How to Paint Rock Textures in Watercolours

Written by charong chow
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How to Paint Rock Textures in Watercolours
Watercolour paint is ideal for painting the textures of rocks. (Rock image by Leopold from

Igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary are the three basic types of rocks. Igneous rocks, like quartz, are crystalline solids which are formed from the cooling of molten rock such as lava or magma. Metamorphic rocks, such as slate, are formed when high temperatures and pressure cause the rock to recrystallize. Sedimentary rocks, like limestone, are the result of an accumulation of layers of compacted debris of pre-existing rocks. Rocks are so common in our landscapes that you must include them in most landscape paintings. Watercolour paint is an ideal medium for rocks since you can thinly layer details and textures.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • HB pencil
  • Watercolour paper
  • 6 colour set of watercolour paints
  • Watercolour palette
  • Cup of water
  • Medium-size sable brush
  • Fine brushes

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  1. 1

    Draw the contour or outline of the rock you wish to paint with your HB pencil on watercolour paper. An HB pencil is a medium-dark, soft drawing pencil.

    How to Paint Rock Textures in Watercolours
    Start your painting by drawing the contours of the rock with a pencil. (rock image by OMKAR A.V from
  2. 2

    Squeeze pea-size amounts of all your watercolour paints from your set onto the your watercolour palette. Usually watercolour palettes have small areas at the sides for the paint and larger inner squares for mixing paint.

  3. 3

    Dip the medium-size sable brush into a cup of water, then brush a small amount of orange and yellow. Mix with more water and then swirl in the middle of your palette in the mixing area. You should have a very pale colour.

  4. 4

    Paint the entire rock with this very pale colour. Wait for it to dry completely before adding more paint.

  5. 5

    Mix brown, yellow and orange with plenty of water on your palette. You want a colour that is slightly darker than the first colour. Add it to areas of your rock with shadow. Wait for it to dry.

  6. 6

    Dip a fine-tipped brush slightly in the blue paint and add it to the colour you just made. You want a slightly darker colour. Add water if it is too dark.

  7. 7

    Paint shadows, larger cracks and crevices of your rock. Wait for it to dry.

  8. 8

    Dip a fine brush into black and mix with water. Paint more detailed cracks and crevices. Add darker shadows with this colour too.

Tips and warnings

  • In watercolour painting, you typically work from light to dark. Highlights and light areas are painted first, and then shadows and details are added later. Areas that are white in your painting are left alone to leave the paper showing through.
  • Experiment with different types of rocks in your landscape painting.
  • Change your water in your cup as soon as it looks like mud, or it will affect the colours in your watercolour painting.

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