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How to Use Watercolor Paint in Tubes?


This seems like a pretty straightforward question, how to use watercolor paint in tubes, right? For experienced artists, they’d be much more aware of using their favorite watercolor paint. However, most beginner artists are probably unsure of how to deal with this type of paint. It’s puzzling and confusing at the same time, anyway.

In this article, let’s explore this world and discover the perfect ways of using this paint in tubes so let’s begin if you’re ready. Together, let’s learn how to be comfortable using it to create works of art.

Using watercolor paint in tubes

Some artists use moist and fresh paint from its container. Doing so makes it easy for them to mix colors, as the watercolor paint is moist. Especially if the watercolors are being used on a large canvas or surface, mixing them this way would be much easier.

The color, which is saturated and pigmented, doesn’t get brighter; thus, it’s obvious that you can obtain a stronger paint concentration. Many artists like to get pure colors when working on a new drawing, and this method works well because the colors don’t get stained with other color pigments.

Each time, artists can nevertheless get to use fresh watercolor paint if they’d use watercolor paint from tubes. However, take note that starting with this method should also mean that your working surface is free from any dust.

1. Mixing watercolor paint from tubes

Use a clean and dust-free surface for mixing. You can use a dinner plate if you want to, a mixing plate, or a butcher tray. If you’re choosing a mixing surface, you must see to it that it’s ceramic, plastic, enamel, or any other impermeable material. It should also be white so that you can see the exact colors that you’re mixing.

Now, you can start squeezing out a small amount of color onto your tray. Are you using a mixing surface? You must leave more space between every dot of color. Doing so can avoid color contamination.

Tip: Some artists place their dots strategically around their mixing areas’ edges, making more room in the center of their trays. This will also prevent contaminating what they’re mixing in a designated area in their tray. To do it –

Load your brush with water, and then start pressing it against the mixing area. This will make a water puddle. When done, you can start dubbing the paintbrush onto a paint dot. This allows you to pick up color pigment. After, you can start mixing your paint in the puddle until you’ve achieved a smooth mixture. Then, rinse your brush.

To create more puddles for mixing, you can repeat the same steps. After painting, though, clean off your mixing palette.

Pro tips

​Are you starting a new project? If you were, use only a few watercolors in the beginning. This will avoid wasting precious paint.

Do not contaminate your fresh and pure pigment with dirty paintbrushes. Learn to improve your mixing habits. Don’t worry because your technique will certainly improve as you also get more familiar with watercolor painting skills.

2. Opening watercolor paint tubes

You might be thinking that this is so easy. However, opening your paint tubes can also be a cause of problems. For example, it’s common that you might see the paint coming out of the new tube as soon as you remove its cap. To prevent this from happening, you should be extra careful and not apply pressure on the paint tubes when opening the new ones.

Alternatively, you can also open your new tube over your palette’s well. It will prevent you from losing any of your precious watercolors.

For old tubes, you might have seen dried paint or flakes falling out of them. Do not open them anywhere near your mixing palette or paper.

3. Using in a mixing palette

You can also use your tube paints with your mixing palette, which is common with a color mixing area and paint storage area. Into each well, you must squeeze a little paint, and then add water as you’re painting.

Take note that the squeezed paint will dry, but don’t worry as you can add water to reactivate the paint. You can use either a spray bottle or an eyedropper.

However, be sure that you’re covering your palette in between uses so that you can avoid any dirt or dust from getting into the paint. You can find palettes with covers. If yours have none, you can always use plastic wrap for it.

On the market, you can also find wet palettes, which are already with a sponge-type layer. You will wet this layer, and then cover it with a palette paper sheet. Most of these wet palettes are with airtight lids to prevent the paint from drying out.

4. Being dried in a palette tin

Some artists prefer this method when using watercolor tubes. For them, this is convenient and cheap to keep. You can find tins of different sizes and can keep half and full paint pans. These also come with lids that work as mixing areas.

There are also empty pans on the market that can be used for adding colors to your color palette. Using tin cans is also a convenient method of making your customized palette mixes. To do it, you select your colors and label your color name on the pans before adding paint into each of them before letting them dry.

Some tips

In the tube, a bit of the paint separates sometimes. So, if you’d notice this, all you need to do is to use a toothpick that will mix the paint’s binder into the paint again. When done, try squeezing the paint out again.

You can find overfilled tubes that tend to pour out as you open them. To save some paint for use later, squeeze the excess into a mixing palette. But if you’re using old tubes, and still they pour out, you can squeeze the paint at the bottom so that the paint returns into the tube.

See also: Does Watercolor Work on Canvas?


Now you know how to use watercolor paint in tubes using any of the methods shared earlier. The next time you encounter the same problem, you’ll know what to do. You can develop your watercolor painting skills in time, so keep practicing and enjoy your journey into the world of watercolor painting. Keep creating!

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