Creating Watercolor Landscapes

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Watercolor textures can add such great depth and color variation to your work. There's quite a few watercolor textures in my Creative Market shop and here is one way you could use those textures for your drawing. For this tutorial, I will show you how to color a pencil drawing using some Photoshop brushes and watercolor textures. If you are in need of some watercolor brushes or textures, check out the shop. There's quite a few options to choose from.

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TT_watercolorlandscape2

Step 1: I started by drawing my picture on paper, scanning and then importing the drawing into Photoshop. Setup your layers with folders for each section of the drawing that will be colored (sky, mountains, trees, clouds).

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TT_watercolorlandscape3

Step 2: Create layer masks to apply to each folder that was created. This way you can drop multiple texture layers directly into the folder and move them around without having to worry about applying a mask to each layer. Create the mask for each layer by making a selection based on the drawing. The sides of the drawing will be a hard line for now, but that will be fixed later on down the road.

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TT_watercolorlandscape4

Step 3: Now that the masks are complete, its time to add some color. Make sure you have the watercolor brushes loaded. Create a new fill layer and select a green color for the trees.

Using the brush tool, find a circular brush. This brush will be used to give the layer some texture. Set the brush opacity to 10% and started brushing away part of the green fill layer. A wacom tablet works best for this part. I usually switch the foreground and background (press the X key to do this quickly) constantly to brush part of the layer away and then brush it back in to get a nice subtle texture.

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TT_watercolorlandscape5

Now repeat this process for the mountains.

*Tip: Adjusting the brush’s scatter settings and spacing will give you a more natural randomized look and feel as you use the brush.

Step 4: Now lets add some shadows to give this illustration more depth. For the mountains, create a new fill layer, name it “Shadows” and select a brown that is lighter than the mountains. Then set the layers blend mode to “Multiply.” Click on the layer mask thumbnail and hit “Command” + “I” on the keyboard to invert the mask to give you a blank slate to add the shadows. Then, after selecting a new brush, start brushing in the areas for the shadows.

Repeat the same process for the trees.

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TT_watercolorlandscape6

Step 5: Next let’s focus on the sky. First, create a selection of everything above the mountains and apply this as a mask to the “sky” folder.

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TT_watercolorlandscape7

Let’s find a nice shape for the sky. Find a watercolor texture that has a nice shape for the sky.

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TT_watercolorlandscape8

I need to create a selection based on the watercolor shape. To do this, go to Select > Color Range, click the white background and adjust the slider to about 124 for fuzziness (this will allow some of the textures in the middle of the watercolor to show through). The preview image will show the texture shape filling in.

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TT_watercolorlandscape9

Hit ok and then manually drag the selection from this file into your working file. Use this selection to create a new gradient fill and pick your colors. Once done, use the free transform tool to resize the shape and position of the texture.

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TT_watercolorlandscape10

Step 6: Fill in the white areas. I created a white fill layer and dropped that into the Snow & Clouds folder.

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TT_watercolorlandscape11

Step 7: Lastly, it’s time to create a border shape for the whole piece. Do this by creating a white fill layer, position that above all the other layers and invert the mask (select the mask thumbnail and hit command + I). Select one of the watercolor brush strokes, something fairly straight and brush the shape of the border in. This is the time to shape the whole piece, so if the sky or bottom of the trees isn’t the way you want it, you can fix that with this border.

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TT_watercolorlandscape12

And there you have your finished work of art!

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TT_watercolorlandscape13