Watercolors

By Mark

I’ve always been impressed by the skill needed to accomplish a really well done watercolor painting.  It really takes a lot of planning to leave those white areas alone as you build up all of the other colors.  Varying the shades and intensity of light and shadows takes both a creative talent and an artistic eye.   Masters such as Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent could capture the ethereal light and with a few brush strokes transform it into magic.  

Fishing Boat by Winslow Homer

Fishing Boat by Winslow Homer

The Tease by Sargent

The Tease by Sargent

Well, I have none of those skills.  What I do have however is Photoshop and something I mentioned a few blogs ago—the Artist’s Watercolor extension.

Adobe’s resident mad scientist Dr. Russell Brown demonstrated this at a previous PSW.  It was pretty cool to see, but I hadn’t had a lot of time to play, I mean work with it, since then.  I have to say that I really like my tiger photo from our zoo trip earlier this year.  I knew I wanted to do something more with it and said “aha!”   Actually, I knew I needed a blog topic and then said “aha”!  

Starting from Lightroom, open your image for editing in Photoshop; then go to the Extensions Menu and open up the Adobe Watercolour panel.   I highly recommend you watch the video tutorials starting with http://www.russellbrown.com/watercolour/RB.html .  They show you what each of the features does as you progress along.  These menus take advantage of Adobe Scripting and actions.  They run a fairly complicated but repeatable set of steps.  Each step has an instruction panel to guide you along the way.  Step 2, adds a background canvas texture and then generated two outlines;  A dark version and a lighter version, which serve as the basis for your painting.  Depending on what you like you choose your starting point.

Each step gives you the opportunity to add levels of color and detail which are all taken from your original image and painted on with the special brush the authors created.  The more you paint, the denser the color.

As you work through the levels, keep an eye on your layers panel as each step is run.  New layers are added up until you hit step 8.  At that point, all of the layers are flattened and you lose sight of how you got there.

You can start over if you need too.  Play around and make multiple versions so you can judge the impact of each variation.  Who knows you just might wind up creating something nice.