How to Use Watercolor Brush Pens for Beginners (A-Z Guide)

Written by Laura Walker / Fact checked by Leilani Carroll

How to Use Watercolor Brush Pens for Beginners

Watercolor brush pens offer a versatile and accessible way for beginners to explore the captivating world of painting. Combining the convenience of a marker with the fluidity and vibrancy of watercolors, these innovative tools have gained popularity among artists of all skill levels.

If you have been longing to delve into this enchanting medium but are unsure where to begin, do not worry! This guide will walk you through how to use watercolor brush pens for beginners. Read on to unleash your creativity with confidence and ease!

How to Use Watercolor Brush Pens

Step 1: Prepare


To begin using water brush pens and make your art ideas come to life, there are a few essential items you should gather beforehand. Here is a list of what to prepare:

  • Watercolor Brush Pens
  • Watercolor Paper or Sketchbook: Look for paper that is thick and absorbent.
  • Water Container: Have a small container or cup filled with clean water nearby to clean your brush or dilute the color.
  • Brushes
  • Paper Towels or Cloth
  • Pencil and Eraser

Step 2: Prepare Your Workspace


To start, find a clean, well-lit area to work in. Protect your surface with a waterproof cover or a plastic sheet to prevent any accidental spills or stains.

Step 3: Familiarize Yourself With Your Brush Pens


Take a moment to study your watercolor brush pens. Make a color swatch to see how they interact with water and appear on the paper.

Step 4: Plan Your Composition


Use a pencil to lightly sketch your composition or guidelines on the watercolor paper. This step helps establish a framework for your artwork.

Step 5: Start With Light Colors


Begin by selecting a light color and applying it to the desired area on your paper. Use light pressure to create a faint color layer. Remember, you can always add more color later, but it’ll be challenging to lighten an area once it’s too dark.

Step 6: Experiment With Color Blending


Watercolor brush pens allow for beautiful color blending. Start by applying a second color adjacent to the first one while it’s still wet. Use the brush tip to gently blend the colors together, creating a smooth transition.

Step 7: Create Gradient Washes


To achieve a wash, dip the brush tip of your clear water brush pen into the water and apply it to a colored section on your paper. The water will dilute the pigments, creating a softer gradient effect.

For best results, you should start brushing the pen from inside the colored section to the outside so that you can achieve a smooth transition from dark to light shades.

Step 8: Add Details and Accents


Once your initial layers are dry, use smaller brushes or the pens’ fine tip to add details and accents to your artwork. This could include defining shapes, adding texture, or enhancing specific areas with more concentrated color.

Step 9: Practice Different Techniques

Explore various watercolor techniques such as wet-on-wet, wet-on-dry and dry brushing. These techniques allow you to create different textures and effects.

Watercolor Pens Tutorials – Some Common Techniques

There are several ways you can use watercolor brush pens to create beautiful artwork, such as:

1. Basic Coloring


Use the brush pens as you would regular markers, coloring in areas of your artwork. Experiment with different strokes and pressures to use brush pens for coloring and achieve varying levels of color intensity.

2. Create Ombre Effects


Press the tips of two brush pens, preferably of the same color family, together. Once the lighter-colored pen has picked up the hues from the darker one, you can use it to mimic an ombre effect.

3. Wet-On-Wet


Wet your paper with clean water using a brush or spray it lightly. While the paper is still wet, apply the brush pen to the surface. The colors will blend and spread more freely, creating soft and diffused effects. This technique is great for creating backgrounds or creating a dreamy atmosphere.

4. Dry Brushing

Use the watercolor paint brush pens with minimal water to create textured and more concentrated strokes. This technique works well for adding fine details or texture to your artwork.

5. Calligraphy and Lettering


Watercolor brush pens can be used for calligraphy and lettering projects. Use the brush tip to create thick and thin lines by varying the pressure as you write—the more pressure you apply, the wider the lines will be, and vice versa.

6. Mixed Media


Combine refillable watercolor brush pens with other art mediums, such as colored pencils, markers, or acrylic paints. This allows you to incorporate different textures and techniques into your artwork, creating dynamic and visually interesting pieces.

The beauty of watercolor brush pens lies in their versatility and the freedom to experiment. So, embrace your creativity, practice, and explore these techniques to discover your own unique style and expressions with this captivating medium.

Brush Pen Tips & Tricks


1. Control Water Intensity

Control the intensity of your colors by adjusting the amount of water used. More water dilutes the pigments, creating softer tones and translucent effects, while less water produces more vibrant and saturated colors.

2. Clean Your Brush Pen

Clean your brush pen tip by gently scribbling on a clean piece of paper or dipping it into a container of clean water. This helps remove any residual color and prevents unwanted mixing of colors.


In conclusion, watercolor brush pens offer an accessible and versatile medium for novices to explore their creativity and create stunning artwork. With this guide on how to use watercolor brush pens for beginners, you can make the most of these vibrant tools.

Embrace mistakes as opportunities for growth and enjoy the journey of discovering your own unique style. Grab your watercolor brush pens, unleash your imagination, and let your creativity flow onto the canvas. Happy painting!

Related: Detailed Guide on Using Tombow Dual Brush Pens.

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