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    Photoshop: watercolor technique (incl. brushes)

    hi,
    I made a few PS watercolor brushes some time ago,
    & completed a tutorial on how to use them -
    and thought I´d share here as well ..

    sorry for my not perfect English - hope everything makes sense,
    and that you can see all those *gifs/*movs playing ok -
    and - hope you´ll enjoy
    a.


    alenah´s "watercolor511" brushes (download here) >>

    (it´s a "tool" *tpl preset file - zipped - containing all three brushes, cca 16 kB)
    Photoshop: watercolor technique (incl. brushes)

    Photoshop: watercolor technique (incl. brushes)

    Photoshop: watercolor technique (incl. brushes)

    Photoshop: watercolor technique (incl. brushes)

    Photoshop watercolor technique

    About the digital watercolor technique in general
    Painting watercolor in digital - you can use a bunch of different techniques, different brush settings - and - different approaches.
    The technique I used this time is kind of "dry-looking" textured watercolor style, that can be achieved with only ONE brush actually; the different look of the strokes is just different settings (lets call it "variants") of the same brush.

    In my experience, Painting watercolor in Photoshop is not that intuitive (and does not look that natural) as in Painter; in PS the technique is a bit more technical (for me; compared to Painter), kind of "constructing" the image rather than really "painting" it, I would say ... anyway - you can achieve pretty decent "watercolor look" in Photoshop too.
    In fact, also in PS you can get a really "believable/convincing" watercolor painting, when combining the brushwork with some more other techniques (adding "real-salty" textures, exaggerating/sharpening edges, blending separate "washes", adding more random dabs/"splashes" to it etc.) - but - I wanted to keep the technique/illlustration as simple as possible, so - this time - I did not combine the brushwork with any other techniques mentioned.

    Digital watercolor
    So - what is it that makes the painting look "watercolor-like"? The brushes - of course - but actually - the brushes are only one part of the whole process; there are a few more issues that affect the possible results quite a lot - and - when using watercolor brushes in an "incorrect" way, the painting may result in completely "non-watercolor look" very easily

    So - what is it that makes such a difference?
    There is a few things to keep in mind while painting digital watercolor:

    Transparency
    The most characteristic feature of the real-life watercolor painting is the transparency. In real media the transparent washes are subsequently building-up the image, usually from light to dark. In PS this can be achieved by lowered opacity/flow combined with the Multiply blending mode (set for a Brush in the upper Property bar, and - in case you work in more layers - set also for those layers in the Layers palette), that allows the strokes to build-up (multiply) the paint in the overlapping areas.

    Placing the strokes

    In order the multiplying effect can be achieved (so as the "building-up" effect can be visible) it is necessary to paint with more single/separated strokes (that is: several times over the same area to allow the strokes to overlap) rather than painting the way "click and drag" across the whole area you want to paint ..
    Photoshop: watercolor technique (incl. brushes)

    Pen Tilt
    (note: in order this feature can be applied/used, the pressure & tilt sensitive tablet should be installed on the computer; I use the Wacom Intuos 2 A4+ tablet)

    All the brushes I used have a certain degree/quality of "tilt sensititivity" applied to it (defined in the Shape Dynamics dialog within the Brushes pallete): the basic 01 stroke is very slightly "tilt-sensitive", almost not responding to the tilt/position of the pen; the 02 texturizing and 03 stroke brushes are pretty sentitive to the tilt/way how you hold the pen while painting to allow the strokes to overlap) rather than painting the way "click and drag" across the whole area you want to paint ..
    Photoshop: watercolor technique (incl. brushes)

    using Pen Tilt feature requires a bit of experience, since its behavior may be a little bit unpredictable for the first-timer; the reason is that this feature makes the stroke "shift" off center/off the cursor position while painting (accordingly to the tilt scale/direction, if applied; the more tilted, the larger shift/distance/spread of the stroke is visible, and vice versa), which may be a bit confusing; but - after you get used to it, you can have perfect control over this type of strokes, allowing you to achieve a huge variability with only one brush variant ...
    Photoshop: watercolor technique (incl. brushes)

    For this type of strokes Photoshop needs more time to calculate it, so you might experience some delay while painting larger areas.
    It is also a good idea to apply the strokes repeatedly, with different tilt/pressure over the same area; so as you can achieve nice and pretty natural texturing (when the tilt is a wide/large angle, the painted stroke/texture is almost not visible, which might be sometimes very useful for subtle texture painting).

    Speed
    The speed of your hand movement while painting makes also a great difference, it is a good idea to paint pretty slowly while texturing, but - when painting the lines, easy quick energic strokes - repeated several times over the same area if needed - result in much more natural, nicely "dry-textured" lines ...
    Photoshop: watercolor technique (incl. brushes)

    There is a few more/other little things, that may affect the look of the strokes (sequencing/repetition of strokes, layers order, using "white strokes" combined with Overlay blending mode for "washing out" the color etc.) but - those are not that fundamental ..

    I recorded a few real-time demos (*mov), showing/demonstrating the brush behavior under different circumstances/different way using them; you can download the *mov files below: (some of them are small, some are little larger - downloading may take a while)

    >> basic demo (1,6 MB)
    >> tilt demo - you can have perfect control over the stroke (2,1 MB)
    >> vertical x tilted pen effect (300 kB)
    >> one stroke variant, different effects (pen tilt feature applied) (300 kB) :

    Photoshop: watercolor technique (incl. brushes)

    in case someone is not sure about how to load the brushes into PS,
    pls follow the instructions below
    (I´ll post in the very next post) ...

    edit:
    here´s a link to the original post of mine (posted over at CG Society back in 2008 >>
    in case something is not working ok (just have noticed some gifs are not playing ok here, at the moment)
    Last edited by alenah; October 15th, 2009 at 02:35 AM.

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