Join Robin Schneider for an in-depth discussion in this video How to create a watercolor look, part of Photoshop for Fashion Design: Rendering Techniques.
Watercolor is another technique that's very easy to emulate on a computer. And you can also be much more flexible with it than actual water color. This technique is also great when you're in a hurry. Because you can lay in the color very quickly and very messily actually. Just like this. And then do this little watercolor technique on top of it. And if you want the color to be really saturated, you can always duplicate the layer and kick up the color a bit. So let me show you how to do this.
I've got another pen and ink illustration here by Luciano Balderrama. And I'm going to show you how to do the water color. First thing you do is import and clean up your sketch. So either scan it, photograph it, whatever format works, or even draw it in Illustrator. Then you're going to take that layer and set it to Multiply, just like we did when we were coloring other sketches. And make a new layer, put it beneath the sketch layer, and this is going to be the Color layer.
Whoops, color. Now in this layer we get to color the image, and you're going to do this with a plain old brush, but you want a soft edge brush for this. That's the only thing you need to worry about to make sure there's no shape dynamics on here. Well actually we could. Let's put Pen Pressure on at least, so if I want to make a thinner line, I can. We'll make my brush bigger, so I can do this quickly. This is a great technique when you're in a hurry, because you can slap color on so fast.
So, I'm going to start throwing color on here. Now, another thing about this particular technique, is you can go ahead and use pretty intense color. It, of course, helps if you are in RGB and not grayscale. So let's go Image > Mode > RGB. And Don't Merge because I already made a couple of layers. So now I'm going to go ahead and throw some color on here. So there we go. So we'll throw some red in the skirt. And again, I'm doing this super, super messy job.
Some orange here and maybe we'll shade it with a little bit of, of a darker version of red and throw a little bit of this pink here in the orange. And maybe some yellow in here, so you can throw in a lot of color and really sort of have fun with it. Let's see what should we do, with her hair? We'll start by laying in some bright yellow to make it pop and then maybe some browns, so make the brush a little smaller for this.
Maybe not that small and just throw in some little bits of color here and there. Maybe even a little bit of orange to pop it up. Kind of crazy, right? But that's okay. Throw some color in the shoes down here. And last but not least, let's get some flesh color on here. So we'll throw some color here. And on her face and neck. And let's see. Maybe this arm ought to be darker back her.
So let's throw a little bit of a darker color in there. And maybe another little highlight here. You can go ahead and dodge and burn on this also if you want to. Maybe we'll do that for the flesh colors. We'll burn a little bit here, and darken that. It's very orangey. Le'ts fix that a little bit. I'm not loving it. The reason it's so orangey is I had the burn set to shadows from something I was working on before.
But I don't like it. So, let's go back to burn and make sure we are set to mid-tones, and lower the opacity a little bit. That's better. Throw some shading in there. Maybe a little under the chin and down that side. And maybe we'll throw a little blush on her cheeks. But let's go to my brush and lower the opacity for that a little bit so she doesn't end up with hot pink cheeks because that would be a little too much. We'll just throw a little color on there like that.
And that's it, there's my color. Now we're going to blur this, so Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. And you want to blur it enough so the color looks like it bleeds into another color. So, maybe that's a little much, somewhere around there because watercolor bleeds and we want it to have that kind of look to it. So I will click OK. So now comes the fun part. We're going to add a layer mask to this, and we want to reverse mask. We want the mask to be black.
So I'm going to Alt click on the layer mask icon. And it ends up putting a black layer mask down and this mask actually hides everything. And now we get to play. I don't know if you had this when you were a kid, but I did and it was one of my favorite little craft projects. It was a coloring book that already had paint sort of down on the book, but it was dry and you dipped your brush into plain water and painted and as you painted, the colors appeared on your coloring book. That's kind of what we're going to do now.
