Digitising Watercolors. Step-by-step Guide | Olga Sh | Skillshare

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Digitising Watercolors. Step-by-step Guide

teacher avatar Olga Sh, food illustrator | graphic designer

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Scanning tips


    • 3.

      Editing in Photoshop


    • 4.

      Vectorising in Illustrator


    • 5.

      Final thoughts


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About This Class

There are several ways to make your watercolors digital. In this class, Olga Shevyakova, graphic designer and illustrator, will show you her personal process of getting watercolors into digital version (both raster and vector). This -minute class is broken up into tree main parts: Scanning, Editing in Photoshop and Converting into vector in Illustrator. In these parts you’ll know about scanning tips for having a high-quality image, editing in Photoshop process, and, finally, about tracing and post-processing results in Illustrator. By the end of the class you’ll be able to use your watercolors for any design purpoces here and there. Or, since digital watercolor is trendy nowadays,  you can open up an Etsy shop for example and start making money!

As a bonus you will receive a little cute watercolor set, so you can start your design process immediately.

For this class you’ll need Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator (if’re going to make vector version of your drawings). You can get free trial version of both at adobe.com anytime.

Trailer Music - "Private Eye" by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under CC BY 3.0


Meet Your Teacher

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Olga Sh

food illustrator | graphic designer

Top Teacher

My name is Olga. I'm a food illustrator, graphic designer, educator, content creator, and busy mom. For now, alcohol-based markers are my favorite tools. I believe that everyone can draw. My mission is to show that everyone can learn anything. The main thing is courage and desire. I'm proud to be Skillshare's Top Teacher. Top Teachers are high-quality teachers on Skillshare. I love step-by-step tutorials. In them, you can see everything from start to finish, and you can repeat the whole process. This is exactly how I made my classes on Skillshare.com so that you will succeed too. And I hope my classes on Skillshare help my students to try out something new, overcome their doubts, learn something new, believe that everything is possib... See full profile

