How to fix watercolour paint mistakes

It’s true that watercolour paint is merciless, but there are various methods to rectify errors, modify them, or even include them in your picture as “happy accidents.” A Magic Eraser may be used to “erase” watercolour paint that has dried or to blot up paint that is still moist. It’s also possible to use a different medium to cover up undesirable portions, turning your work into a mixed-media piece.


  • Q-tips (cotton swabs)
  • Bristle brush
  • Sponges
  • Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (available online or in grocery stores)
  • Painter’s tape
  • squirt bottle
  • Paper cutter, scissors
  • Mixed media: gouache, Chinese white, white gouache, soft pastels, colored pencils, ink

Colour Permanence/Transparency

First, be aware that certain colours are more stain-resistant and hence more lasting than others. The alizarin red, Winsor blue, sap green and phthalocyanine blue are more like dyes that stain the paper and are difficult to remove entirely. But the Magic Eraser works better.

You may also avoid these hues by using non-staining colours, such as ultramarine blue and cadmium yellow for green.

Also, certain papers absorb more watercolour paint, making it difficult to dry the colours. Others, like Bockingford, Saunders, and Cotman, help raise hues. Experiment with your own papers to find out what works best.

Blotting Excess Watercolour paint

Be prepared with a soft cloth and/or a sponge. Watercolour paint is a fluid medium that, depending on the method and quantity of water utilized, may result in undesirable puddles or drips of water and colour. Having something to wipe the annoying drop or puddle will make the job go much more easily. It will also help protect colours from flooding if you use too much water.

Blot the paper and lift instead of scrubbing. You don’t want lint or ripped tissue on your watercolour paper. Blotting up with a soft cloth or tissue may also be used to create a cloud of organic forms in a wet wash. To create streaky clouds, apply a dry brush over the sky.

Natural sponges have distinct textures and effects than manufactured cellulose sponges. Both are blotting aids.

To lift big areas of colour, use a large flat paper towel, a clean synthetic cellulose sponge, or a sheet of blotting paper put flat. For tiny patches of colour, crumple a tissue or use a corner of blotting paper to absorb a little undesirable drop of colour.

Blotting paper is thicker than tissue and reusable. It may be used to produce cloud forms or replicate the texture of stones, for example.

Similar to excellent grade watercolour paint paper (pure rag or linen without wood fibres), but more absorbent due to lack of internal sizing. Bibulous paper is used by scientists to blot moisture off slides in the lab.

Q-tips, commonly known as cotton swabs, may be used to blot up tiny amounts of pigment.

Removing damp colour

To remove a wet or moist watercolour paint, gently blot it with soft tissue, sponge, or paper towel. The blotting method you select will affect the shape and texture of the raised region.

It is also used to create clouds and textured regions such as greenery in paintings.

Using a dry brush or q-tip over a wet area can help wick up and absorb more watercolour paint and moisture. After you’ve lifted all the watercolour paint you can, let it dry fully. To speed up drying, use a heated hairdryer.

Removing Dry Colour and Hard Edges

After the painting has dried, you may determine that certain sections are too dark, that you forgot to leave white spaces for highlights, or that some edges need to be softened. You may do this in numerous ways.

Using a moist sponge, brush, or q-tip, gently massage an area to take away the paint, wiping it with a dry soft cloth or tissue as you go. A q-tip is incredibly handy since it includes cotton on both sides, one for lifting colour and one for blotting it. On thicker paper, use a moist bristle brush to remove the colour from bigger regions. You can read about Using an Artist’s Paint Brush to Create Art by visiting

To soften a harsh edge, wipe it with a moist q-tip or brush it with a damp brush. A break in tone is a painted region that reveals a sharp line or discontinuity in colour when another layer (a glaze) is painted over it. Lifting dried colour softens it and creates subtle colour gradations.

Rinsing Paint with A Spray Bottle

If you need to rinse a wider area, use a direct stream spray bottle and wipe the water with a tissue, soft cloth, or paper towel. Use painter’s or artist’s tape to mask off and protect the desired area.

If you’ve painted on thick watercolour paint paper (140 lb or thicker), you may hold it under cold running water from the tap or dunk it in cold water in the sink while wiping off the watercolour paint. Dry it flat, blot it dry, and then blow dry it fully. While the staining of the watercolour paint pigments will not totally restore the white of your paper, it may be near enough to utilize for another watercolour painting or mixed-media project. You may reuse this paper for subsequent projects and save money.

Razor and sand

Small watercolour paint flecks or blots may be readily removed by gently scraping with the side of a razor blade or X-acto knife. Painting on light-weight paper (less than 140 lb) may easily tear.

Fine sandpaper may be gently scraped over the surface to lighten the top layer of colour. The sandpaper may also be used to smooth up overworked paper.

Chinese White or Opaque White Gouache

Mistakes may be covered over with opaque white gouache paint and then watercolour paint. Watercolour purists may disapprove of this method, and the area may be obvious. Also, a dark tint is harder to totally conceal. But it’s great for highlighting minor elements in your picture, like eyes.

Watercolourists utilize Chinese White, which is formed of zinc and is more translucent. It may be used to brighten and highlight regions.

Final thoughts

Although watercolour paint has a reputation for being merciless, there are various methods to correct errors, make improvements, or even include errors into your picture if you accept them as “happy accidents.”