Watercolor: Smart Texturing In Photoshop | Jamie Bartlett | Skillshare

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Watercolor: Smart Texturing In Photoshop

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

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

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.

      Course Trailer


    • 2.

      Before We Begin


    • 3.

      Building The Smart Effect


    • 4.

      Reusing The Effect


    • 5.

      The Background Texture


    • 6.



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About This Class

Learn how to build this completely customizable smart watercolor texture effect entirely within Photoshop, no outside resources needed. This effect dynamically updates based on your artwork. So you'll be able to reuse and re-customize the effect quickly and easily for future projects. The secret sauce behind this method is using Photoshop's smart objects and smart filters. You'll learn everything you need to know to quickly create this watercolor effect.

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. Course Trailer: Hi, guys. I'm Jamie Bartlett, graphic designer and hand letter behind apairofpears.com. In this class, I'm going to teach you how to create a watercolor texture without the use of any outside resources. Everything you need is right here in Photoshop. If you've taken my other smart texturing class, you'll see that the process is very similar, but the result is totally different. This effect works great on fonts and hand lettering. To create this effect, we use smart objects and smart filters so it's non-destructive, customizable, scalable, and can be reused again and again. For the class project, you'll pick one word that describes your perfect day. You'll lay it out with a font or hand lettering and add any decorative elements you'd like. Then I'll walk you through how to build the effect and apply it to your Word. This class is for anyone, even if you're a beginner, don't worry, I'll go step by step and make it easy for you to follow along. Of course, I'm available to answer any questions. Can't wait to see what you guys create. 2. Before We Begin: Before we get started, feel free to look around the Internet at Pinterest or Dribbble, or anywhere you want to find inspiration for your design. If you do, feel free to share in your class project. This effect works great on text and lettering, it doesn't do as well on large solid areas. So you won't be able to fill in large shapes and expect it to be a convincing water color texture. Feel free to design in Photoshop or Illustrator, whatever program you're most comfortable in. Now, you can start designing and be sure to share your progress in your class project. 3. Building The Smart Effect: So to start, we're going to go ahead and open up Photoshop and create a new document. So go to file, new and we're going to make our document 3,000 by 2,000 pixels and 300 DPI and make sure its RGB. Now click okay and there's our document. I'm going to go ahead and use the title graphic to build the effect on, but you can make it right on your artwork. So this is my text, now we just need to make it a Smart Object. So go over to your layers palette, right-click, and go to convert to smart object. Smart objects allow us to make edits to our artwork non-destructively. So we can add non-permanent filters and effects and even edit them later on. If you're copying and pasting artwork from Illustrator, make sure you select smart object when it asks you how you want to paste it. So now let's go into the Smart Objects. So just go to your layers palette and double-click on the layer. We want to make this document the same size as our original document. So go ahead and go to image, canvas size and go ahead and change it to 3,000 by 2,000 pixels and now it's the same size as other document. So every time we save this document, it's going to update in our original Photoshop file. So we'll go ahead and save this and at this point you need to make sure your artwork is black. If it's not, you can go ahead and double-click on the layer and add a color overlay and change it to black. I don't need one, so I'm going to go ahead and click cancel. Once your artwork is black, then we need to add an inner glow to this. So double-click on your layer and go to Inner Glow. We need to change the blend mode to normal, the opacity to 100 and then go down to source and make sure it's set to center. Then the contour, we're going to go ahead and click this curved one right here. Go ahead and move the window either way so you can see the artwork a little better. But now we're going to do a little bit of adjusting with the choke and the size. So I'll start with this size slider and go ahead and move it right about there and that might be good. We can always come back and change it later. So I'll press okay and go ahead and save it. Now when I go back to our original document, it will have updated. The inner glow is going to help us adjust how the effect is applied. For this next step, I'm going to go ahead and turn off the background, so we can see how our transparency is working. So we need to go into the blending options of this layer and go down to the blend if settings. I'm going to drag this slider to the left and as you can see, the white starts to become transparent. But right now it has a really sharp edge. So what I want to do is hold on option on the arrow to split the two in half, and bring the right side all the way to the right and the left side all the way to the left, and that really smooths it out. Then we'll hit okay and now we can turn the background back on. Now we want to put the artwork in its own group. You can do that by selecting your layer and pressing apple g. Then we need to add a solid color. So I'll come down to this icon here and select solid color at the top and pick any color you want, we can always change it later. Then click okay and move the color fill outside of the group. But now it's affecting the whole document, and we want it to just affect the artwork. So we need to add a clipping mask. To do this, hover between the color fill and the group and click option and you'll get this little arrow and then click again and that makes a clipping mass. So the color is only applied to your artwork. Since it's a colorful layer, you can change the color