Numerous techniques exist for watercolor that stem from the fact that there is no way to remove color once it's been applied. One of those techniques is masking. Masking involves applying a thing I just learned about, called masking fluid, to the area that you want to block from paint. Until recently, I'd had no need for this. But while working on the cover for Apartness, I discovered one.

This is sketch for the cover, which will be in ink and watercolor. You can see that the sky in the background is blue, while the text that sits in front of this sky is red. You may also notice that the blue sky is very blotchy and uneven. This is because I was unable to wash the blue on in broad strokes because I was carefully painting around those letters, and everywhere I did so left a blotchy edge that later translated into the blotchy sky you see before you.


Turns out this can all be avoided with a little planning and some masking fluid. Here's what you do.

Draw your letters in ink, of course.

Then apply your masking fluid to the inside of the letters. The fluid will be shiny and have a slight tint that allows you to see what you're doing. Once it's dry you can apply some watercolor.

You can keep applying paint and build up your wash, with broad even strokes, without ever having to worry about getting paint on the text.

Once the paint has completely dried you can remove the masking fluid from the page by simply rubbing it with your finger.

You can see there are some imperfections: some paint got through our mask, and the mask was slightly too big in some parts. These were mainly due to my own carelessness, but should be completely fixable later.

Next you'll simply go ahead and paint in the text.

And then finally you can correct the over-masking problem with a little touch-up using the background color.

And there you have it! A much cleaner wash and much cleaner text. 

Oh, also, I'm using Winsor and Newton masking fluid which I was able to easily obtain locally from the Michael's up the street. Works great!