Painting with a Watercolor Splatter Technique: Step-by-step Guide

A watercolor splatter technique is a fun and creative way to paint with watercolors to create an abstract background. It can be done on top of other projects or as the base project itself. You can use it in any type of artwork, such as abstract watercolors or realistic portraits.
The textures produced by this process are fun and interesting, perfect for adding visual interest to your designs!
The following tutorial will show you how to paint with this technique in detail so that you can achieve the best results possible!

What is a watercolor splatter technique?

A watercolor splatter technique is a painting method that uses drops of water to create an abstract background. When using this type of paint, it’s necessary to use the right kind of paper or canvas so that it absorbs the color evenly and doesn’t run out all over your work surface.

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There are many different ways to splatter watercolors. Some people create a watercolor splatter background while others use it as an element of the final piece. It’s important not to get frustrated if you don’t like your first attempt – these things take practice!

What You Will Need to Paint With this Technique:

  •  A piece of watercolor paper or canvas. Watercolor papers are better for this because they have a textured surface, which can help the paint to dry more evenly and prevent it from smudging as you work on your background.
  • Some kind of cup or container filled one-quarter full with clean tap water. A glass measuring cup works really well!
  • Rubber gloves if you don’t want to get wet.
  • A paintbrush.
  • Watercolors in various colors.
  • Paper towels or old rags for blotting excess water from the surface of your page and cleaning up spills.
  • A surface to paint on that will not be damaged by water or drips of color, such as an easel, tabletop, desk, or floor.
It’s best if your work area has good lighting because it allows you to see what colors are blending where. If you’re working in low light conditions then consider using lamps instead of overhead lights that could cause shadows which make it difficult for you to judge how even your background looks when finished.

Basic Steps to Start Painting With a Watercolor Splatter Technique

1. Use watercolor paper

I recommend 300gsm (140lb) cold press or hot press paper for this technique, as it is thick enough to handle the splatters and absorbent enough not to leave any shadows on your painting.


2. Choose a background color

It should contrast nicely with your subject matter (such as dark blue behind light yellow). Don’t worry about making things too perfect at first! The final result will still look like an abstract piece even though you follow these steps precisely.

3. Wet the paper

Use a medium-sized flat brush to wet the background paper with water (don’t soak it though). You could also try using spray bottles but there is more chance of getting unwanted watermarks in your painting so it’s up to personal preference on that point.

4. Begin splattering paint

Load your paint onto another separate flat brush and begin splattering away! It doesn’t matter where at first because everything will blend later anyway, however, leave enough room around what you are working on for proper blending techniques later on when you come back to finalize things.

5. Add more water

Continue adding water and splattering with paint until you achieve your desired look. You can let it dry completely before moving on if you want, however, I always continue working even when it’s wet; this is where the blending techniques come in!

6. Blend colors

Add darker colors to the edges of your painting and blend them inwards with water until you achieve a smooth blended look.

7. Add details

Continue adding details, blending any harsh lines or color differences, making sure everything is dry before starting on anything else (this usually takes around 30 minutes for me). Then add highlights and shadows if desired! And there you go – an abstract watercolor splatter piece that looks like it took hours!

How to Splatter Paint: Techniques to Try

    • Try holding the brush by its handle and pointing it downwards like a fountain pen, toward the surface of your page instead of using sweeping motions as if writing something. You can also try holding it sideways and making circles over the area you want to be splattered – this is great for leaves and petals!
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    • Try holding different parts of your brush at different angles – the watercolors will hit the page at a shallower angle if you’re pointing more towards one side than another. This is particularly good for circular splatters which can look like flowers or bubbles.
    • Leave some areas unpainted for variation and interest. If everything looks uniform then it’s not as interesting!
Always look at your work in progress from different angles, and even stand up to see what it looks like when you hold it vertically so that you can get an idea of how everything is looking as a whole.
  • Add lots of water before using very dark paint because this allows for better blending between colors later on without having to use too much water.
  • If there are any parts of your painting where you would like the colors to be more saturated then consider sponging on some extra water so that it can diffuse into your paper.
  • Don’t forget that you have all sorts of different tools like brushes, pencils, sponges, and even toothbrushes at your disposal! Even kitchen utensils such as potato mashers make great tools for creating interesting background patterns.
  • If there are any ridged areas in your painting then don’t worry about getting rid of every single one – some imperfections look rather nice and can make the overall effect of your painting more interesting!


The splatter watercolor technique can be a lot of fun and it doesn’t take a lot of planning or precision to create something that you’ll love. All you need is some water, paint, time, patience, and the willingness to experiment with different brush shapes and sizes!

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