Gentian Watercolour

By Frank Thomson

Watercolour painting recipe

Using Photoshop Elements 8

  1. Open Gentian.jpg in editor.
  2. Click on the Pattern Stamp Tool (paired with the Clone Stamp Tool)
  3. Load Pattern stamp brushes from Adobe brushes librarya. On the options bar, click the arrowto the right of the brush stroke imageb. Click the black double arrow(on the dark grey background!) to the top right to display the drop down list of choices.c. Click on Load Brushessecond from the bottom of the list.d. Click on Natural Brushes2.abr, and then on the Load button. The brushes include Wet Brush 20 and Wet Brush 60.
  4. Load the image into library of patterns using the Pattern picker
    Edit- Define Pattern – click OK
  5. Make an outline drawing to act as a guide when paintinga. Ctrl Jto duplicate layer  and rename the layer Lineb. Apply a Glowing edges filter
    Filter – Stylize – Glowing edges.c. Experiment with the Width (1), brightness (4), Smoothness (4).d. Invert the image
    Invert Filter – Adjustments – Invert or CTRL+Ie. Desaturate the image
    Enhance – Adjust Color – Remove Color or Shift+CTRL+U.f. Get a better line drawing by using Autolevels
    Enhance – Autolevels or Shift+CTRL+N

    g. Reduce the Opacity of the level to suit, say 33%, and set the blend mode to Multiply

  6. Make a white layer to paint on

a. With the background layer active, click on the “Make New Layer” button at the bottom right of the layers palette or Shift+CTRL+N

b.Rename the layer Wash one

c. Fill with white
Edit – Fill Layer –  Use white

7.  Apply first wash.

a. Select the Patch Stamp Tool

b. Click on the down arrow and chose the Wet Brush 60. Leave the pixels to 60 for this resolution of image, confirm that the aligned and impressionist boxes in the Option bar are ticked and the opacity at 100%. Later washes are applied at reduced opacity.

8. Apply a wash with a continuous brushing movement, (preferably using a Wacom tablet). If the brush is restarted and later overlaps, the join is visibly darker. The odd white show-through gets covered in future washes and gives a more realistic water colour effect, or so I’m told.

9. Prepare for a second wash

a. Duplicate this layer twice (CTRK+J), keeping a copy of the first wash.

b. With the top 2 layers visible, make the top one Screen mode and adjust the opacity to give a soft watercolour effect. To lighten even more you can duplicate the screen mode layer.

c. Hide all but the next wash layers and Merge Visible and rename as Wash Two

10. This repeats the above using a smaller sized brush brush at reduced opacity

11. This repeats again using the Wet Brush 20 to pick out the detail, which shows through from the line guide.

The whole process takes quite a time, and you really need to follow David Coles video in “Watercolour painting using the Patter Stamp tool”  in the July 2011 issue of “Practical Photoshop” to grasp (or should I say gasp at) the full complexity when done in CS5.


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