Difference Between Watercolor And Poster Colour – Scooboo.in

difference between watercolor and poster colour

Watercolor and poster color are two popular mediums in the realm of painting, each with its own unique characteristics and applications. While they share some similarities, they also have distinct differences that set them apart in terms of composition, techniques, and effects. In this comprehensive exploration, we’ll delve into the disparities between watercolor and poster color, examining their properties, uses, and notable distinctions.

Introduction to Watercolor and Poster Colour:


Watercolor is a versatile and transparent painting medium consisting of pigments suspended in a water-based solution. It is renowned for its luminosity, fluidity, and ability to create delicate washes and intricate details. Watercolor paintings often showcase a range of transparent and translucent effects, allowing light to penetrate the layers of pigment for a radiant appearance. Artists typically use watercolor on paper, utilizing techniques such as wet-on-wet, wet-on-dry, and glazing to achieve various textures and effects.

Poster Colour:

Poster color, also known as gouache, is an opaque water-based paint characterized by its vivid hues and matte finish. Unlike watercolor, poster color contains higher concentrations of pigment and opaque additives, resulting in vibrant and opaque layers of paint. It is favored for its versatility and ability to cover large areas with rich, flat color. Poster color can be applied on a variety of surfaces, including paper, cardboard, wood, and fabric, making it a popular choice for posters, illustrations, and decorative art.

Exploring the Differences:


  • Watercolor: Watercolor paints consist of finely ground pigments suspended in a water-soluble binder, typically gum arabic. This composition allows for transparent and translucent layers of color, as the pigment particles are not fully opaque.
  • Poster Colour: Poster color contains a higher concentration of pigments compared to watercolor, along with additives such as chalk or white pigment to achieve opacity. The addition of these opaque agents results in a paint that covers surfaces more effectively, producing solid, opaque layers of color.

Transparency vs. Opacity:

  • Watercolor: Watercolor is renowned for its transparency, allowing light to pass through the layers of pigment and reflect off the surface of the paper. This transparency creates luminous washes and subtle color blends, ideal for capturing delicate details and creating depth in paintings.
  • Poster Colour: In contrast, poster color is opaque, meaning it blocks light from passing through the paint layers. This opacity results in solid, flat areas of color without visible undertones or translucency. Poster color is valued for its ability to provide bold, opaque coverage, making it suitable for graphic design, illustration, and poster art.

Application and Techniques:

  • Watercolor: Artists typically apply watercolor using brushes on paper, utilizing techniques such as washes, glazing, and wet-on-wet to achieve various effects. Watercolor techniques often involve building up layers of transparent color to create depth and dimension in paintings.
  • Poster Colour: Poster color can be applied with brushes, sponges, or even airbrushes on a variety of surfaces, including paper, cardboard, wood, and fabric. Its opaque nature allows for precise detailing and solid color coverage, making it suitable for bold, graphic compositions and decorative art.

Surface and Substrate:

  • Watercolor: Watercolor is primarily used on absorbent surfaces such as watercolor paper, which allows the paint to spread and blend smoothly. The texture and weight of the paper can affect the appearance and behavior of watercolor, with heavier papers typically accommodating more water and washes.
  • Poster Colour: Poster color can be applied to a range of surfaces, including paper, cardboard, wood, and fabric. Unlike watercolor, which relies on absorbent surfaces for blending and layering, poster color adheres well to non-absorbent surfaces, producing solid, opaque coverage.

Color Mixing and Palette:

  • Watercolor: Watercolor paints are available in a wide range of transparent hues, which can be mixed on a palette to create an extensive range of colors and shades. Artists often rely on the transparency of watercolor to achieve subtle color blends and transitions in their paintings.
  • Poster Colour: Poster color is available in vibrant, opaque hues that can be mixed on a palette to create custom colors. Due to its opacity, poster color produces solid, flat areas of color when mixed, without the translucency characteristic of watercolor.

Drying Time and Permanence:

  • Watercolor: Watercolor dries relatively quickly due to its water-based composition, allowing artists to layer colors and techniques without extended drying times. Watercolor paintings can be prone to fading if exposed to prolonged sunlight, although archival-quality pigments offer greater lightfastness.
  • Poster Colour: Poster color dries to a matte finish, with drying times varying depending on factors such as humidity and application thickness. Once dry, poster color forms a durable, waterproof layer that is less susceptible to fading compared to watercolor.


In conclusion, watercolor and poster color are distinct painting mediums with unique characteristics and applications. While watercolor is prized for its transparency, luminosity, and subtle blending effects, poster color offers bold, opaque coverage and versatility on a variety of surfaces. Whether creating delicate landscapes with watercolor or vibrant posters with poster color, artists can harness the unique properties of each medium to express their creativity and bring their artistic visions to life.

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