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How-to: Creating a Watercolor Background with Zig Real Brush Pens

Try using brush pens with a water-based dye to create a fun and easy watercolor background.

This layout falls into the "I just wanted to play with some new products" category. I had recently gotten some Zig Clean Color Real Brush pens and couldn't wait to give them a try. Sometimes you just want to play and experiment!

Here's how I made the background:

Step #1 - Prep your paper.

I started by adhering the edges of my 12 x 12" background cardstock with masking tape onto my table. I used a strip of tape to completely cover each side of the paper. Adding that tape (and waiting until the paper is completely dry before removing it) helps eliminate or at least minimize the wrinkling and warping from using a wet material on cardstock.

I also recommend, even though it's not what I used, watercolor paper for your base instead of the typical scrapbook cardstock.

Step #2 - Draw your lines.

I wanted to create a rainbow of colors going down the page, starting with red at the top and ending with pink at the bottom. I used the colors:

1. Wine Red

2. Scarlet Red (it's more of an orange than a red)

3. Yellow Green

4. May Green

5. Shadow Mauve

6. Turquoise Green

7. Persian Blue

8. Light Violet

9. Dark Pink

I created the design by drawing lines of each color. Each group of lines for each color is about 1" thick. Some groups of colors may be thicker than others.

To help blend the colors I overlapped them a little. If you look at the photo above, you can see how I mixed in some small lines of color into the next color in the line up. For example, you can see some small orange lines in the yellow lines and some yellow lines in the green lines, etc.

Step #3 - Blend the lines.

Next, I used a paint brush and some water to help blend the lines and colors.

If you want the lines to show through your blending, you will want to lightly brush over them. If you want a full blend, without the lines showing through, use more water and brush over until the lines are fully blended.

I like the look of having some lines still show through so that's what I did with mine.

Optional: Step #4 - Add some dots and splotches.

I wanted to further enhance the messier look so I added a few dots and splotches of paint.

I added a few dots with the same pens and then brushed over them. You can also use the pens without brushing over them for a brighter shade of the color. I did a little bit of both throughout the rainbow of colors.

Step #5 - Let the paper dry.

You'll want to make sure that you let the paper completely dry before you remove the masking tape.

In hindsight, I wish I had used watercolor paper for this design. It was a little bit more wet than I would typically do on a my regular cardstock and even with the tape and letting it dry completely, I still had some warping.

Step #6 - Add some embellishments to the background design.

I added things like patterned papers cut into arrow strips, stitching, and word stickers in coordinating colors.

After I was done playing around with these pens, I found myself really excited about how I can pair them with my watercolors. There are designs that I have wanted to try, but wasn't all together confident in my painting skills. These pens allow me to draw or even trace the design first, then paint. I also like that you can use them to add a finer detail to your watercolor designs. They are definitely something I'm going to play around with more and I highly recommend that if you want to experiment with watercolor, give these pens a try! We have many, many colors of them at!

Check them out here: Zig Clean Color Real Brush

Products used - Cardstock: American Crafts; Patterned papers: Bella Blvd., Simple Stories; Stickers: Simple Stories; Pens: Zig Clean Color Real Brush; Embroidery floss: DMC

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