DIY Dry Watercolor Paints and Liquid Watercolors

Here’s a fun project to do with the kids — make your own watercolor paints!

Homemade wet or dry watercolor paints

We’ve used this DIY watercolor recipe for years around here to make our own wet or dry watercolor paints.

Here’s a painting that our daughter Rhiannon made with a set of watercolor paints that she made many years ago.

Not only can you create all sorts of color combinations, but it can be used wet as liquid watercolor or left for a day to dry into watercolor cakes.

Make your own wet or dry watercolor paints

These make wonderful little gifts, and kids love anything that involves mixing and experimenting.

Here’s the easy recipe.

Homemade Liquid Watercolors or Dry Watercolor Paints


  • 3 Tbs. baking soda
  • 3 Tbs. corn starch
  • 3 Tbs. white vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tsp light corn syrup
  • food coloring (paste is best)
  • containers (such as bottle caps or a weekly pill box)


1. Mix vinegar, baking soda, corn starch and corn syrup together in a small bowl.

2. Divide the mixture into several small plastic bottle caps or other containers.

3. Add six to eight drops of food coloring to each tub or lid then mix.  The more you add, the brighter the watercolors will be.

4. Use your paints as they are or let them dry into hard cakes of paint. If you use them while they’re dry, be sure to wet the paintbrush before painting.


*  Use paste food coloring if you want especially vivid colors and lots of color choices. You can find these online or in craft stores and supermarkets in the cake decorating section.  Some oil based food coloring will not stir in well, but it will blend perfectly by the time it’s dry.

*  Take the opportunity to teach little ones about color mixing.  We’ve made purple, green and orange and then gone a step further to make mixtures like red-violet and blue-green by adding one part of one primary color to two parts of another.  Mix all three primary colors to make brown.

*  Get creative about containers for these.  You can make a larger batch and make the paints in an old ice cube tray.  Other possible containers are empty watercolor pans and pill boxes (the kind with a compartment for each day of the week).  You can also use empty makeup containers from things like eye shadow.  The sky is the limit!  If you want to make a lot of kits or you want to make yours extra special, you can also buy packs of empty paint palettes very inexpensively.

Make your own homemade liquid watercolors or watercolor paints

*  These take a long time to dry!  Even in small lids it can take about 24 hours.  They are also fun to use wet, though.

*  If you make them in bottle caps, you can store the dry paints in a plastic baggie or even tie a few of them in a small cloth with a ribbon as a sweet gift.

Note:  After using this widely-circulated recipe for years, I recently located the source: The Ultimate Book of Kid Concoctions: More Than 65 Wacky, Wild, & Crazy Concoctions, by John E. Thomas and Danita Thomas.  The book is out of print but inexpensive to buy used.  I located a copy and highly recommend it!


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Post Author: A Magical Homeschool

2 thoughts on “DIY Dry Watercolor Paints and Liquid Watercolors

  • Margie

    (November 3, 2018 - 5:20 pm)

    These look like so much fun! Can’t wait to try them.

    • A Magical Homeschool

      (November 3, 2018 - 9:02 pm)

      They are so fun and easy! Have fun. 🙂

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