Watercolour Series – On The Paper

Learning to watercolor Wonders of Watercolour Series by Shop Whims And Fancies Soma Acharya


Hi Everyone! I continue to get comments and emails about watercolour tutorials.  So, I have been toying with the idea of writing a series on “Watercolour For The Rest Of Us” for a while.  I want to approach this from a child’s point of view of learning through playing, since that is how this journey started for me.  I want us to play and dabble with paint on paper;  have fun and relax while learning the basics.




Learning to watercolor Wonders of Watercolour Series by Shop Whims And Fancies Soma Acharya



Size of Paper


I find 5 in x 7 in to be a good size to work with for any sample painting.  It is large enough to add details, but also small enough to not be daunting.  This is simply a guideline.  Feel free to use a size that best suits you.




Learning to watercolor Wonders of Watercolour Series by Shop Whims And Fancies Soma Acharya



Brand of Paper


I really love experimenting with paper.  There are two that are my favorite .  They are economical and good quality.

Strathmore 400 series – Make sure to get the 400 series (with the brown cover) .  I never really liked the 300 series (yellow cover).

Canson XL watercolour paper – Possibly my most favourite paper.

Both of these are 140lb / 300 gsm paper, which is important for watercolour.   I usually get a pad that I can remove paper from.

I use sketchbooks from these two brands as well.




Learning to watercolor Wonders of Watercolour Series by Shop Whims And Fancies Soma Acharya





Before we get into painting,  we need to draw.   I strongly suggest you keep a sketchbook.  You can make notes in it and it is nice to go back and flip through them.


Pro Tip – I almost always start my paintings by drawing in a sketchbook,  NEVER directly on watercolour paper.  Erasing unwanted marks damages the paper, and you can never really get rid of the pencil imprints. 




Learning to watercolor Wonders of Watercolour Series by Shop Whims And Fancies Soma Acharya



The best sketchbook is the one you will use most.   I have a 5.5 in x 8.5 in sketchbook that I use most frequently.  It is small enough to toss in my bag, and I can balance it on my lap while listening to audio books.  It is the perfect size for small spaces.


Pro Tip – I like using a ring binder sketchbook because I like folding the pages over to the back while drawing and it makes tracing really simple.





For the next couple of steps you will need a lightboard.  If you don’t have a lightboard, you can always use a sunlit window.



Learning to watercolor Wonders of Watercolour Series by Shop Whims And Fancies Soma Acharya



Use a photo instead of drawing from scratch


You may often shy away from painting because the thought of drawing is daunting to you.  Tracing from a printed photo is a great way to start.  No, it is NOT cheating!  

As you get more confident,  you can start drawing freehand like I do.  

NOTE – Please make sure that you are using a photo that you took or are using with permission.


Tracing becomes super easy with ring binder sketchbooks.   You move all the pages to one side, leaving just a single sheet on the other side.  Place the single sketchbook page on top of the photo and secure both with tape on the lit-up surface of the lightboard.  Start tracing.



Learning to watercolor Wonders of Watercolour Series by Shop Whims And Fancies Soma Acharya



Pro Tip – Use a red pencil for drawing/tracing.  When you trace on your watercolour paper with a black pencil, you can easily make out the parts that have not been traced over yet.


While tracing,  you are mostly looking to add the primary shape with a few details.  Stay engaged and enjoy the process.

Once you have the basics down on your paper, you can proceed to the next step: painting.  OR, you can play with the lines – add to them, erase the parts you don’t want, etc.   You can play here to your heart’s content.




Learning to watercolor Wonders of Watercolour Series by Shop Whims And Fancies Soma Acharya



Tracing on watercolour paper


Once you are happy with what you have in your sketchbook, let’s move on toward tracing the drawing on watercolour paper.   If you have a ring binder sketchbook, move all the pages to one side, keeping just the sheet with your drawing on it on the other side. 

Place the watercolour paper on top of the sketchbook page and secure both with tape onto the lit-up surface of the lightboard. 

Take care to trace the lines gently with light pressure and try not to erase too much.  A little shift here and there is fine.


