I love the look of batik, and I love creating art with that look. Today, I’m going to share my favorite process by walking you through a very simple, batik-style painting. Instead of using a wax-resist, I’m using masking fluid pens and painting with Brushos Colour Crystals. Both have minds of their own, which means you should prepare for surprises when creating this kind of work. This is for FUN! Relax and let things happen.
Batik-Style Painting: The three-step process
- Draw your picture with masking fluid pens on watercolor paper
- Sprinkle & brush on Brushos Colour Crystals and wet the paper thoroughly
- Remove the masking fluid
Optional: Add further detail with technical pen and white gel pen.
I have a video so you can see the process in action, and then I’ve written out the steps with a little more explanation.
I’ve used supplies that I have, but if you are planning to buy them, you can get away with one size of masking fluid pen, fewer Brushos colors and can use watercolor paper, masking tape and spray bottle that you already have. If you don’t have a masking fluid eraser, you can use your fingers – but this can result in blisters and may not remove all the fluid.
For batik-style painting, you can use watercolor or ink. Just be sure they will really flow. In this case, replace the sprinkling and wetting procedures with wet-into-wet techniques. The look will be somewhat different, but still beautiful.
Do test your paper to make sure masking fluid will come off – it doesn’t work on all papers.
- Hahnemühle Expression Cold-Press Watercolour paper
- ColourCraft Brusho Crystal Colours
- Emerald Green
- Leaf Green
- Brilliant Red
- Ultramarine Blue
- Molotow Masking Fluid pen 0.4 mm & 0.2 mm
- Pebeo Drawing Gum Pen 0.7
- Masking Fluid Eraser
- Nichiban Masking Tape
- Spray bottle
My Process For Batik-Style Painting
Both masking fluid and Brushos are hard to get out, so cover your surface and protect your clothes. Place masking tape along all four edges of the paper. This will give your painting a clean, crisp edge.
Drawing the Picture
I draw the thickest lines first, so I start with the .04 mm masking fluid pen. Place the nib on scrap paper and push down until the fluid starts flowing. Continue to push down on the pen often during the drawing to keep a good flow.
I’m keeping this drawing very simple using three circles for bushes, three rounded triangles in the distance for trees, and a few lines for a road and grasses.
Fluid will build up on the nib and dry, so you need to pull it off. Do this every few minutes to keep the masking fluid flowing.
I switched to the .02 mm pen for my patterns so they wouldn’t get crowded. I just made up patterns as I went. Feel free to use any patterns you like, but it’s best to keep them simple.
For the patterns in back, I switched to the 0.7 mm pen. Although Pebeo calls their fluid Drawing Gum, it is a masking fluid. It has a slightly different texture, a different color and the pen is shaped a little different. The main thing I like about it, is that it has the smallest nib for finer lines. However, it also the hardest to keep flowing.
The main reason for the different size lines is to add interest. The smaller nibs are easier to use in a smaller area. It is possible to do one of these paintings using only one size nib though.
Once the drawing is complete, let the masking fluid dry. Both of these masking fluid pens have fluid that dries very quickly. Humidity can make a difference, so I recommend at least 20-25 minutes. The fluid should feel tacky but nothing should come off on your fingers.
Painting with Brushos
Brushos are fine powder. Take care if you open the container because it’s easy to spill and these are highly staining – plus you don’t want to breathe these in.
The container lids have small dimples for pushing a pin through. Then the pin is pulled for shaking the powder out.
That’s how I start, shaking out yellow and then lemon in the area along the road. As you go through these photos, look carefully at the amount of powder – it doesn’t take much!
If you want to place your color more carefully, you can dip a brush into the container and apply it dry to the paper. There are many ways to use Brushos, but I’m going to keep it simple for this tutorial, and only use these two methods.
I use Leaf Green for the grass and Emerald Green for the bushes and trees. But don’t worry if the powders get mixed on the page. That’s half the fun. You could do this painting twenty times and it would be unique every time!
I finish up with Brilliant Red at the base of the bushes and trees and toward the right of the road. It will create a shading effect. Red and green are complimentary colors so in some places they will mix creating shades of brown.
Once you think you have enough color down, start spraying. Wet everything completely.
POOF! Like magic!
Tilt the painting to let the colors blend. But NOT too much or the colors might get muddy.
Use the brush to create strokes of detail. Just a few or you’ll lose the batik look.
Now let the painting dry. I don’t recommend using a heat blower or hair dryer because it could set the masking fluid. The water bottle I use is also a fan, and it can be used to speed things up.
To test for dryness, feel with the back of your fingernails. If the paper feels cool, it is not dry yet.
Some areas may seem grainy. This means the Brushos didn’t dissolve completely. You can use a wet brush to even these out if you wish. I like the texture they add and have left some in this painting.
Removing the Masking Fluid
This, I’m sad to say, is the most time consuming part of the process. It can also give your arm a work-out so you might want to do it a little at a time.
Don’t use heavy pressure or you might remove paint! Small, light strokes – it’s better to use several strokes in an area than to remove it all in one stroke.
Even dry, masking fluid likes to build up. It will interfere with the removal process so pick it off often.
Once you’ve removed all the dry masking fluid, shake or brush of the bits onto newspaper or scrap paper, so you can easily pick it all up and throw it away.
Notice that in some areas, like the bottom of the bushes, color bled through the masking fluid. This happens when the pen doesn’t lay down a solid line. It just adds to the batik effect.
You could stop here. I like to add a little outlining and shading for a more 3D look.
I want the white lines to dominate, so I use a .01 technical pen. I use a Zebra Zensations pen because even this small of a nib holds up to drawing on watercolor paper.
I outline the white lines, making them thicker on one side than on the other to imply shading.
I decided I wanted a little more interest so I used a white gel pen to doodle white flowers.
All that’s left is to remove the masking tape (and clean up, of course!).
I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing how batik-style painting is done. I kept things very simple and have barely touched on what could be done with this process.
Other works I’ve done with the batik-style painting
And penguins. Gotta love penguins.
I hope you’ll give this method of batik-style painting a try. I’m looking forward to seeing what you come up with!
Want to share your work. I’ve got a Facebook group, Fun & Easy Landscapes where you can share landscapes art of any kind.Recommended6 recommendationsPublished in
I’m a self-taught artist who dances about with all sorts of artistic mediums. My main loves are Watercolor, Zentangle and Ballpoint pen. The subjects of my work are many and varied and change at whim. I’m a little bit crazy, but doesn’t that come with being an artist? At my Life Imitates Doodles Blog, I post a list of resource links for Tangles, Tutorials and Giveaways three times a week. I also write reviews, hold giveaways and share my art work.