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Computer ArtsTutorial

Watercolour effects

When you want to create a tactile and fluid effect in your digital art, your best bet is to reach for the real thing. Derek Lea gets out his watercolour paints and reveals how original old-style becomes digitally colour-perfect.

The way water and paint work together is a beautiful thing to behold. By wetting a page first and then introducing drops of watercolour paint, you'll bear witness to a blending of colour that no digital tool can successfully reproduce. The effect is so real, but what about those of us who prefer to work digitally?

Sadly there isn't a digital tool that effectively reproduces watercolour effects that rival the real thing. Painter has approached the issue, but the general opinion is that it only achieves limited success. The app produces a nice bleeding effect, but it feels a little laborious to control. To give the software engineers credit, it really is an impressive effect, but unfortunately still doesn't have that natural sense of randomness. As digital artists wishing to incorporate a real-world effect into our work, we're once again faced with the obvious decision of using the real thing.

Some simple drawings and a small series of watercolour paintings are all that you'll need to get started with this tutorial. Reference files have been included in the support files, but feel free to start from scratch. Once the materials are scanned and assembled, it is time to bring it all together in Photoshop. Using channels, layers, masks and Blending Modes alongside Photoshop's impressive paint tools, you should achieve a final result that even surpasses using watercolours alone.

Click here to download the support files (2.6MB)

Click here to download the tutorial for free

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