Pro Tip – Start tracing from left to right to avoid smudging.




Learning to watercolor Wonders of Watercolour Series by Shop Whims And Fancies Soma Acharya



Getting ready for painting


Get a piece of stiff cardboard or an MDF board that is larger than your paper.  It needs to be smooth. 

Watercolour paper tends to wrinkle and fold if not taped down when wet.  That makes paint flow into unwanted places.   Don’t worry about “stretching” your paper.  I will teach you how to flatten your finished painting.

Using masking tape, tape the edges of the watercolour paper onto the board.  I usually cover about 1/4″ of the edge on each side.  Try to make it very flat and taut. 

Now you are ready to paint.



Learning to watercolor Wonders of Watercolour Series by Shop Whims And Fancies Soma Acharya


I hope this gives you enough info to start with watercolour.   Look around you, find something easy.  Try to draw it freehand or take a photo and trace.  Play with the lines. 

Keep it simple!  You are doing this for yourself to unwind and relax.  So have fun! 

If you know anyone who would love to join, I would be ever so grateful if you pass on the website link to them.


Next time I will go over paint and brush, and share an easy painting!

Happy Sketching!


I am linking up with the linky parties on my Events And Links page.  Please pay a visit to some of them.



43 thoughts on “Watercolour Series – On The Paper

  • Archie The Wonder Dog August 31, 2020 at 05:44

    What a great post! Thanks for furtling!

  • Lady Fi August 17, 2020 at 00:42

    So lovely!

  • Susan Mann August 14, 2020 at 08:15

    What a great tutorial. Your tips are wonderful and I really need to get back into drawing. I love trees and your creations are beautiful xx

  • Donna August 14, 2020 at 03:09

    Your creations are beautiful! x

  • Janine @ Rainbow Hare August 8, 2020 at 07:26

    This is a masterclass in one post! Thank you for all your tips :)

  • Angie August 5, 2020 at 20:52

    Soma – you make it look so simple, and with your practical tips and suggestions, I am sure that many of us newbies will have some success, which is reinforcing! Thanks for all the guidance!

  • My Corner of the World August 5, 2020 at 19:43

    Thanks for the great info. You shared a lot of awesome tips with us.

    How terrific it is to see you at ‘My Corner of the World’ this week!! Thanks for linking up with us.

  • Nikki - Notes of Life August 5, 2020 at 12:30

    Great tips, thank you. I really need to get my watercolours out and have a go!

  • KlaraS August 5, 2020 at 10:02

    Good tips. Thank you for sharing.

  • Faisol Abrori August 5, 2020 at 04:20

    So perfect. Your drawing is so fabulous with a matched color. Nice

  • Fun60 August 4, 2020 at 13:45

    Very interesting. You make it sound so easy. I like the idea of tracing from a photograph.

  • A ShutterBug Explores August 4, 2020 at 10:27

    Excellent ideas and gorgeous watercolors and sketches ` ~

    Live each moment with love,
    A ShutterBug Explores,
    aka (A Creative Harbor)

  • Alan Bates August 4, 2020 at 08:42

    Hmmm, I love this.

  • Luisella August 3, 2020 at 23:51

    Thanks for the tips. Your bridge looks like an old one in my Verona.
    Enjoy your days!

  • Veronica Lee August 3, 2020 at 23:13

    Your drawings are fabulous! Thanks for the helpful tips!

  • Linda in Virginia August 3, 2020 at 20:04

    Interesting post. I will share it with my husband. Have a good week.

  • tomthebackroadstraveller August 3, 2020 at 18:59

    …Soma, I need to stop back and study all of this. Years ago in adult education at the high school I took a watercolor class, I was AWFUL at it!!!

  • Sylvia D. August 3, 2020 at 18:25

    Thanks for sharing this great info! Have a great week. Sylvia D

  • // Heidrun August 3, 2020 at 11:11

    Your drawings looks professionell… bravo. Love the fine art.
    By the way I give Urban Sketching courses here.
    Stay healthy and well.

