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Basic Watercolor Techniques: How to Create a Glazed Wash

By: R. Schmidt

There are three main washes used in watercolor painting. The flat wash, graded wash and glazed wash. The main idea of watercolor glazed wash is applying thin transparent color on the dry layer of colors which will produce a new mixture of colors. The good thing about watercolor painting is the unpredictability of it. You may have the concept of the painting you will be making but you will not learn how the colors will react with each other when combined that makes it more fun and exciting. 

In watercolor painting it is essential to appreciate the unique characteristic of watercolor and to know on how to control each characteristic. The glazed wash is ideal using transparent and semi-transparent colors. Although transparency of color is very common in watercolor painting, it's also crucial to understand what the transparent colors are. It is very relevant to identify transparent colors when you make a glazed wash. 

In order to identify transparent color you will need watercolor paper, black marker and different colors of watercolors. In a watercolor paper make an inch thick horizontal line while using black marker. After that, pick one color of the watercolor colors, with the use of flat brush paint a vertical line over the black mark, do this process with all the colors and let it dry. Then observe the section where the watercolor colors met with the black mark. If the black mark is still very visible then you have a transparent color. If there's only a slight trace of black mark then you have semi-transparent color. And when you totally don't see the black mark then that is opaque color. In glazed wash you will be using the transparent and semi-transparent colors because these two types of color easily glaze. While opaque has a chalky result and don't glaze well. 

The very concept of glazing is how you mix color through viewer eye instead of on the palette. In glazing technique, if you apply the color, you must consider the layer prior and make sure that the first layer is still visible after you apply the second layer color. The previous layer must show through to the next layer. Usually, it uses two or more color to be mix and create a smooth or subtle difference in color surface. 

It is important that the first layer of color is very well diluted because this level will soften the paper developing clumps. The successive layers will have intense dilution than the first layer. Every layer must polish the color transition as well as other color irregularities of the prior color. 

In doing the glazing technique, it is best to use soft brush and never apply too much pressure on your hand while applying so that the color will mix smoothly. Another tip to make your glazed wash successful is to completely dry the first layer before adding a new layer and also to make the drying fast make use of a hair dryer.

The watercolor glazed method is use by watercolorist and they usually apply even a hundred or more glazes to make a piece of painting. The popularity of this method is very common especially for high contrast and complex theme. It is also effective for bringing out composite flesh tones in a portrait painting. Letting the color do its very own way is the best thing about watercolor painting.

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