Adding Watercolor to Collagraph Prints

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Can You add Watercolor to Collagraph Prints?

Yes, you can, as long as the ink you used to print your collagraph dries permanent, and the paper you printed it on can handle wet media. (Here’s a post that covers the caveats of wet media on ink and printmaking papers.) (You can test a small swatch of one of your prints.)

When you print a collagraph intaglio style, you can control the amount of ink covering your paper. Less ink equals more room for watercolors.

In the collagraph print in this post, you’ll see that ink is left along the curbs and crevices of the design – but most is wiped away to leave the paper clear for some watercolor fun after the ink dries.

Building the collagraph plate using mat board, cut-out construction paper and acrylic gloss medium.

Building a Collagraph Plate

This collagraph plate was made with mat board and construction paper. You can get mat board online, or ask your local frame shop if you can collect a handful of cut outs from their recycling bin.

The construction paper is kid-grade. If you have kids, or grandkids, you can sneak into their art supplies and “borrow” some colored construction paper. 🙂

While sealing the plate with acrylic gloss varnish, take the opportunity to incise some lines into the wet-construction paper with a blade. I added the suggestion of floor tiles with a ruler and an exact knife on this plate while the medium was still wet.\\
making a collagraph plate
After the acrylic gloss medium was dry, I applied intaglio printmaking ink to the plate and started wiping the surface intaglio style.
After a trip through the press against good printmaking paper, I’m pulling the collagraph print
a collagraph print next to the plate
The collagraph print on the left and the plate on the right. Now the plate can be re-inked and wiped, and printed again.
After the ink was dry, I took advantage of the abundant, exposed paper and added watercolors to the print.
Morocco 6.8 x 4.7 Collagraph Print with watercolor Edition of 10 (E.V.)

Give Your Old Prints New Life with Watercolors

If you’ve pulled prints and found them a little short of your expectations, pull them out for a little watercolor fun.

And if you know the paper you printed on can’t handle wet media, or your inks are water-soluble even after they dry, apply colored pencil to your collagraph print (<–see this example), or pastels (oil or chalk) instead.

If you didn’t like your old, stuffed in a cupboard prints much, this is an especially freeing exercise, because you have nothing to lose if the additional media misses the mark.

Tell yourself to have fun, and just experiment. Listen to an audiobook (I’m listening to this one right now), or a podcast (this is a printmaking podcast), or some music and have at it!

Thanks for stopping by and I’ll see you in the next post!


P.S. On the subject of printmaking inspiration, this is my favorite printmaking magazine on the planet – Pressing Matters.

If you need some tips on wiping ink from your collagraph plate, take a look at this inking and wiping tutorial video. (Click the image.)

Collagraph Print Supplies

(Note: These links may include affiliates - which means if you make a purchase, I receive a wee commission. Using these links does not affect the price you would otherwise pay. This is a list of the supplies I use when making a Collagraph plate and print.)

Choose a good reference photo
(select something with simple lines and curves. Example: a coffee cup with a few stems of daisies would work well... but a cut-crystal vase of densely petaled roses might be a bit too much to carve.) :)

Standard Framing Mat Board (also called mount board)

Construction Paper


X-Acto knives:
Standard Xacto knife

Retractable #9 (tiny) blade knife

Fiskars Swivel Tip Tiny Finger Knife

Fiskars Fingertip Craft Knife (uses standard #11 blades)

Rubber Pencil Grip (these are very helpful if your hands get tender while gripping)

Liquitex High Gloss Varnish to seal your mat board plate

Paint Brushes to ink the plate

Rubber Gloves (always wear them while handling printmaking inks and modifiers)

Akua Ink starter set

Akua Paynes Gray Intaglio Ink

Akua Graphite Intaglio Ink

Akua MagMix (modifier to thicken the ink)

Akua Transparent Base (this makes beautiful, transparent ink colors)

storage jars for leftover ink

BFK Rives paper Heavier Weight (for use with a press)

BFK Rives paper (lightweight) for use with hand rub/transfer
(*recommended if you plan to add other media*)

Kozo Mulberry paper (for hand rub/transfer, and no watercolor or wet media on the print, but works well if you want to add colored pencil)

Tarlatan cloth for wiping the plate

Pointed Cotton Swabs

Self Healing Cutting Mat

Colored Pencil (optional)


Non-skid shelf liner to secure your plate while drawing, cutting and then inking and wiping

metal ruler with cork back for paper tearing

spatula for mixing/laying out ink

Mylar sheets (tape one down to mix ink on, if you don't have a piece of glass or plexiglass to use as a slab)

Takach etching press

If you need a printable list of supplies you can download, with links to resources I've found online, here's one.
a tuxedo cat with golden eyes inviting you to get back into making art
Click the kitty to take a free mini course to get you back to your art supplies….

Art Quote

One day work is hard, and another day it is easy; but if I had waited for inspiration I am afraid I should have done nothing. The miner does not sit at the top of the shaft waiting for the coal to come bubbling up to the surface. One must go deep down, and work out every vein carefully.

Arthur Sullivan

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4 thoughts on “Adding Watercolor to Collagraph Prints”

  1. Cryselda Venter

    Hi Belinda , I am a Visual Artist and Printmaker from South Africa. I like to add more colour to my collographs, by just inking ( not watercolour, pastel or poli crayons) any sugesstions?
    Would it just be alla popee?

    1. Hello Cryselda,
      You have many options with collagraphs: You can hand-color the plate for an ‘a la poupee’ print, or you can create additional plates for particular colors, and print them in layers on your paper. You can also create additional collagraph plates, and then slice them into shapes and ink them separately – and then re-assemble the shapes before laying your paper over the inked ‘jig saw’ plate to print. You can also mix and match your printmaking, and use a woodcut or a linocut to lay down blocks of color, and then align and print your collagraph over that. Many, many ways to print color. 🙂

  2. The collograph prints have been lovely, and it looks like you’re having so much fun with the process. I love the textures!

  3. This is stunning, Belinda. All your coolographs have just been wonderful and, again, I appreciate the step-by-step photos; thanks!

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