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Also known as 'Colourwashing'

A decorative paint-effect created by smoothing out wet glaze with a brush or mitt.

Learn how to colourwash with this free, step-by-step, illustrated tutorial,
containing pictures of the 2 easy steps required to create the colourwash effect.


  Like all paint-effects, colourwashing can be a little messy, so wear old clothing or overalls.
  Also: remove or cover all carpets, furniture and other valuables from the room.

  Prepare the surface that is to be painted, apply at least 2 coats of mid-sheen paint in your chosen colour and allow to dry thoroughly.

  Water-based paint dries quickly so start on your smallest walls first; your speed will improve with experience.

  Have a bucket or bowl of clean water and some rags close at hand for cleaning purposes.


  In this technique the topcoat, or glaze, is patterned by gently smoothing out the glaze over the surface to give a mottled pattern.
  Where the brush or mitt makes contact the glaze is lifted revealing the base coat.

  It is advisable to get someone else to paint the wall with the mixed glaze ahead of you, so that you can concentrate on creating the effect.
  If you must work alone, paint small sections, 6ft (2 metre) at a time, & stop the colourwash process 6 inches (150mm) short of the leading edge.

  Apply the mixed glaze randomly with a brush leaving random yet even spaces in-between.
  Moisten your large flat brush or car-cleaning mitt with a little of the glaze.
  Applying gentle pressure use short, random strokes to spread out the glaze to create a 'mottled' irregular pattern.
  Some people use a semi-circular motion for this effect, others, a criss-cross motion.   There is no correct method, so try both or create your own.

  Occasionally wipe the brush or mitt on a piece of cloth to prevent the build up of glaze.
  Brush over previous brush marks, again pulling the glaze in a random direction. This will help maintain a subtle finished effect.
  Repeat the process over the whole wall, lapping-in on wet edges.

  The challenge of colourwashing is to move the brush or mitt evenly over the surface.
  Everyone's technique is individual, so only one person should create the effect.

  Allow the first wall to dry before starting another to prevent spoiling the finished effect.

  You may wish to repeat the colourwash process with a second colour once the first is dry.
  In this instance, it is advisable to switch from using a brush to a mitt or vice versa.

  Allow the paint to dry before protecting with a coat of clear glaze or varnish   (optional).

      Method 1   Click to enlarge         Click to enlarge

      Method 2   Click to enlarge         Click to enlarge

      Method 3   Click to enlarge         Click to enlarge

  !!! With oil-based method, used mitts should be washed in soapy water before disposal to prevent spontaneous combustion. !!!


Other tutorials in this series include:
Bagging   Clouding   Dragging   Frottage   Mottling
Rag-rolling   Sponging   Stippling   Verdigris   Wiping Back

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