This entire post is long due really. After creating plenty of watercolor tutorials, I realized there isn’t one that talks about the basics. I’m kicking off the “watercolors for beginners” series with a post on basic supplies and a short exercises you can try. 

Watercolors for beginners -Zakkiya Hamza| Inkstruck Studio

When I started this blog, I had no idea that it would turn into a full time profession. When Inkstruck Studio relaunched on January 31st last year, I was unsure where this would take me. After one year of full time blogging and creating, I can certainly say that it’s here to stay. And I couldn’t have done it without you. So, thank you! And as for being so amazing, you deserve to win awesome stuff.

I  did a watercolors for beginners post when I first began blogging but looking back, I felt that it needed updating because there’s hardly any content in it. If you want to see it, check out this post. My blogging style and photos are cringe-worthy here but you can see how much progress I’ve had and you can too if you try! This post is part of an ongoing watercolors for beginners series. I’ll put it on my menu bar under “LEARN WATERCOLORS” so that it’s easy to access.
{This post contains affiliate links. This means that I will earn a small percentage if you decide to buy from one of the links you click below.You will not be charged extra.}



Any paper that is specific to watercolors will have some amount of texture. The difference is only with how coarse the grain is. Now, I’m someone who believes that art has no rules. So, if you want to try watercoloring on an extremely smooth surface like Bristol, go ahead! There are mainly three different kinds of watercolor paper based on texture.

  • Hot press– This paper has the least amount of grain. It’s great for doing detailed watercolor illustrations.
  • Cold press-The most commonly used watercolor paper. The texture is semi-rough and is more pronounced than hot press paper.
  • Rough-Notice how pronounced the grain is in the image below?

Watercolors for beginners -Zakkiya Hamza| Inkstruck Studio

Arches Hot pressed watercolor paper is one of my absolute favorite paper to work with. I do most of my detailed watercolor paintings with this paper. I also love the Arches cold pressed watercolor paper for painting landscapes and florals.(MUST HAVE)

An alternative to the Arches hot pressed is the Daler Rowney Langton Prestige hot pressed paper.

Watercolors for beginners -Zakkiya Hamza| Inkstruck Studio

The Winsor and Newton Cotman watercolor paper (cold press) was the first paper I invested in when I started painting with watercolors. They’re the student range from W/N and it’s brilliant for the price.(Good when starting out)

The Daler Rowney Aquafine paper(cold press) is another paper I’ve used. I’m not a huge fan of the grain it has but the paper is great otherwise.

Watercolors for beginners -Zakkiya Hamza| Inkstruck Studio

Sometimes you find certain hidden gems at local stores that are amazing for the price they’re at. If you’re in Qatar, hop over to the nearest Jarir store to grab the paper pad shown left below. They’re just $4 and make amazing practice pads. I go through a lot of these when I warm up or practice watercolors. They’re made in Malaysia, so if you’re from there, grab them!

I use the W/N Cotman watercolor postcards (right) for sending out illustrated postcards to friends and family.

I also love using my moleskine watercolor pad (bottom right) which I use as a visual journal.

Watercolors for beginners -Zakkiya Hamza| Inkstruck Studio


Watercolor paints come in pans and tubes. While pans are convenient for smaller paintings, tubes are good for mixing in large quantities. The prep time is greater with tubes but best for bigger paintings.

My go-to paint supply set is the Sennelier artist’s watercolor pan set. I absolutely love the creaminess it has.

Watercolors for beginners -Zakkiya Hamza| Inkstruck Studio

The best thing about Winsor and Newton is that even their student range is amazing quality. You don’t need to pay a fortune to get good quality paints. If you’re low on budget, invest in these. W/N pan set is at $17.25(MUST HAVE) and the W/N tubes start at $26.

Watercolors for beginners -Zakkiya Hamza| Inkstruck Studio

Another great product for a low price is the Sakura Koi watercolor set. A drawback I’ve found is that they tend to chalky with use. But the water brush that comes with it is amazing for lettering and painting alike.

