Playing with the interaction between water and ink

Hi Messians,

I have a quick inky tutorial to share with you today. A few weeks ago I posted the image below on instagram and got a few comments asking how I had created the page on the right. It’s crazy easy and I’ll explain it here!


It is essentially, ink splattered onto water. I’m sure this is a technique that some of you know already but the image above was the first time I had tried it. All you need to do is wet your paper with some water and then quickly (before it becomes dry!) splatter ink over the top. Where the paper is wet, the ink will disperse beautifully and where the paper is dry, you will get the normal ink spill effect. It is the difference between the two that makes for such an interesting end result. I love it because it is different every time and it allows you to make patterns in an unusual way. You can dictate your burst inky bits by how you put the water onto the page. My examples below play around with this idea.



I started by painting thick stripes onto plain paper. I then chose 3 ink colours (blue, brown and black) and using a smaller paintbrush then I had used to draw the stripes, flicked the inks in turn onto the paper. I focused on the wet parts of the paper as that is where the effect will come from.




This time, I splattered the water on and then the ink using the same method and brush. This gives some blurred parts to what you would normally see from just flicking the ink onto dry paper. you can build up your layers of ink until you’re happy – being a more-is-more kind of artist, I put in quite a few layers! jc-inky-tutorial-6



I painted short dash patterns with my water before building up layers of ink.

jc-inky-tutorial-9 jc-inky-tutorial-10



I love this version because you can really see what the water pattern was before the addition of ink. That’s mainly down to the water being a little muddy but I think it adds something!


All over


My favorite result from this tutorial, making your entire page wet and then splattering ink.


I’d love to see any versions that you guys create from this!


Julia is a British designer and creative enthusiast. She loves to express herself through shape, colour and pattern – living by the ethos of more is more!


  1. Meghan Deinhard

    Wonderful Jules! I am out of budget to buy inks tho, So, I am going to try this with watercolor … what’s to lose right? Thank you for such wonderful inspiration always.

    • Lauren Hooper


      • julia Thomas

        Yes Meghan & Lauren!!!!!!!!!!! <3

  2. Sarah Fuchs

    You make me want to buy all the inks, Julia.

    • julia Thomas

      Happy to enable this behaviour 😉

  3. Sasha Zinevych

    Oh, Jules! I’ve been dying to see some ink tutorials from you! How amazing! <3

    • julia Thomas

      <3 Thanks Sasha!

    • julia Thomas

      Thank you Emily! <3

    • julia Thomas

      Lauren I love you <3

  4. Melody Willoughby

    Just bought new inks. Can’t wait to play with these techniques!

    • julia Thomas

      Yey! Tag me in anything you share Melody, I can’t wait to see!!!

  5. Gilly Welch

    Now going to go and play…thanks!

    • julia Thomas


  6. Carol Phelps

    Inspirational….don’t have manny inks but will definitely give this a try! Thank you!

    • julia Thomas

      You only need one to get the effect.. also, what an excuse to get more?! 😉 Can’t wait to see what you make! 🙂

  7. Vanessa Cabrera

    I also did it with watercolors. Thanks for this! I usually cover my whole page when I am doing a background. This made me go outside of my comfort zone and will start doing this as background. Don’t know why white space was “incorrect” to me! LOL

    • julia Thomas