How to Use Salt to Create Snowflakes in Watercolor

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When you're painting a scene in which it's snowing, it's impossible to leave hundreds of tiny specks of white across your painting. The secret is to take the salt from your kitchen and use it in your painting.

Create a Watercolor Winter Wonderland

  1. Have some table or crushed salt to hand as you need to sprinkle it onto a wet wash to create snowflakes in your painting. The salt soaks up the paint, creating a little star around each bit of salt.
  2. Apply the wash or scene for your snowflakes scene. Put the painting down flat. Watch it drying, and just before it loses its shine, sprinkle on the salt.
  3. Leave it flat to dry thoroughly. Be patient! When it's completely dry, brush the salt off with your hand or a clean, dry brush.
  4. When you apply the salt is crucial. If the wash is too wet, the salt will absorb too much paint and melt, creating snowflakes that are too big.
  5. If the wash is too dry, the salt won't absorb enough paint and you won't get any snowflakes.
  6. Don't use too much salt as it ruins the delicacy of this effect, and don't try to arrange the grains of salt. Snowflakes should be random.
  7. To create a blizzard, tip the painting a little so the paint and salt slide to one side.
  8. Note: The use of salt may influence the pH of the paper, and thus its longevity or archival properties, so try to keep the time the salt is on the paper to a minimum.


  1. Crushed or ground salt gives better results than table salt because it's coarser.
  2. This technique doesn't work very well on paint that has dried and been re-wet.
  3. Salt can be used in the same way to create a starry sky on a dark wash or give texture to lichen-covered walls or rocks.