© John Salmon.

Tutorial 4. Hard and Soft Edged Lines.

Another interesting technique you can do with the charger is a hard and soft line effect. This technique is similar to the previous ones but you use less paint by tip-charging the brush with a tiny amount of paint. You paint a line, then it's a simple case of root-charging the brush and painting overlapping strokes and repeating this until you are painting with clean water once again but all the time, you are painting further away from your original line. This is similar to a shape gradation, but instead of a shape you are gradating a line. I hope this makes sense. It is much easier to do than describe how to do it.


  • Charger

  • No. 4 ProArte Connoisseur Series 100 Watercolour brush

  • 140lb Bockingford Watercolour Paper

  • Paynes Grey Watercolour Paint pan

  • The Hard and Soft Edged Lines

  • 1. Rinse the brush and wipe on tissue with a twisting action.

  • 2. Root-charge the brush. (Just touch the root of the brush on the charging cradle momentarily with a twisting action).

  • 3. Stroke the brush tip across the paint pan 1 or 2 times to tip-charge the brush. I very often just pick up a little bit of dried paint from my mixing palette wells.

  • 4. Root-charge the brush.

  • 5. Paint a short line approx 1.5 inches long.

  • 6. Root-charge the brush.

  • 7. Paint another line but slightly overlapping the previous one.

  • 8. Continue to charge and paint with overlapping lines until you are painting with clean water.

  • The paper was slightly damp when I painted these.

    This can be quite a delicate operation if you are painting on a small scale. You may find the following information useful. If, after painting the first line, you feel the brush has too much paint, tip-discharge the brush then root-charge the brush again and continue painting. You may have to do this a few times for your first few attempts until practice makes perfect. Also, if you are only painting a short line, you may find that you will only need to root-charge the brush on every second line that you paint. The first line was painted with the brush held almost upright. The following strokes were painted with the brush held at approximately 45 degrees to the paper surface.

    As you will see, this hard and soft line technique is just a few strokes away from becoming a technique ideal for painting 3D shapes. A flower petal can be created very easily, and an egg can be created from an ovoid shaped line and just filling in to the middle with gradated strokes.

    Here is an example of some of the techniques that I have covered so far.

    Note the blue sky is darker on the left and gradates to a lighter blue as it makes its way across to the right side of the painting. This is a typical example of a gradated complex shape. There are also gradated shapes with hard and soft edged lines used in the clouds.

    The charger enables you to make very delicate gradations which do not show up very well on the computer screen.

    Negative Organo-abstraction.
    7.5 x 10.5 inches.

    This is another example of what can be achieved using these techniques.

    This was painted with a No. 6 brush for the larger shapes and a No. 4 for the smaller shapes. Only the tiniest amount of paint was used for each gradated shape and line.

    There is a lot of scope here for developing this technique for those of us who enjoy painting floral subjects.