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photokaboom

Learn Photography

Photoshop Elements >

Watercolor Effect

Photoshop Elements has a watercolor filter.

Go to Filter > Artistic > Watercolor.

The filter increases the contrast, and sharpens the edges.

However, the filter doesn't achieve the transparency of a watercolor.

You can create a more realistic watercolor version of your photograph.

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Original

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Watercolor Effect

The tutorial below was adapted from one by kailoon, a freelance web designer from Malaysia.

Be sure to check off as you go along.

Preparation

1) Preserve your original file.

If you haven't already done so, go to Preserve Your Original File.

2) Create a Background copy layer.

If you haven't already done so, go to Create a Background Copy Layer.

Get Going

3) Make sure the Background copy layer is active (highlighted).

Background copy

Background

4) Press Ctrl + j to copy the Background copy.

Background copy 2

Background copy

Background

5) Rename the new Background copy 2 layer as B&W.

B&W

Background copy

Background

6) Convert the B&W layer to black-and-white.

The easiest way is to go to Enhance > Adjust Color > Remove Color.

However, the quality is often poor.

Instead, go to Enhance > Convert to Black and White.

7) Make sure the B&W layer is active.

B&W

Background copy

Background

8) Press Ctrl + j to copy the B&W layer.

B&W 2

B&W

Background copy

Background

9) Rename the new B&W copy layer as Inverse.

Inverse

B&W

Background copy

Background

10) Make sure the Inverse layer is active.

11) Press Ctrl + i to invert the Inverse layer.

The image will go from positive to negative.

12) Change the blending mode of the Inverse layer from Normal to Color Dodge.

Blending Mode?

At the top of the layers stack, look for the unlabeled Blending Mode box.

It's to the left of the Opacity box.

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If you're new to blending modes, go to Blending Modes.

The image will turn white.

13) At the top of your screen, go to Filter > Other > Minimum.

Use low values, such 1, 2, or 3.

14) Make sure the Inverse layer is active.

Inverse

B&W

Background copy

Background

15) Press Ctrl + e to merge the Inverse layer with the B&W layer.

The single merged layer will be named B&W, but it is a mixture of the B&W and the Inverse layers.

B&W

Background copy

Background

16) Rename the B&W layer as Inverse/B&W.

Inverse/B&W

Background copy

Background

17) Make sure the Inverse/B&W layer is active.

Inverse/B&W

Background copy

Background

18) Press Ctrl + j to copy the Inverse/B&W layer.

19) Rename the new Inverse/B&W copy layer as Blur.

At the top of your screen, go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur.

Try a radius of 5.

Experiment.

Blur

Inverse/B&W

Background copy

Background

20) Change the blending mode of the Blur layer from Normal to Linear Burn.

21) Make sure the Background copy layer is active.

Blur

Inverse/B&W

Background copy

Background

22) Press Ctrl + j to copy the Background copy layer.

Blur

Inverse/B&W

Background copy 2

Background copy

Background

23) Click on the new Background copy 2 layer, hold, and drag it to the top of the layers stack.

Background copy 2

Blur

Inverse/B&W

Background copy

Background

24) Rename the Background copy 2 layer as Color.

Color

Blur

Inverse/B&W

Background copy

Background

25) Change the blending mode of the Color layer from Normal to Color.

Make A Mask for the Color Layer

26) Make sure the Color layer is active.

Color

Blur

Inverse/B&W

Background copy

Background

27) Create a layer mask.

28) Press Ctrl + i to change the mask from white to black.

The Color layer becomes hidden due to the black mask.

29) Make sure the Color layer is active.

Color

Blur

Inverse/B&W

Background copy

Background

30) Create a blank layer.

31) Rename the layer as Fill.

Fill

Color

Blur

Inverse/B&W

Background copy

Background

32) Change the blending mode of the Fill layer from Normal to Linear Burn.

33) Choose an appropriate color for the photograph.

This color will be an overall wash on the photograph.

You can skip this step if your photograph doesn't need it.

Here, a light yellow-green was used.

34) Make sure the Fill layer is active.

35) Select the Paint Bucket tool, and click on the image.

The color you selected fills the Fill layer.

36) Reduce the opacity of the Fill layer to about 60%.

Experiment.

The Opacity box is at the top of the layers stack, to the right of the Blending Mode box.

It probably has 100% inside.

37) Make sure the Color layer is active.

Fill

Color

Blur

Inverse/B&W

Background copy

Background

38) Make sure the black mask is selected in the Color layer.

Click on it.

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39) Select the Brush tool.

40) Make sure the foreground color is set to white.

If you haven't already, go to Foreground & Background Colors.

41) If needed, you can:

• Feather the brush.

• Reduce the opacity of the brush in options bar/Tool Options.

Again, reduce the brush opacity in options bar/Tool Options.

Don't reduce the opacity of the layer in the layers stack.

• Select part of the image, and then brush over the selection.

42) Brush on the important areas in the image.

The color will emerge where you brush.

As you become familiar with the steps, you can vary the values in the filters, and can try different blending modes.

Saving the Photograph

If you haven't already done so, go to Saving Files.