Build a Watercolor Wreath in Photoshop Using Your Hand Painted Watercolor Elements | Liz Kohler Brown | Skillshare

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Build a Watercolor Wreath in Photoshop Using Your Hand Painted Watercolor Elements

teacher avatar Liz Kohler Brown, artist | designer | teacher | author

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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.

      Building a Watercolor Wreath in Photoshop Using Your Hand Painted Elements


    • 2.

      What You'll Need


    • 3.

      Creating a Pattern Bank


    • 4.

      Cleaning Up the Pattern Bank


    • 5.

      Building a Balanced Wreath: Using Your Pattern Bank to Start Building


    • 6.

      Building a Balanced Wreath: Adjusting Vibrancy and Overlapping


    • 7.

      Building a Balanced Wreath: Adding Text & Changing Colors


    • 8.

      Building a Balanced Wreath: Changing Out Wreath Elements


    • 9.

      Building an Imbalanced Wreath


    • 10.

      Building a Scattered Wreath


    • 11.

      Final Project


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About This Class

In this class, I want to show you how to use Photoshop to create beautiful watercolor wreaths by collaging your hand painted watercolor elements.

We’ll cover how to make your own pattern bank of watercolor elements, then I’ll show you how to use your pattern bank to build an unlimited amount of watercolor wreaths in whatever color, size, and layout you want.

You can use the wreaths you create in this class for personal projects like greeting cards or desktop backgrounds, or you can sell your wreaths as digital downloads or use them on print on demand sites like Society 6, Spoonflower, Zazzle, and Red Bubble.

Once you finish this class, you'll be able to create tons of beautiful wreaths using your own hand painted watercolor elements!

Note: This class is great for anyone who is somewhat familiar with Photoshop.  If you're a beginner, you may want to start with my first class, which explains all of the tools I use in this class: Beginner Class

