Creative watercolor effect

Watercolor is very popular in art because of its unpredictability, liveliness and naturalness.

In this lesson, I will show you step by step how easy it is to create a work of art with a watercolor effect. The inspiration I take from the works of Steena Persson (

We begin with a selection of images and a suitable watercolor texture. Then we will use a few simple but powerful tools: getting rid of the background, layer mask, and corrective layers.

Tricks that you learn about here can be used in any image to attract attention and add vitality. Here is what we get after this lesson ends:

We will need images:

Step 1. So. We begin with the selection of photos. An excellent choice for our lesson would be a model in a stylish and at the same time natural pose. And, of course, the photo should be well lit. For this work, I chose this beautiful photo (image “Model”)

Step 2. Next: select a background. You need to think about what elements you can use in addition to your model. Even if you are going to just add watercolor splashes, it would be nice to stick to some theme and use the corresponding design elements. I found inspiration in a beautiful necklace with a bird on a girl, as well as in bright yellow and orange tones of the image. They made me think about a summer day in the forest. So I chose the texture of the trees and the bright summer palette:

Step 3. Now you can get to work. For example, we need to make a beautiful cover for the site. Then the image size in width should be 960 px. But we will make the image bigger so that site visitors with wider monitors can also see the background of the image.
So: Create a new sheet with a size of 1440 x 900 pixels, resolution – 72 pixels per inch.

Step 4. Paste the image with the girl on the sheet and rename the layer to “Model”. Click Ctrl + T for image transformation. And proportionally reduce the size, leaving 45% of the original size. Apply Filter > Sharpen > SmartSharpen (Filter> Sharpness> Smart Sharpness) to make the image clearer.

Step 5. Now we need to get rid of the gray background behind the model. Use MagicWandTool– Magic wand with parameter Tolerance – Tolerance = 10. Click on the left to select a part of the background. Then press Shift and add a background to the right.

Step 6. Right-click on the selection and instead of the background, make the selected girl: Select inverse – Invert

Step 7. Now on the settings panel, click Refine Edge – Refine the edges. This is a quick and easy-to-use tool that will allow you to get rid of the background image.

Step 8. Press the button AddLayerMask – Add a layer mask on the Layers palette (Layers).
As you can see, the hair needs some work. The advantage of using a mask as opposed to an eraser is that you simply hide the elements of the image, and it is possible to open these elements partially or completely.

Step 9. Now we will use EraserTool – Eraser , in order to make the hair look more natural, we use a brush as an example. In some places, add lines to the hair strands:

Step 10. Also use the tool Brush – Brush with the same settings (brush color is white) to return in some places a part of the background or hair.

Step 11. Add an image with a tree, name the layer “Tree”. And place this layer under the layer with the girl. If necessary, you can change the size of the tree – Ctrl + T

Step 12. Now let’s make the image more contrast. Select the layer with the girl and on the Layers panel – Layers click the button New Adjustment Layer – New adjustment layer. Select color correction LevelsLevels

Step 13. Change the settings as shown below. Dragging the left slider makes the darker shades even darker. Dragging the right slider makes the light shades even brighter.

Step 14. Let’s make the model look better with the background. Click the mask icon on the “Model” layer. Take the tool Brush – brush and select the same brush as in step 9, just make the brush size 26px.

Step 15. Brush in some places, such as, for example, the cropped shoulder. Leave the edges rough.

Step 16. Now the fun part. We will add a splash of watercolor. I chose a watercolor texture that reminds me of leaves, wood, summer. A small number of splashes and color are perfect for us.

Step 17. Add text. Position the layer above all other layers and name it “Waterolor1”. Also change Blending mode – Blend mode for layer on Multiply – Multiplication. You can move the image around the host with the Move Move tool (V) until you are satisfied with the result:

Step 18. Add a mask for the “Waterolor1” layer by clicking on the button. Add layer mask – Add a layer mask on the Layers palette – Layers. Take the tool Brush – brush . Select a simple round brush with a diameter of 90 px. Black colour. Wipe away the splashes of watercolor on the model’s face.

Step 19. Take the second watercolor texture. I chose this one because it is very bright, lively, energetic. On the head of the model, it will look like an original hat or a highlight of sunlight.

Step 20. Add this texture to the image, place it on the topmost layer, which you name: “Waterolor2”. Also change Blending mode – Blend mode for layer on Multiply – Multiplication.

Step 21 Highlight a drop falling on the face. Press Ctrl + J to copy the selection to a new layer. Name the layer “Drip1” and hide it temporarily, since we will start working with the “Waterolor2” layer.

Step 22 Remove excess drops falling on the face, as you did in step 18, only now make the brush size smaller

Step 23 Rotate the drop on the “Drip1” layer as shown in the example. Add a mask to the layer and brush to erase the upper part so that there is no overlap

Step 24 Let’s lengthen the drop. Copy the “drip1” layer by pressing Ctrl + J and name the layer “drip2”. Erase part of the overlap by adding a layer mask and using the brush tool.

Step 25. Select both the “drip1” and “drip2” layers by clicking on them and holding down the Ctrl key. Press Ctrl + Alt + E to copy both layers to the third layer. Name the layer “drip3”. Drag the drop to another girl’s eye, as in the example. Also change the blending mode – blending mode for the layer to Multiply – Multiplication.

Step 26. Again, use a mask to hide the extra parts of the layer.

Step 27. Water drops are well combined with its eyeshadow. And, I think, they also go well with the whole image. Go back to the first texture. Tool LassoTool – Lasso select the drops as in the example below. And paste them into a new layer called “drip4”. As you probably noticed, I constantly remind you about renaming layers. This is considered a good work style. It would also be useful to group the layers into folders for easy operation.

Step 28. Change the size of the droplets on the “drip4” layer. Change the blending mode to Multiply – Multiplication. Place the drops as shown in the picture below. Also use the mask technique to hide unnecessary details.

Step 29. Copy the other drops to a new layer, which you would call “drip5”.

Step 30. Change the size of the droplets on the “drip5” layer. Change the blending mode to Multiply – Multiplication. Place the drops as shown in the picture below. Also use the mask technique to hide unnecessary details.

Step 31 Now that all the basic elements have been added, let’s take a look at what happened and think about what else can be added.

Step 32 A large splash of orange can be balanced by adding blue. Open the third texture and place it on a new layer, which you would call “Watercolor3”

Step 33 Change the layer blending mode to Multiply – Multiplication. Use the Transform Tool (Ctrl + T) to resize the image, rotate the image 90 degrees counterclockwise. Right-click on the image and select Flip Horizontal. Then rotate the image slightly to the right at an angle of 4.8 degrees so that the blue spot aligns with the orange.

Step 34 Use the mask to hide the extra parts of the layer.

Step 35 Add green drops to represent the leaves. Select and copy them to a new layer, which you would call “Watercolor4”

Step 36 Change the droplet size, position. Select layer blending mode Multiply – Multiplication. Remove stains from hands and faces using a mask.

Step 37. Add a large stain of paint that will depict a tree. Select it and place it on a new layer, which you would call “Watercolor5”.

Step 38 Blend Mode Change to Multiply – Multiplication.

Step 39. Finally, let’s add some orange splashes.
Click on the “Watercolor2” layer. Select and copy a part of orange drops on a new layer Ctrl + J and rename the layer “Watercolor6”

Step 40. Use a mask to hide unnecessary details.

Step 41 And the final step is to add your logo or name. Use Ctrl + T to rotate the text.

I hope you did it.

Final version:

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