Watercolour effects seem to be everywhere these days, don’t they? You can find them on logos, business cards, clothes, furniture, even on whole wallpaper collections. And even though they are so omnipresent, they never look boring. Instead, they add an artistic and sophisticated touch to the designs. I guess this is due to the fact, that no two designs ever look exactly the same. I love the soft, subtle colour gradients that only watercolours can create. Don’t know about you, but to me, they ooze feminine elegance.
Wanna know how you can use watercolour effects on your next design project? Let’s jump onto that trendwagon and I’ll show you how to easily add watercolour effects using Adobe Photoshop! For the record, I’m using Adobe Photoshop CC 2017. So please keep in mind, things might be a little bit different when using another Photoshop version. Also, there are probably lots of different ways, how you can do this, however, I’ll stick to what worked for me and show you how I created watercolour shapes for different products (see image gallery below).
How To Create Watercolour Effects
It’s probably pretty obvious how you can create your own watercolour shapes and textures: You get your watercolour paper and colours out and go crazy with them. After your painting palooza, give your designs enough time to dry before you scan them at a high resolution (300 or 600 dpi). Save them as jpg- or png-files. You can then open your scanned files in Photoshop and you are ready to use them for whatever design you want.
Removing The Background
Often you will need to remove the white background and – if you have several designs on one page – separate them onto different layers to use them one at a time or combine them differently. There are several options for removing the background. My favourite for this project was the “Magic Wand” tool. Select it from your toolbar and click on the background colour you would like to remove. By adjusting the tolerance settings for the magic wand, you can determine the amount of background that gets selected. Generally speaking, if you choose a higher tolerance, more of the background gets selected, if you choose a lower tolerance, less gets selected. If your actual image contains colours that are similar to the background colour, you may find that these are selected along with your background. Checking the “contiguous” box in the magic wand settings may help to prevent this happening. Once you are happy with your selection, press “delete” to remove the contents of the selection.
Smoothing The Edges & Saving The Files
This approach worked pretty well for me, but I wasn’t 100% happy with the rugged edges this produced. To fix this, I used the “Eraser Tool” to manually smoothen the edges of the watercolour shapes. I then selected each watercolour shape and saved it to a separate layer. To do this, right-click onto your selected shape and choose “Layer via copy” or “Layer via cut”. Now you can go ahead and save each layer as a separate file. Save them as png-files keeping the transparent background you just created. Boom! Congratulations, you just created your own set of watercolour shapes with transparent backgrounds for your next design project.
Watercolour Shapes – Shortcut
That’s the process you can follow if you have the paper, paintbrushes, colours, a scanner and enough time to do this. But what if you don’t? What about those of you who WANT WATERCOLOUR EFFECTS RIGHT NOW *stomp* and don’t have several hours to prepare them? Luckily for you, I’ve done this tedious work for you. 🙂 You can find my fantastic collection of 25 watercolour shapes here. They come as high-resolution individual PNG-files with transparent backgrounds, ready for your projects.
As mentioned before, they are very versatile and can be used for everything from logo and business card design, as part of a bigger artwork, to greeting cards and much more. Their high-resolution also makes them suitable for print on diverse products as you can see in the examples above.
Watercolour Photoshop Brushes
But that’s not all! I’ve even taken this experiment one step further and turned all these shapes into Photoshop brushes, to give you even more flexibility with your designs. You can find this collection of 25 watercolour Photoshop brushes here. Using these brushes makes it very easy to quickly customize your designs for example by choosing your own brand colours.
Need something different and/or want to create your own Photoshop brushes from the png-files you created? Here is how you do it. Just open one file at a time and go “Edit” -> “Define Brush Preset”, name your new brush and click “ok”. You can now select your new brush from your brush panel. In case you can’t choose “Define Brush Preset”, check your image size – there is a maximum brush size (2500 px I think). If your design is very big, you might have to decrease the image size before you can define it as a brush preset. That’s it. Well done, you just created your very own Photoshop brushes!
Watercolour Typography & Custom Shapes
There are some very cool things you can do with these watercolour shapes or brushes. Maybe you don’t need the shapes, but would love to use watercolour effects for your typography design? That’s actually a very easy thing to do. In Photoshop, create a new layer right on top of your text layer. Insert your watercolour texture into this new layer. Right-click onto the layer and select “Create Clipping Mask”. Voilà – You’ve got a lovely watercolour effect for your text. How great is that?!
You can use the same technique to lay a watercolour effect over whatever shape you would like. Create your shape on one layer and insert your watercolour texture in a layer right on top of the shape layer. Create a clipping mask in the watercolour layer and you are done! Just like that. 🙂
What do you reckon? Are you going to create your own watercolour effects from scratch? Or are you going to download some ready to use textures/shapes/brushes? I hope you found this tutorial helpful and it enabled you to achieve the look you wanted for your design. As usual, I’d love to see your designs! So, if you feel like it, post them on Instagram and tag @peartreepond. Lastly, I’ve got a special bonus for you: Download one of my watercolour shapes and one Photoshop brush for free and start creating your own designs now!