anytime you want. Just double-click there and pick your color, and then click okay. Now we can start building the effect. But before we do that, we want to make sure that our foreground and background color are set how they need to be. The foreground color needs to be set to black and the background color needs to be set to white. The quickest way to do that is by pressing D on the keyboard. So if my colors weren't set to black and white, I would just go ahead and press D. Now make sure you have your artwork selected in the layers palette and we can add our first effect, which is difference clouds. So go up to filter, render and difference clouds. This is the foundation for the entire look. So as a smart object, the effect show up as smart filters, which means that we can edit them, we can make adjustments without modifying our original artwork. If I was to click this eyeball icon, then you can turn off the filter and then click again to turn it back on. Next, we're actually going to add different clouds again. So go right back to difference clouds and add another one, but this time we're going to make some adjustments to it. So if you come over to this little icon and double-click, it opens up blending options for this effect. We want to set this blending mode to multiply and then we're going to lower the opacity to about 13 percent and click okay. Next we need to add some filters from the filter gallery. So go up to filter, click on filter gallery and we're going to add two different effects. The first one is sponge. So if you click on this drop down and find sponge, these are the numbers that I want to use. The reason that I chose these numbers is because I spent a lot of time adjusting and playing around with these numbers to build this effect. So I suggest you just copy my numbers and you can always go back and adjust them if you want later on. So for sponge, I use 7,1,15. Now we need to add our next effect. So if you go down here and click new effect layer, it adds another sponge one, but we're going to change that to cut out and the numbers I use for this effect are 8,0,1. Now you can click okay. So if you look over at or smart filters, you can see that all the things we've applied are showing up. The order is very important because the one on the top is affecting everything below it. If I were to drag this filter gallery below this second difference clouds, then it would change the effect. So we want to make sure we do everything in the right order. So let's go ahead and drag that back up. Then we need to add another filter gallery. So go back to filter gallery. Now we're going to add the watercolor effect, but right now we have two filters, so we need to go ahead and get rid of one of them. So we'll click the trash can and then let's change this sponge to water color and I want to use the numbers 14,3 and 1 Now I can click Okay and go back to our artwork. The reason I went ahead and added the watercolor filter on its own filter gallery is so that we can go in and edit the opacity of just this filter. So it's changing the opacity of this effect to 25, and click okay. So now we need to add one last filter gallery, but before we go ahead and do that, we need to switch the foreground and the background color so that the foreground color is white and the background color is black. So to do that, you can just click X on the keyboard. So to explain why we needed to do this, I'm just going to go ahead and make a new layer and show you. So I'll make a new layer, move it to the top, and then fill it with gray. Then I'll set my colors back to black and white and we'll add a clouds affect. So this appeared as black and white. If I were to change the colors and apply it again, the difference clouds would be those colors. So a lot of the Photoshop filters are affected by what colors your foreground and background color are set to. So I'll go ahead and delete this because we don't need this. Then let's go ahead and make sure our foreground and background colors are set to white and black. Now we're ready to go back to the filter gallery. So we'll go to the filter gallery, we're going to go ahead and add grain first, we need to set it to 44,33 and make sure it's set to regular grain type. Then add another filter just like we did last time, and pick stamp and set these numbers to 8,5 and then we can click okay. Now I need to adjust the blending mode of this filter gallery. So double-click on that icon and then go to overlay and then we're going to change the opacity to, let's do 13 again. Click okay. So you can see that our texture is really starting to look nice, but we have a few more steps that we need to do. Next, we need go to filter noise and add noise. Let's do 12 percent Gaussian and monochromatic and then we need to add a ripple to the edges. So go to Filters, distort ripple and change it to 23 percent and set the size to large and you can click okay. That just adds a little bit of a ripple all the way around the edge to make it so it's not so perfect. From here, you can make adjustments to any of the filters however you would like. One easy way to change if everything is double-clicking on the difference clouds, every time you double click on it, it just regenerates new difference clouds. So you can just keep double-clicking on this to see how it affects just the overall texture. I like this one, so I'm just going to go ahead and leave it. So you can change the opacity or the blending modes of any of these filters to adjust it however you would like. Another option to customize this effect is to go back into our smart object and adjust the Inner Glow. So let's double-click on the inner glow and adjust the choke and size. I'm going to make this a little bit softer and see what it does. Press okay, and then make sure to save it so it updates in your original file and let's go see what it did. So you can see where we increase the black in our smart object and made our effect lighter in those areas. I think I made this a little too extreme, so I'm going to go back and adjust it one more time. So I'll go back in the Inner Glow and bring the choke back down and maybe the size a well. I like the softness of this but I don't like how close it is to the edge. So I'm going to use the range slider to bring it back a little bit and maybe soften it just a little bit more. This is how I do it. I just keep playing with it until it gets the way I want it to look. Hit okay and save it, and let's see what it looks like. So that's how you can make adjustments. 