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You are hereHome > Tutorials > Watercolor Effects

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Watercolor Effects

Creating a watercolor effect in Photoshop Elements is as easy as 1-2-3. This effect works best on a landscape photograph with wide swatches of colors.


First, we copy the image into Photoshop format before we apply the effect:

  • We do a Select - All to copy the jpeg to the computer's memory.
  • We then do a File - New... - OK to create an empty canvas with the same dimensions.
  • An Edit - Paste will paste the image previously copied into the computer's memory onto our new canvas.
  • File - Save this new picture with a new name as a photoshop file (.psd).

Next, if necessary, you might want to brighten up any areas that are too dark, or they will translate into solid blacks:

  • Enhance - Brightness/Contrast - Brightness/Contrast... - Select Preview (if not already set ON). Then, slide the Brightness control right or left until the desired brightness is achieved.
  • You can also select part of the image with the Marquee Tool and apply brightness only to that area.
  • I darkened the highlights and brightened the shadows.

If you want to reduce the size of the image, do:

  • Image - Resize - Image Size... - Select Constrain Proportions (if not already set ON). Type in your new Pixel Dimensions.
  • I resized to a Width of 450 and the Height was automatically adjusted to keep the proportion.
  • You may wish to crop the picture anyway you want.

Apply the Watercolor Effect:

  • The watercolor effect is obtained at Filter - Artistic - Watercolor...
  • In the example below, I used a Brush Detail of 14, Shadow Intensity of 0, and Texture of 2.
  • Depending on your image, you might want to play with those numbers until the effect pleases you.

Save your newly created watercolor image as a new file:

  • File - Save As... and save it as a Photoshop file.
  • If desired, convert it back into a jpeg for posting to the web or for emailing (give it a new file name). Some resolution will be lost in the compression: File - Save for Web... and save as a JPEG with Medium compression.

Here are a couple of other examples:



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