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Did you know?
       "Softening an inside edge
        is a perfect way to create
        the illusion of curling ribbon.


Home  Watercolor Techniques  Softening Edges  Softening Effects

    Example of a rose petal curling over

Watercolor Edge Softening Effects

  • Step-by-step tutorial on softening inside edges
  • Effects on outside edges
  • Creating illusions
  • Painting animal fur
  • Painting a cats eye

Once you become more familiar with softening your watercolor edges, you'll soon notice the versatility of this technique. For instance, you can soften an inside edge and vary the color's value using light overlapping brush strokes with clean water. The value of the original color you just painted becomes lighter as you pull the color down. The creative possibilities with this technique are endless!

Softening an Inside Edge  -  Tutorial
Step 1
Step 2
Step 3
Paint a short distance
Begin softening the inside edge
Finish softening the inside edge
Paint the shape as far as you would like the original value of your watercolor to go. While your edge is still wet, pull some of the watercolor down with your clean brush that has a little more water in it than a moist brush, using light, overlapping brush strokes for a short distance. You have now created a lighter value of the original color. Quickly rinse out your brush and blot. Repeat with light, overlapping brush strokes until you achieve an even lighter value of the color or the white of the paper.
Softening Effects on Outside Edges

You can also apply watercolor in the center of an area
and then soften the surrounding edges. This softening technique
gives the illusion, and effect, that the shape is rounded or curling over.
Demonstration of how to soften along the top of an outside edge

First, soften along the top edge, working quickly so that your bottom edge doesn't dry out.

Demonstration of how to soften along the bottom of an outside edge

Then soften along the bottom edge.

This image shows how
this technique was applied
to a rose petal from the
Beautiful Peace Rose Lesson
This example shows you how effective this technique can be.   

Softening Effects to Create Illusions

Another example of what you can do with this technique.
close-up on a painting of the eye

To create the illusion of an eye

Begin with just a dab of watercolor, then soften the outside edges. Repeat several times, using different colors, allowing each one to dry in between.

close-up on a painting of the fur

To create the illusion of fur

Begin with just a few brush strokes of watercolor, and soften over the lower edges. Let dry. Paint a few more brush strokes in front of the previous ones, and soften over the lower edges. Let dry. Repeat this method of softening for all the fur.

This image shows how
this technique was applied
to a ducklings down in the
Fluffy Young Duckling Lesson

This is a painting I did of Samantha, an adorable eight week old kitten.

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