How to Paint Rock Textures in Watercolours

By Charong Chow
Watercolor paint is ideal for painting the textures of rocks.

Igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary are the three basic types of rocks. Igneous rocks, like quartz, are crystalline solids which are formed from the cooling of molten rock such as lava or magma. Metamorphic rocks, such as slate, are formed when high temperatures and pressure cause the rock to recrystallize. Sedimentary rocks, like limestone, are the result of an accumulation of layers of compacted debris of pre-existing rocks. Rocks are so common in our landscapes that you must include them in most landscape paintings. Watercolor paint is an ideal medium for rocks since you can thinly layer details and textures.

Start your painting by drawing the contours of the rock with a pencil.

Draw the contour or outline of the rock you wish to paint with your HB pencil on watercolor paper. An HB pencil is a medium-dark, soft drawing pencil.

Squeeze pea-size amounts of all your watercolor paints from your set onto the your watercolor palette. Usually watercolor palettes have small areas at the sides for the paint and larger inner squares for mixing paint.

Dip the medium-size sable brush into a cup of water, then brush a small amount of orange and yellow. Mix with more water and then swirl in the middle of your palette in the mixing area. You should have a very pale color.

Paint the entire rock with this very pale color. Wait for it to dry completely before adding more paint.

Mix brown, yellow and orange with plenty of water on your palette. You want a color that is slightly darker than the first color. Add it to areas of your rock with shadow. Wait for it to dry.

Dip a fine-tipped brush slightly in the blue paint and add it to the color you just made. You want a slightly darker color. Add water if it is too dark.

Paint shadows, larger cracks and crevices of your rock. Wait for it to dry.

Dip a fine brush into black and mix with water. Paint more detailed cracks and crevices. Add darker shadows with this color too.

Tip

In watercolor painting, you typically work from light to dark. Highlights and light areas are painted first, and then shadows and details are added later. Areas that are white in your painting are left alone to leave the paper showing through.

Experiment with different types of rocks in your landscape painting.

Warning

Change your water in your cup as soon as it looks like mud, or it will affect the colors in your watercolor painting.

About the Author

Charong Chow has been writing professionally since 1995. Her work has appeared in magazines such as "Zing" and "Ocean Drive." Chow graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy. She also received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts.