Watercolor Photoshop Painter: Create Watercolor Art From Photos | Jamie Bartlett | Skillshare

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Watercolor Photoshop Painter: Create Watercolor Art From Photos

teacher avatar Jamie Bartlett, Graphic designer and left-handed letterer

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.

      Prepping Your Photo


    • 2.

      Applying the Filters


    • 3.

      Adding Paper Texture


    • 4.

      Brush Texture


    • 5.

      Swapping Out Photos


    • 6.

      Final Adjustments


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About This Class

In this class I’m going to show you how to turn any photo into a watercolor style painting in photoshop. This effect is a great way to make some fun, custom wall art. Once the effect is built, it can be reused and modified over and over again to work with any photo. 

Anyone can take this class and easily follow along with my step-by-step instructions. 

I can’t wait to see what you guys create.

Meet Your Teacher

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Jamie Bartlett

Graphic designer and left-handed letterer


Jamie Bartlett is a graphic designer and left-handed letterer working out of Denver, CO. She graduated from John Brown University with a degree in Graphic Design and now runs a shop for her hand lettered designs and fonts. Her work reflects everything she loves in life: a good cup of coffee, nerdy design terms, tandem bikes, road trips, and so much more.

Check out all Jamie's classes to learn her tricks of the trade. 

To see what she's up to now, follow her on Instagram and Dribbble.


