Liquid Watercolors… from Pens!

So, I have a small confession.  I am a terrible painter.  Like really terrible.  I can’t stay in the lines, the flowers never look like flowers, and I never feel like I have the right brush movement going on.  I have taken watercolor classes, a watercolor lettering class, and had in person tutorial with my bestie… but alas, I still can’t make it look right!  I love the appearance of watercolors and apparently my string of inability has not stopped me from trying.


One of the things I tell myself is that liquid watercolors make a huge difference in my ability.  However, liquid watercolors are a bit pricy, especially for someone who just plays with them for fun.  So, in the search for a budget friendly option, I discovered that I can use my Tombow Dual Brush pens.  I have a few tricks that I recommend to get good, rich colors, and send you on the way to make some awesome painting on a budget.


The first thing you are going to want to do is grab a palatte of some type.  I recommend a plastic based substance- it keeps everything “beady” which makes it easier to manipulate.  I have a paint palate that I use and can save from project to project.  Plus, I can label what is in each hole.  This is key because I can’t keep it straight otherwise!


Scribble a little bit of the pen from the brush tip into the palatte well.  I recommend using deeper colors – the pastels are just too soft once you add water and dilute them.  Cover the bottom and sides of the well.  I used Tombow Dual Brush pens 636, N45, 565, and 847.  Once it is covered, add a few drops of water.  I recommend using a dropper or pipette; it helps manage how fast the water gets added.  You can usually get them individually or in a multi-pack bag at your local art supply or school supply store.  Check the science section of the school supply store!

I always start with three drops of water – you can always add more, but you can’t take it out!  Using a paintbrush, mix together the water and the ink from the well, “scraping” the sides and blending the water and color.  Once you have a good mix, you are ready to paint!


If you want to mix colors, you are best to do that while coloring in the well – half one color, half the other.  Then, add the water and mix them together.

Then, grab a paintbrush and get your art on!  The colors are fairly faint, so you may need to do several coats and go slowly over the paper.  This gives your paint a full and even coat on the paper!  I am using a cold-press watercolor paper from Hobby Lobby. It is a good all-purpose watercolor paper that is really reasonably priced (I buy it when it goes 50% off once a month!).


I love how this is a quick and easy way to create my own paint, especially on a budget!  This also gives me access to a lot more colors than I would be able to buy separately.  And, I love being able to use my supplies in multiple ways – I feel like it helps my pen budget go further!


When you finish painting for the night, leave your palatte, with the paint, sitting on your desk overnight.  The color will concentrate and dry in the bottom of the well.  When you are ready to paint again, just add a few more drops of water and you are back in business!  Save the paint and make less waste – woohoo!


I would love to see your watercolors – with pens!  Share your work with me on social media – tag me on Facebook and Instagram!

Go get your letter on!

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