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2,862 Tutorials

How to create watercolour effects

Digital painting in Adobe Photoshop Elements and Illustrator

Watercolour is one of the most popular forms of painting - mistakes can be easily corrected and you needn't be particularly precise in your strokes. This somewhat impressionistic medium is ideal for a first foray into digital painting.

Illustrator: Paste the image into an 800x1,200 document at 300dpi in Adobe Illustrator. Hit Ctrl, A to select the image and go to the Filters drop-down menu. Choose Accented Edges under Brush Strokes and bring the Brightness up to between 2 and 6. Experiment with the settings. Save your work as you go.


Pencil and gradient: Open up palettes relating to the gradients, layers, transparency and brushes. Select the pencil tool, set the size to 1pt and draw around the eyebrow. We selected a purple swatch and dragged it into the gradient bar. We then set the transparency to Color Burn and the opacity to 22.

Pencil and gradient

Defining details: Select the Pencil tool and begin to highlight the eyelashes with black strokes. Also try a few layers on the lips and experiment with blending modes and opacity levels. The pencil goes hand-in-hand with the gradient and transparency tools; all these tools can be useful in your artwork.

Defining details

Brush up on your strokes: In the Artist and Watercolour palettes you'll find some particularly useful brushes. Using tools from here, draw around the hair area, deselecting the fill and using only the stroke. To add a bit of variety, change the settings to different sizes on certain strokes.

Brush up on your strokes

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