How can I replicate the look of watercolour digitally?
Jemima Dice, US
Answer Denman replies
When trying to replicate traditional mediums on the digital canvas, we need to first pick apart what makes that particular medium unique.
Watercolours are typically a transparent medium, and when painted wet on dry, often have granular diffused brushstrokes with a dark edge. The dark edge is caused by the pigment collecting due to surface tension. A popular approach to watercolour is the application of washes or glazes of colour, to achieve detail and colour variance.
First let’s get a nice paper texture and import it into our canvas in Photoshop, because that also plays an important part of the traditional effect. Take a photo of watercolour paper with a light watercolour wash to capture that grainy pigment texture, or find a free watercolour photo texture online. Next let’s sketch in our subject. I’ve decided to go with a mermage (mermaid and mage – I know, it’s genius!).
As for when to use this method, use it whenever you like! But generally, it’d be for any finished illustration that needs to have a soft, traditional aesthetic.
By using textures, transparency and Photoshop’s layer modes, you can achieve a watercolour effect.