Mediums for Watercolor

Mediums for Watercolor

What Is Watercolor Masking Fluid?

The concealer or masking fluid is a latex rubber solution, sold in bottles, and applied with a brush. It is used by watercolorists to preserve flecks or other areas in a painting that should remain white or lighter. One can apply it around the areas to be untouched, thus resolving the problem of the picture quality. Furthermore, it can be used, for example, as a method of creating a kind of picture in negative. Art of masking fluid strokes can be as expressive and varied as in pictures made with watercolors, colored ink, or a felt-tip pen, though.

Masking fluid is a latex solution that dries to a film that protects the paper from watercolors. Thus, you can easily paint a kind of light little things on a dark background such as birds in the sky, white dandelions, and glare on the glass.

How to Take Advantage of the Art Masking Fluid?

The shapes and strokes applied by masking fluid on canvas do not have to remain white, as they are often too provocative. Thus, they need tinting. One can also expect to get a variety of masking fluid effects in a blending method. Just apply a masking fluid art by laying one wash of color and then a second, darker shade. This process can be repeated several times as the liquid can be removed at any time during the workflow.

It is crucial to decide from the very beginning how to use masking fluid and arrange it on the painting where the flecks are important. First, an artist draws in pencil and only then applies masking art. Put the first and second tones using the dissolved color ink, and when they dried, added watercolor masking in the foreground. Now adds details to the objects at the center and their reflections.

The ink is allowed to dry, and both layers of masking wear off. The flecks remain white, where the disguise was laid on white paper. Those areas laid over the previous color retain the pale brown color. The sky and the water are darkened with additional washings to complete the picture, so that the sunset you paint (if you have a source of light on your painting) appears in full force, reflected by the glare on the smooth surface of the sea.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Use Art Masking Fluid

While the whole drawing is on a light background, it is not so difficult to work. But what if you need a dark background? Is your object located in it? Besides, has it a mass of thin protruding details? Here, no matter how hard you try, you will get an ugly border somewhere or a dry stain, which will mess everything up. We have to do something.

Start as usual with a pencil sketch. Take an old brush to apply the masking fluid, dip it in, and paint carefully. The brush needs to be rinsed from time to time. If not, the mask will dry out on it, and you will have to throw it away. Paint does not get on the paper where there is a protective layer.

However, it is not at all necessary to paint over the whole picture. Cover with masking fluid the details where there is a risk of touching with a brush. Try to limit to the thick border where there is freedom of maneuver. That is all. Let's get ready for a hard fill! The paint should run slightly on the paper. You can either brush safely over the mask layer or leave drops of paint on it. Remains will still peel off later when we move it over.

How to Take Masking Fluid Off?

The crucial moment is when the paint has dried. We begin to remove it from the picture. Gently rub the edge of the masking fluid with your finger, or you can pick it up and pull it to remove the entire stain. Pull it to the opposite side from the direction of peeling off the mask. If you pull slowly and smoothly, even thin shaded areas will come off in one piece.

Part of the pencil strokes may disappear along with it. However, since we still remember what is there, it's not scary. Then we put shadows on it. Be careful, especially if you are a novice because some beginners face problems when taking the film off. For example, the paper may tear. Do not repeat such mistakes. Choose thick watercolor paper and pull in the opposite direction, when removing – then everything will be fine.

By the way, here is one more piece of advice. A mask is a handy thing, and one wants to use it all the time, but you shouldn't do it. At first, when you are just learning, many things seem too complicated. But after a very short time, the necessary skills will appear, and the past difficulties will seem such trifles. The best solution is to draw more simply by training the hand so that these skills would appear. You have all the magic in your fingers, not cunning gadgets, expensive paints, and fashionable notebooks.

How to Use Watercolor Masking Fluid? (On the Example)

Let us paint a small picture with blades of grass.

  • •    First, apply it to those places where light or white places are planned (these are blades of grass).
  • •    Now draw the background right over the entire surface. You will see that no paint got on the blades of grass.
  • •    When the paint has dried, remove the mask. Modify the white areas as desired.

