How to Use Watercolor Markers for Beginners & Professionals

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

how to use watercolor markers

Watercolor markers are a versatile and convenient tool for artists of all skill levels. Combining the vibrancy of markers with the fluidity of watercolors, these markers allow you to create beautiful watercolor effects with ease.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced artist, learning how to use watercolor markers can open up a world of creative possibilities.

In this guide, we will provide you with different ways to use watercolor markers to create stunning artwork.

What You Will Need


  • Watercolor Markers: Choose a set of high-quality watercolor markers. Look for markers specifically labeled as water-based or watercolor markers.
  • Watercolor Paper: Look for paper labeled as “watercolor paper” or “mixed media paper” with a weight of at least 140lb (300gsm). The heavier the paper, the more resistant it will be to warping and buckling.
  • Brushes: Have a set of watercolor brushes in different sizes. A variety of brush shapes, such as round, flat, and detail brushes, will allow for different effects and precision.
  • Water in a small container
  • Palette: Have a palette or a non-porous surface, such as a ceramic plate or a plastic palette, to use as a mixing area for blending colors or diluting the marker ink with water.
  • Paper Towels or Cloths: Keep paper towels or a soft cloth handy to blot excess water, clean brushes, or correct mistakes.

Ways to Watercolor With Markers



1. Wet-on-Dry Technique


Start by coloring directly onto dry paper using watercolor markers. Once you have applied the colors, use a wet brush to blend and spread the pigment, creating smooth transitions and gradients.

2. Wet-on-Wet Technique


Wet the paper with clean water using a brush or spray bottle before applying the watercolor markers.

Then, gently touch the marker tip onto the wet surface and watch the colors disperse and blend in beautiful, organic ways.

3. Resist Technique


Apply a layer of wax or oil-based crayon on the paper before using the watercolor markers.

The wax or crayon will resist the water-based markers, creating interesting textures and patterns when you apply color over them.

4. Splatter and Spritz Technique


Dip a brush or use a spritzer bottle filled with water to create droplets or fine mists.

Apply the watercolor markers directly onto the wet surface to achieve a splattered or speckled effect.

5. Dry Brushing Technique


Instead of wetting the paper, use the watercolor markers directly on dry paper.

Then, using a dry brush, blend and spread the pigment with gentle strokes, creating a textured and brushstroke-heavy appearance.

6. Masking Technique


Use masking fluid or tape to create areas that will resist the watercolor markers.

Apply the markers over the masked areas and remove the mask once the colors are dry to reveal clean, untouched sections.

Watercoloring Art Types


  • Mixed Media Art: Combine watercolor markers with other art mediums, such as colored pencils, acrylic paints, or ink pens, to enhance your artwork and create mixed media effects. Layering different mediums can add depth to your creations.
  • Monochromatic Art: Explore the use of a single color or shades of the same color to create monochromatic artworks. Experiment with different values and intensities of the chosen color to add depth and dimension to your piece.
  • Negative Space Art: Instead of coloring the main subject, focus on coloring the negative space surrounding it. This technique can create visually interesting compositions and draw attention to the shapes created by the negative space.
  • Abstract and Experimental Art: Embrace the freedom of watercolor markers by exploring abstract and experimental approaches. Play with color, form, and mark-making to create expressive and non-representational artworks that focus on the emotions and energy of the medium.

Other Water Paint Markers Applications


  • Stamping and Stenciling: Use stamps or stencils to create shapes or patterns on your paper. Color over them with watercolor markers, then remove the stamp or stencil to reveal the design.

This easy watercolor marker art technique adds structure to your work.

  • Calligraphy and Lettering: Utilize the tip of watercolor brush markers to practice calligraphy or create decorative lettering. The water-based nature of the markers allows for easy blending and variation in line thickness, making them great tools for lettering enthusiasts.

Other Watercolor Marker Ideas


  • Layering and Blending

Apply one layer of color using watercolor markers, allow it to dry, and then add additional layers to intensify or modify the hues. Use a wet brush to blend the colors together for a seamless transition.

  • Creating Backgrounds

Use watercolor markers to create vibrant and dynamic backgrounds for your artwork.

Apply multiple colors to achieve interesting textures and patterns that can serve as a backdrop for your main subject.

  • Adding Texture and Details

Experiment with various techniques to add texture and details to your watercolor pens artwork. You can use a dry brush or plastic wrap to create unique textures.

Additionally, try scratching the surface of the dried marker pigment with a toothpick or the back of a brush to create fine lines or highlights.

  • Lifting Colors and Correcting Mistakes

If you make a mistake or want to lighten an area, you can use a clean, damp brush or a paper towel to lift or dilute the pigment.

Blotting the area gently will help remove excess moisture.

  • Exploring Different Surfaces

Experiment with different types of paper or alternative surfaces when you use watercolor pens and markers. Each surface will provide unique characteristics to your artwork.

Tips to Keep in Mind


Here are some tips to help you make the most of your watercolor marker experience:

  • Start with Light Colors

When using watercolor markers, it is generally easier to start with lighter colors and gradually build up to darker shades. This gives you more control over the intensity of the colors and prevents overpowering the artwork.

  • Practice Color Swatching

Create a color swatch chart by applying each marker color to a piece of watercolor paper.

This will help you become familiar with the range of colors in your set and how they look when diluted or blended.

  • Control Water Intensity

The amount of water you use will affect the intensity and transparency of the colors.

Experiment with using more or less water to achieve different effects. A wetter brush will dilute the colors more, while a drier one will maintain the vibrancy of the marker.

  • Keep Brushes Clean

Rinse your brushes thoroughly when switching colors to prevent color contamination. If needed, wipe the brush on a paper towel or cloth to remove excess water before picking up a new color.

  • Use a Light Touch

Watercolor markers are highly pigmented, so a light touch is often sufficient. Apply gentle pressure to the marker tip to release the color.

  • Mix Colors on the Palette

To create new shades and variations, use a palette or a separate surface to mix your watercolor markers.

Apply colors next to each other and blend them with a wet brush to achieve unique hues.

  • Embrace Imperfections

Watercolor is known for its fluid and unpredictable nature. So, embrace the happy accidents and imperfections that may occur during the process. They can add character and charm to your artwork!

  • Learn from References and Tutorials

Explore watercolor marker tutorials online to learn new techniques, gather inspiration, and expand your skills.

There are numerous instructional videos and step-by-step guides that can help you improve and develop your own style.


Wrapping up this guide on how to use watercolor markers, these markers are a versatile and accessible tool that allows artists of all skill levels to explore the beauty of watercolor painting.

With their vibrant colors, blendability, and water-based nature, watercolor markers offer a unique combination of convenience and creative possibilities.

The best way to become comfortable and proficient with watercolor markers is through practice and experimentation.

Enjoy the process and have fun creating with watercolor markers!

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