Photoshop Watercolour

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How to add a watercolour effect to Photoshop

Transcript of Photoshop Watercolour

  • O R E I L L Y D I G I T A L S T U D I O


    Easy-to-FollowRecipes for

    Digital Photographers,

    Designers & Artists

    PHOTOSHOPPHOTOSHOPPhoto E ects Cookbook

    Tim Shelbourne


    Photoshop CS2

  • Although Photoshop includes filters and effects rather optimistically labeled Watercolor, after the first few attempts to use them to produce a convincing fine art image, their shortcomings become all too apparent.

    In fact, the program does have the power to enable us to mimic real watercolor paintings, but success relies on good technique rather than a simple one-click process.

    Although the techniques in this example are relatively basicmanipulating image layers and adding some subtle brushworkthe results are deceptively sophisticated.

    A point worth noting here is that a pressure-sensitive stylus and pad is virtually essential when it comes to expressive and effective use of brushes. Using Brush Options, a brush can be set to respond directly to the pressure applied by the stylus. As a result, extremely subtle variations in the opacity and density of the brushstrokes can be achieved.


    Graphic art effectsWatercolor1 Duplicate the background layer (Ctrl/Cmd+J). To prepare the image for the watercolor effect, go to Filter > Blur > Smart Blur. This will simplify the tones and the detail in the image. Use these settings: Radius 14.1, Threshold 68.4, Quality High, Mode Normal.

    2 Duplicate this layer again (Ctrl/Cmd+J), and name it Glowing Edges. To create the effect of an initial line drawing, go to Filter > Stylize > Glowing Edges. Use: Width 3, Brightness 9 and Smoothness 10. This layer needs to be inverted so there are dark lines on a light base. Go to Image > Adjustments > Invert (Ctrl/Cmd+I). Finally, desaturate the line work to make it

    grayscale by going to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate (Ctrl/Cmd+Shift+U). Set this layers blending mode to Multiply, reducing the opacity to 41%.

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    4 Select the Brush tool and click in the Brush Picker. To make sure that you are using the default brush set, click the small, right-pointing arrow and choose Reset Brushes. Next, scroll down the brush thumbnails and choose Dry Brush. If you are using a graphics tablet, hit

    7 Use this brush to paint over the rest of the land in the image. Use short, expressive strokes. When you paint over the grass and the bushes, try to follow the direction of the grass and plant growth and use directional strokes to define the image. Gradually build up color by painting over some areas again with black at low opacity.

    3 Duplicate the first background copy layer that we applied Smart Blur to, name it Painting Layer, and drag it to the top of the layer stack. Go to Image > Adjustments > Invert (Ctrl/Cmd+I) and set the blending mode for this layer to Color

    Dodge. The image will turn white at this stage, which is exactly what we need. This will be our blank canvas. Paint onto it with black, which, because of its blending mode, will reveal the colors in the image.

    F5 to display the Brush Options. Click in the Other Dynamics panel, and for Opacity Jitter, choose Pressure in the Control box.

    5 Hit D to ensure that the foreground color is black. Paint with this brush at a large size over the main central area of the image at an opacity of about 60%. Leave plenty of plain white around the edges of the picture. Gradually build up the depth of color by painting over certain areas more than once. To give the impression of real watercolor, its important to leave small areas of white here and there.

    6 Click in the Brush Picker again, click the right-pointing arrow, and now choose Wet Media Brushes. Select Watercolor Textured Surface from the brush thumbnails. Use the Zoom tool to zoom into the main windmill in the image. Paint with this brush (using black) into the windmill and surrounding areas. Use short, random strokes that follow the contours and shapes of the components of the image.

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    8 Increase the size of the brush using the right-hand square bracket, and paint large, loose strokes into the sky and water. Dont try to follow the details of the clouds or ripples in the water, just add some interest and movement with these strokes. This will give a real feeling of pure watercolor.

    11 To give the impression of broad, soft washes of color, return to the background copy layer and choose the Eyedropper tool. Click with the tool in the blue sky. Now, go to Select > Color Range, set Selection Preview to Black Matte and use a Fuzziness setting of 61, so that just some of the blue areas in the sky and water are selected. Hit OK.

    9 Often, watercolors are painted on slightly off-white paper, so lets establish that next. Go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Solid Color and click OK. When the Color Picker appears, choose a very light straw color for the fill. Click OK and set this layers blending mode to Linear Burn, opacity 31%. Paint into this layer using black to hide it here and there, exposing the white beneath.

    10 To add a subtle paper texture, go to Layer > New Fill Layer > Pattern and click OK. Click the downward-pointing arrow in the Pattern Picker display and then the right-pointing arrow next to the pattern swatch to bring up the Pattern Picker itself, and choose Artist Surfaces. Choose Watercolor from the swatches. Increase the scale to 573 and click OK. Drag this layer below the Color fill layer and set its blending mode to Multiply with an opacity of 76%.

    Watercolor continued

    graphic art effects

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    12 Go to Edit > Copy (Ctrl/Cmd+C), Edit > Paste (Ctrl/Cmd+V). Drag this newly pasted blue layer up so that it sits directly below the Pattern Fill layer. Go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur. Use these settings: Angle 90, Distance 283. Set this layer to Darken blending mode, opacity 60%.

    13 To complete the image, duplicate the background copy layer again, naming it Watercolor Filter, and drag this copy to the top of the layer stack. Well emphasize the overall effect by using Photoshops Watercolor filter very subtly. Go to Filter > Artistic > Watercolor. Use: Brush Detail 12, Shadow Intensity 0, Texture 3. Click OK to apply the filter. Finally, set this layers blending mode to Luminosity, and the opacity to 27% so that it just adds a touch of emphasis to the painting.

    14 Return to the Painting layer and choose the Brush tool. Click in the Brush Picker, selecting the Watercolor Heavy Loaded brush. Hit D on the keyboard to revert to default colors. Using black, paint some small strokes throughout the center of interest in the image. This brush produces distinct, sharp accents that will help to direct the viewers attention.



    Although this technique

    results in a convincing

    painterly effect, you

    really dont need to be an

    accomplished artist to

    successfully create it.

    All were actually doing

    here is making simple

    marks with the brush

    using black on the Color

    Dodge layer. Due to the

    blending mode of this

    layer, the black marks

    allow the colors on the

    underlying layer to show

    through at various

    opacities. Because of the

    special qualities of the

    brushes used, the black

    marks on the layer have

    the effect and texture of

    real watercolor on paper.

    Its important to ensure

    that the marks we make

    on this layer are energetic

    and lively. As a general

    rule, short dabs work

    better than long strokes.

    Watercolor continued