Homemade Water Color Paints

Homemade water colors paints are new to my kids.  They’ve enjoyed finger paint and chalk paint, but never water color paints.  You can go buy water color paints, but why?  You probably have everything you need in the pantry to make them right at home.  Bryson and I made our first set last week and I am thrilled with the results.  The process got a bit messy when Bryson knocked one over, but the fun was worth the mess.

As we mixed them up, I let him do some of the coloring and stirring.  I showed him how by mixing certain colors, you can create a new color.  These are fun to paint with, but don’t forget to enjoy the process and take advantage of those teachable moments!

Homemade Water Color Paints


4 tbsp. baking soda
2 tsp. white vinegar
1/2 tsp. light corn syrup
2 tsp. corn starch
food colors*
containers for storing paints*
something to stir with (toothpicks)

* I used liquid food colors, but you could also use gel colors.
* I found these little paint cups at Hobby Lobby.  They were $2.99 for a pack of 12.  I looked around for them online and couldn’t find them, but I did find a larger pack (19) with several different sizes available on Amazon.

How to make homemade water color paints:

  • Mix baking soda & vinegar in a cup with a spout.  I used my Pyrex 4 cup measuring glass.  Let the kids watch as it fizzes!
  • Add in light corn syrup and give it a good stir.
  • Stir in the corn starch until well combined.  (If it gets too thick, add a little more vinegar.)
  • Pour into your paint containers- not too full, you need room for the food colors.
  • Add the food colors and stir until you reached your desired color!
  • Let them sit for a while to harden up- anywhere from 12 to 24 hours.

This recipe made enough to fill all 12 of our little paint cups.  There may be a bit of liquid at the top of the water colors paints when you are finished, but it doesn’t matter.  You can pour it off or let the kids paint with it.  An empty baby food jar works great for holding water to wash the brushes.

Homemade Water Color Paints

When these water color paints dry on paper, you can run your finger over it and actually feel the paint- it’s chalky from the cornstarch, but it doesn’t change the colors or the outcome.  I think it’s a neat bonus!

How to Make Water Color Paints

Have you made homemade water color paints?

I’d love to see your paints & creations if you give this recipe a try!

*Linking up at It’s Playtime!

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  1. Thanks for this idea!!! My boys are always wanting to paint and I hate buying the same colors over and over.

  2. Deb Sizemore says:

    Whit- They are going to be a challenge to interest when they get in school. You are doing all of the fun things now!LOL Wish I was your little kid.

  3. How cool! I’m definitely going to give this a try. :)

  4. Great idea! Your little boy is so cute, and he sure looks like he had a lot of fun!

  5. This looks like something my girls and I would love to do. We love making things from scratch. This is on my list to make. 😎 I’m now following.

  6. Thanks for the recipe! I can’t wait to try it with my little ones.

  7. Emily Bickett says:

    I found mini cups (diamond brand) at Wal-Mart. They were 50 (with lids) for $2.98. Great size for these paints.

  8. Does the paint “mold”? I have made finger paint recently with corn starch, food coloring and water and it molded.

    • Amy, I just checked ours for the first time in a few weeks and you are right- it molded! I think next time, I’ll make a much smaller quantity. It lasted about 4-6 weeks before going bad. Hope that helps!

  9. I cut the recipe in half because I only wanted to make four colors (instead of the 12 you made). Mine didn’t make that much though (compared to what it looks like yours made). Did you add any water to yours or is the picture deceptive? I think this is enough for what I need, but I just wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing a step. Thanks!

  10. Any ideas for substitute to rice syrop? thanks

  11. marissa lee says:

    this is great…can’t wait til my daughter is old enough so i can try this with her…thank you for sharing.

  12. Sandy VanHoey says:

    I didn’t realize they were this easy to make. We have been buying them for my grandson. So glad you shared this…thank you.

  13. Are the paints washable?

  14. Rebecca Parsons says:

    I love all of these recipes for fun. I think it would be just as fun to make as use.

  15. Maria Iemma says:

    I am so grateful for all your posts about making DIY things for kids to play with. I am a grandma and have a limited income but still like to show my kids a good time when they come over. I am going to make this paints this weekend.

  16. Oh I love this, and the colors come out so bright. What a great idea!

  17. I was curious to know how long this lasted for. My daughter is in kindergarten I thought it would be a cute idea to make the primary colors and give them to the kids as a fair well.. .

  18. Hannah Rodway says:

    Hi there.

    I work for a care home and was looking for sensory ideas for the people I work with.

    I was wondering, if any paint (from this recipe) was spilt on carpet, how easy would it be to get out?

    Looking forward to any reply

  19. Perine Lowe says:

    Great indeed! It is a very nice pastime for kids ranging from 3 to 10 years of age and even more where they can express their imagination openly by putting their thoughts on a sheet of paper through their drawing and painting.Nice sharing.


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