Combine watercolor with a photo in Photoshop


Mixing art materials can, perhaps, be called a special kind of art. Brazilian illustrator Murillo Maciel demonstrates it in two experimental series of works – Destroyed Beauty and the Moon. These images are a mixture of photographs with watercolors and various textures.

In this lesson you will learn not only how to combine watercolor with a photo, using blend modes effectively, but also how to achieve a harmonious combination.

Required software:

Adobe Photoshop CS or later

Step 1

To begin with, paint a few black spots with watercolors and wash them with water. Try to make as many options as possible so that we can choose from. Perhaps this is the most important part of our project, as the image will be superimposed on these spots. Therefore, you should definitely experiment with different materials (for example, different paper, brushes, etc.) in order to get beautiful shapes and textures.

Step 2

Now, let’s work with colored spots. The key point of this phase is that you need to constantly experiment, not only with paints, paper and brushes, but also with some other materials. Ordinary iodized salt and isopropyl alcohol, for example, create a very beautiful texture. Use them in various quantities, mix, do whatever comes into your head.

Step 3

And now is the time to draw decorative elements, various patterns and decorations. As soon as you are done painting, wait for the drawing to dry and scan it.

Of course, if you do not want to dirty your hands, you can use ready-made watercolor textures, but personally I recommend you to create them yourself, because, firstly, it is much more interesting, and secondly, you can create the final image with such how do you imagine it.

Step 4

Open canvas.psd and adjust the levels in order to increase the contrast of the photo. Select the model layer and then Image – Adjusments – Levels (Image – Correction – Levels) (Ctrl / Cmd + L). Move the slider on the left to 14, and the slider on the right to 199.

Select the layer with the model by holding Ctrl / Cmd and clicking on it in the layers panel.

Step 5

Create a group of layers under the model layer. Using our previous selection, create a mask by clicking on the button. Vector Mask at the bottom of the panel with layers.

Select the photo again and change the blending mode to Screen (Screen). You will notice that the photo will disappear.

Step 6

Open the images of your black spots or blackwashes.jpg, select each with Lasso tool (Lasso) (L), then copy them and paste them into our image. For each spot, hold down Ctrl / Cmd + L and change the level values ​​to 74, 1 and 209, respectively, in order to increase the contrast of each spot.

Step 7

Select one of your blots and turn it into a black and white image like this: Image – Adjustments – Desaturate (Image – Correction – Discolor) (Cmd / Ctrl + Shift + U).

Next, to create a more interesting texture, we use sharpness. Click Filter – Sharpen – Unsharp Mask (Filter – Sharpening – Contour Sharpness), set the amount to 106% and the radius to 0.8; do the same for each spot.

Step 8

Move the spot into a group of layers, and you will see how our photo appears in the place where we placed our blot. This is the main concept of this style, so it’s very important how you coped with the first creative part of the task. Make this layer 60% smaller and place it where you want.

Step 9

Of course, the idea is not only to place extremely large spots. To make our image look more interesting, it’s worth experimenting with their sizes. Copy several blots to our folder, but change the blending mode of each layer to Multiply (Multiplication).

Step 10

Here you can add blackwashes2.jpg. Continue to create an image by placing blots of various sizes until you are happy with the result. Try also to leave a lot of free space on the image. You can turn on the patterns you have previously drawn in order to make the image even more interesting.

Step 11

Remember we created colorful textures? It’s time to add them. Open coloredpaint.jpg, copy and paste it into a group of layers. Reduce the size to 50% and change the blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication). Place the layer with the texture and color in the left part of the image, then copy it and place this time in the upper part.

Step 12

Open the oldwallpaper.jpg document. Click Image – Adjustments – Desaturate (Image – Correction – Desaturate) (Cmd / Ctrl + Shift + U), and then Image – Adjustments – Threshold (Image – Correction – Threshold) and set the value to 144. This will create a screen printing effect.

Copy the resulting texture into a group of layers, set the blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication), and copy the resulting layer. Place one texture on the right side of the image, and the other on the bottom, as shown in the image.

Step 13

Our image is almost ready, and it’s time to work on the details!

Open wc_circle.jpg and select it with the tool. Elliptical marquee tool (Oval area). Copy the layer and place it above the layer with the photo, then move it to the right shoulder of the model.

Open the style of this layer by double clicking on it in the layers panel. Check the box Stroke (Stroke), set the color to white and the size to 4.

Step 14

Add some decorative elements. Open the file branch.jpg. Copy it on a layer above the photo, set the blending mode to Multiply (Multiplication). Copy this layer several times and place the image in different places. Place some of them near the eyes and hair of the model. For each layer with branches, create a mask. Soften the edges using a soft round brush with 40% opacity to make our twigs better fit into the composition.

Step 15

Work on the details. You can add more elements with watercolor on the background and around the perimeter of the image to create the most attractive composition. It will also help to combine the elements of the image.

Step 16

Create a new layer above the photo layer. Draw a circle with Elliptical marquee tool (Oval area). Using Gradient tool (Gradient) fill it with a color with values ​​of c45 m90 y50 k40, and c15 m0 y60 k0 for the edges of the gradient.

Note: The value for setting the gradient color is specified in% for CMYK.

Set the blending mode to Hard Light.
To add abstraction, using the tool Lasso ( Lasso) (L) Remove parts of your circle. Add an extra light effect by copying the circle layer, turning it about 45 degrees, and setting the blending mode to Screen (Screen).

Here we are done!

And here is our result!

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