How to Paint a Splatter Effect with Watercolor

Splatter Paint

I have always loved experimenting with watercolor and one technique that has always made me happy is using a splatter technique in my paintings.  It’s almost completely uncontrollable and thus gives a sense of mystery to my painting process.  Today I’ll be showing you how I paint a starry background with splattering. 

Before I begin, here is a list of the supplies I used in this video

  Supplies List



First, I traced a circle out of paper.  I highly recommend using a heavy stock or even some watercolor scrape paper for this.  I used computer paper which later I regretted.  So just be aware of that. 

Next, I painted the edges of my moon with liquid frisket.  Make sure to use a cheap junk brush when painting with frisket.  This stuff WILL ruin your brushes.   Once your frisket is dry, it should appear clear, water down two blue colors- I used Turquoise Blue and True Blue from Ph Martin.  Using some masking tape, I covered my moon with the circle we cut earlier and now I’m ready to paint. 

Beating Brushes

Splatter Technique #1: Beating Brushes

With this technique I prefer to use a large mop round brush and a large handled brush (it can be any brush just needs a large handle which to beat on.) 

Beating Brushes Image

Using a large round mop brush, I collected a large amount of watered down paint from my palette.  Then, with a larger handled brush, I beat my round brush against it splattering the paint onto my paper. 

Blowing Paint

Splatter Technique #2: Blowing Paint

In this painting I really wanted to give the effect of thick splattering paint streaks.  To create this effect, I would blow on wet puddles lightly in the direction I desired them to move.    


Splatter Technique #3: Spraying Toothbrush

Next, dip an old tooth brush in desired paint and with your thumb flick the paint onto the paper.  I worked closer to the circle to try and get full coverage of the paint.  I first used blue but then switched to a chartreuse green (or a light yellow green) to add some color variation. 

Finishing Touches

Finishing Touches

Once I removed the tape, you will notice a strong circle  which I proceeded to blend out in a circular motion with watered down blue paint.  I slowly moved from the center out blending some of the splatter to create faint rings.  Don’t overdo this technique or else you will lose your splatter effect.

Next, mixing Black with the Norway Blue to create a deeper midnight blue, I repeated the previous splattering techniques.   The only difference was this time I used my circle cutout as a guard closer to the moon.  Any blue paint that “accidentally” splatters on your moon can be smoothed out with water and create a cool illuminating effect.  This is a prime example of how a mistake actually became a positive. Let this dry. 

Final Product

Finally, we are going to add stars. 

Make sure your old toothbrush is completely free of blue paint.  Then, with acrylic white paint, splatter tiny stars over your dark surface.  Using the splatter paint as a guide, with a small liner paint brush add tiny dots for stars. 

Once again let it dry and then show it off to your friends. 

About Author

Hi there! My name is Carrie and I'm a Watercolor Misfit! What's a Watercolor Misfit? Well, anyone who is willing to try new things and not afraid to get their hands covered in paint! So what do you say, are you a Misfit-ian?


  • Margaret H. Breaux
    February 13, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    should the background be painted before I paint a Iris?

    • Misfit
      February 14, 2018 at 7:10 pm

      It depends. Some people paint the background first because it’s easier to be loose with your paints (not really worrying about ruining your fine detailed work). Yet others like to work on the background last (since they can gage colors better with the focal point already complete.) It’s a matter of personal preference – but for me I like to get the background done first and mask out with masking fluid (also known as liquid frisket) anything that needs to be pure white or any future color that could be contaminated by the background color (such as blue (background) and orange (flower) don’t mix = they equal muddy browns). I hope that helps.

  • Samantha Kosa
    April 13, 2018 at 2:17 pm

    Another hack to avoid ruining your brushes when applying making fluid is to wet the brush, and stroke a bar of unscented soap before applying. When you clean the brush afterwards there is no residue from fluid. Allows for a clean application and saves you money. Hope this helps :).

  • moiraine
    October 19, 2019 at 1:54 am

    this painting is soooooo! cool I just loooooove it!


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