How can I pro­duce a built-up wa­ter­colour ef­fect in Pho­to­shop?

Han­nah Os­trich, Ger­many

ImagineFX - - Imagine Nation Artist Q&A -


Dave replies

The won­der­ful in­ter­ac­tion of wa­ter­colour pig­ment with the paper un­der­neath can be tricky to recre­ate with dig­i­tal tools. There are sev­eral ways you can ap­proach this: for ex­am­ple, adopt a wa­ter­colour paint­ing tech­nique while paint­ing, or ap­ply a wa­ter­colour-like ef­fect af­ter the paint­ing is largely com­plete.

For the first ap­proach, fol­low the ex­cel­lent Zoe Piel method. Cre­ate a Layer Group with a Layer Mask set to Re­veal All, and then fill the layer mask with a wa­ter­colour paper tex­ture. Cre­ate new paint­ing lay­ers within this group, set to Mul­ti­ply. Even sim­ple brushes will pick up tex­ture from the Layer Group tex­ture mask. Us­ing mul­ti­ple lay­ers for dif­fer­ent colours pro­vides flex­i­bil­ity and cre­ates in­ter­est­ing colour in­ter­ac­tions. Go­ing in with a good Blen­der or Smudge brush makes this tech­nique shine!

The post-pro­duc­tion method in­volves us­ing Pho­to­shop’s built-in fil­ters on the fin­ished art and then plac­ing a paper tex­ture in Over­lay or Screen mode over it. Ad­just the Opac­ity for your tex­ture layer so that it en­hances your art­work but doesn’t over­power it (some­times Soft Light works bet­ter). Dif­fer­ent art­works may re­quire fur­ther vari­a­tions of the Layer set­tings, but with pa­tience and fine-tun­ing, you can ob­tain very sat­is­fy­ing re­sults.

Here’s the com­par­i­son of my post-pro­duc­tion method and pre­vi­ously painted art­work. It can of­ten take time, but con­vinc­ing ef­fects are pos­si­ble.

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