photoshop creative

Create stunning watercolours

Posted in:
Tips & Tutorials, by Mark White
November 19, 2014

Use custom brushes and blend modes to create a realistic watercolour effect in just ten steps!

1. Find a sketch and prepare a brush

Find an inky-outlined picture, or create one yourself; just follow this tutorial! Create a new layer for the green wash effect and set the blend mode to Multiply. Select one of the watercolour brushes and open the Brush panel. In the Options Bar, set the Mode to Colour Burn and Opacity to 60%.

2. Apply the wash

Set the paint colour to a bright colour. Don’t drag the brush along the canvas, but use single clicks to stamp the brush stroke shape. Use the Brush panel to adjust their size, angle and roundness so that they don’t all look the same. Repeat this, this time selecting a custom splatter brush and boosting the Opacity up to 100%.

3. Border treatment

Use custom splatter brushes to create an explosion around your first object. Cmd/Ctrl+click on the thumbnail for the splatter layer to create a selection around the paint splashes. Then go to Select>Modify>Border. Use a pixel setting of 5. This creates a 5px-wide selection border around the layer.

4. Refine edge

Grab any of the Marquee tools to gain access to the Refine Edge dialog box in the Options Bar. In the Adjust Edge area, set Smooth to 50 and tweak Contrast to 40%.

5. Create wet edges

Press Cmd/Ctrl+J to copy the border selection to a new layer. Keep the blend mode at Multiply but set the Opacity at 100%. This will simulate the wet edges of real paint. Reducing the opacity of the splatter layer can enhance the effect.

6. Blur it up

Cmd/Ctrl-click the splatter layer thumbnail again to create the selection. Use the Add Layer Mask button to create a mask for the splatter layer. With the mask targeted, go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and use a setting of 2.0px.

7. Have a splash attack

Add another new layer for additional splash, splatter and splat paint spots. Remember to set the layer blending mode to Multiply and the brush Mode to COlour Burn. Now use a variety of different brushes to build up the full painted effect.

8. Group the layers

Select all the green paint layers and press Cmd/Ctrl+G to group them all together. Then add a layer mask to the group and use a black brush to remove the green splatter from inside the object.

9. Repeat on another object

Go through the same painting process for the next object in the picture, using a different colour. When working on the group mask, a soft, white brush with low Opacity can fade the colour into shaded regions. Go through this process as many times as you want on each object.

10. Final flourish

Use a final paint layer to add in the final few splashes of paint. Set this layer to Multiply and use darker colours on this one. Set the previous layer to Pin Light for brighter colours.