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Adding Watercolour Paints to your digital print

Suzanne adds watercolour paints to her digital print printed on fine art paper – you can choose from printing on Canson or Moab fine art papers. Once the print is dry, add more depth to add by painting on your print with watercolours, inks, acrylics or even gouache. The possibilities are endless!


Brilliant! Now, do you think you could mount the watercolour paper to a cradle panel, and then rework it? What should you use to bond it onto the panel to prevent buckling as you rework it with watercolour, pencils, pastels... oh, the possibilities are endles...? Finally, how could you seal it so it wouldn't need to be framed behind glass?

I am really happy to see you get so inspired by the youtube video, and yes, the possibilities are endless!
If you wanted to mount the digital print to a cradled panel, you could use several things. First option could be spray glue, but I would probably spray both the panel and the print to get the maximum adhesion. Another option is using acrylic medium. You could put a nice even coat of medium on the panel, put your print in place and then turn it face down, put a weight on it (like a heavy book or two) and leave it to fully dry over night.
If you wanted to seal the print, you could then use a spray varnish, like Golden Archival spray to finish your work. You would want to put 6 to 8 fine coats to protect the work. Keep in mind that this will alter the look of your watercolour and can lighten or deepen the colours a little bit, depending on whether you used matte, satin or gloss spray. Spray varnish will protect your work quite well, but the best protection for digital prints and works on paper is still framing under glass.
Hope this answers your questions, but if you need any other bits of advice, you can call the digital printing department and speak with our print specialist Lindsey.
Happy creating!

What an amazing option for photographers/watercoloursists! I'm excited. I wondered what quality of printer is needed? Mind is an old deskjet 932C. It prints digital photos but not perfectly! Do you have a recommendation? I'm eager to get some fine art paper for digital prints and get started!

I work in collage and mixed media paintings, and I am very interested
in the question of what could you use to seal such a painting to avoid the
conventional glass/frame,

Absolutely fantastic ! I can't wait to try this using my photos & paintings and adding watercolours and acrylics. A very good, instructive video

hi i am wanting to know what type of printer method you used is it inkjet or pigment?

Hi Toni,

The image in the video was created using our Fine Art Digital Print Service which uses pigment based inks on digital papers (which contain a surface sizing that locks the ink in place before it soaks into the paper). This allows you to use water-based media such as watercolours without the ink bleeding.

The dye-based inks used in ink jet printers will bleed if a water-based media is used on them. While printing on digital paper may offer some water resistance, it's likely not enough to use the technique shown in the video.

Thanks for your question!

OMG i never knew that this could be a technique for practicing with water colors! I was wondering, is it possible to do the same thing with pencil water colors? Like first color the picture with the pencil water colors and then add the water with the brush? Would it still look the same as it would with normal water colors?

Yes, using watercolour pencils will work in the same manner - and maybe even easier that traditional watercolour. By drawing on the surface of the print, you are dispersing the colour in effect, before even applying the wet brush to it.

As with all wet media that you might add to a digital print, there are several things to consider:
- The print needs to be pigment based inks - dye based inks tend to bleed and run when they get wet.
- The sizing, or coating which makes the paper a digital paper, traps the colour and holds it in place firmly. So, if you are prepared for that, then you can apply the paint lightly and possibly build on it in layers. When using regular watercolours, you may wish to work in a "wet on wet" process so you have a bit more time to move the paint.
- The paper will buckle a bit when you start adding water to it. Therefore, it would be a good idea to stretch your print, or tape it down before starting to paint on it.

Hope that helps!


I've been wanting to use a nature photo as a background to create something that looks color-blocked. My goal is to make the image look a bit abstract. Do you think that would work?


Oh you gave me just the answer I was looking for. I have been doing a lot of digital painting lately but I also love mixed media so I was wanting to know just this, if I could put acrylics on inkjet fine art papers.
I am planning to invest in a high end pigment based printer and I still want to give my works an original feel rather than just prints. So I am for sure going to experiment with this.
Thanks for sharing that.

I just returned from a workshop in Italy where we used an Epson 3880 with Arches watercolor paper and the results were great with photo dyes and pastels. Now at home I've tried to use the same paper with pigment inks in a Canon and the printer ink is coming off with the watercolor. So, same photo dyes, same paper, and pigment ink but it seems the printer ink is not soaking into the paper (tried both sides, too). Any suggestions?

Hi Carole,

Apologies for the delayed response! Just saw your question now.

As the results you're getting at home are different than those achieved in Italy, my guess is something has changed in the materials.

The most likely culprit is the paper: it's possible that the paper used in the workshop was not regular Arches Watercolour but instead a digital version of that paper, such as Canson Infinity Arches Aquarelle Rag.

Digital fine art papers are prepared to accept printer inks (normally only on one side, though there are some double-sided ones on the market) while regular watercolour paper is not, which would account for the lifting of the ink when the photo dyes are added.

Hope that helps put you on the right path to working with photo dyes and pastels again - hand-coloured photos are so lovely!


I'm interested in trying some of this. Can you tell me what I need to request on my order when I submit my photographs to the fine art digital print service? I'm not from Vancouver so I'm going to have to do all this by digital transfer and mail to get the output. I'd like to prepare a number for trial at one time so it is best if I know that I'm asking for the correct paper and process, so that we get off to a good start. Can you tell me what I need to ask for with the print group? the link you have provided doesn't give me adequate knowledge. Also this is quite an old post, so how has the process developed and or change din the past 6 years? Thank you for any updates you can offer.

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