We are going to set up a watercolor brush, and this brush actually comes with Photoshop, you just have to know where to go to load it. So we're going to click on Brushes, click on this icon over here, and we are going to load the Wet Media Brushes, it's this one on the very bottom. And it asks me if I want to replace the current brushes or Append. I'm going to Append, I don't need to replace them. And now this new brush is down here at the bottom somewhere. But it's hard to tell where it is by looking at these images.
So I'm going to go ahead and change the view to Small List. And that's kind of hard to read so lets go with Large List. And now I can scroll down until I find Watercolor Heavy Medium, and it's this brush right here. Watercolor Heavy Medium tip. Select that brush. And we're almost ready to paint. We want to change the opacity to 40%. That seems to work really nicely for this. And that's about it. If you want, you can turn on Shape Dynamics, the only thing you want to mess with is that the pen pressure is on, make sure everything else in Shape Dynamics is turned off.
And the rest of the settings should work for you. You're going to use white, so all you need to do is adjust the size of your brush. And, now we can start painting. And, just like when we were using the marker, if you make contact and you don't lift your brush, it'll sort of flood the garment with color, kind of the way water color functions. You can see it bleeding if I just sort of hold my brush down. So, it'll flood the garment with color, but if you lift your brush up and place it down again.
It will lay down darker color, so you can build the color up as dark as you like it just by lifting your brush and putting it back down. So I'll go ahead and flood some color in here on the legs and then go back and sort of darken this out a little bit. Adding some more strokes. They way you would with watercolor. Let's get that color on the shoe. So the thing about this technique is it's quick and dirty and you can be as messy as you want with it. Because watercolor bleeds so you can take advantage of that actually and let this bleed outside your paper.
So let's make the brush a little bigger and do the arm in one swash. And same with that one. We'll do this. Build up some color down here. And one swash for the neck. We'll sort of flood the face. And the hair will kind of flood for starters. And it's sort of okay if it's messy, because I just add to the effect I think. Make my brush a little smaller, and maybe pull out a few areas in the hair. And, we'll pull out that pink on the cheeks that I added.
Maybe shade a little bit under the chin. And, that is how you can emulate watercolor. It's really quick and really easy. Now, if you want to do one more thing and add a background to this, you can add a new layer and pick whatever color you want for your background. So in this case, maybe, maybe I'll go with maybe the orange will work nicely. I'll make my brush really big. And this time, you can just paint with the watercolor brush. So, I'll just put a nice swash here, behind this. And I don't want to see the color bleeding in behind the croqui.
So, all I need to do is add a layer mask to this. And go ahead and grab another brush. I just want a plain one now, not a watercolor brush. So let's move up to the top and get to a soft round. Actually, we'll do this one soft round pressure size because it's going to let me adjust the size with pressure. And I'm going to go ahead and just paint out the areas. Oop, we want to go back to 100% opacity, and I'm just going to paint in black [LAUGH] on my mask, and paint out the areas that I don't want to see that orange coming through.
Nothing's happening because I'm still in white. Let's try that one more time. There we go. We'll paint out the areas where I don't want to see that orange coming through. So I can get some of my whites back. Let's make that brush a little bit bigger, do a little sort of halo effect around her. And if you want, you could even do this with the watercolor brush. Let's go back to the watercolor, where is it I'm in tools not brushes. Watercolor > Heavy Medium Tip to make the brush bigger.
And I can even do this with the watercolor brush so that I get that sort of bleeding edge on this as well, so you can get a look like that. I can also, I'm going to undo the last few steps here. Do this with a low opacity watercolor brush, and build up that same sort of watercolor effect around her. Maybe we'll make that a little bit higher, there we go. And make sure that there's no background right behind her.
And that's it, that's how you can render in Photoshop with watercolor. And now if you go ahead and print this out on watercolor paper, it's almost impossible to tell whether this was actual water color or generated on the computer.
- Why render in Photoshop?
- Scanning artwork and fabric
- Using dodge and burn
- Making brushes to paint hair, fabric, and more
- Making seamless repeating patterns
- Working with pattern fills
- Using filters to add texture
- Sketching with a tablet
- Creating inspiration boards