How to Get a Watercolor Effect without Watercolors

If you have been with me since the beginning of my blog, then you should know that I created this blog for all my “projects”. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, then you should start here: Too Many Projects. So far the only two posts I have created for the artistic readers of my blog are bullet journal posts, and I am not okay with that! This blog needs to feature more handlettering, more progress videos, and more ART! (don’t worry I will still post bullet journal posts also 😉). So to kick this off, I want to show you this cool tip I learned on Instagram of how to get a Watercolor effect without needing any watercolor paints.


My favorite pens to use with this technique are my Tombow Dual Brush Pens because they are water based, so the colors blend beautifully. The pens also feature a nice flexible brush tip nib that are easy to use on the plastic bag surface. You will also need a small plastic bag like a ziplock baggie or something similar, and a small spray bottle. Lastly, this is totally NOT a necessity however I do have one on hand so I use it, a small embossing heat tool.

1. Choose your color scheme

So the first tip would be to pick out your color range. Usually I like to pick colors that will blend easily together and not create a muddy, ugly color if overlapped. For the particular project, I chose nice bright summer colors.

watercolor effect without watercolors

2. Color on the Plastic Bag

This next step is where things get fun and creative. You can take your markers and color or scribble on the plastic baggie in patterns or just randomly. There wasn’t really a pattern I was going for, so I just kept the colors random and close together so they would blend effortlessly. After you have all your colors where you want them, spray them with water from your spray bottle. This is a CRUCIAL step because if the ink is not wet from the spray bottle, then the colors will NOT blend and create the watercolor effect!

watercolor effect without watercolors

3. Create Watercolor Effect

Next, just turn the baggie over so the colors are flat against your watercolor paper and start pushing the colors into the paper. You can spread them around with your fingers or just pat it down so they stay in one place. If the colors need to be blending a little more, just lift up the baggie, spritz with a bit more water and repeat. As you can see from my picture below, I added a lot of water and spread my colors out a bit more because I wanted them to be really blended.

watercolor effect without watercolors

4. Dry

This step is where the heat tool comes in if you have one. I use mine because it’s a faster way to dry my watercolor creation, however if you do not own a heat tool, no worries! Using toilet paper or a paper towel to blot up any extra water that pools up on your paper is perfectly fine! Whether you dry with a tool or paper, the colors will become a little less vibrant and that’s okay, it’s expected when using this technique. watercolor effect without watercolors

5. Customize!

Okay so this isn’t really a must have step. However I am obsessed with handlettering so I wanted to write something pretty over my watercolor creation. These bright pretty colors reminded me of summer so that’s what I decided to write! TIP: If you do decide to write over your watercolor, PLEASE make sure it’s completely dry. Otherwise the pen will bleed and it won’t look as flawless. Not sure if you can tell, however I used the same Purple Tombow markers that I used to create the background. Look at how much darker it is this time around!

watercolor effect without watercolors

And here is the what I ended up with:

Now I know sometimes following these kind of “How-To’s” are hard because I may not do a great job perfectly laying out the steps. So to be fair, I wanted to include a video of me creating the above project. Therefore readers who learn better by video can still follow along 🤗

What kind of posts do you guys like seeing the most? I try to give a good mix of everything but let me know in the comments below!

Shop What I Used:

(Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links)


  1. Fely

    August 20, 2017 at 12:04 am

    This is really neat; will give it a try. You made it look so easy 🙂 and your writing is so pretty.

  2. Ching

    August 20, 2017 at 1:16 am

    Wow, you are really creative! 🙂 You did a great job of explaining how to do this!

  3. Jordyn

    August 20, 2017 at 2:24 am

    Wow! It actually looks amazing! I’ll have to try it out in the next month of my bullet journal!

  4. Jelena BB

    August 20, 2017 at 7:15 am

    It looks perfect. Thank you for the tip. I like it so much!

  5. Chris McGuire

    August 20, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    Great post. Really useful tips. I think I’ll have a go at this myself.

  6. Erica

    August 22, 2017 at 8:25 am

    This looks so fun. I love a fun art project. I need to try this over the weekends

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