Watercolor With Photoshop
Primitive man used pigments mixed with water to create cave paintings by applying the paint with fingers, sticks and bones.
The ancient Egyptians used water-based paints to decorate the walls of temples and tombs and created some of the first works on papyrus.
Chinese and Japanese masters painted on silk as well as exquisite handmade paper.
Fresco is a method by which pigments are mixed with water and applied to wet plaster. This method was used primarily to create large wall paintings and murals by such artists as Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. The most famous fresco is Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel of the Vatican painted from 1508 to 1512.
No doubt you've had fun with watercolor as well - remember back to your early school years and those watercolor sets your parents had to buy you for school.
This is your opportunity to take any image you want and turn it into a fabulous watercolor using the various tools and techniques in Photoshop. The tutorial is based on a technique from Photoshop Creative.
Photoshop has a watercolor filter and while it does a passable job it doesn't compare to what can be done with some layers, paper textures, blending modes, masks, a mix of brush dynamics, some creative painting with a Wacom pen and finally some time and care.
As you are working on your image make sure you save the file regularly and save the file as a Photoshop file (.psd). You'll be making a lot of layers and the Photoshop format will save the file with the layers intact.
Before we get started let's look at a comparison of the Photoshop Filter and the watercolor conversion ...
Take a few moments to compare the following three images. The first is the original image that will be converted to a watercolor painting.
The second is the built-in Photoshop filter and the third is the long conversion of the original image.
There's quite a difference, isn't there?
The first part of this watercolor conversion is all about Photoshop techniques - layers and masks and blending modes.
The artistic part of the technique is all about brushes and how they are used to create the fabulous watercolor look with the best results being achieved with a Wacom tablet (Bamboo or Intuos). The amazing Photoshop Brush Dynamics are the key to a great watercolor conversion.
You can do it with a mouse but a great end result will be much more difficult to achieve.
In the painting portion I had the brushes set to change Size, Scattering and Opacity with pen pressure and this is how they were set ...
Shape Dynamics Pen Pressure (Brush Size)
Other Dynamics Pen Pressure (Brush Opacity)
If you have no idea what this is about then it would be useful to check out the Photoshop Brush Tutorials ...
Brush Settings ...
Coloring with Jitter Settings
The Brush Settings are great and darn - they're just a whole lot of fun ...
Here's the initial image that will be converted into a watercolor painting - a nice landscape ...
Here's the layers palette to this point in the conversion.
A few more layers will be added during the painting process.
If this is something you are going to do more than once then consider writing a Photoshop Action for the steps up to this point. It removes some of the tedium of getting started.
That's it for the initial setup and now we get to paint.
Now for the painting part of the conversion ...
Painting The Layer Mask
OK - so now the initial setup is done and the first brush is all set to go.
The watercolor is taking shape nicely and now it's time to add a bit more detail to the important part of the image ...
The next step is to add even more detail.
Here's the painting and mask after this step ...
The next step is to look at the image an add a bit of color wherever you think it's necessary.
With my watercolor conversion I wanted to have a bit more blue sky - the big white patch in the middle just doesn't look that great. With your image the color you want to add will likely be different.
The blue color was chosen using the Eyedropper Tool from the Background Copy that, until now, has been turned off.
You can turn off all of the layers and turn on the Background Copy but there is an easier way to turn it on and turn off the rest of the layers. Select the Background Copy, move the cursor over the space where the layer eyeball lives, press and hold the Alt key and click.
Look at that - the Background Copy is now the only layer visible! Very convenient, isn't it?
Now use the Eyedropper to select the color that needs to be added - now you're ready to begin but remember to turn off the Background Copy and turn on the other layers ...
The last step is to diffuse the image. Go to Filter > Blur > Motion Blur. Set the Angle and the Distance to 90 and click OK.
Now take a critical look at the image. Because all of the layers are intact it's easy to go back and change the opacity of the layers or add brush strokes.
The Image and Image Copy layers include a Layer Mask and that means you can paint with black to decrease the effect of the original brush strokes if necessary.
Remember to go back to the Watercolor brushes used earlier and make sure the Brush Dynamics are set as well.
Here's the final layers palette for this conversion.
And here's the final image ...
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