How to Paint Ripples in Water

Written by diana prince
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How to Paint Ripples in Water
Emulate motion in water by creating realistic-looking ripples in your painting. (Fresh watermelon in water image by Piter Pkruger from

Water can be one of the most appealing things to paint, as it adds interest and intrigue to any piece of artwork. It can, however, be challenging to depict in a painting, as the anatomy of water changes so significantly between the time it falls, to when it lands on an object, to when it is in a pool of water. To create the most realistic-looking painting, you must add at least some ripples in the water, and you can do this with a few basic supplies.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • 1 cup white acrylic paint
  • 1 small, rounded paintbrush

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  1. 1

    Dip a paintbrush into a container of white acrylic paint.

  2. 2

    Rub any excess paint off the bristles on the side of the container before moving the paintbrush to a piece of art paper or canvas.

  3. 3

    Press the tip of the brush onto the water where you want the first ripple to start. If there is an object in the water, make the first and strongest ripples directly around the outer edge of the object. Paint a small, slightly squiggly, slightly curved line.

  4. 4

    Repeat to make as many ripples as desired. The more motion you want to show in the water, the more ripples you have to include. Observe photographs and other paintings of water scenes to learn how the ripple patterns form.

Tips and warnings

  • Substitute an alternate colour in place of the white paint; white works to show ripples when there is sunlight reflecting off the water, while for a darker or nighttime setting, opt for a dark blue or black shade.
  • Add a layer of glaze over top of the painting with a large paintbrush or sponge to achieve a softer, more realistic look.

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