TUTORIAL: Batik-Style Painting With Masking Fluid

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.


Art Supplies For Batik Style Painting - Doodlewash

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.

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.

Using Masking Fluid on Watercolor Paper - Step 1 - Doodlewash

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.

Using Masking Fluid on Watercolor Paper - Process - Doodlewash

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.

Using Masking Fluid on Watercolor Paper - Batik style - Doodlewash

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.

Using Masking Fluid on Watercolor Paper - Cleaning nib - Doodlewash

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.

Using Masking Fluid on Watercolor Paper - Batik Patterns - Doodlewash

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.

Using Masking Fluid on Watercolor Paper - Batik Drawing - Doodlewash

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.  

Using Masking Fluid on Watercolor Paper - Let Dry - Doodlewash

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.

Brusho Color Crystal Bottle - Doodlewash

The container lids have small dimples for pushing a pin through. Then the pin is pulled for shaking the powder out.

Brusho Color Crystal Bottle Using Pins - Doodlewash

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!

Brusho Color Crystal - Adding to Drawing - Doodlewash

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!

Brusho Color Crystal - Adding Water - Doodlewash

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.

Brusho Color Crystal - Adding Color - Doodlewash

POOF! Like magic!

Tilt the painting to let the colors blend.  But NOT too much or the colors might get muddy.

Brusho Color Crystal - Blending Color - Doodlewash

Use the brush to create strokes of detail.  Just a few or you’ll lose the batik look.

Brusho Color Crystal - Adding Detail - Doodlewash

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.

Batik Style Watercolor Painting - Let Dry - Doodlewash

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.

Removing Masking Fluid in Watercolor Painting - Doodlewash

Even dry, masking fluid likes to build up. It will interfere with the removal process so pick it off often.

Removing Masking Fluid in Watercolor Painting - Eraser - Doodlewash

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.

Removing Masking Fluid in Watercolor Painting - Final Steps - Doodlewash

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.

Batik Style Watercolor Painting - Almost Complete - Doodlewash

You could stop here.  I like to add a little outlining and shading for a more 3D look.

Adding Detail

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.

Batik Style Watercolor Painting - Adding Details - Doodlewash

I decided I wanted a little more interest so I used a white gel pen to doodle white flowers.

Batik Style Watercolor Painting - Final Detail - Doodlewash

All that’s left is to remove the masking tape (and clean up, of course!).

Batik Style Watercolor Painting - Removing Masking Tape - Doodlewash

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.

Batik-Style Painting in Watercolor - Final Art - Doodlewash

Other works I’ve done with the batik-style painting


Batik-Style Painting in Watercolor - Abstract - Doodlewash

Scorpion fish

Batik-Style Painting in Watercolor - Scorpion Fish - Doodlewash

And penguins.  Gotta love penguins.

Batik-Style Painting in Watercolor - Penguins - Doodlewash

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.

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16 thoughts on “TUTORIAL: Batik-Style Painting With Masking Fluid

  1. Thank you, Sandra, for this awesome tutorial.
    I don’t have masking fluid.Could i use a white(or lightcolour )wax crayon to obtain a comparable result? It would not have the cracks , but i guess the crayon lines wouldn’t take the paint?

    1. Thank you! Sorry for the late reply – my mother’s in the hospital so I haven’t been online very much. I haven’t tried wax resist, but Colourcraft Ltd, who makes Brushos, also sells Brusho wax resist sticks. Probably any wax crayons would work, but I’d try if on scrap paper first, because Brushos are so intense that some colors might stain the wax. I advise not doing any pen work after because the wax would clog the tips.

  2. Sandra,
    Thanks for sharing this process! I have tried watercolor using masking fluid but not a batik on paper. Also, Brusho is all over in blogs, etc. from the UK/EU but I never knew exactly what they are and how to use them! Awesome.
    Also, my sincere “Thanks,” for the goodies; i was winner a little over a week ago over on your #LifeimitatesArt . I received the #HahnemuhleHandletteringpad and #ZebraPens last weekend! My daughter & I are thoroughly enjoying the new supplies! #Inktober #DoodlewashOctober2018

  3. Wow..Nice tutorial …Sandra…I tried this technique today for dandelion flowers using B’Dylan tangle pattern…Loved all the examples that you have given in the tutorial….Thanks for sharing…!

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