Tutorial: How to paint a watercolour iris

Irises are beautiful flowers. Their deep purple tones contrast with the yellow centres and thin leaves. The petals are wonderfully frilly and it’s easy to capture this in watercolour by just wiggling your brush as you paint. 

This easy watercolour tutorial is perfect for beginners and focuses on a range of painting techniques!


What you will need

  • Watercolour paper
  • Watercolour paints
  • Round brush (medium and small for details)
  • Water jars
  • Paper towels


  • Dioxazine Purple
  • Cadmium Yellow
  • Hooker’s Green

All the paints I use are from Winsor and Newton, but you don’t need these exact shades.

How to paint an iris in watercolour – video tutorial

Painting an iris – step by step

  1. Create a really light, watery mix with a hint of purple. Load up a brush and outline the bottom petal with a wiggle stroke. Leave an indent at the top and a wider bottom.
  2. While the area is still wet, load up with a richer purple mix and drop this colour in around the edges for a wet on wet effect. Make the frills and waves more detailed if needed.
  3. Add a little yellow to the indentation at the top and allow to diffuse.
  4. Take care not to blend with your brush! It works best if you allow the paint to diffuse naturally.
  5. Using a darker purple, pull out the two side petals in thin strokes with wavy, frilly lines.
  6. Create the top petals the same way as the bottom one. Start with the left one which sits in front. Connect it to the other petals and add the darker purple and yellow middle. Fill in the gap with the other top petal to create a balanced shape.
  7. Use a deep green mix to create a stem and long, thin leaves. Use them to frame the flower shape.
  8. Once the flower is dry, use a thin watercolour brush to add line details over the top in a medium purple tone.

That’s how to paint a beautiful iris flower in watercolour! Want more spring joy in your life?

More spring floral tutorials

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