Posted on May 8, 2015

SPOTLIGHT: Paper + Chaos Watercolour Tutorial


I met the lovely girls from Paper + Chaos on Instagram when we first started Life Of My Heart, and straight away fell in love with their lettering, watercolour art and beautiful images. I was super happy for them when they started Paper + Chaos last year, and am now even more happy to hear they’ve opened a shop on Etsy! The girls kindly agreed to do a watercolour tutorial blog post for us and share some tips, check out the tutorial – their watercolour patterns are super inspiring, can’t wait to try out some of their techniques 🙂

– Marryam x

Paper + Chaos:

Instagram: @paperandchaos

Online store: Paper + Chaos on Etsy




We are Amira and Farhana, the sisters behind the creative space, Paper + Chaos. Created in the summer of 2014, Paper + Chaos is currently an Instagram page that focuses on spreading the beauty of Islam through art. By incorporating our faith with our passion for creativity, our hope is to enlighten, encourage and inspire people around the world.

We also sell our watercolour prints online at on Etsy

This tutorial demonstrates some of the techniques and methods we use to create our work. If you choose to follow the steps and to re-create the piece, please post it on Instagram and tag us @paperandchaos. We would absolutely love to see your artwork!

We hope you enjoy this step-by-step guide as much as we enjoyed putting it together. 🙂

Items needed: watercolour paper, watercolour paints, watercolour brushes, water-resistant black fine liner, pencil, ruler, eraser and a cup of water.

We like to use 300 gsm acid-free watercolour paper, and Muji fineliner pens. Here we’ve decided to use inexpensive generic watercolour tube paints, but you can use whatever watercolour paints you prefer. Paper and Chaos 003Paper and Chaos 004

Begin by lightly drawing a line in the centre of your page horizontally, using a pencil. Focusing on the upper half of your page, start forming swirls and waves with the black fine liner.

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Now we can start the painting process. For this piece, a ‘wet-on-wet’ technique is used. This means the paint will be stroked onto a wet surface to form a diffusion of colour. Firstly, soak your brush in water before stroking it onto a portion of the bottom half of your page. The paint will spread to the wet parts of the paper so you don’t want to soak the entire sheet. Brush a few layers of water to ensure it is sufficiently wet.

045-Vertical-Storyboard 046-Vertical-Storyboard
Next, squeeze a dollop of paint into a tray, and with a bit of water, swirl the paints with your brush to dilute it and create a thinner consistency. Here I have used blue and turquoise watercolour paints. Now saturate your brush with colour and begin painting the wet page with gentle strokes.

Dip your brush into more paint to create bright bursts of colour. Let it dribble and run in random directions. Watercolour is spontaneous and unpredictable. Embrace it!

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To add some dimension and detail, I have decided to add a pop of green and yellow to complement the blue tones.

You can also paint a swirl as I have, to add colour to the upper half and balance the overall piece.

The heavy cool tones are a great contrast to the intricate fine liner details.

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Once the paint has dried completely, the text can now be written. Bold, upper-case lettering is what I have chosen for the first part of the quote. Using pencil before permanent marker prevents any mistakes.

For the second part of the quote, I have used the thin fine liner to create cursive lower-case lettering. Rather than keeping it plain, you can thicken certain parts of each letter as I have done here.

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The artwork is now complete!

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Top tips:

  • Remember that the more water you use, the more dilute and transparent the paint becomes.
  • Relax your hand when painting and use fluid movements. Add a stroke here and a puddle there if you feel like it. There are no limits, no restrictions.
  • Work with layers. The transparency of watercolour paints means you can build up thin coats of paint once each layer has dried. This helps add extra detail and complexity.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with watercolour paints. The great thing about watercolour is that although it’s often unpredictable and spontaneous, it’s also very forgiving. A mistake can easily be fixed with the swipe of a tissue, brush or an extra layer of paint. Alternatively, you can challenge yourself and try work with your mistake, accepting it and incorporating it into your piece. Mistakes aren’t always bad!

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  • Reply Amina Malik June 11, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    I’m obsessed with watercolor and lettering so ofcourse I followed both of you guys on Instagram! Love the tutorial and please do more in the future!
    Prayers and peace from Los Angeles

    • Reply lifeofmyheart June 12, 2015 at 12:44 am

      Thanks for following! Definitely will be doing more tutorials in the future! x

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