Tips, Tricks & Fun Effects – How To Use The Nova Watercolour Pens

It’s day 5 on Novamber and today we’re celebrating all things watercolour. Keep reading to discover tips, tricks and fun effects you can create using our Nova Watercolour pens as well as some key basics to help you!


Shown in picture are Nova Watercolours in Neutrals and Brights

The Basics:

  • Paper Quality

Paper quality plays a major role in the finish of your watercolour paintings. There are a whole range of papers out there that claim to be “the best” for your watercolours but what truly makes a good quality watercolour paper?


Your paper will need to be able to withstand multiple washes of watercolour, stay bright (non-yellowing), thick enough to hold its shape and consistent in texture for an even finish. The very best watercolour paper is made from 100% cotton, however these papers usually have a higher price point and are best saved for your final paintings.


Courtesy of

Rough Watercolour Paper:

This paper, as the name suggests, has a rough texture which is created by pressing the paper between embossed felts. This rough paper has the greatest level of texture and creates an incredible texture as the pigment from the paint settles in the pits of the paper to form a highly textured wash. This makes rough watercolour paper ideal for landscapes and seascapes.

Cold Pressed Watercolour Paper:

Cold pressed watercolour paper (also known as NOT) is made by taking a Rough sheet and pressing it through a paper press without using felt. This give the paper a slightly textured surface which is popular as it suits a wide range of applications and techniques.

Hot Pressed Watercolour Paper:

A Hot pressed watercolour paper has the smoothest finish of all 3 papers. It is created by rolling the paper between hot rollers. This paper is excellent for people looking to achieve fine details in their paintings.  


Featured in this image are the Free Novamber Downloads

Thickness also plays a role! The thinner your paper the more likely it is to bow when you apply watercolours. We have chosen to use a 300g/m2 Cold Press Acid Free Paper for our creations as it is perfect for a wide range of watercolour techniques and mixed media projects.

  • Organise

Our first basic tip involves a little bit of organisation! A swatch page is an extremely useful thing to have when using any sort of markers, paints or ink. This is especially true for watercolours as you have to manipulate the pigment with water.


Shown in picture are Nova Watercolours in Neutrals and Brights

We’ve simply used an A4 sheet of watercolour paper and swatched all of the colours to show what they will look like after adding water. This makes it easier to find the exact shade you will need when painting.


Another tip when organising is to label your swatches. Due to the size of our Nova Watercolour markers, they do not have individual names but we’ve come up with a creative solution using washi tape (See picture below)


Wrap your pen in different washi tape designs and mark the relevant swatch with the same design.

  • Dry In Between Layers

This tip is super handy when you want to layer different colours or build up a design. Simply by drying your painting with a heat tool you can work a little faster than if you were to dry each colour naturally. This stops colours bleeding which is common with paintings that are not fully dry.


Shown in picture is the Dovecraft Heat Tool


  • Paper v Palette

With the Nova watercolour pens, you may choose to use them in a range of different ways to get the desired colours that you want. We found that if you are looking to get translucent wash it is best to apply the ink to a palette or acrylic block and add water to get a light and consistent wash.

If you are looking for a more of a concentrated pigment, use the larger brush tip of the pen directly on the paper and manipulate with a wet paintbrush.


Shown in picture are our Bright Nova Watercolour Pens and Free Downloadable Papers

  • Thin Tip v Thick Tip

One of the features we love about the Nova watercolour markers is that they have both think and thin tips on 1 pen! This give you the option of creating stunning watercolour effects with the brush tip, then adding matching details with the fine tip nib.


  • Blending Gradients

Have you ever seen a gradient done with watercolour that you loved? With the Nova watercolour pens they are easier to recreate than ever! Choose two different colours and apply them to the paper on opposite sides of the space you are trying to fill. Then in the middle make sure to overlap them.


Simply add water and manipulate with a paintbrush and you have your gradient!

  • Washi Tape

Washi tapes are super useful when using watercolours. Their low tack makes them perfect for using as stencils to create fun geometric prints or for more controlled work without tearing the paper when you remove it.


Shown in picture are our Dovecraft Gold Foil Washi Tape Sets

Create clean lines with washi tape and geometric patterns. De-tacking the tape on the back of arm or jeans will mean it’s a little less sticky and will not tear the paper. You can also use the washi tape to create clean borders around a painting for a more professional finish.

  • Masking Fluid

In the same way that washi tape works, you could use masking fluid. Masking fluid is better for those small intricate details that you are unable to achieve with washi tape. You can find out more about how to use masking fluid over on K Werner Design on YouTube!


Courtesy of K Werner Design

  • Salty Textures

Another fun effect is using salt on damp watercolour. You can create different effects depending on when you apply the salt to your watercolour. If you apply the salt when the image is still wet, the salt will grab on to the paper and disturb the colour slightly giving it an incredible texture and look.


If you apply the salt when the painting is damp, it creates a random stippled effect that looks just like snow!


  • Paint Smooshing

Acetate may seem like a weird tool to use when creating textures with watercolour but it can create really cool and organic water marks, perfect for adding texture to an otherwise plain and boring background.


  • Heat Embossing

Heat embossing a stamped image or phrase is a cute way to enhance your watercolour paintings. The area that you heat emboss resists the watercolours when heated making it super easy to colour in without ruining a design.


  • Stamping

We love using this technique as it uses the Nova watercolour pens in 2 different ways! Firstly create a background using watercolours, a light wash will do and then use your pen to colour in a stamp instead of pressing it in ink! This technique creates the illusion that you have watercoloured a detailed picture.


  • Create Your Own Patterned Paper

Similar to our article earlier this week about the Nova acrylic paints you can create your own patterned papers for crafting cards, gift wrap, gift bags and more!


Don’t forget that we’ve got free downloads for you to enjoy for Novamber - Check out our free downloads and snag your own here

We hope you found some inspiration here! If you try any of these techniques, be sure to share them over our on Inspiration Area or tag us on social media – we’re @Trimcraft

Shop the supplies featured in this post:

Nova Watercolour Markers – Shop on Amazon

Dovecraft Heat tool – Shop on Amazon

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