Creating a Watercolor Painting in Photoshop.

Introduction: Creating a Watercolor Painting in Photoshop.

Watercolor paintings ( "aquarelle" in French) is a painting method in which the paints are made of pigments suspended in a water soluble vehicle and are usually painted on plain white paper.

Effect of a watercolor painting can be achieved digitally using graphics editing program, in our case Photoshop. I used Adobe Photoshop CS3, but previous versions should do just fine, since the tools used are quite basic.

Creation time of a painting: 5 to 15 minutes.

Step 1: Things Needed

To create your digital aquarelle, you will need:

A Computer
Adobe Photoshop
A Picture
Creativity (optional)

Once you have obtained or gained access to the supplies mentioned above, you can begin.

Step 2: Obtain a Picture

One of the most important steps:

Pick a good picture. Without a good picture there will be no good aquarelle.
I personally recommend to pick pictures of scenery, since they will be easy to convert into watercolor. Portraits or pictures with lots of fine details are harder to achieve a true aquarelle effect with.

Step 3: Prepare the Picture for Application of Filters

1st thing to do is to decrease the image size if it is too big. In my case it was a 4000 x 6020, which is ridiculous for such simple editing. So i decreased it to 1600 x 2408, as you can see in the shot.

2nd thing is to decide which parts of the picture are no needed, i.e. I had too much sky, so I took a large chunk of it out.
To do this, you need to select the area you need to keep, then go to Edit and click Copy (or just press Ctrl+C), then go to File and click New (or Ctrl+N) and click OK when the menu pops up.

Step 4: Removing Obstructions

Define objects in the picture that are not suppose to be there, such as road signs, or in my case a random transformer box.
To get rid of these scenery ruining objects, use the clone stamp tool.

Instructions on how to use the clone stamp tool:

Another tip: most watercolor paintings do not use dark colors close to black, shadows are not VERY intense, so get rid of them using the Dodge tool, which can be located in the left panel (or you can press "O"). Look at the last picture, for a better understanding of what the icon for it looks like.

Step 5: Improving the Colors (Optional)

This step is absolutely optional.

My picture looks ok, but i want to make it better, by improving the color of the sky to make it look more like an aquarelle.

So first I darkened up the darker parts of the sky using the burn tool, and lightened up the lighter parts with dodge tool.

More information on how to use burn and dodge tools:

Step 6: Turning the Image Into a Watercolor Drawing

This is the most fun, the shortest, and the simplest step.

First click Image than go into Adjustments and click Hue/Saturation
Apply the settings in the first screen shot, and click OK.

Than click Filter and Filter Gallery
Choose Paint Daubs in the little sub-menu:
Apply the settings in the second screen shot and click OK.

Go into Filter Gallery again, choose Angled Strokes, apply the settings in the third screen shot, and click OK.

After this once more go into Filter Gallery and choose Glass, apply the settings in the fourth shot, and click OK.

Done! Enjoy the result!

Step 7: Improving the Outcome (Optional)

So my picture looks amazing after so many changes, but I'm still unsatisfied.
I want to make my picture look warmer in an easy and fast way, once more I will use the hue/saturation tool. A little more saturation to bring out specific colors, such as the reds in my tree, is always good, but too much saturation will result in really bad noise which looks absolutely horrible.

A more advanced method to improve the overall colors and brightness of the picture would be to use curves, which can be accessed by clicking Image, then going into Adjustments, and clicking Curves.
Curves is a very complicating tool which is used to control pixel by pixel brightness levels.

Explaining how to use curves would be a whole another tutorial, so I will not cover it, but for more information, go here:

The results can be seen below:

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    2 Discussions

    Sew Crafty
    Sew Crafty

    10 years ago on Introduction

    This is just wonderful, I invested in Photoshop but never quite learned how to use all the features. Thanks


    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Sure, always glad to help. It took me a while to learn the basics too, but once you get a hang of it, you can do wonders. -Cookie-man-