How To Mix Pastel Colors Using Watercolor

If you’ve ever wondered about how to make pastel colors using watercolors, I’m sharing all about it in this blog post.

You might have heard that when painting with watercolors, white is not used. So if that’s the case…how do you make pastel colors, right?

Well, first off let me say that I don’t know if there is a hard and fast “rule” that you never use white when watercoloring. I think that’s up to you as the artist and what your own aesthetic preferences are. I respect the traditionalists who paint with only primary colors and never use white (not easy!) but I also think there’s something to be said for those who want to express themselves creatively and do whatever makes them happy!

My personal preference for watercolors is not to use white when mixing. The only time I will use white is for finishing touches and accents after the painting has dried. I’ll get into why I don’t like mixing white into my paints later on in this post.


Now, let’s go over how to make pastel colors - it’s crazy simple. Are you ready?

Step 1:

Find a color or mix up a color that is similar to the color you’re trying to find except in a pastel version. If you want a pastel pink start with either a magenta or red. If you want a pastel blue, start with a darker blue.

Step 2:

Use a lot of water and VERY little paint. Basically you are using a super diluted version of your starting paint color.

Step 3:

Test it on your paper by painting a swatch. Is it pastel enough for you? If not, just add more water.


In watercolors, mixing pastels is diluting a color with water so that you are left with a very light version. The key is finding the right color to start with.


Your results (because this is watercolor) are going to be transparent which is what makes it so beautiful - in my opinion.

Some people like the opaque “chalky” look of pastels which you can definitely create by mixing white watercolor or white gouache paint to other colors. There are also many brands that have pastel colors you can purchase instead of mixing yourself.

If you’d like to see a video demonstration of how to mix pastel colors using watercolors along with what it looks like to mix white gouache into watercolors, check out the video I created below:


As always, thank you for reading and watching. If you liked this post and video, I’d love for you to share, subscribe, or let me know in the comments below!

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