How to Create Unique Watercolor Background Texture
Everyone it seems is texture crazy right now! I have to admit that I love to use textures in my photo art but some of what I am seeing does not seem that terribly creative to me. Once you buy a texture action, and don’t get me wrong – there are some beautiful textures and actions to make your photos look great – the results may start to look a little canned. That is what I was feeling when I created the above image from a shot of beautiful white flowers from Hawaii. I have to admit I tried a few boilerplate textures from some of my favorite texture people, but it just did not do anything for me. Then I decided to take things in my own hands and try making some interesting textures that would work for me.
As I have said before, I am not a trained artist, but I do like to play around with brushes. Here is the original image before adding my textures. The first thing I did was to create a sketch in Topaz Simplify (for website link, see sidebar of my Tidbits Blog) using colored edges. (I still have not found anything that works better to get a really good sketch effect.) In fact I got the idea from an image I posted in my My Version of Photoshop Tennis! blog where I used the Simplify plug-in to get a nice line drawing of the outdoor cafe image. The settings are very similar but instead of using mono color edges, color edges were used (see settings for Image 6 in blog). Back in Photoshop, Color Range was used to delete all the green background out of the image so only the sketched flowers remained. I duplicated this layer and put it to Multiply blend mode to make the lines a little darker and even added a Curves Adjustment Layer to bring out more detail in the petals. A New Layer was placed between the original green image layer and the sketch and filled with a light yellow. Above the yellow layer, several New Layers were added where I just painted with a chalk or charcoal brushes using 30% opacity in light pinks and blue colors around the petals to start getting a painted background. This does not have to be painted perfectly as they are blended into the image later. Different new layers were created for the different colors – if one color is not looking that great, you can delete it from the image without losing your other colors. (In fact I had created a rather bright orange layer using a charcoal brush that just did not work so it was deleted.) I used some of my very favorite brushes by Fay Sirtis, a Corel Master Painter, but she also does Photoshop brushes. The best way to get hold of them is to join NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) where her videos and brush downloads are available. She has created several of the old masters’ brushes to use in Photoshop, but also has some of her own pastel, chalk and charcoal brushes. Her dry, texture pastel, and chalk add color brushes were applied to add a nice texture to just the flower petals. Check out your Natural, Dry Media and Wet Media Brush sets that came with Photoshop for some other good brush choices. I try to rename the layer with the name of the brush used if it a unique one. Now a composite (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) stamped layer is created to finish up. Below is where we are at.
The image still needed more interest so a I created one to place over the sketched flowers. This was done by starting a New Document and creating several layers of strokes in different soft colors and opacities. The brushes used in this file are BittBox Free Hi-Res Watercolor Photoshop Brushes. A Composite was created at the top of this document like above. I then saved the Pastel Watercolor texture image as both a .PSD and .JPG file. Click on image to see steps more clearly in FlickR (click again in FlickR to bring up an even larger view). To download my texture from Deviant Art, click here. See “Create a Colorful Paint Background in Photoshop” by EntheosWeb.com for a good article on how to do this.
This watercolor JPG texture image was then placed above the Composite layer of the flower file. I did not like the way it lined up so a Free Transform (CTRL+T) was done and it was flipped vertically and horizontally to get the look I liked. A layer mask was added to clear some of the paint from the petals where it looked overdone. The layer was set to Lighten blend mode at 57%. Note my layer is called Adobe Paper Texture Pastel Watercolor because it was added using Dr. Brown’s Paper Texture Panel (see link below) just like any other texture – it will rename your layer for you which is very helpful when stacking texture effects. What I did next was to add several layers of cloning and painting to clean up or paint some additional color texture and paint on the individual petals to give emphasis in certain areas and less in others. As you can see, there is a little blue painted in the flowers on one layer – this is painted at a very low brush intensity, between 15 and 30%, and the layer opacities were adjusted afterwards. A really light vignette was created and set to 30% opacity and Overlay blend mode to direct the eye just a little. Finally my Double Edge Layer Style (can be downloaded here) was added sampling the colors from the image for the frame on yet another composite top layer.
This seems like a long process, but you now have another texture and it is unique because you made it. I have used this Pastel Watercolor texture in other images. Add a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer and clip it to the texture (ALT+Click on line between the layers) to change the colors in the texture. By adding some textured brush strokes with the Pastel Watercolor texture, a very unique and artistic look can be achieved. Next time I will show a few other ways to get some different background effects. Until then, have fun with your brushes!…..Digital Lady Syd
Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Create Unique Textured Backgrounds
How to Turn a Brush into a Watercolor Brush
Digital Lady Syd’s Rule No. 7: Get Textures From Objects Inside Your Home!
Russell Brown’s Paper Texture Panel Updated!
Orchids with Russell Brown’s Paper Textures Panel