Digital Painting Process: Water Color Painting Simulation
This seems so basic, I’m almost ashamed to post it here… almost
But, in case you're interested, here's a small tutorial on how I get a nice artificial watercolor-look in Photoshop 7. I'm sure that Painter actually has nice watercolor brushes that render all this extra work obsolete, but Photoshop users might find it interesting. It's pretty simple, too.
Step 1: Put your linework on a transparent background. There are a number of ways to do this, so I’ll just briefly say this. Clean up your linework first (adjust contrast, etc), then:
1. Click the 'channels' tab.
2. Click 'load channel as selection'.
3. Click 'delete' to get rid of the white.
4. Select 'inverse' to select your lines.
5. Hit ctrl C (to copy your selection) and ctrl V (to paste into a new layer).
6. You're done!
The reason I like to do this is it allows you to change your inkwork from black to... whatever color you like. Brown lines look especially nice if you're looking for a real old school traditional feel. Make sure you lock the transparency of the layer before beginning work on it. To change any linework, simply unlock and alter it as you normally would. Here's the linework for my piece. I've got a white background behind it so you can see it. I've already changed some of the line colors:
Step 2: Blend colors. So, to get the nice gradations in color that occur when you're using wet-on-wet watercolors, you can use the healing brush, the little 'band-aid' on your tool pallette. The way I do this is pick a portion of the painting and block in all of the basic colors. Then go back and blend the edges with the healing tool set on 'multiply' (on your tool settings). Here's some random scribbling so you can see what it might look like:
I like to work on each 'element' separately, that way I can't screw up the whole thing at once. It's best to just go crazy with color, then use the healing tool, then clean up around your lines with the eraser. Here's the monster, cleaned-up:
and the background - all done the same way - on a separate layer. It gets a little boring after a while :? :
Step 3: Time to add texture. Once you've got your finished image all sorted out - colors adjusted, etc. - you're ready to add some texture. Save your finished pic as a jpg or flatten your image (you could do this in your PS file, but it gets kind of messy below when adjusting colors). Here's my finished image without texture:
So, grab your texture image - this can be an interesting piece of paper that you scanned, or just about anything. Mine came courtesy of RobG, but there’s a really nice free texture library here: http://mayang.com/textures/
Here it is 'in action':
Cut out a piece of the texture that matches the size of your picture and paste it into a new layer on top of your image. It should cover it up. Set your texture layer style to 'overlay':
Step 4: Adjust your texture. You should change aspects of the texture layer, like hue, saturation, and opacity. Also, you may want to make some adjustments to your base image now that it's got this overlay - I've upped the contrast and made some color changes. Having the picture as a single layer really makes this process a lot easier.
And it is finished. Hope that was helpful to some people.
Last edited by Sepulverture; November 24th, 2009 at 10:32 AM.
Reason: Cleanup and re-organizing - Sepulverture
Sweet Jesus!! Thanks Blue!
It's nice to see a tutorial like this for photoshop, I always feel like I wished it could do more. After seeing this it's like a breath of fresh air. I'm glad you posted this, it was very helpful.
I wouldn't mind trying out some of those textures your friend gave you, that is if you don't mind. Thanks again for the tut, Awesome job!
Very nice! I was wondering how you got the texture look to your piece. Now I know. I didn't realize it would have been that easy. COW had a thread for the winners or anybody who was requested to post tutorials but it probably sank to the bottom of the page into oblivion by now. I'm not sure if you would want to keep the thread here or have a mod move it.
leckronium: Yay, I thought about putting it there, but this was sort of more generally for the technique than the particular image - it just happened to be handy. Maybe someone will move it. Thanks for the comment!
Wonderful piece, wonderful tutorial. But for heaven's sake, work at a higher resolution! Your stuff is definitely professional quality, but it's going to print like crap if a 100% veiw fits on your screen.
Elwell: You're right, of course. It's just a hobby and I don't plan on making prints of these. I work small because my computer (well, not mine actually) runs excrutiatingly slowly with large images. It just isn't fun to paint digitally anymore when you apply the paint... then wait 5 minutes for it to show up on the screen, repeat a thousand times Anyway, I do all my inking on watercolor paper, then color it traditionally so I have a finished piece as well as a small digital pic.
As for flattening - that's a much better way to do it. I'll amend the tutorial. I just get rid of my PSD files almost as soon as they're done - I can't spare the space on my HD. And thanks for the 'professional-quality' comment
Fair enough. It just seems a shame that something like this would only translate into a little more than 2"x3" at 300dpi, should the possibility ever arise (and hey, you never know). Adding more RAM is (relatively) cheap and easy, and makes more of a difference than anything else in terms of Photoshop performance.
The 'load channel as selection' icon is a little sun-looking symbol that appears along the bottom of your channels box. You have to have hit the channels tab (next to layers) for it to show up. I think its the little icon that's farthest on the left. Sorry if I can't be more specific - I'm out of town and don't have access to Photoshop
bluefooted I read about this thread elswhere and finaly found it, but the immages are down, I know more people than me (over at CGtalk etc) are looking for digital watercolor tut. Any chance finding this files?