Techniques in Watercolor

Working in watercolor is a unique and delicate art. Each piece can become beautifully unique, holding specific depth each time it is reattempted. No matter your experience level, there are always tips and techniques that can be learned to help further your progress. When creating art, each day is a new day, each stroke holds a new opportunity.


Skin Tone

When creating a dynamic painting with watercolor, creating the perfect tone can be a real pain. There are several ways to easily conquer this step, and add confidence as you do.

Water down the Colors– You are working with watercolor paints, the more water you use, the lighter (and thin) the paint becomes. When creating a character, you need to be sure you lay down a good base before putting any more effort into it. After all, why scrap hours of work because the face is blotchy?

Less Is More– Adding thin layers and building upon them is a great way to add a natural look to your painting. Remember, it is easier to add color than it is to take it away!



When working with a complex piece, highlighting is used to accentuate a part of the piece that would be hit by light first, they are the brightest parts on the piece.

Use Light Colors– Rather straightforward advice, use white in moderation. See if you can mix a lighter skin tone color that will look more natural than a harsh white. However, for a beginner, white is a great starting point. Remember to blend the edges!

Use Less Water– When highlighting, you want that color to be on top and be thick. Using less water will give you that look and preventing colors from seeping together.



Shading is more complex than highlighting, although they both go hand in hand. Shading is accomplished by darkening the areas that are not touched by the light, like the inner ride of a nose, corners of eyes, and some parts of the neck.

Use Pencil– Gray is less harsh than a solid black, not to mention very hard to miss if you make a mistake. The other advantage to using a pencil is that because no water is involved, you have a much more controlled stroke, allowing for more finesse.

Keep It Light– Not every part of your painting has to be shaded “properly” as long as the light is kept consistent. Only shade the parts that need to have more attention brought to them, and do so with gray, not black unless it is a background.


Add Color

Watercolor is some of the most unique and versatile paints you can ever use, be sure to use them to their full potential! So many colors are easily created when two colors blend, leading to a very diverse painting.

Working with paints can open the doors to inspiration with every brush stroke. Sometimes it takes a while to catch on to a new skill, and that is what art is, a skill. Every skill be honed and refined, but the passion is what will take you to the next level. The possibilities of your creations are endless when working with watercolors, what will you create?

A few of my previous clients

happydesigner clients

  • "These posters and flyers are perfect”
    - Julia G, Manager at the Truro branch of Pets at Home

  • “Sarah was lovely to work with and keen to make sure that the illustrations were a perfect match for the story. It’s obvious that she really cares about her work and wants you, the author, to be happy with the final results.” – Marion Adams

  • “I was so nervous ringing you as i've never done anything like this before, but you were so friendly and put me completely at ease.” - Donna Purvis

  • “Sarah’s advice has been invaluable, she could have just illustrated my first attempt but knew there was more to be had from the story and pointed me towards the right help." – Darron Jon Love

  • Sarah is professional, friendly and very knowledgeable, she delivered 100% with a new logo that was spot on! We can't recommend her enough!” - Lucy @ Get Active

  • “Thank you, Sarah, for the amazing work you did on the illustrations for my book. Working with you has been so easy thanks to your enthusiasm, flexibility, support, professionalism and, of course, the amazing quality of your work." – Stuart Neath

  • "I am absolutely thrilled with the colours and love the look and overall feel of the book, its so different and unique, thank you so much"
  • "I hope my recommendation will persuade you to use Sarah! I cannot fault her, for her professionalism, enthusiasm and talent." - Michelle Hawkins, Director: The Flying DoDo

  • "It's been great working with Sarah as our illustrator! She's been so great in taking all feedback on board and delivers work of the highest standard. Would 100% recommend :-)" - Michelle Gibbs, Doodle Dozen Series
  • "Outstanding illustrator with exceptional talent. You couldn’t wish for a better artist, as it would be impossible to find. Such a spectacular gifted designer who is always happy!" - Rachel Lake

  • "Sarah quickly understood what I wanted to achieve and the look I was after. Sarah kept me informed and brought me into the whole process” – Darron Jon Love

  • “Books arrived safely today- I am absolutely delighted with how they look – I can’t thank you enough – you’ve made my dream come true :)” – Jane Collins

  • "She has a keen eye for the quirky detail, she is punctual and a joy to work with. I simply cannot praise her enough.” - Clickety Books

  • “Sarah’s re-branding of my business has given it a much needed fresh and quirky feel. She provided us with an extremely friendly courteous and efficient service and injected an energy into the project, that only Sarah could.” – Discovery Leisure

  • "The logos are absolutely fantastic, they are spot on brief and are even better than we imagined!Paolo Pini, Step Up To Languages

  • "Sarah is amazing - very fast at understanding the requirements, great pictures and never too much trouble. I recommend her wholeheartedly" - Fernando Caldeira-Saraiva
  • Sarah has a great insight into how to best produce a children’s book and is really helpful in getting you there! I really cannot recommend Sarah enough – brilliant designer, friendly and professional. The experience has been a great one!“ – Jodie Jackson
  • "WOW! Love it! I'm so happy with what you've produced- and with so little input from me. FANTASTIC!!! THANK YOU” - Darren Pascoe: 'Red Rabbit Book'

  • “When we first contacted Sarah, Dainty Dizzy was a concept;  an idea to be shaped into a brand.  Sarah took this idea and illustrated it perfectly….and our brand look and feel was born.” – Dainty Dizzy

  • "I can’t speak highly enough of Sarah! She has brought Roopert Snoopert to life in a way I could never have imagined.
    The illustrations are fantastic! Sarah keeps you update with progress from the draft stage right through to sign off." - Paul Micklewright
  • Sarah really understood the brief right from the beginning and has been able to translate my ideas and mental images, that at times were quite specific, into magical illustrations that are better than I’d ever hoped. She has absolutely nailed it!” – Gareth Edwards

  • Sarah is an extremely talented designer and illustrator. She has that rare gift of being able to find something in your business or character that you never knew existed" Craig Green

  • "Thank you both so much for your hard work and dedication. Sarah is a fantastic illustrator! It is nice to know I have worked with someone who is so professional at her job, and will certainly remember her for the future if I need another book illustrating."
  • "Sarah understood what I was looking for and produced a fantastic logo for me.  She is very approachable and friendly – I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend her” Katie Jarvis, Fancy Prints

  • “I am so happy that I found Sarah to bring my book to life. Sarah took the time to listen and really made the effort to make sure that I was happy and her brilliant designs translated the words of my book into a beautiful visual story." - Jodie Jackson

  • "Sarah loves her work, her friendly ‘can do’ approach is reassuring whether you’re on your first or tenth book."  – Darron Jon Love