All About Watercolor Granulation by Sarah Becktel


The subsequent write-up was published by artist Sarah Becktel.


What is granulation?

Granulation is an interesting attribute of watercolor which triggers the paint layer to search textured or mottled.  This textured overall look is triggered by pigment particles clustering with each other somewhat than being evenly dispersed within the layer of watercolor paint.  This clustering produces regions of darker coloration (where by the pigment is dense) and spots of lighter colour (where the pigment is sparse.)


Watercolor paint is primarily composed of pigment (the shade) and a binder this sort of as gum arabic.  Whether a watercolor will or will not granulate is dependent on the pigment(s) employed in that shade. Pigments with greater or irregularly shaped particles have a tendency to granulate more, though pigments with tiny, round, homogenous formed particles are likely to granulate fewer.

Is there any way to forecast whether granulation will take place?

Pigments are typically classified as possibly “inorganic” or “organic.”  Inorganic pigments ordinarily do not contain carbon and are largely built with minerals that can be further put together or processed to produce the last pigment product.  Conventional earth shades manufactured with iron oxide (such as siennas and umbers) and colours created with metals (this kind of as cobalt blue and cadmium red) are some illustrations of inorganic pigments.


Natural and organic pigments have carbon and are developed both from animal/plant make a difference or by employing artificial natural and organic chemistry.  Most organic pigments employed in art materials today are man-designed synthetics for the reason that these are much more long lasting and lightfast than animal and plant-based organic pigments.  Examples of synthetic natural and organic pigments are quinacridone crimson, phthalo blue, and dioxazine violet.


Typically, watercolors manufactured with inorganic pigments are likely to granulate more than hues produced with natural pigments.  This is for the reason that natural and organic pigments have pretty compact and frequently formed particles, which generates paint that produces an even application of color.  Inorganic pigments often have greater and more irregularly formed particles.  This brings about the particles to clump alongside one another and settle inconsistently on the paper, which makes granulation.

In the image over you can see a aspect-by-side comparison of two MaimeriBlu watercolors on Strathmore 400 Sequence Watercolor paper.  On the remaining is Cerulean Sky Blue, which is created with an inorganic pigment, and on the correct is Most important Blue Cyan, which is built with an organic and natural pigment.  The Cerulean Sky Blue is demonstrating granulation, although the Principal Blue Cyan is not.


On the other hand, the creation of pigments can range from maker to producer, and recognizing no matter whether a pigment is natural and organic or inorganic is only one element in determining whether a colour will granulate.  For example, there could be 2 diverse corporations that deliver a watercolor paint from the exact inorganic pigment.  One company uses a variation of that pigment that is additional finely ground, although the other employs a version that is far more coarsely ground.  Even nevertheless they are making use of the exact pigment, the finely floor edition will granulate fewer, and the coarser floor model will granulate a lot more. Therefore, categorizing inorganic pigments as granulating and organic pigments as non-granulating is a useful starting off place, but it is a generality alternatively than a concrete rule and you will possibly arrive across hues that do not match in just this framework.


Ahead of obtaining new watercolors, I endorse checking out a brand’s web page for both of those product or service facts and color charts. Some brands contain granulation info proper in their literature or packaging, and quite a few manufacturers also have shade charts that exhibit painted swatches on paper. MaimeriBlu’s on the internet colour chart is a fantastic instance every single coloration swatch displays the watercolor applied to a textured watercolor paper and it is really straightforward to see which colours granulate and which do not.

Can I control granulation?

Although we simply cannot fully handle granulation, there are means to manipulate the overall look or amount of granulation.  One way to influence granulation is with the paper area you are performing on.  A chilly push or rough watercolor paper has a pretty textured floor with higher points and very low details.  These textured surfaces really encourage granulation simply because the pigment particles will clump and settle in the low factors of the paper texture.  Scorching press or blended media surfaces are inclined to have a smoother area texture.  Granulation will however occur on these papers, but the granulating pigment particles will go and settle randomly, and the granulation may perhaps appear significantly less pronounced considering that these papers really do not have distinguished hills and valleys of texture.

The picture previously mentioned displays MaimeriBlu Cobalt Green watercolor utilized to four different Strathmore papers.  Just about every paper has a different area texture which subtly has an effect on the look of the granulation.


A different way to manipulate granulation is to experiment with the amount of money of watercolor paint you used to the paper.  When a substantial sum of liquid is applied to the paper, the pigment particles can effortlessly shift around and settle into the lower details of the paper.  This makes a pronounced granulation outcome.  When significantly less liquid is used to the paper, the pigment particles don’t have the potential to shift and stream as a great deal, so there will be less seen granulation.

The picture previously mentioned exhibits two samples of MaimeriBlu Potter’s Pink applied to the exact floor: Strathmore 500 Series Imperial Watercolor Paper (cold push.) For the sample on the left, I loaded up my brush and utilized a substantial sum of the watercolor combination to the paper.  For the sample on the right, I utilised considerably less of my paint mixture and utilized it to the paper with a drier brush.


Eventually, granulation can be manipulated by mixing colours collectively.  If you blend a non-granulating coloration with a granulating color, the granulation impact will be obvious in the combination, and you can experiment with different amounts of every single colour to get your sought after total of granulation.

In the image over, I have mixed MaimeriBlu Potter’s Pink (which granulates) and MaimeriBlu Long lasting Violet Blue (which does not granulate.) You can see granulation in the resulting combination, and you can also see some separation of the two pigments inside of the mixture.  In the darker parts with extra granulation, the shade leans in the direction of Potter’s Pink, and in the places with a lot less density of granulated pigments, to colour leans in direction of the Lasting Violet Blue.  


Granulation is a enjoyment and exceptional characteristic of watercolor that I hope you are going to all be impressed to take a look at.  Experimenting with the possibilities of organic and inorganic pigments, paper surfaces, and application approaches can develop unlimited possibilities for incorporating granulation into your artwork.


Sarah Becktel is an American artist based in Southern New Jersey. She attained her BFA in painting from the Tyler University of Artwork and continued her research of representational drawing and painting at various places.  Sarah has shown her get the job done in solo and group exhibitions through the United States and her work is in personal collections throughout the earth.

Sarah creates paintings and drawings that are inspired by animals, normal record, and ecology. She travels thoroughly to view animals in their all-natural environments and quite a few of her operates are a end result of her experiences in nature. Sarah also finds inspiration in purely natural heritage museums the place she can analyze and learn about the animal species of bygone eras.

When Sarah is not performing in her studio or traveling, she is educating artists and college students about their mediums and products. As an Artist Educator for Strathmore Artist Papers, Sarah lectures at artwork educational facilities and ateliers about the traits of artwork products and how to opt for the appropriate solutions for every artist’s personal wants. She served as Item Exploration Director for the Coloured Pencil Society of The united states from 2009 to 2015, which led to a abundant being familiar with of lightfast tests and artwork elements manufacturing.

You can see more of Sarah’s function below:

Web site:

Instagram: @sarahbecktel

Facebook: @sarahbecktelartist



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