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Liz Kohler Brown

artist | designer | teacher | author


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Level: Intermediate

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1. Building a Watercolor Wreath in Photoshop Using Your Hand Painted Elements: Have you ever created a watercolor wreath that was almost perfect, but you wish you could change one or two flowers, or adjust the color of the leaves? I want to show you how to use Photoshop to create beautiful watercolor wreaths by collaging your hand painted watercolor elements. In this class, we'll cover how to make your own pattern bank of watercolor elements. Then I'll show you how to use your pattern bank to build an unlimited amount of watercolor wreaths in whatever color, size, and layout you want. You can use the wreaths you created in this class for personal projects like greeting cards or desktop backgrounds, or you can sell your wreaths as digital downloads or use them on Print-on-Demand sites like Society6, Spoonflowers, Isle, and Redbubble. If you're ready to learn a whole new way to build your watercolor wreaths, then this class is for you. 2. What You'll Need: Before we get started, I want to show you all of the keyboard shortcuts that I use in this class. You can either take a screenshot of this document or you can download it from the course page. These shortcuts are really helpful and they'll speed up your process in Photoshop, so I really recommend either learning these or having them beside you as you work. Let's talk about the images that you'll need for this class. There are a few things to look out for while you're scanning or taking pictures. I have a couple of examples here. The one on the left, the elements are painted way too closely together, so I can't crop these out in Photoshop, so this is not a good painting for this particular project. Also, the picture is taken in a low light situation, that's going to show all of the wrinkles on the paper, and that's not going to work well for this project. Also, the picture on the left is taken very far away. I took this picture with an iPhone, and there just aren't enough pixels in the image to create a high resolution wreath. The image on the right is much better. There's a lot of space around the plant, so I can easily crop this out in Photoshop. The picture is taken in a nice bright light. Although the papers are a little bit cream, I can fix that in Photoshop. Third, this picture on the right is taken very close up. I'm only capturing one watercolor element in each picture, and that allows me to get a really high resolution picture of each element. You'll see that all of the images that I use are taken with my iPhone, so you don't have to have a scanner to do this, although if you do have a scanner or you have access to a scanner, that really is the best option. Scanners are able to get really high resolution pictures. If that's an option for you, go ahead and use scans for this project rather than pictures. 3. Creating a Pattern Bank: The first thing I want to do is create a master document with all of my watercolor elements on separate layers. I'll open each one and then remove the white background and then drop it into my master document. If you're new to Photoshop or if you don't feel comfortable with all of the Photoshop tools you see me using here, you may want to go back and watch my first class, which is more for beginners. I explain each tool in detail in that class, whereas in this class I'm going to go through my process and tell you what I'm doing, but I won't go into detail about the function of each tool I use. First I'm going to open all of my image files. So open Photoshop, click "File", "Open", and then locate my documents on my computer here. I've dropped a ton of different watercolor pictures that I have. Some are flowers, others are branches or leaves. I'm just going to open all of these and add every single one to my master document. So I'll click the first one, then "Shift + Click" the last one and click "Open". Photoshop will open all of my pictures here. I may go through and take out some that I don't really like, or I may just change the color of those. The first ones here are these botanical leaf patterns; I'm going to start with those. What I'll do here is use my "Crop" tool to get as close as possible to this leaf, and then click "Enter" to set the crop. Then I'll click "Image", "Adjustments", "Brightness/Contrast". Let's pump up the brightness a little bit and then let's pump up the levels. So we'll increase the shadows and increase the highlights a little bit. Then I want to check my background; I'll use the "Eyedropper" tool here to take a sample. It looks like almost a pure white but not quite. I'm looking for a six F's, which is the pure white color code. So let's click "Okay" and go back to levels and go a little bit brighter with our highlights, and maybe pump up the darks a little bit as well. I got my "Eyedropper" tool taking another sample, and now we have a pure white. Now I can select my background and first I want to go ahead and paint over these extra elements that are hanging off my page. You can use your left and right bracket tools to change the brush size here. I'm just dragging over those extra leaves. Now I can use my Magic wand tool. I have my tolerance set at seven. Five to ten for the tolerance is great when it comes to watercolors because you really don't want to lose that nice rough watercolor edge. You can see with a tolerance of seven, if I zoom in and click on the white space, we're really capturing every pixel that includes the watercolor stroke; so that's great. I'm going to stick with seven for this and then just double-check to make sure everything got selected. Looks like this corner down here didn't. So I'm going to "Shift + click" and make sure all those little pieces are included in my selection. Zoom in a little bit if you have a trouble spot. Just checking all my corners here, and that looks good. Now I can use my "Eraser" tool and first double-click to unlock the background on the layers panel, click "Okay". I'm going