15 Free Photoshop Watercolor Brushes to turn your images into a creative watercolour
The images used in this tutorial can be downloaded for free.
Creating the background watercolor paper
Start by creating an A4 document, naming it watercolour.
Load the brushes with a double click on the file; Photoshop will open if you don’t already have it open and you’re done. You can also load them from within Photoshop in the Brushes window menu.
Open the images by dragging them to the tab area, by not dragging them to this area they become Smart Objects.
Using the Move tool drag the image of the texture onto the tab of the A4 and once it is activated, drop it more or less in the centre of the A4.
Clone the texture of the watercolour paper to cover the A4.
Adapt the size making it a little smaller, with Edit> Free Transform. Then make a copy of the texture layer using the Move tool and while pressing the Alt key move the layer to an adjoining area, create in this copy of the layer a layer mask and generate a linear gradient from black to transparent to smooth the edge.
Combine the copy of the texture from Layer> Merge Down and repeat these steps to cover the entire A4. Flatten all the layers avoiding that any of the pieces of texture remain outside the canvas, this would increase the file size.
Use the Spot Healing Brush tool to clone any areas that may seem irregular and where the edges join are so that they are no longer noticeable.
Convert image to drawing
Add the image of the model and adapt the size with respect to the canvas, the same as we have done previously with the texture. You can also go to Select> All, Edit> Copy and then paste on the A4.
Most importantly, to create a drawing of the image, download the tutorial file Converting Picture to Drawing with Watercolor and Ink Splatter Background in Photoshop, open it and double click on the Smart Object to edit it, drag and drop your image of the model onto it, aim to cover the empty area making a selection of the entire canvas, subtracting the image area from the model and Edit> Fill making sure Content Aware and Colour Adaptation are selected.
Save, close the Smart Object and any filters used in the layers of the Smart Object will be applied; updating your new image. We only want the line without the Charcoal effect so turn it off by clicking on the eye icon of the TEXTURES group and also of the ORIGINAL copy 3 Smart Object.
Remove the layer masks from the LINE group, by right-clicking on the layer mask thumbnail, expand the group and from the layer ORIGINAL copy 2 and remove the mask, now we are going to disable the Charcoal effect, expand the effects menu applied using the triangle to the right of the layer, turn off the first Filter Gallery by clicking the eye icon to deactivate it; scroll down to the ORIGINAL layer and turn off the filter there too.
Turn off the BACKGROUND group and Layer> Flatten Image. Now we have the image converted into a drawing.
Take it to the WATERCOLOR document, blend the layer in Multiply mode so that the white disappears and fit it to the original image.
Transforming the image into watercolor
Convert both layers into Smart Objects in order to apply filters; convert them in the layer window by right-clicking in the layer name area, not on the thumbnail, note that the menus are different depending on where you click.
Create a folder under the model layer, add 4 new layers and apply a brush from the downloaded set in each one of them. Generating a stain this way on each layer allows you to freely edit the composition later.
Apply a first filter in the model layer from Filter> Filter Gallery> Artistic> Sponge: (Brush size: 0, Definition: 0, Smoothness: 3). Apply a second Filter Gallery filter with 4 filter layers, they are created from the bottom right of the Gallery. From top to bottom the filters are:
1.- Texture> Grain: Intensity: 7, Contrast: 57 and Grain type: Soft.
2.- Brush Strokes> Accented edges: Edge Width: 2, Edge Brightness: 38, Smoothness: 5.
3.- Artistic> Paint Daubs: Brush size: 8, Sharpness: 2, Brush Type: Wide sharp.
4.- Artistic> Poster Edges: Edge thickness: 0, Edge Intensity: 0, Posterization: 6.
And blur Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur with Radius: 0.4
Also apply Filter Gallery in the line layer with the following
1.- Brush Strokes> Accented Edges: Edge Width: 1, Edge Brightness: 28, Smoothness: 4.
2.- Artistic> Paint Daubs: Brush size: 9, Sharpens: 1, Brush Type: Wide sharp.
3.- Artistic> Poster Edges: Edge thickness: 5, Edge Intensity: 0, Posterization: 6.
Moreover, blur Filter> Blur> Gaussian Blur with Radius: 0.2
Painting with Free Photoshop Watercolor Brushes
After that, with the model layer, right-click and Create Clipping mask with the Group of brush stains and blend in Screen mode, using this blend mode helps in case you need to add any white to the group of layers allowing to remove any of the stains and therefore the image will only be seen in the grey and black areas.
Expand the group and finish composing the spots in terms of position, size, rotation, add layer masks and paint on them using the watercolour brushes to create the background, add a Mask in the group and hide parts painting with black with watercolour brushes. Blend the group using Multiply mode.
Use the 15 Free Photoshop Watercolor Brushes to Stylizing color
To end, add a Levels Layer to clarify, paint and mask using the watercolour brushes. Click and Create Clipping Mask with the image of the model.
Give it a colour style, create a Gradient Map layer, Click and Create Clipping Mask and select an attractive gradient, from the Gradients window menu you can add more collections of gradients and also edit one to customise it to your liking, doing so still allows you to paint on the mask to hide parts of the layer. Blend it in Colour mode.
In the line layer create a Clipping Mask with a copy of the model and mask parts of the line.
Select all the layers except the Background layer and create a group and make a Clipping Mask with a layer of Levels to contrast and paint some areas on its mask to cover them. Blend in Multiply mode
In conclusion, to finish by adding another Layer of Levels merging it in Soft Light mode and reduce some areas using the mask.
Video tutorial 15 Free Photoshop Watercolor Brushes to Convert your Images to Watercolour in Photoshop.
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