DIY Watercolour Paints

Homemade watercolour paints

How to make your own watercolour paints

I couldn’t resist the urge to make my own watercolour paints as a small tray doesn’t last long in our house with 3 kids. It is an interesting experiment and one that I wasn’t sure if it would work. I had to try it a few times as the first batch I made was too thick to paint with. This recipe though was much better and the colours came out more vibrant also. One tray will last quite a while but it is so cheap and easy to make that you can have them on hand all the time. When the paint dries, the pictures have a chalky texture which I think adds another element to the activity. You can rub off the chalky texture or leave as is.

Now, here is the hard part… You can make the watercolours easy enough but you have to wait 1 to 2 days for them to dry out completely before you start painting with them. I found little finger marks in ours which meant that the kids were testing them out during the drying process.


  • ½ cup bicarbonate of soda
  • 4 Tbspn white vinegar
  • 1 tsp corn syrup (*see note)
  • 3 tsp cornflour
  • Food colouring
  • Mini muffin tin or small containers.
  • Spoon

* Corn syrup can be found in the baking section of your supermarket. You have to buy a jar of it but don’t worry, it won’t go to waste as you can always use it to make bubble solutions for the kids. A post on that will be coming soon…

What you need to make your own watercolour paint

1. In a jug, mix the bicarbonate of soda with the white vinegar. Like a really cool science experiment, it fizzes up and you will hear a lot of “ooooohs and aaaaahhhhs” from your kids. I use a jug that has a spout so it is easy to pour into the muffin tin later on.

DIY Watercolour Paint

2. When it has stopped fizzing, add the corn syrup and cornflour and stir until thoroughly mixed through. You might want to use a whisk to remove any lumps.

3. Pour into muffin tin or the small containers you are using. One batch of this is perfect for a 12 hole mini muffin tin. You don’t need much mixture in each one so try and even it up at the end.

DIY Watercolour Paint

4. This is the fun part for the little helpers but go easy on the stirring. The muffin holes are only small and you don’t want to splosh your mixture everywhere. Add some colour to each hole. Add a few drops to start with and you can always make it darker. Combine the colours you already have to make others such as yellow and red to make orange, blue and red to make purple. Green and yellow make a fluoro green which is very bright. Using the handle of a spoon, mix the colour into the bicarb mixture.

DIY Watercolour Paint

DIY Watercolour Paint

5. Now comes the hard part…waiting and waiting!! Gently place the colours in the sun and leave to dry. At night, place them undercover so they don’t get moisture on them. This step take a while for the colours to dry out completely so could take anywhere from 24 to 48 hrs, depending on the weather. You could place them by a heater or in the oven for a while to speed up the process.

DIY Watercolour Paint

6. Once dry, dip your paint brush in water and away you go. They are a difference consistency to store bought water colours so you may need a bit more water on your brush when using them. I found it was best to use a thick brush with lots of water on it before you swirl it around in your colours. Wash your brush in a cup of water before moving onto the next colour.

To make it easier for young children, draw a simple picture onto your paper that they can paint. Easy ideas are balloons, shapes, rainbows and patterns.

How to make your own watercolour painting

How to make your own watercolour painting

How to make your own watercolour painting

When the paint dries, it has a chalky consistency to it. You can rub it off or leave it to add

Watercolour wet vs dry watercolour painting

Watercolour Activities

With the new paint, below are some links to some fun watercolour activity ideas.

Early watercolour techniques

Try a range of simple watercolour techniques listed here.

Early Watercolour techniques for kids

Watercolour Bloom Tree

This is a beautiful project and surprisingly simple to create. Find the tutorial here.

watercolour tree -- autumn bloom tutorial

Jacaranda Tree

Celebrate Spring with purple. Tutorial here.

Easy Watercolour Jacaranda Tree

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    October 14, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    This is so great I had no idea you could do this thanks.

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