to use my eraser and increasing the brush size with my right bracket, just erase all of that. Now, this is ready to drop into my pattern bank. So let's go ahead and create the pattern banks. So I'll click "File", "New". I'm going to make this pretty large so it can fit everything I have. Let's say 20 inches wide by 10 inches tall; that should be a good start. Then I'm going to grab my leaf that I just created and drag it out of the Photoshop window. Click on that layer and drag it into my document. If I press "Command + T", I can hold down "Shift" and decrease the size of this a little bit; so let's start with that. I may end up making this a little bigger, but that's good for now. Then I'll just close my original. I never change my originals, I like to keep those files so I'll click "Don't Save". My clipping is saved on this document, so let's go ahead and save this. I save this with every new piece that I drop into my file so I never lose anything. Let's call this our master wreath document. We're saving this as a Photoshop file so we can keep all of our layers. Now I'm going to go through and do the same process with all of my leaves. So every piece that I have on this page, every piece that I like, I'll go ahead and put it into our master document using these same steps. I'll speed up the video here so you don't have to watch this whole process; but you get the general idea with removing the white background and then clipping it, dropping it into the master doc. 4. Cleaning Up the Pattern Bank: Now I have all of my leaves on this one document and each leaf, you can see if I click the eyeball tool here, each leaf is on a separate layer, so this is exactly what we want. I do want to double check and make sure there's no little spots or drips in the background. One easy way to do that is, right above your background layer create a new layer. Let's paint that layer just pure black. I'm going to get big brush and just paint black. Then you can see there's a few little pieces here that need to be erased. I don't want to be dragging those into my wreaths later on. I'm going to go through and remove all of these. The easiest way to do that is to find the area, Command click, so that you're on the right layer. Then you can get your eraser tool by clicking E and use the brackets to adjust the brush size. Then I'm just erasing all those little speckles. This is a good practice to just go through and double-check all of your selections. It looks like those are in the next leaf, so I'll wait to do that one. This just makes sure that you have a really clean image to start with. If you do this on your master document, you'll never have to do this again when you create your final image. I also see a few little areas that I didn't crop out, so I'm going to Command click, use my Magic Wand to remove those, just like we did in the main document. Then Command D to Deselect, then I'm just going through and erasing all these little bits. This little one is a trouble spot, let me Command click on that one and then erase it. I'm going to do this for the whole document is go around and clean up. I'll speed up the video here. Now that looks great. I'm going to be sure I'm saving this document as I work. Now I can remove that black background. This is enough room for all my flowers, my leaves, but I really want to add my flowers in as well. So I'm going to go to image, Canvas size. Let's go ahead and make this 30 by 20, so I can fit everything in. I like to style this a little bit just to make it really nice to work with. But this is totally optional, just adding a little bit of text here. If you did want to sell this as a digital download, you would need to go through these steps to make it look nice. I'm just adding a little text at the top and I may also put these in little boxes. Let's move all of our flower layers up. I'm pressing Command T with all of the layers selected to make these a little bit smaller. Then I'll use my Shape Builder tool to create a nice little box for these. My stroke will be simple gray. I'll make this 10 pixels wide. Then I've got this nice section here. So if I wanted to sell these online, this would be a nice way to present it. Let's go ahead and do the same thing with our flowers. I'm going to do the same thing going into each flower image and then cropping out the white background and dropping them into this document. 5. Building a Balanced Wreath: Using Your Pattern Bank to Start Building: Now you can see I have all of my watercolor elements here. All of my leaves and branches and the top, some flowers, and leaves in the middle and then a few roses that I did as well. Anything that you have that would work well in a wreath, you can go ahead and drop that into your master document. This could be botanicals, flowers. It could even be some lettering, anything at all that you have, including ink drawings. You can create this master document and next, we'll start building some wreaths with these. Let's start by building a really simple wreath here. I'm just going to take a few leaves that I like and a couple of flowers and combine these together to make a really simple wreath. The first thing I want to do is take my rectangle layers here and convert these into smart objects. What this does is it allows you to be able to command click on each individual flower layer that we created. Otherwise, these rectangle objects are going to stop you from clicking on all of your nice watercolor elements. I'm converting all of those then I'll just zoom in and find a leaf that I like. I think what would look nice with these flowers is this branch here. Let's start with that, I'll click ''File New''. I'm going to use a ten by ten inch canvas at 300 DPI. You may choose a different size based on whatever your project is. Now I just want to create my circle guide here. I want to be able to follow the circle shapes. I'll just take my brush and with a really light gray color here, I'll just make one circle. I might even make that a little bit more transparent so I can just barely see it in the background. I don't want it to distract me as I'm collaging here, so make that as