Splash dynamics of paint on dry, wet, and cooled surfaces

David Baron, Haiyan Su, Ashwin Vaidya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In his classic study in 1908, A.M. Worthington gave a thorough account of splashes and their formation through visualization experiments. In more recent times, there has been renewed interest in this subject, and much of the underlying physics behind Worthington's experiments has now been clarified. One specific set of such recent studies, which motivates this paper, concerns the fluid dynamics behind Jackson Pollock's drip paintings. The physical processes and the mathematical structures hidden in his works have received serious attention and made the scientific pursuit of art a compelling area of exploration. Our current work explores the interaction of watercolors with watercolor paper. Specifically, we conduct experiments to analyze the settling patterns of droplets of watercolor paint on wet and frozen paper. Variations in paint viscosity, paper roughness, paper temperature, and the height of a released droplet are examined from time of impact, through its transient stages, until its final, dry state. Observable phenomena such as paint splashing, spreading, fingering, branching, rheological deposition, and fractal patterns are studied in detail and classified in terms of the control parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2016


  • Fractal dimension
  • Spalsh
  • Watercolor


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