Everything is clear with a white background, but what if you put masking fluid over painted areas? In this case, apply the stripes crosswise directly to the background, behind the blades of grass, then remove it.

It turns out that masking fluid has another cool property – it decently brightens the paint, almost to a white sheet! That means that things that do not work out the first time can be corrected. Apply watercolor masking and remove it directly with paint (it works only on soft paper).

Masking Fluid Art: Useful Tips

Do not apply watercolor masking fluid to wet surfaces since you may not achieve the desired effect after drying. Leave the masking fluid to dry for as long as possible after using the desired areas of the picture. Watercolor paper with a large texture is not suitable, as removing the mask may damage the surface of the paper. Paint can be applied to the area previously covered with masking liquid, or you may leave it completely unpainted. Close the lid of the jar tightly so that as little air as possible gets there.

  • •    Use an old concealer brush. Wash it immediately after use.
  • •    Do not use masking fluid on heavily textured paper, as removing it may damage the surface.
  • •    Cold-pressed watercolor paper or drawing paper is the best choice.
  • •    Masking fluid makes it much faster and easier to paint fine light details on a dark background.
  • •    It helps to correct some painting mistakes.
  • •    If the masking liquid is thick, it is complicated to apply it thinly. Dilute it slightly with water (not the whole bottle, but only a drop before use).
  • •    Watercolor masking fluid spoils the brushes very much – use only old ones.
  • •    Do not remove the liquid until the paint is dry lest nothing will work.
  • •    It can be removed very easily with the help of an eraser!

We hope you know now how to draw a white dandelion, seagulls, lace napkin. Watercolor masking fluid is a good solution! The proof masking fluid is that it allows the artist not to think about the accuracy and precision of the stroke. It covers areas where there should be glare or clouds or any other white surface, and the artist need not be afraid of smearing this area accidentally. Also, masking liquid can be used to coat layers of paint that have already dried to maintain the desired shade. It is mainly used for drawing subtle details.

Instead of masking liquid, you can also use a wax crayon. The only difference between it and the fluid is that the chalk cannot be removed, while one can take the masking liquid off the picture after finishing it. The disadvantage of masking liquid is that you need to apply it with a brush, the liquid from which does not wash out. You can also pre-lubricate the brush with soap or use an orange stick for a manicure.

Can I Replace Masking Fluid with Something Else?

If you need to keep straight lines (for example, in an architectural sketch where you want to wash off the background, keeping the outlines of a building crisp and clear), duct tape is more useful than liquid material because it is not easy to draw a straight line with a brush.

The tape must be removed as soon as the wash is dry. Otherwise, the glue may ruin the paper. This masking method is not limited to liquid techniques: use it for pastels, crayons, or most monochrome techniques. However, it is less commonly used with soft pastels because the grain of paper reduces the sharpness of the borders. It works better on relatively smooth paper.

To introduce a pattern into your design, try cutting out a wide strip of ribbon with a sharp knife. As an option, you can use ready-made shapes: stars, crescents, and many others, which you can simply buy in many large stores. But do not glue them too tightly, as it will be difficult to remove later. Duct tape is primarily intended for use by decorators. However, it is rarely used for artistic purposes.

Can You Put Masking Fluid over Painted Areas?

An artist can put masking fluid on the paper as well as on the painted areas. However, be sure that watercolor is already dry before applying a fluid. Otherwise, your picture will be messed up. Talking about color lifting, you will get a small or, vice versa, a large amount of it, depending on the percentage of the sizing used. Besides, the paper quality also plays a role. If you have a professional-grade watercolor and appropriate surface, there will be no problem with masking fluid removal, or you should be lucky enough. It happens, though, that remover block damages a painting cover. Nevertheless, it is not a big deal.

It doesn't matter where you apply the liquid to paper or paint. The main thing is to make sure that the surface is dry. Also, check if the watercolor masking is dry before removing it. Practice doing it on rough drafts as it takes some initial skill to remove the concealer successfully. Also, avoid touching your fingers unnecessarily, which could leave marks on the paper.


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