transparent as possible. Let's start by getting our move tool and clicking on command, clicking on that leaf, and then dragging it into our leaf document. I want to try to place this nicely around my circle, but if it's not perfect, you can see I have a slightly different curve here. I'm going to click edit, transform, warp. That's going to allow me to bend this leaf a little bit, and I don't want to go too far. I want to do this in tiny little bends. I'm just grabbing anywhere on this document within these boundaries and just pulling a little bit, just tiny bits at a time. It doesn't have to be perfect. These watercolor reads are naturally imperfect and that's what makes them beautiful. I'll stick with that I'm okay with this little stem here, but I do want to clip off this area where the watercolor bleaded out. Let's zoom in and just, I'll make a nice angled edge here and erase the rest. I'll click ''Command t'' to move this just a little more and let's stick with that for now. I like this leaf, I'm going make this a little bit bigger. I like the way this looks, but I do wish it was a little bit more vibrant. I'm going to go ahead and click Image adjustments levels, and bump up the vibrancy a little bit. Maybe increase my highlights and increase my darks. That's good to start with. Then I'll click ''Command J'' to copy this. I'm just going to put a duplicate on the other side. You don't have to put a duplicate here, you could change the size, you could go in and get a different branch but for now, I'm going to stick with having duplicates like this. Next, I want to bring in some of my flowers. For this one I'll use my peach flowers, and I've grouped these layers with their leaves, but I probably will change the placement of the leaves. Let's click on one of these flowers, drag it into our document, and I will have this flower pretty large, so let's stick with that size for the flower. Then I want to move this leaf so it's behind this piece. The easiest thing would be to group these onto different layers. I'm going to get my last, so circle this, leaf and then Command c, Command v to copy it. Now I'll go back to my flower layer, do the same thing for this leaf Command c, Command v. Then do the same thing for the flower. Command c, Command v, then I'll make my original flower invisible or you could delete that layer. Now I can move my leaves around. I'll pull this one under my flower and same thing for this one. Make it a little smaller may be, and then pull it under. Let's start with that. Now, I can use this same flower over again. I could click ''Command j'' make it smaller, turn it, and then move it down here. You really can't tell that's the same flower. Once we get all of our flowers together, it'll really blend in. Let's get a flower that looks a little bit different from this same batch. I like this one, this pale flower. Drag this in. I'll go ahead and erase this leaf that I'm not crazy about. Then I'll group these on the separate layers. 6. Building a Balanced Wreath: Adjusting Vibrancy and Overlapping: Now, I've got all three of these on separate layers, and so let's turn this one a little bit, and I'm going put it right up against my first flower. Maybe not. Let's put it right there for now. I think I'll make this a little bit smaller and tuck it behind my flower and same thing for this one. You can see this is a great time to really just play around, look at the different options for placement and you can even go online to try to find some inspiration. If you're not sure how to start laying out your leaf, you may want to start by finding some wreaths that you really like and figuring out what you like about those wreaths and how you could bring that into your own work. So I like that. Let's go ahead and copy those leaves and the flower and bring them down here. I'm going to let that be a larger flower on the bottom. Let's do the same thing, let's choose one more flower from this document. One thing you may notice if you didn't use the magic one all the way right up against your flower, you may see a little bit of white. If you don't like that, you can take your Smudge Tool. If you right-click here, you can select smudge, and just with a small brush, go along and really lightly brush that area. You don't want to go too far, it will look blurry. But just a little bit of smudging for a flower that didn't get a 100 percent cropped out can really help and once you zoom out, you really can't tell. What I may do now, I think I've got enough leaves, I may just copy some of these flowers. If you want to select more than one layer at a time, we can Command click, then hold down Shift and Command, and click on the other layers. Then I can move all three of these at the same time. If you think there's a couple flowers or leaves together that look too similar, we can take that leaf and go Image, Adjustments, Levels, or take that flower that I have selected, and let's bump up the darks a little bit and increase the lightness as well. That changes the color a little bit and the vibrancy. That can really help if you think you've got too much redundancy. Let's copy that, and I'm going to move one of these up here. You can let these overlap or not. You can decide, you can play with both options. That's the great part about this method. It's not like painting irregular watercolor wreath, where you have to commit a 100 percent to whatever you decide. With this method, you can really play around and I think it's a great way to find your style. I think it really helps you with your painting because now when you go to paint a watercolor wreath, you're thinking about all of these things you learned while you were making these wreaths and I know for me this has really helped my painting because I've realized maybe I should paint more small flowers, maybe I don't have enough variation in my wreaths, so I think you'll find if you try this, it will really help your process overall. At this point, I'm really just adjusting these. I want everything to work really nicely together, and if I see a couple that look too similar, I might change the brightness and bump up the highlights a little bit. That's a great start. Let's make our gray layer disappear. I do want to go ahead and save this so I don't lose anything. Let's call this Wreath 1, and I'm saving this as a Photoshop file so I don't lose any of my layers. 