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The Best Watercolor Painting Effect

By Thursday, May 10, 2018 (MDT) 10 Comments
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Creative Team Member, Viv Halliwell, shares her techniques to The Best Watercolor Painting Effect.

The Best Watercolor Painting Effect

There are many ways to create a watercolor effect in Photoshop.

I have searched for the best results and I believe I have found the best work around,  based on Marty at Blue Lightning’s Youtube Tutorial.

1. Select your photo.

Choose your image carefully.

  • This technique works best with a landscape image.
  • Select a high definition image with plenty of prominent features and color i.e. buildings seascapes etc.

I wanted my image to be full size. 

  • Save your photo as a new document and close your original photo.
  • Change it’s name to PHOTO .

Go to Image > Image Size

I kept my resolution at 300 dpi, and in the top box (pixel dimensions), I changed the width to 12 inches (3600 px) this automatically changed the height to 9 inches (2700 px).

The Best Watercolor Painting Effect

2. Layer Duplication

Duplicate and rename the photo layers.

  • Press CTRL/CMD + J twice.
  • Name the top layer ‘PENCIL LINES’
  • Turn off the visibility of the layer.

3. Add Filters

Apply the Smart Blur Filter.

  • Name the middle layer ‘SMART BLUR’
  • Go to Filter> Blur> Smart Blur
  • I used a Radius of 10, Threshold 30 and Quality High.

Apply the Glowing Edges Filter.

  • Turn on the visibility of the ‘PENCIL LINES’ layer in the Layers Panel.
  • Go to Filter> Filter Gallery> Stylize> Glowing Edges.
  • I chose an Edge Width of 1, Edge Brightness 12, and Smoothness 15.
  • ( If you want a sketchy effect increase the edge width and brightness).
  • Go to Select> Inverse (CTRL/CMD + I).
  • Then Image> Adjustments> Desaturate (SHIFT + CTRL/CMD +U)
  • Apply the MULTIPLY Blending Mode at an Opacity of 80%.

5. Add BrushWork

Use brushes and Blending Modes on duplicate layer to a create visual interest.

Apply Color Dodge to a Copy Layer:

  • Select the ‘SMART BLUR’ layer in the Layers Panel.
  • Duplicate the layer to create a copy (CTRL/CMD +J).
  • Rename the layer ‘BRUSH’.
  • Invert (CTRL/CMD + I) the layer.
  • Change the Blending Mode to Color Dodge.

Load Legacy Brushes:

  • Go to your brush library and load the original PS brushes (Legacy brushes).
  • To access , open the Brush Panel and click on the gear icon (top right) to activate the fly-out menu.
  • Select Legacy Brushes.

Apply Dry Brush:

  • Choose the DRY BRUSH with an Opacity of 10% and reduce the Flow to about 50%.
  • Brush lightly and randomly all over your image.

Apply Wet Media Brush:

  • Select the WET MEDIA from the Legacy Brushes
  • Choose WATERCOLOR TEXTURE SURFACE at 50% Opacity and Flow.
  • Lightly brush all over your image – You will find if you over-brush, you will get a really authentic watercolor look.

6. Refine Watercolor Effect

Add color:

  • Go to Image> Adjustments> Vibrance
  • Move the slider to the far right.

Add Texture:

  • Go to Filter> Filter Gallery> Texturizer
  • Choose SandstoneScaling 100%, Relief either 2 or 3, Light from the top.

Merge Layers:

  • Go to Layer> Merge Visible, or create a composite (CMD+ALT+OPT+ SHIFT +E).
  • Move merged or composite layer to a New Document.
  • I created a 12 x 12 layout at 300 dpi document to continue the artistry.

7. Blend with DigitalART

The Best Watercolor Painting Effect then use a variety of DigitalART supplies to create artistry:

  • Select Artsy Paper from the ArtPlay Palette Scenic.
  • Open, move and place ‘painting’ onto the Artsy Paper foundation.
  • Duplicate the image 4 times and turned off the visibility of the layers in the Layers Panel.
  • Open and randomly position multiple FotoBlendz Overlays, each on a different areas of your canvas, and beneath each of the ‘painting’ layers.
  • Turn on the visibility of the duplicate layers and clip each one to a FotoBlendz Overlays using the Clipping Mask Function in Photoshop.
  • I duplicated each image one more time, to create 2 layers in the Clipping Set, and applied a Darken Blending Mode to the copy layers.

Create a Watercolor Painting Effect

  • Transfers were added from ArtPlay Palette Scenic to blend the hard edge of the photo and to add texture.
  • Finally, I added WordART, an ArtStroke, elements and a title onto the little tag.

Create a Watercolor Painting Effect

DigitalART Supplies:

Click on the image to access complete list of supplies.

Try This:

Create the Best Watercolor Painting Effect of your own.

Have even more fun with this technique by modifying as preferred:

  • Experiment with different BLending Modes.
  • Apply different Filters or change the properties of the filters in the Filter Gallery.
  • Vary the brushes you use to apply visual interest.
  • Select various DigitalART supplies.
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Lindy Krickbaum

Author Lindy Krickbaum

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