Using watercolor on coloring books

Watercolor is my favorite art medium. I especially like the beautiful effect of dropping different colors into wet paper. This is how I colored the background of this gorgeous illustration by Daria Song in the book Time Chamber.

Daria Song described in her Instagram posts that she likes to apply watercolor on her background and then put in the details with colored pencils. Her coloring using this technique looks absolutely amazing and I think saves a lot of time than if you try to achieve similar results using colored pencils alone.

Tips and techniques

I was a bit reluctant to try watercolor on coloring books in the past because I am worried about the paper warping. Now I think the beautiful results make a little warping worthwhile. The key is to get a feel of how wet your paper can tolerate. Too much water, you create a puddle. Not enough water, you will have lines instead of a nice blend. Before you do it in your favorite coloring book, practice on a piece of card stock paper or the back page of the coloring book. Here’s a few pointers from my experience:

  • Do not attempt to color a big area until you get the hang of it. It’s more challenging to control.
  • Prepare your colors – on a dish/palette dilute the colors you want to use with water, it should be runny.
  • Use a damp brush, wet the area. You only want a sheen. It is damp but not dripping wet, there should be no water puddle.
  • Drop the colors on the area, it should blend into each other without pooling. Enjoy watching the colors blend into each other. Have a paper towel handy if your brush is too wet.
  • If I am using a single color and the area is small, I skip the step of prewetting the paper e.g. the light brown frames or the green ovals in this picture. You still want the color to be pretty fluid though.

Highlight with colored pencils

Time chamber after watercolor is applied

In addition to the multicoloured glass, I also use watercolor to create a base color as seen in the above picture. Now I use colored pencils to create shadow and highlights. In the glass pane, I apply blue pencil at the corners to create a more dramatic effect.

Take the plunge

I am happy I finally take the plunge to try out using watercolor on my coloring book. Using watercolor and colored pencils together create a spectacular effect. I hope you give this a try too. Here’s another Daria Song Time Chamber piece colored using a mix of watercolor and colored pencils:

Time Chamber by Daria Song colored by Betty Hung

Happy Coloring!

3 comments on “Using watercolor on coloring books

  1. I am trying out this technique in The time garden from Daria Song and it works really well! At first I was as reluctant to use watercolors in my coloring books , because the paper does behave different. But with some practice – and assisted by your wonderful tutorials – it is a very pleasing coloring experience!

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