How to Create an Amazing Watercolor Artwork in Photoshop

How to Create an Amazing Watercolor Artwork in Photoshop
How to Create an Amazing Watercolor Artwork in Photoshop

Create this spring-inspired abstract photo manipulation by Jenny Le! This tutorial will show you how to combine stock photos and splatter brushes together, apply textures, and more.

Preview of Final Results


Tutorial Resources

Step 1

Create a new document and fill it with white. I use the size with 1200x800 but feel free to make your own. Open paper 1 stock, move it into our white canvas then rotate it (choose Edit-Transform-Rotate 90 CCW) . Right click this layer, choose Convert to Smart Objects. Then choose Flip Horizontal:


Lower opacity to 30%:


Step 2

Open paper 2 stock, use Rectangular Marquee Tool to make a selection on the top left of it and use Move Tool (V) to drag it into our picture and lower opacity to 30%:


Step 3

I use an adjustment layer to change color of the picture. Go to Layer-New Adjustment Layer-Hue/Saturation:


Step 4

Extract model and place her at the center section then I use layer mask to remove hard edges and blend her with background:


Step 5

I use some adjustment layers (Hue/Saturation, Color Balance, Curves) with Clipping Mask for model to reduce saturation and brighten her:


Then I use soft black brush with opacity 100% and 20-30% to erase some parts on Curves layer mask. You can see how I did it on the mask and result on picture:


Step 6

Drag watercolor 1 into top of our picture, place it under model layer. Convert it to Smart Objects and change the mode to Multiply 100% then remove some hard edges with layer mask:


Duplicate this layer and move it to the right after flipping it horizontally. Use layer mask to create the look below:


Step 7

Take watercolor 2 and set it under model layer then clear unwanted parts with layer mask:


Duplicate this layer and flip it horizontally. I use layer mask to remove some parts and now we have nice shoulder-like effect:


Step 8

Isolate branches 1 and place it on the top of model head after converting it to Smart Objects and downsizing it (still under model layer). Add layer mask to this one and use Polygonal Lasso Tool (L) to make a selection at the edge of the branches then use hard black brush (don't use soft brush) to remove the bottom and some branches as shown:

Pages: 1 2 3 4

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81 comments on “How to Create an Amazing Watercolor Artwork in Photoshop”

  1. this tutorial is so poopy, i actually had a seizure while trying to read the directions, now i have to take meds daily so i don't shake and die, thanks.
    Sincerely, Barrack O.

  2. This is absolutely amazing! Love it! Great job Jenny! I want to give this a shot. Love how you've provided step-by-step instructions!

  3. Wow. What an awesome picture! And I love how you broke it down, step-by-step. And though it may take some time, the effort definitely looks like it's worth it! Thanks so much for this post. I'll definitely be giving it a shot this weekend when I have some free time.

  4. Excellent tutorial indeed on photo manipulation and create nice watercolor. I have tried it several times and now I am able to do make watercolor artwork like this. Thank you so much for sharing. Great!

  5. Unfortunately the result of the clouds/pixelate/polar coordinates gives me a complete different result :( any ideas?

  6. For those having trouble with step 12, getting the clouds to show foreground and background colors...
    I had this same problem. Go to Image - Mode - 8 bit. That trick only works with 8 bit files, not 16 bit.

  7. Wonderful!! Thank you so much for the effort to create this tutorial... would love to see some video tutorials (with voice and slow/ not the fast ones, please). Your work here is just beautiful and the concept is striking. Thank you so much.

  8. I Like Watching And Not Knowing Interesting New facts from photoshop tutorials can you recommend any Good ones

    Sincerely Ben Hughes

  9. Greetings I have taken this tutorial into account and it has interested me much.

    Many thanks Hen Poughes

  10. Hi jenny,
    just trying to work through your tutorial and in step 12, i am filling in the right colors for background and foregound just when i do Filter-Render-Clouds and so forth it looks a bit different and my end result after Filter-Distort-Polar Coordinates it turns out more like a few bumpy semi circles emerging from the base rather than the shape you have. Are there any ways to fix this or have i missed something?
    Thank you so much for your time

    1. I had this same problem. Go to Image - Mode - 8 bit. That trick only works with 8 bit files.

  11. Hi

    First of all thanks for the brilliant tutorial both in subject matter and in your way of presenting each step. I am however miserably stuck on step 12. Everything is fine until I get to the polar coordinates then it looks nothing like yours. Mine are waves upon ways of rounded off squares. I have no clue what I'm doing wrong here. Everything is set us as in the tutorial. Any idea what I'm doing wrong?

    Thanks :)

  12. As a retoucher I went through hundreds of tutorials through the years and this is one of the easiest to follow because of the way you explained it and showed every screen shot with setting and even your masking. Great job!


  14. Hi! I followed your tutorial and got a really nice image. My friend wanted to know if he could use it as an album cover, and I'm going to be tweaking it a little to make sure none of the images I used are copyrighted. Would you mind me using it? I just wanted to ask because I learned how to do it from your post.

  15. Really nice tutorial! It turns out really good!
    Next time you could think about mabye using stock photo providers that don't need a paying registration.
    And i feel sometimes that you just assume that the reader know how to do a special command or feature.

    Otherwise, really one of the best so far! :D

    Thank you very much! :)

  16. I'm newer to photoshop and having a small issue with step 4 and getting the picture to fade like it does with the layer mask. Any tips? I'm using a different photo but a similar post. I've extracted the photo correctly but just can not get that same effect.


    1. Hi El,
      First i used soft brush with 100 opacity to remove the hard edges of the woman then i lowered brush opacity and flow (about 30-50%)when painting on the head, shoulders and hands. Hope it helps :).

  17. Wonderful

    But why photoshop tutorial do not give the downloading for these pages as it is...
    PSD file required net connectivity to see it again...

    1. Yes, you have used similar texture ...but where or what is the concept of your artwork?

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