Please excuse the mess below! My toddler uses my old Koi set for his adventures in art. 😀

Watercolors for beginners -Zakkiya Hamza| Inkstruck Studio

A few other brands that I’ve bought as individual tubes personally recommend are:-

Watercolors for beginners -Zakkiya Hamza| Inkstruck Studio

{Photo supplied at Dick Blick website.}


I’ve listed a variety of brushes I use and recommend but you don’t need to go and break your bank by buying the whole lot. These are my favorites from my never ending stash of brushes.

Watercolors for beginners -Zakkiya Hamza| Inkstruck Studio

  1. Simply Simmons filbert brush– Great for covering large areas with a curved periphery.
  2. Pebeo lotus deco flat brush– For a flat and even wash
  3. Hobby line synthetic round brush size 12(find similar here)- I love this brush for florals and landscapes. It  covers a large area and has a good spring to it.
  4. Silver black velvet script brush size 1-It holds shape and is perfect for fine line work and hair.
  5. Simply Simmons liner brush size 2/0-Similar to the previous brush but thinner and sturdier. Drawback is that it holds lesser water.
  6. Simply Simmons angle shader size 3/8
  7. Winsor and Newton series 240 goat hair wash brush size 3– I love this brush for covering a large area quickly. The brush holds an insane amount of water and is perfect for rapid paintings.
  8. Simply Simmons spotter brush size 10/0-I love this brush for extremely fine details like short fur,pores and stippling.
  9. Silver black velvet round brush no.8-I saved the best for the last! Even if you don’t get any of the above brushes, get this one! This brush is the best for practically anything. It holds shape and water. It feels like velvet while painting and it can create a sharp point.You can create a beautiful wash and you can even create details with it.

Watercolors for beginners -Zakkiya Hamza| Inkstruck Studio


They come in plastic or porcelain and in different shapes and sizes.

Watercolors for beginners -Zakkiya Hamza| Inkstruck Studio

5.Miscellaneous supplies

  1. Art masking fluid-My paint with straws tutorial and masking fluid tutorial(please excuse the amateur photos) explains all about this product. Always use an old or cheap brush because this tends to ruin the hair.
  2. White acrylic ink-Great for highlights.My starry night tutorial talks about this art supply.
  3. Gouache-I use this medium in addition to watercolor sometimes. If I need a particular detail to layer over and pop, I mix a bit of watercolor with white gouache to get the desired result.
  4. Calligraphy pen-I picked the fabulous tip of using calligraphy pen with masking fluid from Yao Cheng’s class on Creative Bug.
  5. Salt- Excellent for creating texture. My post on using the salt technique talks about this method.

A few other things I use in addition are

Watercolors for beginners -Zakkiya Hamza| Inkstruck Studio

I’ve also included short exercises on how watercolors work. As the name suggests, water is main component that brings out the beauty in this medium. You can create beautiful effects when the color is pigmented and even when it is diluted.I’m hoping you would try the exercises I’ve explained below. These are great warm up method and you’ll get a good feel of how the medium works.

Watercolors for beginners Exercise 1:-

  1. Load your brush with a good amount of pigment. Lay it down on paper.
  2. Remove some of the pigment with water and use the color you’ve laid down to drag it forward.
  3. Repeat step 2 and move further.
  4. Wash your brush completely and use only the paint left after step 3 and drag forward.

Watercolors for beginners -Zakkiya Hamza| Inkstruck Studio

Watercolors for beginners Exercise 2:-

You  can also use the below exercise by watering down the pigment in your brush as you progress. I’m hoping the photos are self explanatory.

Watercolors for beginners -Zakkiya Hamza| Inkstruck Studio

Watercolors for beginners Exercise 3:-

This exercise is to help you understand that although watercolors have a mind of their own and produce fabulous results, you can lead the way. The 1st image shows the result after the watercolor has dried.

Here, I’ve used two colors, “mauve” on the left and “turquoise” on the right. In the bottom left image, I painted the colors on either side and allowed “turquoise” to seep into “mauve”. Whereas, in the bottom right image, I allowed “mauve” to seep into “turquoise”. See how different the results are?

