EASY Watercolor Portrait

Easy Watercolor Portrait from www.dosmallthingswithlove.com

Hi!  Although it doesn’t look like it, this is a very easy watercolor portrait that ANYONE can do.  Seriously, you have to try it!

I don’t like to have favorites, but I think this just might be my all time FAVORITE project that I have ever done.  I feel this way for two reasons:  First of all, it is totally easy.  I have very limited skills when it comes to drawing anything realistic, especially portraits, and I was able to do this, so ANYONE can do this.  And secondly, this is a watercolor portrait of my godmother, Mary, who unfortunately, passed away from cancer when I was young.

Below is a picture the picture of Mary that has become almost iconic in our family.

I love this picture, and I have had it on display for several years.  She was my mom’s younger sister and passed away shortly after she was married and had her first baby.  Her death has long been a major tragedy for my family.  We think of Mary in March especially because her birthday was St. Patrick’s day.  We continue to celebrate the holiday for her! Because this picture is so important in our memory of my aunt, I used it in creating this portrait.

How to Create an EASY Watercolor Portrait

Supplies Needed:
Water Color Paper
Fine-tipped paint brush
Water Colors
Light box/Glass table lit from beneath


Easy Watercolor Portrait from www.dosmallthingswithlove.com

1. Scan your picture and upload it to a photo editing program.  I use the free version of Picmonkey.  Adjust the exposure and contrast of your picture until it is almost all black and white, no grey.  It takes a little bit of trial and error.  When done, print your picture at desired size.

2. Take a piece of watercolor paper and place it over the printed picture.  Tape in place.  Then, place both pieces of paper on a light table/overhead projector, or if you don’t have either of these, like me, use a glass table with bright lights placed beneath.  However you do it, you need to see that printed photo through the watercolor paper, which is heavy paper.  Then, paint on the art masking fluid to the white areas of the photo.  Make sure to get all the details of the eyes.  It is going to look funny at this stage–I thought mine was not going to turn out at all!

3.  When the art masking fluid is dry (wait 12 hours to be sure) pull out the watercolors and go to town!  Just so you know, my toddler did some of the painting at this stage.

4. And finally, the reveal!  When the watercolor is completely dry, rub the art masking fluid and pull it off.  See in the picture how it peals off?  Pretty cool, right?

And, ta da!

Easy Watercolor Portrait from www.dosmallthingswithlove.com

I love it!  I am planning on doing several more of these.  This one is a gift for my mother.  Mary, we miss you!

full tutorial for making watercolor portraits, the easy way!

Thanks for stopping by–and for sharing in the memory of my godmother with me!

I plan on using this method again because it is a really cool way to transfer an image.  Here are a few other projects I have done that transfer images in different ways:

Photo Transfer onto WOOD
Photo Transfer PILLOW
Photo Transfer Lenten PRAYER BAG


  1. Susan@Organized31 says:

    Nancy, your picture turned out beautifully! What a meaningful and beautiful gift for your mother. Your directions even made the project seem doable for a non-artist like me.

  2. This is such a cool tutorial! Yours turned out wonderful!

  3. Krista Low says:

    This is amazing. I just pinned this and I am anxious to try this out! What a fabulous idea. Thank you so much for a great tutorial!

  4. Lynn Nash says:

    This is great! I can’t wait to make portraits of my sons using this method. Thank you for sharing it and making the tutorial so easy to follow. Do you mind if I link my readers to it?

  5. Madalyn McArthur says:

    Wow! I love it! Watercolor is my favorite medium. Thank you for sharing!

  6. the cape on the corner says:

    wow, what a great idea to give the picture some new life.

  7. Jen @ de Jong Dream House says:

    This is so cool! I’m pinning it for the future. I love water color, but I have no technique. I’d love to do a silhouette of our son like this.

  8. Kelly {Sparkles and Shoes} says:

    This is so cool! I am sorry to hear about your loss but what a great way to remember her!

    Sparkles and Shoes
    My 1,000 Follower Giveaway!

  9. Wow! This is such a neat technique. I’m sorry for your loss. I lost my Godfather when I was young to cancer as well. But this is a lovely way to remember her beautiful smile!

    Bonny @ thedomesticatedprincess.com

  10. This is amazing! Good work!

    I found you over at Sumo’s Sweet Stuff Link Party.

    I’m having a giveaway over at my blog, so check it out!


  11. Tara @ Suburble says:

    Uhmmmmm… WOW! That is an incredible work of art! Also, what a meaningful gift.

