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Photoshop Tutorial 1: How to Convert Your Photos into Watercolor Illustrations

Updated on February 5, 2017

Fast and easy method.

First, let's look at the simplest way of doing it, to get you started. I'm not insulting your intelligence, only making it so simple that someone who hasn't worked in photoshop till now also can follow. So please be a bit indulgent.

(Click on any image to view full size, unless you have some super-optic ability!)

1. Open one of your photos in Photoshop. If you don't have one ready or would like to just try this, right click and save my cat instead.

The original picture
The original picture

2. Click on Filter, then on Artistic, finally on Watercolour, as shown in the screen shot.

Filter -->Artistic --> Watercolour

You get the result shown below. This is the quickest, easiest method, a straight-forward one. Sometimes this is quite enough for our purposes. Now promise me that you will tamper with the variables in the watercolour menu and learn something more. Please?

Watercolour Kitty!

Watercolour is What You Get
Watercolour is What You Get

The Kenny Method - slightly complex but easy.

Now I'll tell you how I do it. I'm using an important concept here that Photoshoppers use: Mix effects to produce best results. Don't use any filter straight from the can.

Okay, open the pic as you did before. Duplicate the layer.

Good Photoshop Habit: Always duplicate the original. Saves time and effort... just in case.

1.

Right click on the layer and select 'Duplicate Layer.' Now do: Image --  Adjustments --  Hue/saturation.  Fiddle a bit with the saturation value.
Right click on the layer and select 'Duplicate Layer.' Now do: Image -- Adjustments -- Hue/saturation. Fiddle a bit with the saturation value.

2.

Now do that filters- Artistic- watercolour bit again. Then duplicate this layer, as seen below.
Now do that filters- Artistic- watercolour bit again. Then duplicate this layer, as seen below.

3.

Now right click on that layer and click on 'screen.'
Now right click on that layer and click on 'screen.'
Please go to the background layer and duplicate layer. Drag this layer to the top as seen below.
Please go to the background layer and duplicate layer. Drag this layer to the top as seen below.
Now let's ruin the pic temporarily. Do this: Filter -- Stylize-- Find edges
Now let's ruin the pic temporarily. Do this: Filter -- Stylize-- Find edges

Now you have arrived at this funny effect, but patience. Breathe deeply, curse me a bit, and continue.

Do: Image-- Desaturate to have it in shades of grey.
Do: Image-- Desaturate to have it in shades of grey.
This is what you get. Now right click on this funny layer and click on multiply!
This is what you get. Now right click on this funny layer and click on multiply!

Voila!

Wasn't it worth taking all that trouble? Now take back your curses and bless me!
Wasn't it worth taking all that trouble? Now take back your curses and bless me!

When you have the time, tamper with the various parameters and check out the subtle differences in the effects. Next time,. I'll be back with a new effect tutorial. Have fun!

If you haven't, please visit my display of artistic effects, and see what I have done. You can do better!

Want to learn more tricks? Go to part two, please.

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    • VioletSun profile image

      VioletSun 9 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      I am the first one to post a comment. Yay! Just being silly. LOL! This is great! It never occurred to me to play with photographs and convert them to watercolor. Thanks, Kenny for opening up potential venues of creativity for me. I am thinking of experimenting with photos for verses I have written... hmmmmmm....

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      Welcome. O first lady!

      I am delighted to have the honour of showing you these tricks, Violet!

      Will await that hub, it will be a wow, I'm sure. Hit them in two places! 

    • profile image

      Iðunn 9 years ago

      useful hub. I only just recently took an interesting in using my photochop. I think my first one was ninjablowfish attack:

      http://www.geocities.com/deadsheepwalking/ninjabfi...

      and you can do negatives, emboss and oilify. I use labtech.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      Hehe I took a look at that ninja blow fish attack. Clever work!

    • profile image

      Iðunn 9 years ago

      actually it was pretty sloppy but it went with a current fad and in all fairness it was my first try. :p

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 9 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      this sounds right up my alley am excited to give it a try  soon...Lot's to catch up with now though that am better....you are just wonderful...G-Ma  :O)

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      It's great for a first try, Iðunn! My first try is not as exhibitable!

      You are better, G-Ma? 

      Daughter allowing you to stay up late? 

      Will wait to see your Photoshop work in your hubs soon, then. 

       

    • Eileen Hughes profile image

      Eileen Hughes 9 years ago from Northam Western Australia

      I have Paint shop pro So in that we dont have filters. But I have imortalised your cat. I hot waxed it and enamelled it and they look great.

      I have done a lot with transparencies. Having photos with the water going through it and used to send them on emails although haven't done for ages. But there is a lot to learn and tinker with. good informative hub.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      Lol! That sounds like cruelty to animals!

      So you do your wonders with Paintshop Pro?

