All About Watercolor Granulation by Sarah Becktel


The adhering to article was published by artist Sarah Becktel.


What is granulation?

Granulation is an interesting attribute of watercolor which brings about the paint layer to glance textured or mottled.  This textured visual appeal is induced by pigment particles clustering collectively relatively than being evenly dispersed within the layer of watercolor paint.  This clustering generates areas of darker colour (where the pigment is dense) and locations of lighter coloration (in which the pigment is sparse.)


Watercolor paint is principally composed of pigment (the colour) and a binder these kinds of as gum arabic.  Whether a watercolor will or will not granulate is dependent on the pigment(s) utilised in that coloration. Pigments with much larger or irregularly formed particles have a tendency to granulate additional, even though pigments with little, spherical, homogenous formed particles have a tendency to granulate much less.

Is there any way to forecast irrespective of whether granulation will occur?

Pigments are ordinarily classified as possibly “inorganic” or “organic.”  Inorganic pigments commonly do not consist of carbon and are mostly manufactured with minerals that can be further merged or processed to generate the closing pigment product or service.  Regular earth shades made with iron oxide (this kind of as siennas and umbers) and colors produced with metals (such as cobalt blue and cadmium purple) are some examples of inorganic pigments.


Natural pigments have carbon and are created both from animal/plant matter or by making use of artificial natural and organic chemistry.  Most natural pigments utilised in artwork products nowadays are man-manufactured synthetics mainly because these are more resilient and lightfast than animal and plant-based mostly organic and natural pigments.  Examples of artificial natural pigments are quinacridone pink, phthalo blue, and dioxazine violet.


Generally, watercolors created with inorganic pigments have a tendency to granulate extra than colours designed with natural pigments.  This is because organic pigments have quite modest and on a regular basis formed particles, which generates paint that makes an even application of coloration.  Inorganic pigments typically have more substantial and more irregularly shaped particles.  This results in the particles to clump collectively and settle inconsistently on the paper, which creates granulation.

In the graphic over you can see a aspect-by-side comparison of two MaimeriBlu watercolors on Strathmore 400 Collection Watercolor paper.  On the remaining is Cerulean Sky Blue, which is produced with an inorganic pigment, and on the ideal is Main Blue Cyan, which is built with an natural pigment.  The Cerulean Sky Blue is showing granulation, although the Primary Blue Cyan is not.


Nonetheless, the production of pigments can vary from manufacturer to company, and knowing irrespective of whether a pigment is natural and organic or inorganic is only one factor in analyzing no matter if a shade will granulate.  For illustration, there may possibly be 2 diverse organizations that make a watercolor paint from the same inorganic pigment.  One organization makes use of a model of that pigment that is much more finely ground, when the other works by using a version that is more coarsely floor.  Even though they are using the similar pigment, the finely floor model will granulate significantly less, and the coarser ground version will granulate much more. Consequently, categorizing inorganic pigments as granulating and organic pigments as non-granulating is a beneficial starting off place, but it is a generality rather than a concrete rule and you will probably come across shades that do not fit within just this framework.


In advance of purchasing new watercolors, I endorse examining out a brand’s website for equally merchandise facts and color charts. Some makes include granulation data suitable in their literature or packaging, and lots of makes also have colour charts that exhibit painted swatches on paper. MaimeriBlu’s on the net shade chart is a wonderful case in point every colour swatch exhibits the watercolor utilized to a textured watercolor paper and it is extremely straightforward to see which colors granulate and which do not.

Can I handle granulation?

Though we just cannot absolutely control granulation, there are approaches to manipulate the visual appeal or amount of granulation.  A person way to influence granulation is with the paper surface area you are working on.  A cold push or tough watercolor paper has a incredibly textured area with higher factors and low factors.  These textured surfaces really encourage granulation because the pigment particles will clump and settle in the lower points of the paper texture.  Sizzling press or mixed media surfaces tend to have a smoother area texture.  Granulation will nevertheless happen on these papers, but the granulating pigment particles will move and settle randomly, and the granulation might seem considerably less pronounced because these papers don’t have well known hills and valleys of texture.

The picture earlier mentioned demonstrates MaimeriBlu Cobalt Eco-friendly watercolor used to four various Strathmore papers.  Just about every paper has a distinctive surface area texture which subtly has an effect on the appearance of the granulation.


Another way to manipulate granulation is to experiment with the amount of money of watercolor paint you applied to the paper.  When a significant amount of liquid is used to the paper, the pigment particles can effortlessly move all around and settle into the minimal points of the paper.  This creates a pronounced granulation influence.  When less liquid is used to the paper, the pigment particles really do not have the skill to go and movement as much, so there will be less seen granulation.

The image earlier mentioned reveals two samples of MaimeriBlu Potter’s Pink used to the same area: Strathmore 500 Sequence Imperial Watercolor Paper (chilly press.) For the sample on the remaining, I loaded up my brush and utilized a huge quantity of the watercolor mixture to the paper.  For the sample on the right, I employed much less of my paint combination and applied it to the paper with a drier brush.


Ultimately, granulation can be manipulated by mixing colours jointly.  If you mix a non-granulating coloration with a granulating coloration, the granulation effect will be clear in the mixture, and you can experiment with diverse quantities of just about every color to get your sought after total of granulation.

In the graphic higher than, I’ve combined MaimeriBlu Potter’s Pink (which granulates) and MaimeriBlu Long term Violet Blue (which does not granulate.) You can see granulation in the ensuing mixture, and you can also see some separation of the two pigments in just the mixture.  In the darker regions with additional granulation, the coloration leans towards Potter’s Pink, and in the regions with considerably less density of granulated pigments, to coloration leans in direction of the Long term Violet Blue.  


Granulation is a fun and unique feature of watercolor that I hope you are going to all be motivated to examine.  Experimenting with the options of organic and natural and inorganic pigments, paper surfaces, and software approaches can generate unlimited prospects for incorporating granulation into your art.


Sarah Becktel is an American artist centered in Southern New Jersey. She earned her BFA in portray from the Tyler School of Artwork and ongoing her reports of representational drawing and portray at numerous areas.  Sarah has shown her function in solo and team exhibitions all over the United States and her do the job is in personal collections across the world.

Sarah generates paintings and drawings that are encouraged by animals, all-natural historical past, and ecology. She travels thoroughly to watch animals in their all-natural environments and a lot of of her works are a result of her ordeals in mother nature. Sarah also finds inspiration in purely natural history museums the place she can study and learn about the animal species of bygone eras.

When Sarah is not operating in her studio or touring, she is educating artists and learners about their mediums and materials. As an Artist Educator for Strathmore Artist Papers, Sarah lectures at artwork educational facilities and ateliers about the qualities of art supplies and how to select the proper items for each artist’s person wants. She served as Merchandise Investigate Director for the Coloured Pencil Modern society of America from 2009 to 2015, which led to a prosperous understanding of lightfast tests and artwork supplies producing.

You can see extra of Sarah’s operate below:

Web page:

Instagram: @sarahbecktel

Facebook: @sarahbecktelartist



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