How To Use Photoshop Watercolor Painting Effect

Are you interested in learning how to use the Photoshop watercolor painting effect to create stunning visuals? Look no further than the photoshop watercolor painting effect! This blog will show you how to use this effect to create stunning visuals that capture your audience’s attention. You can transform any image into an eye-catching watercolor painting in just a few steps.

So, let’s start learning how to use the photoshop watercolor painting effect for stunning visuals.

What Is The Watercolor Painting Effect?

Watercolor painting is a timeless and beloved art form that creates stunning visuals that stand out. The unique look of watercolor painting has been used in the art for centuries and continues to be a popular technique today. With Photoshop, it’s now easier to achieve the look of watercolor painting without the hassle of traditional methods.

watercolor painting effect

 The photoshop watercolor painting effect gives you the power to transform your photographs into beautiful works of art with just a few clicks. 

The watercolor painting effect gives your photographs a unique and vibrant look by adding colors, depth, and texture to create an eye-catching masterpiece. You can customize the effect with easy-to-use controls to fit your needs and preferences. You can add products such as Light, brush strokes, and transparency to make your images look like they were painted with watercolor. You can also use preset filters to create stunning visuals with ease.

Also Read: Photoshop Layers Tutorials – Photoshop Basics Guide

The Watercolor Painting Process

Watercolor painting is a great way to add beautiful visual effects to your photos. With the help of Photoshop, you can quickly achieve stunning watercolor paintings that look like an artist has painted them.

To start with watercolor painting in Photoshop, you’ll first need to choose an image to work with. It’s best to select an idea with high contrast and minimal noise so that the effects of the painting will be visible. When you have chosen your image, open it in Photoshop and create a duplicate layer. This layer will be used for your watercolor painting process.

Now you’re ready to begin the actual watercolor painting process. Start by adding some blur to the image with the Gaussian Blur filter. Adjust the settings to get the desired amount of blur, but remember that too much blur can make the painting look unnatural. Next, use the Dry Brush filter to bring out the details of the image. 

Watercolor painting is an easy and enjoyable way to add unique visual effects to your photos. By following these steps, you can quickly create beautiful watercolor paintings that look like they were painted by a professional. For even more inspiration, you can browse through easy watercolor paintings to copy and use as a starting point for your creations.

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How To Use Photoshop Watercolor Painting Effect

Creating a watercolor painting effect in Photoshop can add a beautiful and artistic touch to your images. Follow these step-by-step instructions to learn how to use Photoshop to create a watercolor painting effect:

  • Setting up your workspace

Before you begin, make sure you have the right tools in Photoshop. You’ll want a graphics tablet and a stylus for the best results. Once you have your tools, set up your workspace for optimal results by adjusting your brush settings and creating a new layer for your painting.

  • Choosing the right image

Choose an image with distinct lines and shapes to achieve the best results. Avoid photos with too many details or busy backgrounds, as they may not translate well into a watercolor painting effect. Once you have your image, prepare it by resizing it and adjusting the brightness and contrast if necessary.

  • Creating the watercolor effect

There are several techniques for creating a watercolor effect in Photoshop, including using the Watercolor Filter, applying a brushstroke texture, and creating a custom brush. To create a watercolor effect using the Watercolor Filter, go to Filter> Artistic > Watercolor. Adjust the settings to your liking, and use the brush tool to add more detail and texture.

To apply a brushstroke texture, create a new layer and select a brushstroke texture from the Brush Presets panel. Then, adjust the opacity and blend mode to achieve the desired effect.

To create a custom brush, use the brush tool to create a shape, then go to Edit > Define Brush Preset. Make a watercolor effect out of your meeting by saving it and using it.

  • Refining the effect

Adjust the color, saturation, and texture to refine your watercolor effect. Try experimenting with layer masks and blending modes to give your image more depth and dimension. Adjust the colors using the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer, then add texture using the layer styles panel.

  • Saving and exporting the final image

Once you’re happy with your watercolor painting effect, save your image in the appropriate file format. For web use, save it as a JPEG or PNG; save it as a high-resolution TIFF or PSD file for print. If you want your file to load quickly, make sure the file size is optimized.

Also Read: How To Get Image Cut Out Photoshop Services

How to Add a Watercolor Painting Effect

You can learn how to create a watercolor painting from a photo by reading this blog. The method is straightforward, but it can require a lot of time and patience. Before working on this blog, have Photoshop Software installed on your computer.

Step 1: Duplicate The Background Layer

Duplicating a layer is similar to duplicating a file. The only difference is that duplicating a layer creates an exact copy of the original layer, whereas duplicating a file creates an exact copy of the entire document.

Watercolor Painting

If we look in the Layers panel, we see our image sitting on the Background layer, which is currently the only layer in the document: Let’s duplicate the Background layer by clicking on it and dragging it down onto the New Layer icon at the bottom of the Layers panel: Release your mouse button, and Photoshop adds a copy of the Background layer, named “Background copy”, above the original:

Also Read: Photoshop Background Removal Service

Step 2: Convert The Layer Into A Smart Object

Let’s create a Smart Object out of our new layer. In this manner, the filter we apply to it will be applied as a Smart Filter. Smart Filters are totally adjustable and non-destructive, in contrast to Photoshop’s normal filters, which permanently alter the image. As a result, if necessary, we may go back and change the filter settings.

