Improve Your Watercolor Tulips with Simple Techniques

quick watercolor tulip tutorial finished painting by Deb Watson

Improve your watercolor tulip paintings with these easy techniques – paint the dark areas first, then the light areas, and add a light background. Trace this outline for a quick watercolor floral painting tutorial that makes a lovely card or painting.

Downloads for Watercolor Tulips with Simple Techniques

Suggested Colors for Tulips:

  • Red – your favorite red will be fine
  • Green – use a tube green or mix your own
  • Yellow – Lemon, Hansa or light yellow

Painting Steps for Red Tulips

Step 1 – Draw or trace your outline onto your watercolor paper using graphite paper.

Step 2 – Paint the background.

Wet the background with clean water, going around the stems and parts of the tulips that are yellow (the bottom of the right two tulips and center of the left tulip.)

Mix a big puddle of light red or pink.

Paint the light color onto the wet background with a large brush.

Lift in center – use a thirsty brush or paper towel to lift some of the color in the center of the tulips.

tulip reference photo

Original Reference Photo on Pixabay

Step 3 – Paint the Tulips

Paint the Darker Parts of Tulip First

dark part of tulips


Mix a puddle of concentrated red. If you want even darker red for some areas, mix your red with a little dark green or black.

When the background is dry, paint the dark red areas of the tulips, as show on the video.

Paint the Lighter Part of Tulips

Once the dark tulip areas are dry, paint the entire tulip with light red paint.

Paint the yellow.

Paint the bottom of the two left tulips and the center of the right tulip with yellow. When the yellow is dry, add the darker stamens in center of the left tulip.

Step 4 – Paint the Leaves and stems.

Mix a light green and dark green puddle of paint.

Paint the leaves with some of each green value, then dry and evaluate. Add more shading if needed. Paint the stems, also.

quick watercolor tulip tutorial finished painting by Deb Watson

Step 5 – Add a subtle bokeh effect.

Bokeh effect – soft, out of focus background with blurry circles, as in photography.

Cut a round stencil from an old photo, piece of watercolor paper or laminated flyer.

Hold or tape the stencil to your background.

Use Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser to lift out circles or parts of circles.

Make them randomly – different lengths apart (some can overlap) or sizes.

Happy Painting!

Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life - Pablo Picasso