Create a Realistic Watercolor Painting Effect in 4 Easy Steps!

Want to create beautiful watercolor paintings without all the mess? With Photoshop, you can turn any photo into an incredible watercolor painting in just a few short steps! Learn how to use layer blend modes and the filter gallery to quickly turn your photos into colorful art!

Software: Adobe Photoshop CC

Difficulty: Beginner

Completion Time: 30 minutes

Images Used For This Tutorial


Stock Photo - Abstract grunge background, ink texture.

Abstract grunge background, ink texture: 24631394 © donatas1205


Stock Photo - Bridge in Venice

Bridge in Venice: 39566741 © Aurlien LAFORET

Step 1

Open the Venice reference in Photoshop. For the best effect, try to look for photos of scenery or architecture. They work best for that traditional watercolor feel. Control-J to duplicate the layer in order to make a copy.


WatercolorEffect1

Step 2

Select the duplicated layer and go to Filter > Filter Gallery. Select the Sponge option under the Artistic folder. Set the Brush Size to 1, the Definition to 4, and the Smoothness to 3.


WatercolorEffect2a

WatercolorEffect2b

Step 3

Now copy and paste your watercolor reference onto the same document. Free Transform (Control-T) to resize it making sure it fills up the canvas. Position the layer so that it’s under the Venice duplicate.


WatercolorEffect3

Let’s create the watercolor effect! Set the Blend Mode for the duplicated layer to Hard Light.


WatercolorEffect4a

WatercolorEffect4b

WatercolorEffect4finaloption1

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