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Hey guys! So the number one requested tutorial I get from readers is how I digitize my watercolor graphics. It’s a trade secret that is really super simple, and I am FINALLY sharing it with you all!
First, you need artwork, but that goes without saying. Second, you need photoshop. Third, you really, really want a wacom tablet.
Why not use a regular old mouse? Think of the difference between paint & photoshop… that’s the only way I know how to explain it. You can’t even realize how night and day they are compared to each other.
For several years I just used the Intuos, which is basically a mouse pad you can draw on. It was affordable, and made working on art digitally so much easier. But the downfall with this product is you have to train yourself to look up at the screen while drawing on the pad. So they eye hand coordination can’t be as detailed & natural as real drawing. I got pretty good at it, but I have since upgraded to the real thing…
Earlier this year I got my dream machine: The Cintiq 13. It is amazing!!! I remember seeing a commercial of one of their fist models when I was little, and thinking “WOW! I would love one of those!”
They recently came out with this model, and I just KNEW it would make my design process so much easier. The Cintiq 13 is a secondary monitor you connect to your PC & it allows you to draw directly on the screen. I can never go back. The drawing process is so natural, and it saves you so much time because you can draw right in photoshop.
Now, you can still do this process with a good old mouse, but if you are doing this on a daily basis like I am, it is totally worth the investment to get a Cintiq. Take my word for it. And no, I’m no tbeing paid to say this. Wish I was, though! Haha!
So my first step is photographing my artwork. I like photographing them vs. scanning because you can really pick up the texture of the paper. Then I open it up in photoshop.
Now, there are 3 ways you can do this process…
Used the image layer as a clipping mask overlay over a blank layer… just press ctl alt and hover over the line between the two layers.
Next, redraw the shape of your desired image… Or you can follow the below tutorial and erase around the edges.
For this next method go ahead and add a solid background to the psd document.
To erase the edges, first get rid of the bulk of the edge by selecting it with the magic wand tool.
Right click & press select inverse. Press ctrl + x to erase the borders.
Now we use the eraser tool to do all the detail edging.
This is where a tablet really helps.
Just erase until it all looks sharp & beautiful!
Ta-Da! Now hide the solid layer and save as a png.
For splatter & loose watercolors it gets a bit more complicated to pick up what you want & erase what you don’t.
So go ahead and open your complicated watercolor up in photoshop.
One of my favorite ways to eliminate messy edges is to copy the image & really hype up the brightness and contrast.
This allows us to select the white background easily with the magic wand. It’s much easier than selecting the various colors of the image we want to save. Make sure contiguous is checked if you want all the white to be selected, and not just the touching areas. You can also ramp up the tolerance if you aren’t able to select all the white in one go. If you have, say two areas out of three that you want to get rid of the white, just press down CTL while selecting that new area with contiguous unchecked.
After selecting the desired white area, right click and feather the edge so there will be minimal white on the edges. 0.2 is a good amount.
Hide the contrast layer & click on the original image.
Press ctrl x and you are done!
Sometimes I throw a bold contrasting color underneath the graphic to make sure I got all the white off the edge.
There you have it! The secret is out! I can’t wait to see all your watercolor creations! Tag me up on instagram #welivedhappilyeverafterblog so I can see them!