4. Reusing The Effect: Now I'm going to show you how you can reuse this effect with different artwork. Here I have my design. I chose the word cozy. We need to get this design into the Smart Object. We'll double-click on the "Smart Object," go back to the main PSD. I have my design separated out into the text and the lines. So I select both of those layers, right-click and say "Duplicate Layer." Now we want to pick what destination we want it to duplicate to, and we pick the smart object, and you know it's a smart object because the extension is PSB instead a PSD. You click "Okay." Now we'll go back to our smart object, and there's our artwork. Now we want to drag the effects onto our new artwork. Hold on Option or Alt on a PC and click and drag the inner glow to our new artwork. I'll do it again for my second layer. Now I can hide my old artwork, the watercolor text, and this is also why I separated the texts from the lines, because inner glow is going to be a little bit different how it affects both since the text is thicker and the lines are thinner. I'll start with the text, and adjust the size. I think that will work, and I'll go on to the lines and do the same thing. Since these are such thin lines, this is where the range slider can come in handy. I'm going to zoom in so you can see the detail, and then adjust the range slider. Then maybe soften it a little bit more, and turn the choke down, and there I think that might work. Let's see what it looks like, so make sure you save so it updates. Then we can go back to our original. Now, I still have my original black artwork on top, so I need to make sure to turn those off. Now you can see that the watercolor effect adapted to the new artwork, and I think the inner glow is working well for both the text and the lines. That's all you have to do to change out the artwork and reuse this design for any future projects. Just remember that your artwork does have to be black in the Smart Object. 5. The Background Texture: Now, I'm going to show you how you can add a little bit of texture to the background. So let's go back into our smart object, and now we need to make a new layer and fill it with black. My background color is set to black. So a simple way to do that is just by holding command or control on a PC and then pressing the "Delete" button on the keyboard. Then let's bring the black layer to the top and convert it to a smart object. At this point, we need to make sure that the foreground is white and the background is black. Remember, the quick way to do that is pressing "D" on the keyboard to reset the colors and "X" to swap them. Now, go on to the filter gallery, and we're going to add some filters here. The first one we're going to add is grain. The numbers for the grain here I'm going to use are 100, 37, and the regular grain type. Now, let's add a new filter, and this one's going to be Chalk & Charcoal. For this one, the numbers are 1, 0, and 4. Let's add another one. This one's going to be Stamp, and these numbers are 4 and 26, and we need one more. We can leave this one as Stamp but let's change the numbers to 1 and 35. Let's zoom this to fit in view so that we can see the texture as a whole. So we got some nice big blobs here that look like drips of water color. You can always adjust this to your personal preference by adjusting any of the sliders on these effects. But this is the look I'm going for, so I'm going to click "Okay". Now, we'll add Difference Clouds and change the blending mode on this layer to screen. Now you can see that the difference clouds only shows up on the texture, and it gives the texture some nice dark areas and some light areas as well. Then we need to change the Blend If settings to get rid of the white. So I'll hold down option again to split the arrows and bring the left arrow to the left a little bit, just so we can get rid of the white. Press "Okay", and let's save it. Then we have some nice watercolor texture drips in the background. Now, this is a little too much texture for my liking. So I'm going to go ahead and go back into my smart object and add a layer mask to my texture. With the texture layer selected, I'll click on this icon down here, and that adds a layer mask. I want to make sure my layer mask is selected, and go grab the brush tool, and make sure that I'm painting black. Now, I can just click around any of the dots that I don't want and brush them out. This is also non-destructive. So if you ever brush one out and you decide later you want to add it back in, you can switch the brush to be painting white and brush it back in. I like my background texture a little more subtle. So I'm going to brush out a good amount of these. Once you have it where you like it, save it, and then go back and see how it looks. One last thing. Let's say that my artwork is too big but I like the texture, the size that it is, I don't want to resize my art in the smart object because mine is raster. So if I do that, it's going to be destructive and I won't ever be able to scale up backup without it looking pixelated or distorted. So what I want to do to avoid this is, select both layers and convert it to one smart object. Now, I can scale it down to whatever size I want, and press "Enter". But because it's a smart object, I can transform it again and go up here to the width and the height and type in 100 percent, and it preserves the resolution. So I'll just scale this down a little bit, press "Enter", save it, and that's about the size that I want. If your artwork is vector and it was already smart object, you don't have to worry about this step. Your resolution is already being preserved. That's the effect. Be sure to post your final artwork in your class project, and please let me know if you have any questions on the ask me anything discussion. 6. Thanks!: That's it. Thanks for taking my class guys. Be sure to post your final project on your project page and if you share it on Instagram, be sure to tag me @apairofpears. I'd love to see it. If you had any problems or have any questions, I'm here to help, so make sure to post it on the Ask Me Anything page. I would love it if you left me a review. Thanks again, guys. I'll see you next time.