How to create beautiful watercolour nude art in 3 easy steps

I love artistic nudes! When I created this one I was so surprised by how quick and easy it was that I thought I would share the technique. It was my first time using masking fluid with watercolours and I love the free effect it gave the artwork. Give these 3 easy steps a go and see what you think of the results.

‘Inverse Nude’: Masking fluid and watercolour on A3 watercolour paper

Masking Fluid

I created this piece while at the Mixed Media group at the Henley and Grange Art Society with Michelle Stratton. Michelle introduced me to masking fluid  and allowed me to use some of hers for the session. It is going to become one of my favourite mediums to use I am sure.

Masking fluid is a white glue-like liquid that you paint onto dry paper. When the masking fluid is dry it looks a little bit yellow. You can then paint over it with your desired paint effect. Once the paint is dry, the masking fluid can be peeled off to reveal an unpainted area underneath. So if you use white paper, there will be white space revealed when the masking fluid is peeled off.

I like this tool, as I have difficulty leaving enough white space when using watercolours.


‘Inverse Nude’: Finished artwork framed and hung on the wall

Step 1: Paint on masking fluid

First you need to choose a figure and paint it on with the masking fluid.

I chose this simple nude figure in a front facing orientation. I found the masking fluid fairly easy to paint on using a regular paint brush, but you can also use other tools like tooth picks to get finer marks than what I applied.

One recommendation that I have, is not to use any of your favourite brushes. It would be easy to ruin a paint brush with masking fluid if you did not clean it properly.

Step 1: Masking fluid drying on A3 watercolour paper

Step 2: Apply watercolour

The second step is to apply a background. There are many different background techniques that you could use with watercolour. Choose your favourite that you think will go well with your figure.

I used purple, blue, red and yellow watercolour paints that I applied to cling wrap in a haphazard way with plenty of water. Then I pressed the watercolour paper face down onto the cling wrap. This technique allowed the colours to mix together and also gave me the desired irregular edges. I really like the uneven paint distribution it created.

Step 2: Masking fluid with drying watercolour on A3 watercolour paper

Step 3: Peel off masking medium

Once the paint is completely dry, the fun part begins! You can then peel off the masking fluid to reveal your beautiful inverse artwork. Where the outline that you originally painted on is now white space surrounded by your amazing and creative background.

I really enjoyed peeling off the masking fluid. There was something satisfying about revealing the artwork piece by stringy, stretchy piece. It was a bit like peeling clear glue off your fingers.

How to create a beautiful watercolour nude in 3 easy steps

Step 3: Watercolour paint on A3 watercolour paper after the masking fluid was peeled off


If you decide to try this technique I would love to hear what you think and see the beautiful artwork that you come up with!