We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
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

IDG UK Sites

Spotify launches on PS4 as Tidal arrives on Sonos: It's Tidal vs Spotify music streaming

IDG UK Sites

It's World Backup Day 2015! Don't wait another minute: back up now

IDG UK Sites

Adobe Comp CC iPad app review

IDG UK Sites

April Fool's Day pranks: play these geeky pranks on April Fools Day and fool your friends