Modified Dry Brush or Broken Edge Technique

Modified Dry Brush Technique to create tree foliage

Modified dry brush

Instead of horizontal or vertical dry brush strokes you can use a more curved stroke using the body of the brush head, which just lightly touches the watercolor paper.

The trick to this technique is to have your brush almost parallel to your watercolor paper, and not to let the point of the brush touch the paper either.

I use this technique when creating the impression of tree foliage for gum trees and other similar trees as in figure 8. I also use this brush stroke when doing skies with fluffy clouds.

Modified Dry Brush Technique to create tree foliage
Figure 8: Modified Dry Brush Technique to create tree foliage
Watercolor Painting Modified Dry Brush Technique for doing fluffy clouds
Figure 9: Modified Dry Brush Technique used to create fluffy clouds

The trick of making this work is not to dab at your paintings but to lightly move the brush over its textured surface.  It works best with rough paper, but can also be applied to cold pressed paper; the smoother the paper the less paint you want in your brush to create the broken edge effect.

Watercolor Brushes Used

As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, these edges in these examples are produced with a round brush.  They can however be produced with other brushes, some easier and others more difficult depending on the brush used.

As you master these edges you will find painting water color art will become much easier and they will give you the tools to make some wonderful watercolor paintings.

I hope these watercolor painting tips have been of use to you.

Author: Joe

Owner and adminstration of the Painting With Watercolors website and forum. I am a professional watercolor artist, though I also use other mediums including pen and ink. I also enjoy playing with computers and the internet so this website is a bit of a hobby of mine.