watercolor-effect-in-photoshopWatercolor is one of those effects that can be difficult to replicate digitally, but with a little practice and experimentation I think you’ll find it can be rather fun.

This tutorial will be based around creating a really cool watercolor effect, but this technique works just as well when creating paintings in Photoshop.


  • Program: Photoshop CS6
  • Difficulty: Beginner
  • Estimated Completion Time: 40 Minutes

Step 1

The first step here is actually the first step in all my projects. I look for references images based on a sketch that i have in mind. This research and planning process is intertwined. It allows me to look through various elements and plan the direction to follow. Of course, I can change the direction during the creation as this process is fluid.

Step 2

Create a new document in Photoshop, I used a wallpaper size of 1920 pixels by 1200 pixels.

Download this old paper texture pack, and place the Paper 2.jpg in your document.


Step 3

Now let’s use some brushes, in this case the fantastic Bitbox set of watercolor brushes. Go ahead and download these watercolor brushes. Bitbox has some other amazing watercolor brushes as well, so feel free to test different ones as well.

Create a new layer and  select the Brush Tool (B) and blue for the color. Create a new layer, then with just one click paint place some paint on the layer. Select a different brush and use red for the color. Also you can try different Blend Modes, in this case I used Normal but you can try Multiply as well. Repeat this steps with different colors until you achieve something similar like int the picture below.


Step 4

Group all the layers with watercolor brushes and duplicate the group. You can hide one. With the other layer go to Layer > Merge Group. Rescale the layer and make it bigger, as in the image below. Then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur, and use 250 for the value. Now change the Blend Mode to Multiply.


Step 5

Select the Eraser Tool, then select a big round brush and erase some areas from that layer, mainly in the center.


Step 6

Now let’s add a nice texture on top of this layers. You can use the image of your choice, it could be parchment paper for example. I’m using the image below:


Place the image in the document on top of the other layers. After that, change the Opacity to 70% and the Blend Mode to Darken (you can try different Blend Modes).

Step 7

Now let’s place an image in our document. I’m using a photo of a girl in a field from deviantART, you can get it here.

Select the image and go to Filter>Artistic>Dry Brush. Use 0 for the Brush Size, 9 for the Brush Detail and 1 for the Texture.


Step 8

Select the image layer, after that go to Layer>Group Layer. The layer of the image will be inside a folder in the Layer Palette. Select the folder and go to Layer>Layer Mask>Hide all.


Step 9

So now, let’s use some Watercolor Brushes. The ones I use are from Brusheezy and you can download them here http://www.brusheezy.com.

So select one of the watercolor brushes and them white for the color and paint on the layer mask of the group. You will notice that the image will start showing.


Keep painting untill you can see the image without losing the brush splatters.


Step 10

Now add another layer, this time beneath the Folder that the image is in. Then again using the watercolor brushes paint over the layer using familiar colors of the picture. Use the images below for reference.



Step 11

Let’s just adjust the color of the image. Select the image and go to Image>Adjustment>Photo Filter. Select Warning Filter (85) and 20% for the Density. Also select the Preserve Luminosity option.



The idea of this tutorial is to show how to create a design from multiple reference images, a simple sketch, and your own ingenuity. Just place your logo and that it you will have a really cool effect and super simple to achieve. That can be used for website headers to create a simply awesome design, and, of course to create posters.

Download the Photoshop .psd File

About the Author: Alex Roman

I'm a 24-year old independent graphic artist and architect based in Bucharest and also the co-owner of iCanBeCREATIVE. I specialize in branding for small businesses and startups: logos, websites, flyers, posters; mostly everything a brand may need to put the word out there in a professional way.

I really love what I do. Want to hire me? Follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

  • Sebastian Costa:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial, it was great and clear.
    I needed to make a picture which could help me getting hired in an architecture studio…
    This is what came out of it.

    Let’s hope it works!

  • Leeboteddybearlovegod:

    nice tut, but if you want to mess with the most realistic digital watercolour effect the crown goes to Artrage, its just on a level all of its own.