7. Building a Balanced Wreath: Adding Text & Changing Colors: I want to go ahead and put my text in the middle so I have something to work with. You can use black or you can really put any color in the center here, whatever looks nice with your wreath. Let's go 80. That's a nice wreath. I like how this is going, but I do want to change the colors of the flowers. I think there is a little bit more if the flowers are a little bit more pink. I'm going to save this, so wreath 1 with text. You'll notice I save every single level that I do. If I make some changes, I go ahead and save that because I'd like to be able to go back. I don't want to be totally stuck with one thing. Saving each stage can really save you sometimes because you think back, "Oh I really loved that one version and I didn't save it, so I never want to have that happen. I just go ahead and save everything." What I'm doing now is selecting every single flower, so every layer that has a flower on it is now selected. Then I'll right-click and click Merge Layers. Now all of my flowers are on the same layer. That's going to allow me to change the color of all of my flowers at once. One other option, if I click Command Z. Rather than merging those layers, I could duplicate the layers first and then merge that new layer. The nice thing about that is, I don't lose any of my original layers when I do it that way. They're all hiding down there and I can go back and use them if I need to. That takes a little bit more work because then I have to go through and make all of these individual ones invisible. But it can be worth it because sometimes you want to go back and find that original layer. Now I have one layer that has all of my flowers on it. But I still have all of those flower layers hidden back there. Let's select our layer with all of the flowers on it and click Image, Adjustment, Color Balance. Now I can really play around with color, already I like this color better. This has a little bit more contrast than what we were working with before. We could go a little bit brighter or we could stick with a more pale color. I think what I'll do is save both and decide later. Let's call this wreath 1 pale and increase the red a little bit and maybe even a little bit more pink. This is where your personal style really comes in, you can do this any way you choose. This is just my way of coloring it, but obviously you will have a totally different color palette that you like. I'll be saving this as wreath 1 vibrant. Also I think I want to change these a little bit. Let's do the same process, I'm selecting both leaves here. I've got both of these layers selected. Duplicate these layers, and then make the first two invisible and merge the second two. Now I've got one layer that has both and two layers that have individual ones in case I ever want to go back and change those. Then image adjustments color balance. I'm not sure what I want to do with these, so let's just play around a little bit. I do like that turquoise, but then the blue is nice as well. This is probably another case where I'll save both, wreath vibrant blue. Then if I want to go back to that original state, I've already saved the blue so I'm just going to click Command Z. Then I can go back and get that teal color that I liked. I may even adjust the levels as well here, let's stick with that. Let's call this wreath 1 pink teal. Ok. 8. Building a Balanced Wreath: Changing Out Wreath Elements: I like this wreath, but part of me wishes I had used a different leaf. This is the other great thing about this process. If you realize halfway through that you actually want to use a different element, you can just throw it in there. Let's use this one here. I like the style of this one. I am going to bring back my gray circle just as a guide. Then I'm holding down shift. Let's make this guy a little bit bigger. I like that. I would like to change the color a little bit, so let's go ahead and change the color before we do anything else. I like this avocado green here. Let's duplicate this layer "Command J". Spin this around and put in place here. Now I have a whole other wreath. I didn't even have to touch the flowers. Let's save this as well. Let's call this wreath 1 vibrant avocado leaves. I'm going to merge these layers and go ahead and adjust this color a little bit. I don't really know what I'm looking for, but I'm not crazy about that color combination. It's a little bit too much like the leaves that are already on my flowers. Let's see what we could come up with here. I did like the blue on the last one. Maybe that's a good option. That's nice. It gives us a lot of contrast between the leaves on this part of the wreath and those. Let's save this one. I am admittedly not very organized with my file names, but as long as you change the file name a little bit, you can always go back and look at all of these. I think this wreath is good to go. I've saved a lot of different options of this wreath. Now we're ready to create our next wreath. 