Click on the menu icon in the Layers panel’s top right corner while the “Background copy” layer is chosen. Choose Convert to Smart Object from the menu after that.

Watercolor Painting Effect

It won’t appear that the image has changed in any way. But, if we examine the preview thumbnail for the “Background copy” layer, we can now see a Smart Object icon in the lower right corner, informing us that the layer has been converted to a Smart Object.

Step 3: Make Two Copies Of The Smart Object

Our Smart Object needs to be duplicated twice so that we have three in total. Click on the “Background copy” Smart Object and then drag it down onto the New Layer icon in the Layers panel to create the first copy.

Photoshop Watercolor Effect

Then, click the “Background copy 2” Smart Object that appears and drag it down into the New Layer icon to create the second duplicate. We now have three Smart Objects, with the bottom layer being the original Background layer.

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Step 4: Rename The Smart Objects

Let’s rename our Smart Objects so that we aren’t working with names like “Background copy 2” and “Background copy 3”. We’ll give them names based on the filters we’ll be using on each of them. Rename the top Smart Object first. To change the name, double-click “Background copy 3” to highlight it and then type “Median” in the box provided.

Watercolor Painting Effect

Do not immediately press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac). Instead, jump down and highlight the name of the following Smart Object by pressing the Tab key on your keyboard. Dry Brush should be substituted for “Background copy 2”. Once there, change the name of the original Smart Object from “Background copy” to “Cutout” by using the Tab key once again. Press Enter (Windows) or Return (Mac) on your keyboard after renaming each of the three Smart Objects as follows.

Step 5: Hide The Top Two Smart Objects

By clicking on their visibility symbols, you can make the two Smart Objects (“Median” and “Dry Brush”) at the top invisible.

watercolor painting

They’ll be addressed again shortly:

Step 6: Put the Cutout Filter to use

On the Layers panel, make sure the “Cutout” Smart Object is chosen. The first filter we’ll use is Cutout, as you could have guessed from its name. In Photoshop’s Filter Gallery, look for the Cutout filter. Choose Filter Gallery from the Filter menu in the Menu Bar at the top of the screen.

watercolor brushes

With a sizable image preview area on the left, a filter selection column in the middle, and settings and options for the selected filter on the right, this launches the filter gallery. Press Ctrl+0 (Windows) or Command+0 (Mac) on your keyboard to select the Fit on Screen view if you are unable to see the whole image in the preview area.

The filters in the middle column are categorized or sorted into various folders. Choose the Cutout filter by clicking on its thumbnail after choosing the Artistic category at the top.

create a watercolor effect

The Cutout filter’s options will show up on the right after you’ve chosen it. Set the Edge Fidelity to 2, then set the Number of Levels and Edge Simplicity to 4. Click OK to close the Filter Gallery when finished.

Also Read: How To Use Content-Aware Fill-In Photoshop

Step 7: Switch to Luminosity as the Blend Mode.

Return to the Layers panel and switch the “Cutout” Smart Object’s blend mode from Normal to Luminosity.

Watercolor Photoshop

The original image’s colors can be seen through because the Luminosity mode merely combines the brightness values from the Cutout filter effect.

Step 8: Choose The “Dry Brush” Smart Item And Turn It On

To pick the “Dry Brush” Smart Object in the Layers panel, click on it.

dry brush filter

To make it visible again, click on the visibility symbol.

Step 9: Add the Dry Brush Filter

We’ll use Photoshop’s Dry Brush function to give the watercolor appearance greater depth. Dry Brush may be found in the Filter Gallery, just like the Cutout filter. Return to the Menu Bar’s Filter menu and select Filter Gallery once more.

filter gallery Photoshop

You’ll find the Filter Gallery at the top of the list because that’s what we last selected from the Filter menu.

Photoshop Dry Brush

Choose Dry Brush from the Artistic category when the Filter Gallery reopens. It is located right next to the Cutout filter. Then, in the Dry Brush filter’s settings, set Texture to 3, Brush Size to 10, and Brush Detail to 10. When finished, click OK to exit the Filter Gallery.

Also Read: How to Use the Magic Wand Tool in Photoshop 2023

Step 10: Change The Blend Mode To Screen Or Lighten

Change the blend mode of the “Dry Brush” Smart Object from Normal to Screen while keeping it selected in the Layers window. The overall effect is made lighter by the Screen blend mode. Use the Lighten blend mode if you think that Screen makes your image appear too bright. 

Watercolor Lighting Effect

You’ll lose a lot of the brightening effect but gain detail if you choose the Lighten mix option. Choose the blend option that suits your image the best. Although I personally favor the Screen blend setting, this is how the result seems when Lighten is used.

Step 11: Choose the “Median” layer and activate it.

watercolor paper

There are still two filters to go. To choose the “Median” Smart Object in the Layers panel, click on it. Then, to enable it, click on its visibility symbol.