  • Crna Gora:

    I really like this, thanks a lot

  • chriz:

    dude ur awesome

  • ain:

    can i know does there a photoshop download for free? if you got, please give me the download link thanks.

  • Jess:

    This tutorial was EXTREMELY hard to follow. It was a great technique, but your explanation was atrocious. Please word your tutorials much clearer in the future, and be much more specific when it comes to layers and such. It was really frustrating to do this tutorial because I really wanted to learn, but…you made it way too difficult to understand most of the time, and I had to go by trial and error.


  • shan:

    Very nice stuffs.the design are awesome.Thanks for the tutorial.

  • Jerry Lafferty:

    Thats a pretty cool looking effect. Thanks for the cool tut!

  • Leonardo:

    I love your logo and I want to eat that !!!!

  • Leonardo:

    You ROCK!!!

  • Leonardo:

    You rock!
    That’s just amazing! My eyes are glowing.

  • TRSteep:

    nice effect!
    not necessarily download brushes, because in CS 5 there are imitation of brushes

  • Web dizajn Crna Gora:

    Looks fantastic, thank you

  • Faruk:

    Looks great.

  • nawarezaika:

    awesome..i will make it now..

  • Childmonster:

    Very nice tut

  • xielifang:

    very good tutorial,thanks for sharing

  • Alex:

    muy buen tutorial! gracias es muy creativo
    thanks it´s awesome tutorial

  • khaing nyein thu:

    Thank u so much for this tutorials..it is very useful and i get a lot of knowledge ….

  • YK:

    That you so much for the information on this website! I used the HDR tutorial and loved the finished product. You made it easy to do for a beginer at CS5.

  • bremen:

    really really great collection of creative stuff.
    good work great job!
    stay creative and greetings from bremen

  • goldy:

    brilliant use of colours & effects ossum……….

  • Kanpur:

    very very nice water color.

  • web Design Maidstone:

    Wow this is really amazing, so much simpler with the tutorial with great results. Thank you!!

  • Stuart:

    Great tutorial. Some really useful tips on design.

  • Luis:


  • Shamima Sultana:

    very nice..wonderful

  • Fazi:

    It seems rather oil or akrylic not watercolor but it looks good!:)

  • Quileutte:

    I love it…
    very useful tutorial…
    thank you for sharing….

  • Gareth:

    Would be a great effect for animation, doing a few frames like this and then blending them from one to the other would look fantastic.

  • Theodore:

    Love simple techniques that look this good, very useful.

  • Heatherina:

    simple and yet effective, this tutorial would look good for creating logos. This is worth a try!

  • Saad Kamal:

    Long time reader, first time commenter.Very interesting and creative style! I check for updates everyday. This would be one of my favourite tutes from you guys so far!

  • Daniel:

    Awesome tutorial! Just finished it in not more than 20 minutes. The outcome is great. :D Extremely simple and sweet effect. Thanks! :)

  • Timothy:

    I really like that, it seems so easy, sometimes you forget the simple stuff.

  • Sarah:

    Really nice! Thank you very much!

  • T. Arnold:

    thanks for the tut its very useful, i’ve been looking for an idea for my new design i’ll use same of this technics!

  • Gorny S. Needa:

    Great Tutorial, Love the outcome.

  • Wiliam Waith:

    Wow this is amazing and so easy to follow. Thanlk you so much

  • Andrew:

    Beautiful image. I’ll be trying this one out, it would make a great wall pic too, thanks!

  • Arnaud Alves:

    Excellent tutorial. I had a blast doing the whole thing. Taught me a lot about layer masking I didn’t quite understand till this tutorial.
    Thanks again!

  • Danielle:

    Thank you so much. Really helpful and really beautiful.

  • Nancy:

    way too awesome! Can’t believe it.

  • Michael Plant:

    great tutorial on a pretty hot style. thanks for posting – lovely work as always.

  • Bobby:

    you do good things. very creative, good use of resources. Thanks!

  • Veminds:

    Simple awesome. One of the best tuts I’ve ever seen :)

  • Nate:

    Looks great. Thanks for sharing this technique. I love this watercolor-style.