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1. Trailer: Hello guys, my name is Olga. I'm A graphic designer and illustrator. If you like to draw real life materials such as watercolors, just as I do, I bet you have lots of drawings that have never got to become digital. Time to fix it up. In my new Skillshare class, you will follow my personal process getting your watercolors into digital version both raster and vector. After this class, you will be able not just to draw a single rogue, but use it for any design purposes here and there. Also since digital watercolors are so trained in nowadays, you can even open an Etsy shop, for example, and start making money. As a bonus for enrolling in my class, I have prepared for you a little cute watercolor clip art. Welcome to my class. 2. Scanning tips: So you have your watercolor drawn, and is the time to scan it. It doesn't really matter which brand your scanner is. Best majority of modern scanners give high quantitative results. Here are my personal rules for scanning watercolors. Clean scanner's surface. Seriously it will save you a lot of time when you will be working in Photoshop. I can't even tell you how many times I have had to Photoshop all the rubbish instead of just clean scanner before I start. Use a 300 DPI resolution and higher. If your scanners max resolution is 300, it's absolute okay to work with. You will still get high-quality image. I'd prefer 600 DPI in most cases, and of course, you can scan in 1200 DPI or even higher, if your scanner supports such resolutions. But on the other hand, file size will be huge and it will take longer processing times. Average computer may freeze, crash Photoshop, etc. So consider using resolution between 300 and 600 DPI as a standard practice. Save it in JPEG form. If you have a lot of disk space, you can save it in TIFF or whatever format your scanner supports. Quality may be slightly higher, but in this case, it's absolutely doesn't matter. If you don't have a scanner at hand you can take high resolution photos of your drawing and work with it. But of course it's always better to use a scanner. No perspective distortions, no light balancing, less artifacts and so on. So reiterated might offer step in digitizing process. Our next step is preparing the Photoshop. 3. Editing in Photoshop: So, your outlook is scanned and now it's time to make some adjustments in photoshop. There are many ways to do this, and here I'll show you the way I do it. First of all, you should open your scan in Photoshop. Go to File, open, navigate to its location, select your file and click Open. Then, go to layer panel, double-click on your background layer to unlock it. Now right-click on the layer, click duplicate layer, Okay. Then look your first layer again and make it invisible to prevent unwanted changes. We'll always have initial image just in case. Now make sure you have selected second work in layer and then go to your adjustment panel here on the right. If you don't see it, go to window and make sure adjustment option is checked. Zoom in a little bit. Then choose levels and start playing with sliders to make your background lighter and drawings brighter. The only thing don't go rough. Your image should still look like watercolor. It shouldn't be too light or over saturated. Another one of my favorite ways to improve scan is curves tool, curves is here and adjustment panel near the levels. Again playing with sliders until I'm happy with my results. Now we can merge all layers in one using shortcut Command Shift E on Mac, or Control Shift E on PC. But if you're unsure with your adjustments, always make a backup to have chance to come back to your source image. Now we have only one layer. Now it's time to remove paper texture from background. First, I use the eraser tool with large size and clean area around the image to remove anything I'm not working with. It'll make easier for the work, save some time and won't distract. For example, here have [inaudible] since it's little bit smaller than scanner plate area. Next, we will use magic wand tool and select whitespace. In most cases, it's better to have contiguous option to be checked. It works good when you have white areas as a part of your drawing or you're drawing colors are white wash in light. If you have bright, saturated, and dense colors, you might try uncheck at this option. Anyway, it's always depends on your drawing and often you will need to correct image. If we zoom in, we will see that after using magic wand, we have little white spots between the leaves. To correct this and add them to selection, we will use logic operation buttons, every selection tool has them, they're up there. There is new selection. Add the selection, subtract from selection, intersect with selection. As option, we can use Shift click to add and Alt click to subtract while using new selection mode but it's more convenient for me to use buttons. I need to add these small areas. Here we go. Right now we have almost all the whitespace we need. Then go to Selection, modify, expand, or right-click on selection and click expand in the menu. We will set the value depended on size of your watercolor. I usually go on one or two pixels. This way, we get that tiny spots magic wand can't handle. Now we have to soften rough edges to get our image more natural look. To do this, we go to Selection, modify, feather. Size of feather area again depends on water color. I set 0.2 pixels here. So we have all white space, but we need our illustration. So we need to invert selection. To do this, I use shortcut Command Shift I on Mac or Control Shift I on PC, or just choose selection and click invert. Now click the Add Layer Mask button and we have our illustration without any whitespace. Click Layer Mask and then click Apply Layer Mask. That's it. Your illustration is almost ready for use. Then, you can save your drawings for print or for further use. If you want to use your drawings for a web, for example, upload it on your blog, then go to File, Save for web and chose PNG format, it will come with transparent background or JPEG format. It will come with white background. You can name it wreath for web, for example and click save. If you want to print your artwork, you need to have CMYK color mode. To change the mode go to the image mode, and check CMYK, then save your file as usual, and it's done. 4. Vectorising in Illustrator: After editing in Photoshop, you can make vector version of your illustration. But there is a couple of things to consider. Just think in that you will have high-quality vector, mostly from simple image. Less colors, less transparency, less details will give you more quality. Here is vector on the right and raster on the left. In most cases, you won't get great results if you will try with high detailed, sophisticated drawing. Again, here is vector on the right and raster on the left. Second thing, more details and colors mean more file size and computing time. Complex and detailed vector watercolors are really hard thing to work with. But it's okay to vectorise simple drawings design elements small stuff like ribbons, flowers or lettering, and use it on your design, for example. I'm showing this way in my other class here in [inaudible] For example, if you need to make a set of elements in vector, I advise you to work with them one by one. So you can correct settings for each element accordingly and achieve high quality of overall set and save the disk space. Now I'll show you how to vector a simple watercolor element. In Photoshop, we chose marquee tool and select any element. This blue flower, for example. Then we just copy this element and then open it straight to create a new document. Use a shortcut Command N on Mac or Control N on PC. Right now we left all presets by default, we can easily change them later. We have the document, so we will just paste our element from Photoshop using shortcut Command V on Mac or Control V on PC in a little bit and go to trace panel. If you don't see it, go to window and check image trace. Now we have panel with a bunch of settings. Illustrator has some built-in preset tracing but there is no special watercolor preset. You can try to use high fidelity photo, for example, or create your own preset. I'll show you how to do this. First, we should edit settings. My settings are color 60, paths 50, corners 25, and noise five. I did this preset for watercolors, and it gives pretty nice result with simple watercolors. You can use my preset or play with it until you get your perfect one. When you're done, go to manage preset button near preset name and click Save As new preset. Give it a name, let's say for watercolors, for example, and click okay. Now you can see you're preset in drop-down menu selected. Hit trace button, and wait. It's quite long process. So now we have vector object instead of raster. Now we have to make a couple of additional steps. Click object, expand, and in submenu we check object and fill, and then click okay. Now we need to ungroup our object to remove unnecessary pieces of other elements and white space. To ungroup object we use shortcut Command Shift G on Mac or Control Shift G on PC and keep ungrouping until there is no loops. Or we can right-click and select ungroup option in context menu and keep repeating until ungroup option won't be replaced by group option. On the layer panel, we see now there are a lot of microelements. We click anywhere outside our object, white space is selected, and it's time to remove it. Next, we select pieces of other elements and removes them too. When we've done, we select all our object and group it. So now we can use our element anywhere we like. We can scale it, rotate, duplicate, and so on. 5. Final thoughts: Okay, now you know how to make raster and vector version of your watercolor drawings and you can easily use it for any purpose or any design. For example, here are some designs I've made out from the race featured in this class. As there's a lots of fluxions how to give your artwork a new live in a digital form. Hope you have enjoyed my class and it was useful for you.