Masking and resist techniques

Hey Y’all, Katie here! For today’s tutorial I wanted to share a few different techniques for doing watercolor resists and masking with with a variety of supplies. Masking is a technique to preserve white areas while painting over sections and can be easier than just trying to paint around it with a paint brush and it can add some contrast to you page. Masking can be a really fun way to add visual texture and contrast to your pages and watercolors are really great to experiment with, there are so many different mediums that it will resist! Most of these have the same instructions: apply medium, let dry, apply watercolors. So I don’t get too technical when explaining them because they’re all so easy to do! You can apply most of these onto plain white paper, patterned paper or over top of a previous watercolor wash.


These are the supplies I’m using in these techniques:

  • Watercolors
  • Washi Tape
  • Oil Pastels
  • Crayons
  • Liquid Glue
  • Glue Pen
  • Gel Medium
  • Masking Fluid

Masking/Resist Techniques to try

Washi Tape:

This is probably the easiest masking technique to do, and it will give you some really crisp, clean lines!

  1. Apply the tape in a pattern.
  2. Brush a wash of watercolor over top of the tape.
  3. Once the watercolor wash has dried, remove the tape!


Everyone has crayons in their supply stash, right? I personally love using a white crayon, but obviously any color will work.

  1. Draw/doodle/write with crayons. I recommend pressing down a bit on the harder side, to make sure you get a good bit of the wax onto the paper.
  2. Do a wash of paint over top. Let dry.

Oil Pastels

These are just like the crayons, only I find they work even better!

  1. Draw/doodle/write with oil pastels.
  2. Do a wash of paint over top. Let dry.

Liquid Glue

Did you know that watercolors will resist dried glue? They do! I used Tombow’s MONO Aqua Liquid Glue and their MONO Glue Pen for this, but it works with any white glue (at least all that I’ve tried!!), Like Elmers, or other liquid glues.

  1. Draw or write with the glue and let it dry completely. You could write your journaling with a glue pen, or just a fine tipped bottle, or draw patterns, whatever you like.
  2. Once the glue is dry, paint over it with watercolors.

Gel Medium

Watercolors will resist dry gel medium, so this can be a really great medium to do a stencil resist with.

  1. Apply gel medium to your page, either with a brush, or through a stencil.
  2. Let dry completely.
  3. Paint over with watercolors.

Masking Fluid

Masking Fluid or “liquid frisket” is a fun way to do masking and a more “professional” medium. It’s actually kind of stinky (it smells like old socks to me), and can really ruin a paint brush, but it can also be really awesome. I like to use a silicone brush with the masking fluid. You can use a regular paint brush, but I would have one dedicated only for masking fluid as it will never paint the same again. I recommend having a jar of water to dip your brush in a lot to try and clean off any of the masking fluid that may be starting to dry on it. If you’re working over top of a previous watercolor wash, rather than just white paper, you want to make sure the paint is completely dry before adding the masking fluid on top. Otherwise the masking fluid will stick into the wet paint below and and will tear the paper when you try to remove it.

  1. Brush masking fluid into a pattern, shapes, etc. Let dry completely.
  2. Paint watercolor over top of the paper and masking fluid, let it dry. I like to do a darker, contrasting color from what is underneath so that pattern shows really well.
  3. Once the paint is dry, remove the masking fluid. I find it easiest to just rub it with your finger, but you can also rub at it lightly with an eraser.


I considered writing this whole post on tips for working with masking fluid, but I know not everyone owns this medium and I want to showcase techniques that anyone can put to use! I created this page showcasing what you can do with a few of these techniques!

(I did make the mistake on the page above of not waiting for paint to completely dry before adding the masking fluid, and it stuck to the security envelope. You can see above that it peeled away the top layer of paper. I’m happy with the finished look though!)


Katie is an Artist located in Washington, USA. She loves anything and everything crafty- from scrapbooking and art journaling, to drawing, to quilting. Katie is constantly inspired by nature, outer space, and colors.


  1. Vanessa Oliver-lloyd

    these are so cool! Finally a use for those discarded crayons 🙂

  2. Hannah Sewell

    I LOVE how this community really encourages using supplies that you already have on hand. I think in art journaling you can really drown in supplies and creativity can be stifled as a result. Thanks for keeping it real!!!

  3. Charlotte Erichsen

    Great fun techniques, Katie! Reminded me of how we used white candles in kindergarden to make “invisible” drawings. Just tried it in my art journal again. Thanks for stirring up that little memory 🙂

  4. Ashley Rodgers

    So fun, Katie! I don’t have masking fluid on hand, so I’m glad you shared a few alternative techniques. Can’t wait to try them out.

  5. Laura Rahuba

    Rubber cement works similar to the masking fluid, only with less control/precision. It’s fun if you want to make squiggly lines.

  6. karen davis

    That was great fun…. I played with crayons, oil pastels, washi tape and masking tape and masking fluid.

    I love the variety you shared 🙂

    Thanks for the reminder about using an old brush…. mine ended up in the bin after the masking fluid page!

  7. Sasha Zinevych

    You are magic, Katie! You know so many cool things about art! <3 I am off to try my glue as a masking fluid!

  8. Lea Betty


  9. Clare Davis Etheridge

    I didn’t know that glue and gel medium would work well like this, I will be giving this a try. Sometimes I have bad luck with tape or masking fluid where they pull off the top layer of paper…. I should test before I guess! Thanks for the great ideas.

  10. Elizabeth D.

    I absolutely love how you pulled all these techniques together — what a stunning page! You really are the master of beautifully layered pages.

  11. Sherry-Lynn Agcanas-Wolf

    I cleared out the egg decorating sales rack at my local big box store so I could get my hands on the ‘magic crayon’. The crayon is actually a clear crayon to write on eggs before you dye them. I found they work well as a resist in art journaling work. Of course, a white crayon or any crayon would work as well – as Katie so awesomely showed us! Thanks for the great ideas on resists!

  12. julia Thomas

    Such cool ideas! I love your supply list infographic too!

  13. Chris Silker

    Lots of great ideas that I’m looking forward to trying (or trying again)! Some other kinds of resists I like are India inks (esp white on a white page), clear gel pens, and gesso through a stencil (clear, black, or white all give cool effects – especially over a painted page).

Action Steps


Try out 1 of these techniques! Even if you don’t have masking fluid, try the crayons! or the tape resist and see what patterns you can come up with.