    Happy MosaicMonday

  • Eileen August 3, 2020 at 03:05


    Lovely sketches and information. Thanks for the helpful tips!
    Have a great day and a happy new week!

  • NatureFootstep August 3, 2020 at 00:18

    Such a gret psot, Thanks for sharing. I have bookmarked it for coming use. :)

  • Carol August 2, 2020 at 03:42

    great information – you make it sound so easy

  • Linda Calverley July 31, 2020 at 13:08

    Great tutorial. I never thought about using a red pencil.

  • Linda Kunsman July 31, 2020 at 10:23

    excellent tutorial and explanations Soma! Thanks for sharing and happy PPF!

  • riitta k July 31, 2020 at 07:55

    Interesting tutorial Soma! I’ll follow your course, maybe in the winter I have time to try. Thank you for linking, best regards, riitta

  • lissa July 31, 2020 at 06:05

    This is a good tutorial. I don’t usually work with paint so I didn’t know about using a red pencil for drawing/tracing. I’ve seen tutorial when artists uses light penciling but never red. And definitely, paper type is imporant.

    Have a lovely day.

  • Kathy July 31, 2020 at 05:09

    Thank you sooo much. I am brand new to painting-never drew or doodled anything either. never thought to trace first. Valerie shared your post thanks I will be following along Kathy

  • Lady Fi July 31, 2020 at 03:15

    Your sketches are lovely.

  • Kokopelli Design July 30, 2020 at 22:37

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing! I’d love to do more with watercolor, but sometimes get overwhelmed and then don’t know where to start. Will follow your series for sure. Happy PPF!

  • Valerie-Jael July 30, 2020 at 21:52

    Your tips are really good, Soma, thanks for sharing. Have a fantastic weekend, take care, hugs, Valerie

  • Nicole/DVAtist July 30, 2020 at 17:06

    Great info on watercolor. It is always a good refresher to see a nice tutorial like this.

  • Mary July 30, 2020 at 17:01

    Eek! You initially lost me at the wor SKETCH, but it’s great to know that tracing is not cheating. I think I could do that. Great tutorial, Soma. I may have to get onboard here.

  • Jennifer Jilks July 30, 2020 at 16:08

    Very nice tutorial!

  • Susan July 30, 2020 at 15:48

    Thanks for the tutorial and tips. I am not good at drawing, but I guess I can trace:-)

  • Kim July 30, 2020 at 13:42

    Such an informative tutorial, Soma. Thank you for all the ‘how to’s. So happy you “cheat” too. =) I have just ordered Derwent Inktense pencils. I cannot wait to use them.

  • Tracey July 30, 2020 at 12:53

    Fabulous tips, it’s always so important to use the best you can afford when starting out as the end result can look so much better with the correct materials. Superb and helpful tutorial. Thank you for sharing Tracey x

    1. Tracey July 31, 2020 at 00:34

      and a very HAPPY PPF Soma, have a super weekend xx

  • Rain Frances July 30, 2020 at 09:12

    Great tutorial Soma. I remember when I started painting, I was completely lost and had no idea where to start. You offer some great tips and your painting is beautiful! :)

  • Dixie July 30, 2020 at 08:24

    Great information, Soma.
    Lovely paintings too.

  • Bleubeard and Elizabeth July 30, 2020 at 06:45

    I’m not one to draw or even sketch, but I certainly enjoyed the tips you gave. This is a nice series of steps, too.

  • Christine July 30, 2020 at 05:46

    Beautiful work!

  • Tanza Erlambang July 30, 2020 at 04:58

    useful tips…..Tracing photo is interesting trick and technique for me …..
    have a great day

  • Cathy Kennedy July 30, 2020 at 03:53

    Great tips! I always felt apprehensive with trying my hand at painting for fear of messing up. The light board is a great idea. When I sketch using pencil and paper, I often transfer my illustration to my iPad to use in Procreate. There I have the chance to fix areas of my drawing I couldn’t quite hon in without erasing a whole in my paper. :) And, I can add color to my design. I am a bit uncomfortable adding even color pencils to my sketches. I hope I get over that someday. Thanks for sharing. Have a doodletastic day, my dear!

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