      Thanks, Eileen!

    • Kat07 profile image

      Kat07 9 years ago from Tampa

      Kenny, this is great. I have to buy PhotoShop now!

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      It's great that you are motivated enough to buy photoshop, Kat! All the best!

    • compu-smart profile image

      compu-smart 9 years ago from London UK

      Hail to the photoshop king!!

      Great tips Kenny, as always..

    • caspar profile image

      caspar 9 years ago from UK

      Eileen - I too have Paint Shop Pro. I had fun playing with your cat, Kenny! I wasn't as cruel as Eileen, I only used a coloured pencil and some brush strokes on it, then gave it glowing edges.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      Hail Compu-Smart! We who are about to be killed by the real experts salute you!

      Caspar, you are a kind man! That the cat won't mind.

    • Zeckeill profile image

      Red Fernan 9 years ago from Philippines

      Hey thanks for the tips. I been editing images for months. This is a good hub for me. I'll try this in GIMP because I'm not using Photoshop. Thanks a again.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      Thanks, Zeckeill. Gimp is a good program. Maybe the commands are different, but the effect would be similar.

    • Zeckeill profile image

      Red Fernan 9 years ago from Philippines

      Yeah, I'm trying it right now.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      All the best to your effects! :)

    • Peter M. Lopez profile image

      Peter M. Lopez 9 years ago from Sweetwater, TX

      I have to give this a try. Thanks, Kenny.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      Thanks, Peter, that's a promise! :)

    • creativespotlite profile image

      creativespotlite 9 years ago

      Hi Kenny.

      This is a very helpful and interesting tutorial. Thanks for sharing!

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      Thank you, Creative, and welcome to my hubs!

    • Tim Hollis profile image

      Tim Hollis 9 years ago

      Thanks for the info.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      Welcome, Tim, my pleasure.

    • Joni Solis profile image

      Joni Solis 9 years ago from Kentwood, Louisiana

      Wow, I love that watercolor effect. I have Photoshop 7, now I just need to find the time to play with it.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      Good for you, Joni! Hope you post your results, and a link here.

    • WildwindE profile image

      Laurie J. Brenner 9 years ago from Western Slope of the Sierra Nevada, CA

      Ashok I paint and draw and have one hell of a time with photoshop. I know it's supposed to be great but i get all locked up in the layers deal (i'm starting from scratch not with a photo).

      Thanks for this bit here, it helps and I love watercolors. I've painted a few myself.

      Laurie B.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      If you paint in watercolours, you probably don't need this tutorial. It's for those who can't, Laurie. With photoshop, as with any graphic software, it's best to learn one thing at a time. For example, just use only one layer and one kind of brush till you get used to it.

      Hope you become an expert soon!

      Ashok

    • RainbowRecognizer profile image

      RainbowRecognizer 9 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks for this as I'm just a newbie with Photoshop Elements... it's fun, but likely I ought to start from the beginning as well. Thanks for the advice ;o)

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      Dear Amy, the trick is to start with a simple job, using basic tools, not exactly at the beginning. You might as well start doing this, step by step, if you like, or anything like this. Then you can begin to do more complex things, and in no time you are an expert!

      Thank you. 

    • figur8 profile image

      figur8 9 years ago

      This is terrific Kenny! Thanks for sharing. I've always wanted to write a children's story but not really fancying myself to be much of an artist, I thought I would have to find someone who could do the pictures for me. Now I can do my own pictures - thanks to you!

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      Figur8, this is the first, specific, practical instance where my tutorial is going to be put to use. I am delighted, thank you!

    • Encourager profile image

      Encourager 9 years ago from Cotswolds, UK

      Hi Kenny thanks for the techniques. I have been doing digital photography for a long time but I have not played around with Photoshop. I have tried Picasa and that's fascinating! Blessings.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 9 years ago from Chennai

      Thanks, Encourager,why don't you get round to having some fun with Photoshop?

    • profile image

      Priscilla,D. 8 years ago

      I love your work. I am new and am taking a class from an adult school but feel like there is so many questions not answered. We copy something we like but then we are on our won. Do you have any sugestions. ?

      Thank You for these wonderful pictures.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 8 years ago from Chennai

      Dear Priscilla,

      Thanks for that compliment. For starters, copying is fine. You can learn the basics that way. After a point, try going off on graphical tangents of your own. Create your owm stuff. If you need help, there are lots of tutorials in the web. Of you ask your questions on a google search, there's a good chance that somebody would have posted the answer.

      I am mostly self-taught. If you start teaching yourself, you don't have to rely on weak tutors. All the best to you!

    • franciaonline profile image

      franciaonline 8 years ago from Philippines

      Inspiring hub! I have always believed that drive and passion create talent. It does in drawing. I agree with Mahatmi Gandhi's famous quote: "What you think you become."

