Use of pointillism in coloring

What is pointillism?

According to wikipedia, pointillism is a technique of painting in which small, distinct dots of color are applied in patterns to form an image. The technique relies on the ability of the eye and mind of the viewer to blend the color dots into a fuller range of tones. The featured image above is my watercolor painting of the “Enchanted Forest” using pointillism to represent the foliage and flowers of the trees and shrubs of the forest. This technique can be used in coloring as well.

How pointillism is incorporated in my coloring

First off, I use either watercolor or markers e.g. Tombow Dual Brush pens, Faber-Castell Artist PITT pens for this technique. The ink provides a slightly wet medium for the dots to kind of blend into each other. I am using the Owl Page from Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden to demonstrate how I use this technique.

Owl page from Secret Garden - background using pointillism
Secret Garden – Johanna Bamford

The background of this Owl page was done using Faber-Castell PITT Artist pens #274 #174 #170. I used dots to blend the colours as I transitioned from one color to another. This creates a nice texture, adds to the depth and gives an illusion of more interesting things in the background. I think it makes it more convincing than a solid background. I split the background into little sections and completed one section at a time, so that the layers were not entirely dry between each application.

Here’s the step by step for doing this background:

Demo on how to do background with pointillism

Step 1: To do a larger area, I suggest doing a solid color of the lightest color (#170) using very light hand, you don’t want to risk bleeding through

Step 2: Layer the medium color #174, dots go from very dense to sparse as shown

Step 3: Layer the darkest color #274, overlapping with layer in Step 2

Step 4: dot over the entire area with the lightest color again #170

There were other areas where this technique was used on this Owl page, can you spot them?


Here’s a closer look of the tail feathers, the body of the owl and the tree branch. I particularly like how the tail feathers turn out. I think it gives it a jewelled effect, kind of like many colorful precious stones.

Close of Owl to show pointillism


Here’s a step by step on how I did the branch:

Step by step demo of pointillism

Step 1: Use the darkest color, in this case #899 Tombow dual brush pen, dot about 1/3 of the area. The dots should be high density at the top and gradually become sparse

Step 2: Use the medium color, in this case #977, dot all the holes from Step 1 plus another 1/3 of the area. Again from high density to sparse

Step 3: Use the lightest color, in this case #992, dot all the empty space left from Step 1 & 2


  • light hand = no bleed through
  • You can always go back to add more of the dark or medium color dots to adjust it to the look you want.
  • Note that even if you are using the same color, the fact that the dots are added at different times (even 1 sec difference), it will create different shades as the previous dots dried. Hence you should always dot them rather than color them solid.

Another Background Example

The background of this postcard below was done using yellow, green and purple Tombow Dual Brush pens. I dotted them randomly all over using uneven rough, faily large dots to create a more rugged look. Another reason I used this technique on this card was that the paper was quite absorbent and it was very hard to blend different colors together. This is a quick easy way to complete the look without “killing” my pens.

Postcard using pointillism technique for background


Show me some pointillism in your color art!

The most important reason for using this technique is it’s a lot of fun. It’s good to mix techniques and make your coloring art more interesting. I hope you give this technique a try in your next coloring project and I would be thrilled if you share your work!

Happy coloring!

ps. I am taking a vacation in the next 2 weeks, and you can take a vacation from my blog. I’ll miss my daily coloring though.

2 comments on “Use of pointillism in coloring

  1. I would never have thought of this technique Betty! Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *