Watercolor & Ink Resist Technique

by ArtistMom
(Northern Ontario Canada)

Samples of Ink Resist

Samples of Ink Resist

It was suggested to me from artists on iDrawandPaint.com to add this painting technique. Ink Resist or Tempera (Gouache) & Ink Resist / Watercolor Painting.


Let me tell you about a wonderful painting technique you can combine with watercolor. It is called Ink Resist or Tempera (sometimes called Gouache) & Ink Resist. This technique allows you to play and have fun while experiment and all this without a big investment in supplies. The Gouache or Tempera paint is water soluble where as the Indian ink is waterproof and the two combined with watercolor paints will give you a splendid finished work of art.

NOTE: Do not use your good brushes for either the ink or the tempera paint or your brushes will be ruined. When using the tempera paint for this technique do not wet your brush with water as this will dilute the tempera and you will end up with the tempera not covering the areas properly. If you must clean your brush off due to it getting too thick with paint, make certain you squeeze out all excess water from the brush before dipping it back in the tempera.


Begin by taping or stapling down some Arches 140lb hot or cold pressed watercolor paper; (cut paper which ever size you want) this paper stands up well to the somewhat rough treatments it gets when rubbing off the India Ink and it is a fabulous paper for watercolors. Now, add your drawing on the paper with pencil. There are various ways of applying this technique and I will explain my version. Anyone who has tried it has their own unique way of doing it and you will find your preference too.

Step One: Once you have your sketch done, decide which areas in the painting you want to protect from the ink (tempera is the resist). These are the areas you will want to paint with watercolor.

Next step: is to pour out a bit of Tempera into a lid or small container and start to paint with tempera leaving the drawn lines untouched. Note: (I have added tempera on the pencil lines also on occasion).

When using a thin layer of tempera some of the ink will seep through to the paper below and give you a slight toned area. Using a thicker layer of tempera gives the paper a whiter cleaner look and the ink resists that area and these are the areas you want to keep clean for the watercolor painting stage of this technique. Now check over your drawing make sure you have covered everything you want the ink to resist (make sure you left the pencil marks untouched) and areas that have not been painted with tempera will become black once the ink is applied. Now allow the tempera paint to dry or help it along with a hair dryer.

Next step: Applying the India Ink:
NOTE ON BRUSH: Use either a Flat 1 inch or 2 inch bristle brush or sponge brush (depending on size of your paper) as you need to cover the entire sheet quickly and with as few strokes as possible because you do not want to disturb the tempera paint underneath. And remember to overlap each stroke just slightly. Use rubber gloves for this step and don't wear your good clothing and protect the area you are working on.

Pour a bit of India ink in a small container and fill your brush with the ink, (I mean fill it, not just the tip of it but your entire brush) begin at the top of paper with light, quick sweeps of the ink across the paper and overlap it just a bit for each stroke and with each stroke refill the brush with ink otherwise you may get streaks. Should you get streaks, quickly touch them up carefully. Continue until the painting is completely covered and then set aside to dry. The India ink will sink into the paper where there is no tempera layer to protect it. Now you wait again or grab your hair dryer to speed things up. Make sure it is completely dry by doing touch test with the back of your hand; if it feels cool it is still wet, use dryer again.

Note: Have an old towel ready to blot the paper.

Next: Removing the ink. Once ink is (completely bone dry) dry bring painting to the sink and gently, run some warm tap water (not hot) in the sink and lightly rub off the ink from your painting either with a brush or your fingers. The tempera and ink will dissolve, leaving the ink outlines intact and the excitement builds as your painting unfolds before you.

You may need to rub off more before blotting it on a towel. Lift paper from sink every now and then to allow dirty water to run off the paper. Have one last look and make sure excess water has dripped off and have your towel laid out on counter and gently lift your painting out of the sink, and lay it on towel and then take sides of towel and blot the front and back. If you have streaks it is either due to tempera was too watery or you simply didn't apply enough tempera or when applying ink you overlapped each stroke too much /not enough or the ink thickened in the bottle and was not diluted enough.

At my last workshop I used paper I had for some years and once I removed the ink I kept getting these awful marks and nasty streaks. I could not figure out what I was doing wrong as I have never had that happen before. Turns out the sizing on the scraps I had been saving all these years had worn off so needless to say now I use newly bought paper.

Now, another waiting period for drying or use dryer. Once dry you are ready to use your watercolors or you may prefer to leave it black and white to resemble a more graphic approach.
Hope you had fun playing. Here are samples of ink resist.


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Tempera Resist in color
by: Sandra L.. Jones

I enjoyed seeing your samples of tempera resist. It's such a fun medium! I have been doing tempera resist since about 1985. When I first learned it at the Fashion Institute of Technology, I also used white tempera and then left it black and white or painted over it in WC. Then I tried doing it in color right from the start and it has been very successful. I am well known in our area for that medium, and win a lot of awards with it.
Thanks, Sandy Jones

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Ink resist comments
by: ArtistMom

Hi Sharon Mcgee and Joyce, I am glad to hear you enjoyed the Ink Resist Technique. Once the ink has dried you can use other medium, such as pastels, watercolour crayons, liquid acrylic, or glazing with watered down acrylics; or simply leave it black and white. It is a wonderful technique and I was glad to share it with you. Stay well.

ArtistMom.net

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you made my day
by: sharon allen mcgee


I used the north light book of painting techniques when i started to paint about 10 yrs ago i did art school , ceramics printmaking sculpture but now a new adventure i did a resist painting and sold it . I looked for the book i guess it is on amazon or ebay but now i do not need it as u refreshed my technique memory very well i will use this soon thank u so much

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Watercolour & Ink Resist Technique
by: Joyce

A wealth of information Thanks so much. Another challenge will certainly have a go at this, Regards Joyce.

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