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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?

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!

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!

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.