Step 12: Apply The Median Filter

We’ll use Median as our third filter because it will reduce the amount of detail in the image while maintaining the sharpness of object edges.

Noise Effect Photoshop

There is no median in the Filter Gallery. Alternatively, we may get it by selecting Noise from the Filter menu, followed by Median.

Watercolor Painting

The Median filter dialog box appears as a result. Click OK after setting the Radius value to 12 pixels.

Also Read: How to Swap Faces in Photoshop Tools – 16 Easy Step Guides

Step 13: Switch to the Soft Light Blend Mode

Then, switch the “Median” Smart Object’s blend mode from Normal to Soft Light. We’re done with that now! For comparison, here is my original image once more.

Soft Light Photoshop

Here is my finished watercolor painting result after using the Median filter and switching the mix mode to Soft Light.

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Tips For Getting The Best Results With The Watercolor Painting Effect

Creating stunning watercolor paintings with Photoshop is an easy and effective way to add a unique visual appeal to any image. To achieve the best results, it is important to understand the fundamentals of the process. Here are some tips for getting the best Photoshop watercolor painting effect.

  • Understand the Basics

Before attempting any watercolor painting, it is essential to understand how the effect works. In its simplest form, the Photoshop watercolor painting effect is created by layering multiple transparent layers with different colors and textures. It is important to note that each layer will affect the overall look and feel of the image.

  •  Start with a Solid Base

 An essential tip for successful watercolor paintings is to start with a solid base layer. This base layer should be flat, usually white or light gray.   

  • Play Around With Brushes and Colors

 Once you have a solid base layer, you can play around with brushes and colors. Different meetings and colors will create other effects and give your watercolor paintings an original look. Experimenting with different brushes and paints can help you create unique and stunning visuals.

  • Use Reference Photos

 If you’re looking for inspiration for your watercolor paintings, using reference photos as a guide can be helpful. Try to find photos with subjects and lighting conditions similar to your image. Doing this can create a more realistic and natural look for your watercolor painting.

  • Practice Makes Perfect

 Practicing as much as possible is the best way to get better at watercolor painting. Try different techniques and styles until you find one that works for you. Try copying some easy watercolor photographs to get a feel for the process and gain more experience with the effect.

By following these tips, you should be able to create beautiful watercolor paintings with Photoshop that will make any image stand out. Whether you’re looking to add a unique visual element to a photo or create a stunning watercolor portrait, Photoshop’s watercolor painting effect can help you achieve incredible results.

Also Read: How to Smooth Edges in Photoshop 2023 (Step by Step)

How do you make watercolor look realistic?

Making a watercolor painting look realistic is an art form all on its own. It requires attention to detail and an eye for small nuances that can distinguish between a good image and a great one. 

Colors must be blended just right, and the brush strokes must be precise to capture a lifelike image. The best watercolor paintings have highlights and shadows that add depth to the piece, and the shadows should transition gradually from dark to Light.

Does Photoshop have a watercolor filter?

(Window > Actions) Launch the Actions panel in Photoshop. Choose Load Action from the Actions panel, then choose Watercolor Artist – Actions from the downloaded folder. Go to Edit > Presets > Presets Manager to install the brushes and patterns.


What is the Photoshop watercolor painting effect?

The Photoshop watercolor painting effect is a technique that can be used to make digital images look like they were created using traditional watercolor painting techniques. This effect can be achieved using various filters and adjustments in Adobe Photoshop.

How do I use the Photoshop watercolor painting effect?

To use the watercolor painting effect in Photoshop, you can follow these steps:
Open the image you want to apply the effect to in Photoshop. Create a duplicate layer of the image. On the duplicated layer, go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Artistic > Watercolor. Adjust the sliders to adjust the watercolor effect to your liking.

Apply a layer mask to the duplicated layer and use a soft brush to erase parts of the layer where you want the original image to show through. Adjust the opacity of the duplicated layer to fine-tune the effect.

Can I use the Photoshop watercolor painting effect on any image?

Yes, you can use the watercolor painting effect on any image, but it works best with images that have high contrast and well-defined edges.

Can I customize the watercolor effect in Photoshop?

Yes, you can customize the watercolor effect in Photoshop by adjusting the sliders in the Filter Gallery or by applying additional adjustments, such as adjusting the levels, hue/saturation, and color balance.

Are there any other techniques for creating a watercolor painting effect in Photoshop?

Yes, there are several other techniques for creating a watercolor painting effect in Photoshop, such as using the Mixer Brush tool, creating a custom brush, or using a watercolor paper texture overlay.


In conclusion, creating a watercolor painting effect in Photoshop can be a fun and creative way to enhance your digital artwork or photographs. By following the steps outlined in this blog, you can learn how to transform a simple image into a beautiful watercolor masterpiece using various tools and techniques available in Photoshop.

Creating a watercolor painting effect in Photoshop requires patience, practice, and creativity. However, you can produce stunning digital artwork that rivals traditional watercolor paintings with the right tools and techniques.

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