Granulation medium is a valuable addition to a watercolour artist’s toolkit. There is a prodigious range of granulating paints available from art supply manufacturers these days. Daniel Smith Watercolours are best known for their innovative range of mineral-based granulating colours. But sometimes an artist wants to use a particular colour that just doesn’t have that particular gorgeous textured quality.

These days I tend towards using granulating paints. However, I’ve used the medium in paintings from time to time, and I do like the effects it creates. Every pigment is slightly different which produces varying results. Not only that, the way the mediums and paints are applied to the paper will change the final effect to some extent. 

Some years ago, I wanted to find out a bit more about how to use a granulation medium in different ways, so I did a small experiment in my notebook. I thought it was worth sharing here.

My Granulation Medium exploration

I selected a colour that doesn’t granulate naturally: Winsor violet fitted the bill – non-granulating and good strong colour. I then used the medium with it in four different ways to see what results I would get.

Granulation medium creates flocculation in the paint – where the particles of paint clump together to form visible granules.

Here are my results:

  • The first swatch is the Winsor violet with no granulation medium at all: my control patch.
  • In the second patch I applied the paint to the paper. I dropped in granulation medium while the paint was still wet.
  • My third attempt was the opposite. I painted granulation pigment onto the paper, and while it was still wet, dropped the paint into it. (This is the recommended method)
  • In the fourth and final test, I mixed paint and granulation medium in the palette. I suspect I could have had different results here with more granulation medium. I expected more of a reaction in this one.  

Conclusion: The second test revealed the strongest granulating effect. This is the one where paint was applied to the paper, and granulation medium dropped into it.  However, using the granulation medium first, and then dropping in pigment also created some changes in texture. I think this technique could be worth further experimentation. 

Mastering a medium takes some time so this sort of testing, while it may seem very basic, is valuable and leads on to other ideas. A final word of advice: be generous with quantities. You get best effects with more concentrated pigment and a good dash of the medium.

Granulation medium can be very effective in the right places. But as always, judgment and experience are the most important elements for success.