      Yes, thoughts become things. If I can imagine I can draw, there's a great possibility that I can draw.

      Thanks for your hub that brings in hope to people who don't think they have talent in the visual arts.

      franciaonline

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 8 years ago from Chennai

      I am delighted to see another hubber who shares my belief. Thank you very much! :)

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Hi Kenny, now that I am experimenting a bit with photoshop I can now better understand this hub. hehe I've tried the other approach the clicking on the filter and watercolor option. Hmmm now I will try this new one that you propose. :) Thanks... to more lessons. Onward!!! march 2, 3,4...

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 8 years ago from Chennai

      Wonderful, Michelle, now march onward to create beautiful photoshop ripples! :)

    • Ms Chievous profile image

      Tina 8 years ago from Wv

      WoW!! Cool tricks.. I think on my next day to myself I will spend a good bit of it reading the rst of your hubs! I enjoy being artistic! Thanks Kenny for some inspiration

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 8 years ago from Chennai

      Thank you, Miss, glad that you are inspired!

    • MickS profile image

      MickS 7 years ago from March, Cambridgeshire, England

      Watcha Kenny,

      well described, excellent bit of work with PS.

      best Mick

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 7 years ago from Chennai

      Aw thank you, Micks! :)

    • Dheeraji profile image

      Dheeraji 7 years ago from Leicestershire

      Wow, this is one good hub, with instructions that are simple and straight forwards to understand. Great information

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 7 years ago from Chennai

      Delighted to be of help, Dheeraji! :)

    • allofall profile image

      allofall 7 years ago

      Simple and easy and look great.

      Thanks

      Rated up for sure

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 7 years ago from Chennai

      Thank you, All of all! :)

    • profile image

      Aculifter 7 years ago

      Thank you! Well written, and you may assault my intelligence ANY time when it comes to the elusive PS!

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 7 years ago from Chennai

      Hope you become an expert photoshopper soon, Aculifter!

    • 3Julia profile image

      3Julia 7 years ago from Pegasus

      Love the subject and the colors. The photo you started with is very nice, too.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 7 years ago from Chennai

      Aw, ty Julia! She is a beautiful cat. :)

    • profile image

      Madge 7 years ago

      Well all the comments seem to be made to years ago, well am abudding photgrapher who is learning the trick of photoshop.

      thank you very much and looking forward to using the techniques and practice on different photos to give different results. God bless you

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 7 years ago from Chennai

      Have fun, Madge! :)

    • profile image

      heizel 7 years ago

      nice work!

      keep on posting!

      very useful tutorials

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 7 years ago from Chennai

      Thank you, Heizel for the kind words! :)

    • nikki1 profile image

      nikki1 7 years ago

      cool hub. Great pic.s.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 7 years ago from Chennai

      Thank you Nikki for commenting on this old hub and reviving it. :)

    • profile image

      Mai 7 years ago

      Thanks, this is fun!

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 7 years ago from Chennai

      Glad you had fun, Mai! :)

    • profile image

      Amber Caudell 7 years ago

      I tried it and had fun, just couldn't find the part where it says to multiply. I am a newbie to photoshop :)

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 7 years ago from Chennai

      Amber, see the pic just above 'Voila?' The last screenshot? Click on it to get a big image. The multiply is on the 'layers' menu. Can you spot it?

    • profile image

      Alex 6 years ago

      Great, thanks for the post.

      You can try http://photofacefun.com to make funny photo effects and more without Photoshop!

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 6 years ago from Chennai

      Will check it out, thanks, Alex! :)

    • profile image

      Jeff_McRitchie 6 years ago

      Thanks for the tutorial! I'll have to try this sometime. (Cute picture too, by the way.)

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 6 years ago from Chennai

      Hope you do try it out, Jeff!

      Thanks, I still miss that cat! :)

    • profile image

      Sion 6 years ago

      Great Tutorial!

      It's easy for you to edit your photo in online photo editor

      http://www.enjoypic.com

      No Photoshop skills can also work.

    • profile image

      kimmy 5 years ago

      its hard trying to find the right watercoler tool thingy

    • profile image

      dew drop 5 years ago

      nice tutorial.I'm going to try it.

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 5 years ago from Chennai

      Have fun, Dew Drop! :)

    • profile image

      tasnia 5 years ago

      Nice job. ...Thanks a lot...

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 5 years ago from Chennai

      You're welcome, Tasnia! :)

    • Kenny Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Ashok Rajagopalan 5 years ago from Chennai

      Yes, ITcoach, now you can do your own thing there since you have been there and done that.

      Thank you for telling me and for the 'awesome' and the vote! :)

    • profile image

      Ozkarin 4 years ago

      this is so wonderful! alike arts digitales around the world is better...

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