  &... See full profile

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1. Prepping Your Photo: Hi, guys. I'm Jamie Bartlett, graphic designer and a hand letterer behind photoshoppainter.com. In this class, I'm going to show you how to turn any photo into a watercolor style painting in Photoshop. This effect is a great way to make some fun custom wall art. Once your effect is built, it can be reused and modified over and over again to work with any photo. Let's get started. For the class project, you'll need a photo. It can be one you took yourself or check out unsplash.com for some free, high-quality photos. You can use any photos from the website, restriction free. Once you have picked out your photo, share it on your class project page, and then you can open it up in Photoshop. I'm going to open up my photo. The great thing about Unsplash is that the photos are super high-quality and super-high resolution. You can even print them out and use them as wall art once you're done, and that's what I'm planning on doing. First, we're going to adjust the size of our picture. When I'm done, I'm going to want to print this as an 11 by 14. I'm going to choose the crop tool, and then go up here and make sure that width, height, and resolution is checked. I want mine to be 14 by 11 and 300 dpi, and that's big enough to print. I like how it's cropped, so I'll press "Enter" and the check mark. Now, let's start building our effect. 2. Applying the Filters: The first thing I'm going to do is rename this layer to photo, and then convert it to a smart object, so that we can add all kinds of smart filters. So right-click on that layer and click "Convert to Smart Object". This lets us add smart filters which are non-destructive. So we can always go back and change and edit anything. The first filter we're going to add as median. So go up to filter, noise and median. What this effect is doing, is taking away a lot of the detail. This might change based on what type of picture you chose, but for mine, I'm going to start with 12, and see how that looks. Next, we're going to add another filter. Go back up to filter, stylize and find edges. Then we're going to go over and double-click on these double arrows over here, and this brings up the Blending Options for that effect. We're going to change it from normal down to multiply, and change the opacity of the effect to 75. So the fine edges filter added some darker edges around some of the photograph. You can choose how dark or light those lines are by changing the opacity. Click "Okay". Next, we need to go in and add another filter, but before we do that, we need to make sure that a foreground and background color are right. Actually want this swapped. So to do that, I'm just going to click on these two arrows right here. I want the white to be in the foreground and the black to be in the background. If your colors weren't black and white, you can just click on this icon to reset them. The reason I have to do this is because some of the filters in the filter gallery, are determined by how the foreground and background color are. Let's go up to filter, filter gallery, and the first filter I want to add is stamp. The numbers you use might change depending on the type of photo you use, but I've already done this, so I know that for mine, I want the light and dark balance to be set to one, and the smoothness to be set to 19. I'll go ahead and zoom out to show you what's happening. Now, this effect is just going to add these little white specks throughout my painting. This is just a little bonus effect that's just going to make it look like those spots maybe missed a little bit of painting, or the papers coming through. I don't want a lot of this.You just want a few spots here and there. So if yours has more than this, try adjusting the sliders up or down depending on what you want. Once you have it, how you like it, press "Okay". Then we need to go in and change the blending options for that, by double-clicking on those two arrows. We're going to change the blending mode to screen. So you can see here there's some little white coming through up here, some up there there. It just adds a little bit of variation. Press "Okay", and we just have one more filter gallery. So go back up to filter in filter gallery, this time we're going to do watercolor. For the watercolor settings, I'm going to do eight, zero and two. Now I'm going to add another filter, and to do that, you can click on this "Add New Effect layer" down here. This time it's palette knife. Click on that. In these settings, I know that I want mine to be two, one and zero. Then hit "Okay". Since this is such a large image, it might take a little while to apply all the effects, and that's all the filters that we need to apply, but we have a few more steps to really push the watercolor effect. 3. Adding Paper Texture: Next thing I want to do is add the watercolor paper texture. I've made a couple of different textures for you, and you can download them on the class project page. All I did was find some watercolor paper and scan it into my computer. I'll go and open that up, and I'll just select all by pressing Command A on the keyboard, and then Command C to copy it. Then I'll go back to my castle, then Command V to paste. I just need to scale it down a little bit so it comes pretty close to fitting. But you can decide how big or small you might want your texture to be. Then I'll go and set that layer to multiply. It blends right on top of my image, and you can see all that nice texture happening. There's without it, there's with it. So that helps sell the effect even more. That just helps sell the effect even more. 4. Brush Texture: Next we're going to add some watercolor brush texture to our artwork. I've already downloaded some watercolor brushes. You can follow the link to the brushes in the notes of this video, or you can also find the link on the class project page. Once you have your brushes installed, make a new layer, group that layer by pressing command G on the keyboard and will rename the layer texture 1 and then put the group all the way at the bottom below the photo and, then we need to make a clipping mask so that the artwork is only on whatever is in the texture layer. So to do that, press "Option" or "Alt" on a PC, hover between the photo and the group layer and click. Now the photo is no longer showing up because we haven't put anything in the texture 1 layer yet. We need to start adding in some watercolors with our paintbrush. Select your paintbrush tool, go up to your paintbrushes and here are all my watercolor brushes down here. All you need to do is select a brush, make sure your texture layer is selected and then we need to paint black so I need to switch my foreground and background color onto the layer. You can see that once we start painting, the picture starts to come through. Now this is the part where you just have some fun. Choose some different brushes, some different sizes and you can change the size of your brush by pressing the left or right bracket on your keyboard. You can also change the opacity of your brush by pressing the numbers on your keyboard so five would be 50 percent, and so on. The goal here is to get a bunch of layered textures. The reason I put this layer into a group, is because I want to add multiple layers of texture. So now that I got this layer filled up a good amount, I can add another layer and rename it texture 2 and start adding some more texture to it with some more brushes. That way I can always turn some layers on and off to add more or less texture, depending on what look I'm going for. I can reuse all of these textures on different photos. I'm going to add one more texture and name that one, texture 3. Now once I have a few layers of different textures, I can go back and turn layers on and off to see what I like. I can also turn down the opacity if I don't want to turn a layer completely off. Let's try turning layer 2 down a little bit. Turn it up a little bit more. I think I like that. So I can save this as a PSD, and now I can reuse all these textures and effects on any photo. 5. Swapping Out Photos: Now say I want to add this to a different photo. All we need to do is double-click on our photo, and that opens a smart object into a new tab. I need to place my new photo into this document. I'll open my new photo. I need to select all and copy and paste it into my smart object. I want my document to be the same size as my tree photograph. To do that, I need to make a selection of my photo. Hold command, and click your layer and it makes a selection of my photo. Then go to your crop tool, and because my photo is selected, it automatically defaults to cropping to that selection. Press "Enter" and "Enter" again, and it cropped it to my photo. Now we save. It'll take a minute to update all of our smart filters. Now that it's updated, we can go back to our original PSD and you can see that it updated the picture, but that the size is not right. Again, I need to make a selection of that layer and then switch back to the crop tool. Press "Enter" twice, and I will again have to re-render those effects and you can see it looks like the top and bottom are disappearing. That's because our textures don't go that far. I'm just going to rotate them 90 degrees so that they fill the whole document. Press "Enter". I need to do the same thing for my paper texture. Now remember you can always adjust these textures, make a new one, rotate them however you see fit. 6. Final Adjustments: Now I want to show you how to make a few more adjustments. Right now this photo is looking a little dull, so I'm going to add some more contrast to that. To do that, we're going to go back into our smart object, which we already have opened in the second tab here. I'm going to add a Curves Adjustment Layer. You go right down here to the adjustment menu and find the curves adjustment. I'm just going to brighten up the whites and darken some of the darks. Let's see what that looks like. So I'll save that so that it updates in our original document, and let's see how it turned out. That contrast looks a lot better. For this photo, I think I need to turn down the median effect a little bit. It looks like it blurred it a little too much and we lost too much detail. So to turn it down, I just need to go in by double-clicking on the median. I'm going to adjust mine down to about eight, and click "Okay" and we'll see what that looks like. Photoshop needs to re-render all the effects. That looks much better. Say you want the green to be a little brighter in this photo, all you need to do is boost the saturation of the green a little bit. To do that, we need to add a Hue and Saturation adjustment layer, and to bring the saturation of the green up a little bit, I'm going to click on this hand, and click on the green part of my image, and then bring it up by dragging it to the right until I get it as saturated as I want it to be. That looks good to me. Then lastly, I have a square frame, then I want to put this in. So I'm going to crop this image to a square. So I'll find my crop tool, make sure I have the one-to-one ratio selected and move my image. I'm going to crop it there. So hit "Enter." Now you notice that every time I make an adjustment, Photoshop has to re-render everything. So if you know what size you want your artwork to be, make sure you crop it at the beginning just to save you some extra time. There you have it, guys. That's our Watercolor Effect. I hope you had fun building this effect and now you can add it to all pictures. If you have any questions, feel free to post them on the Ask Me Anything discussion, I'm always happy to help you guys out and be sure to post your final artwork on your class project page. If you post any of your artwork on the Instagram, be sure to tag me, add a pair of cares. I love seeing your work. I hope you guys had fun. I'll see you next time.