December 2, 2022


Adorn your Feelings

All About Watercolor Granulation by Sarah Becktel

6 min read


The subsequent posting was published by artist Sarah Becktel.


What is granulation?

Granulation is an attention-grabbing characteristic of watercolor which will cause the paint layer to search textured or mottled.  This textured visual appearance is prompted by pigment particles clustering alongside one another somewhat than staying evenly dispersed inside the layer of watercolor paint.  This clustering results in parts of darker coloration (exactly where the pigment is dense) and locations of lighter shade (exactly where the pigment is sparse.)


Watercolor paint is mostly composed of pigment (the coloration) and a binder such as gum arabic.  Whether a watercolor will or will not granulate is dependent on the pigment(s) employed in that colour. Pigments with larger sized or irregularly formed particles are inclined to granulate a lot more, whilst pigments with modest, round, homogenous formed particles have a tendency to granulate significantly less.

Is there any way to predict no matter whether granulation will manifest?

Pigments are commonly categorized as either “inorganic” or “organic.”  Inorganic pigments usually do not incorporate carbon and are primarily produced with minerals that can be even further put together or processed to build the remaining pigment products.  Standard earth hues produced with iron oxide (this kind of as siennas and umbers) and hues manufactured with metals (this sort of as cobalt blue and cadmium red) are some illustrations of inorganic pigments.


Natural and organic pigments consist of carbon and are created both from animal/plant issue or by utilizing artificial natural and organic chemistry.  Most natural pigments utilized in artwork components nowadays are male-manufactured synthetics since these are much more resilient and lightfast than animal and plant-primarily based natural and organic pigments.  Illustrations of artificial organic pigments are quinacridone crimson, phthalo blue, and dioxazine violet.


Frequently, watercolors made with inorganic pigments are likely to granulate far more than hues designed with organic and natural pigments.  This is since natural pigments have very smaller and often shaped particles, which creates paint that provides an even application of colour.  Inorganic pigments normally have more substantial and more irregularly formed particles.  This will cause the particles to clump alongside one another and settle inconsistently on the paper, which results in granulation.

In the graphic higher than you can see a aspect-by-facet comparison of two MaimeriBlu watercolors on Strathmore 400 Sequence Watercolor paper.  On the left is Cerulean Sky Blue, which is created with an inorganic pigment, and on the correct is Major Blue Cyan, which is created with an natural pigment.  The Cerulean Sky Blue is exhibiting granulation, while the Key Blue Cyan is not.


Having said that, the generation of pigments can change from company to company, and recognizing regardless of whether a pigment is natural or inorganic is only a single variable in analyzing no matter whether a coloration will granulate.  For illustration, there might be 2 distinct businesses that generate a watercolor paint from the identical inorganic pigment.  Just one corporation takes advantage of a variation of that pigment that is extra finely ground, whilst the other works by using a variation that is more coarsely ground.  Even even though they are making use of the similar pigment, the finely ground version will granulate a lot less, and the coarser ground model will granulate extra. For that reason, categorizing inorganic pigments as granulating and organic pigments as non-granulating is a valuable starting up place, but it is a generality alternatively than a concrete rule and you will likely come throughout colours that do not fit in just this framework.


Right before paying for new watercolors, I suggest checking out a brand’s web page for both item details and color charts. Some brand names contain granulation information suitable in their literature or packaging, and several makes also have color charts that exhibit painted swatches on paper. MaimeriBlu’s on the net color chart is a terrific instance each individual color swatch displays the watercolor applied to a textured watercolor paper and it is quite simple to see which shades granulate and which do not.

Can I handle granulation?

Though we just cannot totally management granulation, there are approaches to manipulate the look or volume of granulation.  Just one way to influence granulation is with the paper area you are performing on.  A cold press or tough watercolor paper has a very textured area with high details and small details.  These textured surfaces motivate granulation because the pigment particles will clump and settle in the reduced details of the paper texture.  Hot push or mixed media surfaces are inclined to have a smoother area texture.  Granulation will nevertheless arise on these papers, but the granulating pigment particles will go and settle randomly, and the granulation may perhaps look fewer pronounced due to the fact these papers don’t have prominent hills and valleys of texture.

The graphic earlier mentioned shows MaimeriBlu Cobalt Eco-friendly watercolor used to 4 different Strathmore papers.  Each and every paper has a diverse surface texture which subtly influences the visual appearance of the granulation.


One more way to manipulate granulation is to experiment with the sum of watercolor paint you utilized to the paper.  When a huge amount of liquid is utilized to the paper, the pigment particles can simply shift all-around and settle into the low factors of the paper.  This makes a pronounced granulation effect.  When less liquid is used to the paper, the pigment particles don’t have the capability to transfer and stream as significantly, so there will be fewer seen granulation.

The image earlier mentioned reveals two samples of MaimeriBlu Potter’s Pink utilized to the exact surface: Strathmore 500 Series Imperial Watercolor Paper (cold push.) For the sample on the left, I loaded up my brush and utilized a big volume of the watercolor mixture to the paper.  For the sample on the proper, I utilized a lot less of my paint mixture and used it to the paper with a drier brush.


Ultimately, granulation can be manipulated by mixing hues jointly.  If you combine a non-granulating color with a granulating color, the granulation influence will be obvious in the mixture, and you can experiment with distinct amounts of each shade to get your preferred sum of granulation.

In the image earlier mentioned, I’ve blended MaimeriBlu Potter’s Pink (which granulates) and MaimeriBlu Lasting Violet Blue (which does not granulate.) You can see granulation in the resulting mixture, and you can also see some separation of the two pigments inside of the combination.  In the darker locations with much more granulation, the color leans in direction of Potter’s Pink, and in the locations with less density of granulated pigments, to shade leans toward the Long-lasting Violet Blue.  


Granulation is a enjoyable and special element of watercolor that I hope you will all be encouraged to discover.  Experimenting with the prospects of natural and inorganic pigments, paper surfaces, and application strategies can produce unlimited opportunities for incorporating granulation into your artwork.


Sarah Becktel is an American artist based in Southern New Jersey. She gained her BFA in painting from the Tyler School of Art and continued her scientific studies of representational drawing and portray at a number of areas.  Sarah has proven her do the job in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States and her operate is in non-public collections across the environment.

Sarah results in paintings and drawings that are encouraged by animals, all-natural history, and ecology. She travels thoroughly to perspective animals in their pure environments and many of her functions are a result of her activities in nature. Sarah also finds inspiration in normal history museums in which she can study and find out about the animal species of bygone eras.

When Sarah is not functioning in her studio or touring, she is educating artists and students about their mediums and resources. As an Artist Educator for Strathmore Artist Papers, Sarah lectures at art universities and ateliers about the traits of art resources and how to opt for the suitable items for every single artist’s specific needs. She served as Solution Investigate Director for the Colored Pencil Culture of The us from 2009 to 2015, which led to a prosperous understanding of lightfast tests and artwork components producing.

You can see more of Sarah’s work right here:

Internet site:

Instagram: @sarahbecktel

Fb: @sarahbecktelartist



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