everything to clean up. The Masterson Pro palette works great and available at Amazon and Blick Art.

Water Containers: Have at least two containers for water—one for rinsing your brushes and another for clean water. Make sure the containers aren’t too small, and I would recommend plastic over glass. I’ve had plenty of studio accidents and cleaning up shattered glass isn’t ideal when in a creative mode.

Masking Tape and Drawing Board: Masking tape helps secure your paper to a drawing board, keeping it flat and preventing it from warping. The tape is optional and depends if you prefer the clean edges. In the beginning you will most likely focus on sketches and studies, so maybe pass until you determine later on if you need it.

A smooth, firm board is a must! I recommend Gator foam board as it’s very sturdy, smooth and durable. Fairly inexpensive and light weight to boot. That covers materials, let’s move on to skills you need to start watercolor painting.

Here’s a great article that covers all the watercolor supplies I use and recommend for all levels.


Join me as we unravel the intricacies of variegated wet-in-wet washes in this enriching tutorial. Remember, art is not just about colors on paper; it’s about emotions, techniques, and the stories you tell through your brushstrokes. Let’s embark on this creative adventure together and elevate your watercolor mastery to new heights. Happy painting!