Creating an Enhanced Watercolor






Creating an Enhanced Watercolor

This method of creating a watercolor painting uses three filters: the Watercolor, Underpainting, and Note Paper filters. You apply each filter to a separate layer. Then, you adjust the layers’ blending modes and opacities to blend them together.

  1. Open the image that you want to change into a watercolor painting.

    For this example, I’m using the photograph of a Maine coastal town shown in Figure.

    Click To expand
    Figure: This photograph could certainly make a nice watercolor painting.

  2. Select the layer containing the image in the Layers palette.

  3. Press Ctrl+J/z +J or choose Layer>New>Layer via Copy two times.

    This creates two copies of the selected layer. So, you should have three identical layers, as shown in Figure.


    Figure: You should have three identical layers in the Layers palette.

  4. In the Layers palette, rename the layers.

    I’ve renamed the layer at the top of the list Note Paper, the second layer down Underpainting, and the bottom layer Watercolor, as shown in Figure. I’m using these names to identify the different layers throughout the rest of the steps.

    Click To expand
    Figure: Use the settings at the right side of the dialog box to adjust the Watercolor filter.

  5. Select the Watercolor layer in the Layers palette.

  6. Choose Filter>Artistic>Watercolor.

    The Filter Gallery opens with the Watercolor filter selected, as shown in Figure. Notice that the settings for the filter are located at the right side of the dialog box.

  7. Move the sliders to adjust the Watercolor settings.

    • Brush Detail sets the width of the brush being used to create the watercolor. The lower the setting, the smaller the brush and the greater the detail. For my example, I set it to 12.

    • Shadow Intensity deepens shadows in the image. The higher the setting, the more shadows. This option can darken the image considerably, so keep the setting low. For the example, I set it to 0.

    • Texture enhances edges and adds more water droplets. The higher the setting, the more texture. For this example, I set it to 1.

  8. Click OK to close the Filter Gallery and apply the Watercolor filter to the Watercolor layer.

    You don’t see the effect of the Watercolor filter unless you hide the two layers above the Watercolor layer. If you want to take a peek, Alt+click/Option+click the eye icon to the left of the Watercolor layer. (The other layers are hidden.) Afterwards, Alt+click/Option+click the eye icon to make the other layers visible again.

    Figure shows the Watercolor layer of the Maine town with the Watercolor filter applied. Notice that although the Watercolor filter did its job, the photograph is rather dark and a lot of the detail has been lost. This detail is returned in the following steps.

    Click To expand
    Figure: Now that I have a watercolor “base,” I’ll use other filters to restore the detail.

  9. Select the Underpainting layer in the Layers palette.

  10. Choose Filter>Artistic>Underpainting.

    The Filter Gallery opens showing the Underpainting settings at the right of the dialog box. These settings are shown in Figure. The Underpainting filter is going to be used to add saturation and depth to the image.


    Figure: Use the settings to adjust the Underpainting filter.

  11. Use the Brush Size and Texture Coverage sliders to adjust these settings.

    • Brush Size sets the width of the brush. Lower settings create more detail. For this example, I set it to 3.

    • Texture Coverage sets how much texture is applied to the image. Higher settings make for more texture, but lower the amount of detail. So, for my example, I set it to a pretty low setting of 5.

  12. Use the Texture drop-down list to select Burlap.

    Burlap texture imitates watercolor paper.

  13. Set Scaling to 50% and Relief to 2.

  14. Use the Light drop-down list to select the direction that the light is coming from for your image.

    For the Maine coast photograph, the light from the setting sun is coming from the lower-right portion of the photo. So, I chose Lower Right as the setting.

  15. Click OK to close the Filter Gallery and apply the filter to the Underpainting layer.

  16. In the Layers palette, use the Blending Mode drop-down list to select Soft Light and set the Opacity to 50%.

    You may need to fiddle with the Opacity slider to get this setting just right. If you hide the upper Note Paper layer and view the other two layers, you see that much of the detail is restored, as shown in Figure. (If you hide the Note Paper layer, don’t forget to make it visible again.)

    Click To expand
    Figure: The Watercolor and Underpainting layers blended together with the Soft Light blending mode.

  17. Select the Note Paper layer in the Layers palette.

  18. Choose Filter>Sketch>Note Paper.

    The Filter Gallery opens with the Note Paper filter selected. Figure shows the settings for this filter. The Note Paper filter adds more texture and detail and lightens the image overall.


    Figure: Use these settings to adjust the effects of the Note Paper filter.

  19. Set the Image Balance to 25.

    You may need to play with this slider a bit to get the best results for your image. Lower settings show more highlight area; higher settings show more relief area. The balance between the highlights and relief shows the most details.

  20. Set Graininess to 7 and Relief to 20.

  21. Click OK to close the Filter Gallery and apply the filter to the Note Paper layer.

  22. With the Note Paper layer still selected in the Layers palette, use the Blending Mode drop-down list to select Soft Light.

    Your watercolor painting is now complete! As shown in Figure, the texture and detail in the Maine photograph looks really good.

    Click To expand
    Figure: The completed watercolor painting.



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