Watercolour Pixel Painting

It’s finally done!! After about 3 months of working on-and-off on my pixel painting, I am finally finished! I was really pretty proud of myself for finishing a project and having it turn out exactly how I wanted. I do still need to frame it but that can wait (framing ain’t cheap).

I found the inspiration for this project years ago from Whit & Whistle through pinterest. I had tried doing a small painting of a photo of some macarons that I took, but the painting didn’t translate very well when it was pixelated.

It wasn’t until about 3 months after we moved to this new place, that I realized that we needed something for our blank bathroom walls. I spent a while thinking about what to put up. As it turned out, just before my month off, a friend of mine asked me to recreate some watercolours for her, and immediately after those were done, I knew that I wanted to do a watercolour for our bathroom. I looked back through my Pinterest boards, saw the pixel painting, and knew that the painting would be the perfect thing to hang in the bathroom!

I won’t lie, it is pretty tedious, but I happen to be the kind of person who likes to do tedious things (see Rhubarb Lattice Tart) if the result is sure to be beautiful.

There is a whole tutorial on Whit & Whistle’s website, which I followed pretty closely. There is definitely some truth to finding the right picture that will translate well into pixels. I played around with several from my trip to Italy, and eventually settled on a shot from Manarola in Cinque Terre. The colours of the water were the perfect turquoise to match my bathroom decor.


Once I had my shot, I decided how big I wanted to make it (11.5″ x 14.5″), and how much white space I wanted on my paper (about a 2″ border). I then drew a rectangle for the border filled it in with vertical and then horizontal lines to form tiny perfect squares. One thing that I did do differently was to draw in watercolour pencil crayon - that way, the pigment will blend right into the paint and you won’t be able to see any pencil lines. I chose a teal blue colour so that it would blend in with the water and a light yellow colour for the beige portions of the painting. I also numbered my paper and the image on the screen because my painting was pretty big and I didn’t want to mess up the colours.


Then it was time to start painting. Another great tip from Whit & Whistle was to paint every other square. This definitely helped because then the colours wouldn’t run together, and you’re able to keep the squares intact and looking like pixels. I used a rather large palette and had about 15-20 colours on the go while I was painting. The great thing about watercolours is that if I got bored or had to stop painting, I could just leave the palette and let it dry up, but when I was ready to come back to it, all I had to do was add some water.

Here’s a peek at my process:

 Even though it took me a while to complete, I think the result is definitely worth it! I think the pixels make it a bit more interesting than if I were to have just painted it as a landscape.

Here’s a look at the finished pixel painting:


UPDATE: I finally got the painting framed and hung it in our bathroom where it adds a lovely teal pop of colour. It really complements the watercolour agate slices on the adjacent wall, and the gold & glass jars for our q-tip/cotton pads!

What do you think of the finished product? Do you have enough patience to be able to complete a pixel painting of your own? Let me know!

xo, tess.

6 responses to “Watercolour Pixel Painting”

  1. anitaozolins says:

    I love this idea! It does look time consuming but very enjoyable. I will try and do something like this too! Well done!

  2. anitaozolins says:

    What did you use to get the pixelated image with the photo?

  3. cathy ciarloni says:

    This looks fantastic Tess… I’m like you, I like doing tedious tasks !