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How To Paint Glass With Watercolor | Guide To Paint

One of the reasons artists prefer to use watercolor is its transparency, by using high-quality watercolor paint one could create depth through the use of glass objects and their reflections. 

A glass jar with a lid on a white background. Watercolor empty glass jar. Transparent jar for Provencal herbs: basil, cumin, rosemary, marjoram. The illustration is suitable for design

However, this can make painting clear and reflective objects like glass quite tricky, very different from painting grass with watercolors. Many watercolor artists often challenge themselves to paint transparent objects in a photorealistic manner for an extra edge and to convey a sign of expertise. 

So, how to paint glass with watercolor sound impossible to achieve? Don't worry, as we have come up with some basic steps and tips that will help to make the painting process a tad simpler regardless of whether you use watercolor pads or watercolor paints in tubes. Remember to practice before beginning to paint, as replicating the right shapes is the first step toward capturing the reflectivity of glass. 

So, without further ado, let's get started! 

How To Paint Glass With Watercolor

Watercolor set of bottle wine vintage style with glasses with red and white drinks . How To Paint Glass With Watercolor .

Materials Required To Paint Clear Glass

Before you can begin the process of painting, it's important to gather all the art supplies. Here are some of the things you'll need: 

  • Some fine watercolor brushes 
  • Masking fluid 
  • Watercolor paints 
  • Watercolor paper 
  • Graphite pencil 
  • Eraser
  • Two containers with water 

You should also print out a photo of a glass object that you'd like to draw. It's best to start with an object that has been placed in front of a white background. Make sure to study it for a while to note how light interacts with glass, creating highlights and shadows. Some artists like to think of these areas as jigsaw puzzles that need to be arranged in the right manner. 

Another thing we would like to point out is the importance of having a color palette dominated by grays and blues. Even though we perceive glass as colorless, mixing grays, blues, and the occasional white will help the painting process. 

Steps To Paint Glass With Watercolor

1. Make The Drawing

As we have stated already, one of the most important steps in painting realistic glass objects is to create a good outline. With the help of your reference photo, make a fine representation of the object on watercolor paper. Remember to be light-handed with the pencil, as deep impressions look bad when applying watercolor paints. 

While sketching, don't forget to add the thickness of the glass as it helps the object stand out from the background. Through the sketch, you must mark the shapes with hard-line edges. In turn, this will help you divide the drawing into areas that can be easily filled with colors. Pay extra attention to adding the small curved lines present in a glass, representing the distortions. 

2. Apply Masking Fluid

One of the easiest tricks used by watercolor artists is to place masking fluid in places of highlights and reflections. Having said that, some people prefer to directly start with a watery light gray paint and place it in the dark areas of the drawing. 

You can easily figure out the light and dark areas using a nine-value scale. Use the values 0-1 for highlights and 8-9 for dark areas usually seen in the thick edges of the glass. 

3. Applying the First Wash

Let the masking fluid dry completely and wet the paper with a wash of clean water. Mix a bluish-gray paint, and use a thin brush to add the form shadow and the cast shadow of the glass while the paper is wet. 

4. Applying Second Wash

After the first wash has dried, start the paint by darkening the cast shadow. Next, use a wash of light warm gray to highlight the color of the glass. Also, add a warm yellow-gray wash in the foreground to signify the light source. 

5. Paint The Background

If your glass is placed against a colored background, it's time to add that color to your painting. Any shade of blue usually works well when painting water or glass. Remember that you'll need to use a similar color while adding the areas with distortions to the glass. 

6. Add The Midtones To The Glass

You might have noticed distortions while looking through a glass, which usually takes place due to refraction. Remember the curved lines you drew at the beginning? Take a similar color to the background and apply it to the mid-tones, which would help the object look cohesive with the settings. 

7. Add Another Layer Of Distortions

This time you should take a darker shade of the color used in the mid-tones and add them to areas with a value of 6-7. Let this dry, and then darken up the color a bit more to paint areas with a value of 8-9. At this point, your glass would appear three-dimensional. 

We want to point out that beginners often forget to add colors to the bottom of a glass. Don't repeat the mistake, as the thick bottom of the glass often demands some of the darkest tones. 

8. Fixing The Reflections

Start this step by removing the masking fluid once the last layer of paint has dried. If some of the reflections seem too bright, you can apply a wash of light bluish-gray paint to tone them down. 

How To Paint Glass With Watercolor


When painting glass with watercolor, it's also important to consider your left hand. Holding the glass in your left hand lets you observe how light interacts with the surface and use this information when painting. This can help you capture the unique qualities of glass, such as reflections and refractions, and make your painting more convincing.

FAQs Related To Painting Glass With Watercolor

  • How can I achieve a convincing illusion of three-dimensionality when painting glass with watercolor techniques?

    Use light washes to portray the transparency of the glass, and gradually build up the darker tones to create the illusion of volume.

  • How can I avoid making the glass in my artwork look too flat or glossy?

    Vary the intensity of the colors and use dry brush techniques to create texture and subtle variations on the surface of the glass.

  • Can I use masking fluid to paint glass with watercolor techniques?

    Yes, you can use masking fluid to preserve areas of white paper or to create crisp edges when painting glass with watercolor.

  • What should I do if I make a mistake while painting glass with watercolor techniques?

    Try to lift the paint with a damp brush or sponge. If that doesn’t work, let the paint dry completely and gently scrape it off with a blade. Alternatively, you could incorporate the mistake into your composition.

  • What are some tips for creating a composition that features glass objects using watercolor techniques?

    Experiment with different lighting conditions and angles to capture the reflections and distortions in the glass. Consider the placement of the objects with one another and the background.

  • Are there any special considerations when painting stained glass with watercolor techniques?

    Consider the colors and patterns of the stained glass and use them as inspiration for your painting. Notice how light passes through the glass and creates colorful shadows on surrounding surfaces.

  • Paint Glass With Watercolor Final Words

    With that, we have come to the end of this guide. You must have noticed that we haven't gone too deep into the process. That's because the crux of the technique lies in figuring out the shapes made by the distortions. 

    If you're still confused about starting to paint glass with watercolor, first try observing how light interacts with transparent objects. You can even begin by creating some rough sketches of glass objects and the shapes made on them by different angles of illumination. 

    Also, definitely try the color mixes on a piece of scratch paper before applying them to your painting. And bear in mind that it's best to work from light to dark when working with watercolor. If you would like to experience different materials when painting with watercolors, you can also use watercolors on wood, certainly a fun experience!

    Until next time, goodbye, and take care!

    PS: If you are looking to paint on glass, and create glass ornaments, glass bottle centerpieces, custom mugs for your friends, or even plates for decor you can find the best paints for glass here.