Watercolors for beginners -Zakkiya Hamza| Inkstruck Studio

I know the post is long but I didn’t want to create a half baked one that will leave you thinking. If you still have questions, feel free to ask.I hope my watercolors for beginners series will help you overcome the fear of trying it. And now for the fabulous giveaway I’ve kept you waiting for.

Inkstruck Studio turned one on January 31st and as a token of appreciation for the support you’ve given me, I’ll be holding weekly giveaways the entire month of February starting today.Today’s giveaway is the Sennelier Aqua Mini french watercolor set  with a pocket brush worth $23 plus shipping.(Open worldwide).

Watercolors for beginners -Zakkiya Hamza| Inkstruck Studio

How to enter the giveaway

Please follow the instructions given in the Rafllecopter widget shown below. The giveaway will end on 9:00 P.M. GMT on 9th February(Tuesday). The winner will be announced on Facebook, Instagram and the widget below on 10th February(Wednesday).If you don’t win this time, the next post will hold another fabulous giveaway. If you’re viewing this in your e-mail, you’ll probably not see the widget. Please hop over to the post in your browser to access the giveaway.Giveaway is open worldwide and I will ship anywhere as long as you have a proper mailing address.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: This giveaway is not sponsored by Sennelier or any of its suppliers.


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About zakkiya hamza @ inkstruck

Zakkiya is the creative blogger and founder of Inkstruck Studio. She’s a self taught artist who let go of her architecture profession to pursue her passion in art. Zakkiya likes to write detailed tutorials in watercolor, calligraphy, and hand lettering. She also teaches watercolor workshops occasionally in Doha where she’s based currently. Other passions include traveling, photography, and basketball.When she’s not working, you can find her cuddling and running around with her toddler boy.


  1. I love drawing almost anything with watercolor!! It’s really versatile, it can be used to cover large spaces or leaving abstract impressions to even identifying delicate small details. So many possibilities! Of course flowers are everyone’s favorite but my other favorite including people, animals, and words!!!

  2. What an awesome explanation. Can’t wait to put into practice! This is a fantastic giveaway. Love to paint flowers and whimsical things!

  3. My favorite thing to do with watercolor is simply writting messages/calligraphy. And if ever that I’d be given the chance to win this giveaway, I would definitely be doing florals and galaxies.

  4. This post is perfect as Im attempting to paint flowers for the @randomolive #brushletterpracticechallenge on instagram. And I absolutely love flowers! Thanks a mil! (im not on twitter can i still participate in the giveaway)

  5. I love using watercolours for calligraphy (both brush and dip pen). Also, I love using them for painting flowers and making backgrounds, feathers and everything. I just love how the colours magically blend together.?

  6. Watercolor is simple, it doesn’t require a hard technique. And i can do it like all the time even if i don’t have much time. I love how the color blend, it’s amazing!

  7. This post was so helpful! As a beginner with watercolors, I really appreciate you taking the time to give us all this great information. My favorite thing to paint with watercolors is fruit. Sunsets and flowers are always fun, too!

  8. My absolute favorite thing to paint with watercolors: leaves and wreaths.

    I’m so happy to see this post just one day after my friend and I found a watercolor workshop but couldn’t join. Thanks so much for your tutorials, I’m looking forward to the rest of this series. 🙂

  9. ❤ thanks so much for this post. I am an oil painter who is trying to get into watercolor because it’s easier with two toddlers. My favorite thing to paint right now are scripture verses and daily doodles in my journal.

  10. Thank-you so very much for your time and generosity of spirit in explaining the basics to us! I plan to do the exercises playing with color value and having them run into each other! I didn’t realize how much that I did not know, so I am very grateful. I am hooked on painting florals! They make me feel happy even though I know that many children paint better than ! So thank-you, friend and have a most beautiful day!???

  11. I am just getting into watercolor. Have painted acrylic for years but wanted to try it out.
    Loving learning washes and new techniques from your blog. Your site is amazing.

  12. I took a look at your old post too…fun to see the difference in both ; ) Love your blog!

    I started painting flowers, now I’m branching out into woodland animals, quotes, and patterns…so much fun!
    Thanks for the giveaway!

  13. I haven’t tried watercolors yet, but I’m going to break out my son’s old Crayola ones to start. I love so many other crafts, that I can’t wait to try it!

  14. I love to paint florals, people, architecture, and animals in watercolors! And calligraphy! Thank you for your generosity!

  15. Thanks for the continued inspiration I receive from you and your site. I’m getting out my watercolors today!

    Your tutorial was very in depth and very helpful. Thanks for taking the time to put it together.

    Hugs, LYnn

  16. Hello, Zakkiya! I’ve only just began painting with watercolours and for calligraphy and your tutorials have been of great help. Your starry, starry night tutorial was one of my favourites! Thank you for this awesome giveaway 🙂

  17. Just found you via pinterest yesterday…already happy i did!
    Trying calligraphy but never painted anything before…
    Will keep following your work & tutorials with pleasure all the way from Holland!
    Please keep it coming!
    Thanks for your inspiration! Yaudi

  18. I’m still getting used to painting with watercolors, and I have a lot to learn. But for right now, I absolutely love brush lettering and calligraphy with watercolor! My instagram feed with vouch for that. 😀

  19. Oooh this is an incredible resource for people! I’m an abstract acrylic painter and photographer, but watercolors and gouache relax me in a totally different way. I’m putting brush #9 on my list for my next trip to Blick!

  20. I love painting city and land scapes. Florals are fun too! Thank you for this post, I always love seeing the supplies artists use ?

  21. I love doing backgrounds with watercolor! Trees, mountains, etc is all much easier and funner when you can just keep laying down different colors.

  22. I am brand new to painting and so glad I found this website! I would like to paint plants. Thank you for creating a beautiful website and wonderful tutorial. I’m about to get started 🙂

  23. I love doing so many things with watercolors! I’ve done illustrations, landscapes, florals. There’s something about capturing everyday life with it that I enjoy.

  24. I’ve been doing a lot of research trying to determine what my first set of artist paints should be. With the Sennelier, I was a little hesitant because I couldn’t see a lot of reviews online. But seeing all your work done with these French paints, I would NOT say no if I won this prize! 😀

  25. I’ve been painting flowers and abstracts to get the feel for watercolors again after years of absence from them. Great giveaway! Thanks!

  26. I only have three paintings under my belt so far and they are all animals….so I guess they must be my favorite by default. Florals are what I hope to paint though. : )

  27. I enjoy your watercolor tutorials. I have a post going live Monday that I linked to your site. It has two wreaths that were inspired by your tutorials.

  28. Thank you for this post! I just got into the watercolor bandwagon and I believe I’ve found a new love ? I started with doing flowers and skies and I love them!

  29. I just discovered this newbie tutorial on watercolouring! Can’t wait to try it out. Would love to win some nice colours. 😀 Right now all I have is some kiddy colours, but who knows? Maybe one can create magic with those, too.

  30. I’m trying to learn calligraphy using watercolor and so far I’m loving it. It’s just that there are not enough materials available here in Doha. Where do you get your materials?
    Anyway, I joined the giveaway! Yey!

  31. I haven’t painted with watercolors or any type of medium other than a camera in over 25yrs. My children are grown, my life has slowed down a tad bit and now I have time on my hands to go back to the things I loved as a child/teenager. But then I always loved landscape water colors.

  32. Thank you for this detiailed post. I love the look of watercolours but I’ve never had the courage to try it. I would really like to try it on an animal silhouette… Or maybe I should start with something easy…

  33. Love the beginning tutorial!! Very helpful to have it all in one place! I have dabbled in water color, but I know I still need to keep learning! I even started a new Pinterest Board for myself with this tutorial!! 🙂

  34. This is wonderful! I am experienced with lettering but just getting started with watercolors (other than small projects with watercolor pencils.) I’m so glad to have this great tutorial!

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