How to Use Watercolor Paint Tubes: 9 Tips and Tricks

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In this blog post, we will give you 9 tips and tricks on how to use watercolor paint tubes. Watercolor paint tubes are a great way to get started with this versatile medium. But how do you use them?

We’ll cover everything from how to keep the paint soft to how much to squeeze on your palette. Plus, we’ll tell you why it’s important to clean dried paint off of the caps and how to open them without spilling!

In this article we will cover the following topics:

  1. Why watercolor tube paint is preferred over pans
  2. Opening them properly
  3. How to squeeze them properly
  4. How much to squeeze on your palette
  5. Best practices for mixing tube paint
  6. Using paint straight out of the tube
  7. Keeping them moist while painting
  8. Tips for storing tubes when not using
  9. Recovering dries tube paint

9 tips for how to use watercolor paint tubes

Get ready to level up your paint knowledge. These tips will enhance your watercolor experiences and ensure that you get the most out of your watercolor budget. Better paint, better watercolor art!

how to use watercolor paint tubes
– Watercolor painting – source Canva

#1; Let’s start with why most professionals prefer tube paint over pans

The main reason for this is that you have more control over the paint. With tube paint, you can easily extract the exact amount of color you need, which is helpful when painting details or small areas. Tube paints are also less likely to dry out because they come in airtight containers. This means that your colors will stay fresh longer and you won’t have to waste any paint.

#2; How to properly open tube paint

Now that we know a little bit about why tube paint is preferred, let’s learn how to open them properly! There are a few things you can do to make sure your tubes don’t spill when you open them.

One trick is to hold the tube in one hand and use the other hand to twist the cap off. You can also use a knife to pry the cap off or cut it open. Just be careful not to spill any paint!

#3; Once you’ve opened the tube, how do you squeeze it without making a mess?

The key here is to avoid pre-squeezing the tubes. This often happens because the cap is on too tight, or you have a dirty cap and dried paint has sealed it. If the cap is too tight, you can try using needle nose pliers to loosen it. If there’s dried paint on the cap, you can clean it off with a brush or your finger.

#4; How much paint to use

Once the cap is loose, hold the tube in one hand and squeeze plenty of paint into the well, or on a mixing surface. A good rule of thumb is to squeeze out more than you think you need. I talked about why this is good in this article.

If the paint gobs up on the cap area, wipe it off. Better to do this now while it’s wet.

Open paint tubes
– Open paint tubes

Mixing watercolor paint
– Mixing watercolor paint

#5: Now we can discuss the best practices for mixing tube paint

Always pre-wet your brush. A dry brush doesn’t work well. Wet the brush by dipping it in the water then rubbing it against your palette. This will help to load the brush with paint and give you more control over how much color is applied.

Avoid over-mixing paint. This will break down the crystals and may cause them to lose color intensity. Also, avoid too much water. You don’t want your colors and wells to be flooded. This can ruin your ability to control colors and values.

#6; Why and how to use paint straight out of the tube

At times you may need an accent color, or want to charge a wash with thicker paint. In these cases, it’s best to use paint straight out of the tube.

To do this, simply remove the cap and squeeze the desired amount of paint onto your palette. You can also scrape some paint off onto a separate surface for later use. Just remember not to over-mix it! Avoid sticking your brush into the tubes. This could damage brushes and contaminate colors.

How to keep paint tubes moist
– Dried paint on palette

recovering dried paint
– Recovering dried paint

#7; How to keep paint moist while painting

If you are painting outdoors, in a dry environment, or for an extended period, paints could dry up. Keep a mister bottle with clean water to spritz your paints every so often. This will help keep them moist and workable.

#8; Tips for storing tubes when not using

If you’re not going to use the tube paint right away, it’s best to store them in a cool, dry place. You can also use a ziplock baggie. This is super-helpful if you are storing them away for longer periods of time. Don’t let the paints freeze. If you have a garage studio, bring them indoors and tuck them away in the closet.

#9; Recovering dried tube paint

If you’ve accidentally let your tubes of paint dry up, there is still hope! All is not lost. You can try adding a few drops of water and kneading the paint. This will help to rehydrate it and make it workable again.


Do you have any tips or tricks for using watercolor tube paint? Let us know in the comments below! Happy Painting! 🙂

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