Tools for Creating a Watercolour Building Portrait Painting

Tools for Creating a Watercolour Building Portrait Painting

The essentials

My absolute favourite things to paint are these watercolour building portraits. I think buildings, homes and architecture hold so much beauty and memories that often go unnoticed. So, I love to capture and highlight those. Here is everything I use to paint them.

1. Watercolour palette

This Windsor and Newton watercolour palette is the one I’ve always used. The colour and pigmentation is beautiful. It’s great value for money, has all the colours you’ll need, and is the perfect size to carry around if you like to paint on the go (it even has a little paintbrush with it).

2. Paintbrushes 

I use a variety of different sizes and shapes. I use larger rounder brushes for base washes of colour, small square brushes to layer on colour and to paint in the bricks, and small details brushed for (you guessed it) small details. I use the NicPro round ones, Artist’s Loft square brushes, and CraftSmart detail brushes.

3. Watercolour paper

Choosing a good quality paper is best for this because it helps the colour hold more strongly and stops it from running. I prefer watercolour paper for this reason but mixed media paper also works if you prefer a smoother surface. 

4, Pencils and a rubber

I like to use a softer pencil because this is just used to get the design laid out on the page before going in with the fine-liner pen. Softer is better because once you’ve drawn it all in with the pen you will just rub this away. It’s always best to do this before painting because it’s so difficult to get rid of afterwards.

5. Fine liner pens

The main thing you want to look out for with the fine liners is that they don’t run when painted over with the watercolour. I like to do the pen work before painting because you can then erase the pencil completely. I love these ones from Faber-Castell. They don’t run, they last ages, and the variety of sizes is great for balancing out larger areas and the finer details. 

Bonus tools

Here are some extra things I tend to use when painting a watercolour building portrait. They’re non-essential but are helpful, especially when taking a bit more time and care on a piece. 

1. Palette

An extra palette is great for mixing lots of different shades along the way. The empty space in the watercolour palette is pretty limited when painting something like this with so many details. I especially find this useful when painting bricks because I like to have several different orange and brown shades ready to go so I can dip into them all as I do the individual bricks, it really speeds up the process. 

2. Masking tape

Masking tape is great for keeping the painting flat while working on it and keeping a clean and even border. Just be gentle when peeling it off at the end because it can rip if you’re not careful. 

3. Spray bottle

Before I start painting the building portrait and after I’ve taped it down I spray it with water that I keep in a little spray bottle. This makes the sheet expand. I then allow it to mostly dry before painting. This just stops it from expanding while I’m in the process of painting it as it can distort the image this way.

4. White gel pen

I love using these to add some final little details. I find that this small step adds a lot of depth and ties the whole thing together perfectly. This is the one I like to use.

That’s everything I use to create my watercolour building portrait paintings – I hope this helps! ★

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