Monthly Archives: December 2006

Create a Watercolor Painting in Photoshop

Create a Watercolor Painting in Photoshop

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to recreate the look and feel of a watercolor painting on the computer. Some topics include:

  • How to create a textured “paper”
  • Which textures work best
  • What settings to use for your brushes
  • Specific brushes to use

Every tool I use is included within Photoshop CS itself. With these few simple tips, you can start creating your own natural looking watercolor paintings with all the advantages that the digital world has to offer.

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Make Your Move to Photoshop CS3 Easier

As many of you might know, Adobe recently came out with a new public beta version of Adobe Photoshop (If you haven’t, check it out here). Be sure to download a copy for yourself and give it a test run.

My CS3 Woes
I was so excited to hear about CS3 that I immediately went to get a copy. I installed it, launched it, and opened up one of my unfinished illustrations. I was ready to get to work and start playing with my new toy. But then I quickly realized some problems: all of the brushes, textures, and other tool presets that I spent hours getting just right were not available; all of the preferences that I had set in Photoshop CS were now set to “default” again in CS3; and I had to dig to find some of the palettes that I use frequently while I’m painting. I was now set with the arduous task or resetting all of my preferences, presets, and workspaces so I could get down to painting. In doing so, I have come up with this list that will hopefully make it easier for both me and you in the future.

Prepare for CS3 Now
These tips can be applied to any version you may be installing, not just CS3. Maybe your moving to a new computer, or your co-worker just messed around with your palettes while your weren’t looking. Whatever the case, by going through this small checklist, you can be sure that your transition will go as smoothly and easily as possible. And if you do upgrade when the official version of CS3 is released in 2007, you won’t have to worry about wasting precious painting time by configuring your program. For someone like me who uses this software every day as a means to make a living, this is key.

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The Tools I Use

Well, at least what I use for my digital work. I’ll break out the paint occasionally, but I must admit, I spend a lot of hours staring at my monitor. I’ve had questions from readers asking what computer I have, if I use a tablet, which one should I buy, etc. So, to help you out, I updated my About page to include information about the system I am currently working with.

If you’re reading all these tutorials and wondering what I’m using, this is it. You don’t need the exact stuff to draw on your computer, but I hope this gives you an idea of what you might need. And if you have a different system, please note any differences in my tutorial instructions that are system specific (such as MAC vs. Windows).

New Links Page

I’ve just added a new page of links that many of you might find useful. These are taken from my personal list of bookmarks that are currently crowding my web browser. They are all how-to’s, making-of’s, and the like. Use the link in the sidebar or click here.

Let me know if they are useful to you or if you have some to add. Enjoy!

Using Masks to Create a Spot Illustration

Spot illustrations, or vignettes, are usually not contained in the familiar rectangle. Unfortunately, that’s the only shape of canvas you can get in Photoshop. However, if you define the shape of your work area before you begin by using a layer mask, you won’t have to worry about “coloring outside the lines” while you are creating your painting.

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A Gift For You

I started up this blog so I could readily share my knowledge and also learn from other artists along the way. My biggest challenge so far, besides coming up with some worthwhile posts to share, is getting the word out. So I’ve come up with an idea that might help me in that regard. Many of you illustrators, fine artists, designers, animators, students, and hobbyists have your own blogs and websites. If you help me out by linking this site on your webspace, I have a free gift to give you.

Here’s the Deal…

I recently finished this cute little painting of Santa. In the spirit of sharing and learning, I’ve put together a “kit” that helps you to understand more of the process behind this painting. Included is a fully-layered Photoshop file that you can analyze at your leisure, along with a full text explanation and a high-res jpeg of the image.

How to Claim

It’s quite simple. Just put up a link to or one of its posts on your website, email me the link to your page at, then I will email you a link to the Santa files for you to download.

Hopefully, this will also give me a chance to see what kinds of work my readers are creating. I can’t wait to see what’s out there!

Thank you for your support, and I hope you enjoy this site.


Note: You will need Adobe Photoshop to view the file. The painting was created in Photoshop CS, and although I believe it will work in previous versions, I cannot confirm or guarantee it. Also, I will not share your email address with anyone, send you junk mail, or any other unpleasantness.

Texture: How to Make Better Art with Jelly Beans

Digital art is often thought of as flat or mechanical, but textures can quickly create more interest and depth. Here, I will talk about how to make your own textures and various ways that you can use them in Photoshop. This is an important step towards creating more painterly work in the digital world. I’ve also included some free hi-res textures for you to download and use in your artwork.

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Head Painting Experiment

I’m playing around with styles, trying to get away from my usual more cartoony look. I got out an old sketch, and after a morning of messing with different brushes and textures in Photoshop, this is what I came up with.