    I think I may try my hand at this. Now I have to go searching through photos.

    Thank you for the great tutorial!


  12. Nancy I cannot even begin to say how much I love this. You said “easy” and I seriously thought – no way. No way could I do this. But… maybe?? The possibilities have me so excited!!

  13. Laura Cano says:

    This is beautiful! I can’t wait to try this for my mother!, My Dad passed away, so this will be perfect for her!!

  14. Wow! That is amazing! And what a sweet gift for your mom. I’m sure she will treasure it.

  15. PlayEat Grow says:

    This is so cool! I really, really, really want to try this. Gotta find that fluid!

  16. DomesticSuperhero.com says:

    Wow, this is really really really cool! I love how it turned out! I would love if you would come share this, or another project at my link party today! http://domesticsuperhero.com/2013/03/14/sharing-with-domestic-superhero-thursday-link-party-2/ Hope to see you!

  17. Jeannie Clemens says:

    A sweet tribute toyour aunt.

  18. Lauren Lanker says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about this tragic story, but it seems you’ve found a wonderful way to pay homage to her memory. This turned out BEAUTIFULLY! And I’m tempted to try this technique myself. Pinning!

  19. What a beautiful tribute to both your Aunt and your Mother. It is something I will definitely try. God bless you and your family.

  20. Tina Pippo says:

    Wonderful tutorial! I loved the outcome!
    Great post!! I included it in my post Βόλτα στη Γειτονιά #26 🙂
    Have a great week!!

  21. bethany says:

    What a nifty idea. It looks wonderful.

  22. ibatxrn says:

    Wow! How cool is this? Mary was such a vibrant young woman with such a beautiful smile!! It made an awesome watercolor pic! I’m so sorry she was taken so young. Thanks for a wonderful idea!

  23. "Cottage By The Sea" says:

    This is FANTASTIC! I can’t wait to try it, I even have all the supplies on hand. If mine turns out half as good as yours I’ll be happy. I’m going to PIN this right away. Thanks!

  24. Frauline says:

    Nancy, I came upon your site at Pinterest. This looks like a great craft and such a wonderful keepsake! I’m a crafter and I am always looking to try interesting things (also, ones that involve some sort of painting). I was extremely touched by how this craft came about with regard to your Godmother, Mary. I actually had tears in my eyes when I read what happened. Such a beautiful woman and a terrible loss. However, you somehow keep her memory alive and that is wonderful. I’m sure many of us can relate to loss of a loved one (I know I have). May God Bless you and your family. I can’t wait to try this great craft! Many regards… and Thank you!

  25. Lateral Damage says:

    Cool effect! I’ve used masking fluid before though, you don’t need to wait 12h, 15mins is more than enough! Just don’t put on a massive load and it will dry super quick 🙂

  26. Did you use colorless art masking fluid or pigmented?

  27. Love this! I’m pinning it and going to try one with a pic of my grandmother who passed away. Beautiful! Visiting from sits
    Jess recently posted…Idol Finale 2014My Profile

  28. Nancy, I love this tutorial. It is something I’d love to do. I pinned it. We were both on the ahalogy Facebook group at the same time! 🙂 Linda

  29. Annette Cowgill Beachy says:

    I just got done making a lovely Graduation gift of one of a kind! Thanks for your simple tutorial!
    I made a thin layer of the Masking Fluid and it dried really fast. Within 2 hrs my project was finished
    and matted on foam board for framing! So personal! Love it!

  30. Great Idea!!! Love it! patsy
    patsy recently posted…Paint Party Friday: Live By Faith!My Profile

  31. Thanks for the inspiration! I love watercolor – and portraits – but don’t always have a ton of time. This is a sweet shortcut! In a pinch: I’ve seen tutorials on Pinterest where a white crayon is used as the resist. : )

  32. I’m insanely in love with this idea! Thank you so much for the brilliant idea. I can’t wait to try this.

    I’m sorry that Mary passed away so young, that is a terrible loss. This is a beautiful way to remember her.

  33. Great tutorial!tahnks and Happy holidays

  34. Linda Singer says:


  35. STACEY K says:


  36. Anita Honey-Dunbar says:

    thank you so much for the tutorial. I did one of my daughter and I think it came out great!

  37. I am a non-artist and am now on my way to Michaels to purchase the supplies. I love this project…thank you for sharing.

  38. ANA GOMEZ-PAVON says:

    Me gusta mucho. Seguro que a tu tia le encantaría.


  1. […] first saw the technique here and thought I would give it a shot. I did try it a couple of other times before this project, one […]

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