9. Building an Imbalanced Wreath: The first wreath we created was very balanced. We tried to balance the branches on these sides and we balanced the flowers on these two sides. Let's do the opposite now let's create something that's very imbalanced. I'll close this document and create a new file that is ten by ten inches, same size, and make a new layer for my single great dot in the middle here. Obviously you can totally change the size of this. You may want to do a much smaller dot. Maybe you're just putting a name inside your wreath and you don't need much space. This is totally up to you what size you make this circle. I'm going to bring down the opacity here, and let's choose a branch first. I think I like this one here, there's a lot of nice color variations. Let's pull that one in and I'm going to make this one pretty large. I'm going to put a large wreath on this branch, on this side and then fill the rest with flowers. You can see this doesn't perfectly conform to my circle, but that's okay. Edit, Transform, Warp and I'm just going to pull this in a little bit. You don't want to do too drastic of a change here because it will look a little fake if you go too far, but just little nudges and nobody will ever know. Okay. I don't really like how this tail ended up, so let's go ahead and break that off. Okay, that looks better. Let's grab some flowers and I'm going to use my roses this time. I want to grab all of these at once. I know I'm going to use all of them, so it would be a lot easier for me to just grab all of them. I'm going to click on the first one and then Shift-click, Shift-Command-click on all of the others, and then drag these into my main document. You can see they're way too big, so I'll click "Command T" while these are all still selected and pull this in. Let's go ahead and bring these to the bottom out of my way. I'm just going to go ahead and start playing with these. I'll put a bigger one here and we can overlap or not overlap. I may start with not overlapping and then maybe later we'll decide to overlap these. I'm trying to add a lot of variation, so if I do a couple of small ones, then I may do a large one and I think I do like the overlapping. Let's go ahead and start working that in as we go, and I'm not trying to perfectly follow my circle. I'm just kind of playing around as I go. Now that we ran out of new pieces, I can go ahead and duplicate these individually or I could duplicate everything at once. I think I'll do that just to make it easier. "Command J" with all of them selected, and then I'll go ahead and turn them just so everything's different. Okay, and then I'll just start randomly pulling these out. Actually, I think I want a dark one down here. Let's make this one small. If one was big on my original set, then I'll make that one small on my new set to kind of offset the change. I am trying to resize and turn everything because I don't want anything to be exactly the same as it was on the other side. Let's just duplicate a few more that are the best. I think I want my leaf to be on top of everything. I'm just going to grab that layer, drag it on top, so it's overlapping that leaf, that flower. Okay. This one, maybe a little bit smaller and kind of peeking out behind that leaf, and then let's get one more nice flower to fit in that blank area. Okay, so that's pretty nice. Let's go ahead and add our text and see how that looks. So, this quote is about messiness so let's choose messy looking font like this, Atmosphere Font. It's a nice brushstroke look. Okay, so that's nice. That's a great start. This one seems a little over sized, and so at this point you can play around, maybe we want to change some of the colors, maybe we want to increase the levels on some of these. It does seem like there's just an overall color and I think I'd like to make some of these flowers really pop out. Let's go ahead and select some individual ones that seem especially dull and bump up the levels on those. That's great. Let's go ahead and "Save" this one. Let's call this "Wreath 2 pink," And I do think I want to go ahead and change the color overall here. The easiest way to group all of these layers together would be to get my Text and my Branch right beside each other, and then I can just select everything else. Here is my Text Layer, and here is my Branch Layer. The only other thing on this document is my flower so that makes it really easy to group those. Let's click Merge Layers. Let's play around with some different colors here. I think I want to start with more of a pink. Let's save that one. I'll call this "Pink vibrant." 10. Building a Scattered Wreath: The next wreath I want to make here is going to combine a lot of different elements from this document. I am going to start by scattering some flowers around and then adding some leaves in between those. Let's get just a random selection of flowers here. I'm going to pull this flower here. Oh, it looks like I pulled all of my red flowers. That's okay. Let's go ahead and make these really small and just put these on the top for possibly using later on. I think I want to make these a little bit smaller. Actually let's go ahead and use all of these. I think I like these dispersed throughout, I'm trying to make some a little bit bigger than others, but not as much variation as we did on our last piece. I'm not trying to make these perfectly space, I'm trying to make it a little bit off. We have a little bit extra space here and smaller space here. That's perfect. Let's do the same thing with a few of these. Going to get six of these and make them a lot smaller here, and you can see how it really would be a lot easier to go ahead and separate these into different layers on my main document. Moving forward, I may do that, but for today, let's just go ahead and erase some of these leaves. I'll get my Lasso Tool. Copy this. I'll just repeat that process here. Now I've got a nice selection of peach flowers as well as pink flowers. Let's just group these together here. I'm trying to group a pale flower with a vibrant flower. I'm not perfectly following this circle. I want to be just a little bit off and that adds some nice variation. Those look nice. Now we can bring in some branches and add those in between here. I like how that looks. I'll go ahead and save this and then I might go through and change some of the branch sizes. I might change some of the flower colors, so you can see how this process is totally customizable. Whatever you want to create, you can figure out how to do it with this method. 11. Final Project: For your final projects, we're going to create a watercolor wreath using any of the styles we covered here. You can put any kind of text in the center. It could be a name or a quote or wedding date, whatever you want. You can upload a picture of the wreath itself or you can take a screenshot of the image shown on some products. You can do that through sites like Zazzle, Redbubbles, Spoonflower, or Teespring. I cannot wait to see the beautiful wreaths you create with this method. Bye-bye.