How can you make watercolor dry faster?

Watercolor paintings take a lot of time to create, since you have to wait for each layer to dry before painting the next one. Is there a way to make watercolor dry faster?

Wind and hot air help watercolor dry faster since they help the water evaporate and therefore dry up the paint. Hence, a blow dryer set at the lowest setting could be used to speed up the drying process. Be careful not to spread the paint, so only blow dry from a 90° angle.

watercolor painting teacher and student

What is the best way to dry a watercolor painting?

Blow drying a watercolor painting dry is probably the fastest way to make it dry. A blow dryer can dry a watercolor painting in less than a minute due to the heat and wind it generates.

Still, I wouldn’t consider it the best option. Blowing dry a painting is better suited to acrylic and oil paintings. They can withstand the wind and won’t flow.

Conversely, watercolors are very light weight, since they are mostly made up of water and pigments. Thus, blow drying it will almost always make the paint flow.

I will give you some tips on how to prevent that from happening in the following section, but I still don’t think it’s the best way to dry a watercolor painting.

Simply put: Don’t do anything. Let it dry on its own. 

By waiting, you won’t be able to mess anything up. 

Secondly, it has some other benefits, which I will discuss in section 3.

Naturally, you need to make sure the temperature and humidity in your room are conducive to water sinking into the painting and drying.

Otherwise, you’ll just have a damp painting.

Now let’s look at some tips for blow drying.

On a side note: If you’d like to know how many layers a watercolor painting can handle, I would recommend reading this article.

What to watch out for when blow drying a watercolor painting

Blowing dry watercolor paintings requires extreme caution, as I’ve mentioned before.

If your paint hasn’t completely soaked in, holding your dryer at the wrong angle will cause the paint to flow in different directions.

Additionally, you should use the lowest setting as too much heat can make the paper brittle.

In order to prevent paint from being swept away too much, I also recommend keeping the blow dryer at least 25cm/10 inches away from the painting.

Also, it should always be at a 90° angle.

In other words, if you plan to use a blow dryer, keep the previous points in mind and use it only once the paint has already dried a bit.

You should also make sure that the air flow is pretty even.

You will create unwanted lines if you point at one part of the painting for too long.

If you were wondering whether watercolor paintings are able to absorb water from the air, you should read this article.

Why you should wait for the paint to dry

One of the things that makes watercolor painting so beautiful is that you actually have to wait for the paint to dry. You can’t skip ahead in time like you can when watching a video.

There is nothing else to do but wait. 

Furthermore, it allows you to step back from your painting and think about it. You can benefit greatly from observing your artwork from another perspective from time to time.

Try it out a few times while painting. Make sure you wait for the paint to dry without looking at your phone or being distracted in any other way.

Take a look at your work and see if there are any flaws you would like to change or fix.

Is laminating an option to preserve watercolor paintings? Find out here.

watercolor painting equipment on a table

How long does it take watercolor to dry?

When it comes to drying, watercolor is one of the fastest mediums.

An oil painting may take weeks to fully dry up and be ready to be varnished. Watercolors, on the other hand, dry up much faster.

Watercoloring is basically just applying water with pigments to a piece of paper, so it dries very quickly.

As soon as the water is dry and absorbed, the paint is also dry. 

Generally, it takes around 5-10 minutes for a layer of watercolor paint to fully dry. It may take longer if there is a thicker wash or a larger area with more water.

However, it shouldn’t take longer than 20 minutes, and that would be an extreme case if you used a lot of water. 

If you think your paint has dried, but you aren’t sure, you can gently tap your finger on it and feel for wetness, or you can just wait a few minutes until you are sure.

Over time, you will get a sense of how long it takes and when you can start painting again.

To learn more about watercolor painting and its in’s and out’s, you should check out How Proper Cleaning Can Make Watercolor Brushes Last a Lifetime and Can Watercolor Grow Mold?


Watercolors can be dried with a blow dryer at a distance of 25cm/10 inches at a 90° angle. In order to avoid creating unwanted lines, make sure the air is directed evenly at the paper. Wait for the water to soak in before blow drying so you don’t end up making the paint flow over the paper.

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