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Water Color Brushes

Lesson 20 from: Advanced Techniques with Brushes in Photoshop CC

Lisa Carney

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Lesson Info

20. Water Color Brushes

Next Lesson: Brush on a Path

Lesson Info

Water Color Brushes

Alright, we're gonna look at some watercolor brushes and watercolor. Oh, you missed it! You missed the sunflower! You really wanted to see it again, it's been so long! It's been hours! Alright, it's the same idea as all of the other pieces, leave a little sample on top so you can sample your colors, and once again I put a little outline, so I could see what I was doing. Do you remember on the dog, I said I like to merge the pieces? I'm now gonna show you another trick I like to do. So, on the dog picture, or on the flower picture, I took a copy of the original and I merged and blurred it underneath. Now, because it gave me some color fill, right? Well this, there is no original. There's nothing to do, but I did some painting. So if you want your lines, I'm gonna put the lines on top. Like, I like those lines, but I don't want those lines to be black, I want those lines to have the same color as the piece. What I did, is I turned the outline off, I turned the blue watercolor washey-grai...

ned paper, because that's not a long enough name. I turn that off, I merge this. So here's what I do: command, option, shift, E. Command, option, shift, E. That will take everything that is visible down below, and merge it up. Command, option, shift, E. Those are Mac commands, I'm sorry I don't know the PC commands. And I'm gonna gaussian blur that. And then, I had this black outline that I have a channel pull for it. I'm gonna take that same channel now, and just drop it onto the color instead. And now, what I have... I can get rid of that. ... is I have an outline that's now color. So I had the black and white outline, and now instead I have a color outline. So, what I did is I put that on the piece, and I put that on, and then I just put a little extra black if I want it. I can take the black and take it down. I can take the black and take it off. It just adds a little bit of outline, and it just defines the piece a little more. Do you see that? And it's basically all the colors from below, just masked out. Alright, so let's talk about the anatomy of a water brush. And here are the colors I've used, or not the colors, but the brushes I've used. I've used this, and now double-click on this name because I want to shorten it. The watercolor wash, grainy-paper blue, and I really want to show you this brush for a variety of reasons. Let's go here. Oh! I don't have my watercolor brushes up! That doesn't matter, because we have watercolor ABR, that means I can load them up. That's for the dog picture. Oh! It's only got one, I'm not gonna panic. It's the end of the day, it's been a long day. I'm gonna go back. Do you remember at the beginning of the class, I said, "You know what I'm gonna suggest you do? I'm gonna suggest you download all of the brushes." Because you might be somewhere with no internet, and you might have to grab a brush. Pas de problème! I've got it right here! Here we go. I love it when I can illustrate why you have to do the things I say. It's so you're not like the idiot like I just was. Alright, so let's see if we can find this brush. I'm actually gonna go through the brush setting here, so I can pull it up. I really like to reiterate right at this moment that why you wanted to save your brushes out in a job folder is that you don't have to do all this. And let's see if I can find him. Alright, well guacamole! I can't find it. That's alright, we're gonna make do with something else. I'm gonna pick watercolor rough random. This watercolor brush with the grainy-blue paper actually comes with a color already attached to it. That's why I wanted to show it to you. But that's cool, I can show it to you this way, and I will pick my own color. And we're gonna, while I'm doing this painting right now with you guys, is I wanna talk about the color dynamics, and what-not. Why don't I make blue the foreground color? Alright, (stylus softly scraping) so I'm just painting this on a layer. Very very very watercolor-ey. And what I'm hoping is happening at this moment it's a big brush so it's got a little bit of a drag going on right now, and I'm gonna turn the stroke catch-up off on it, because I don't want to see that little string. Alright, here's what we're gonna do, my friends. We're gonna go to brush settings and take a look. Alright, this is your brush, build-up. He's got build-up, he's got smoothing, he's got transfer, color dynamic, dual brush, scattering, you know you're gonna find some texture under there. You know it. Because you can see it, can't you see it? Right here. What is that? Oh, I don't know, nothing's highlighted. Ahh, pas de problème. You know this, Kyle hides his texture, sneaky little monkey. Click right there. Not invert! But right here. Now go back, ha ha! You cannot hide from me, I know you stick stuff in there. Kyle's watercolor seamless number one, that's what he put in there. And you know it. You know it because when you paint it, you can see it. Now, as we talked about earlier when we did these brushes, do you see how much texture is showing through? You know, because we already talked about it, it's this thing. Do you remember that darn--if you have it on height, it's like the paint is full. If you have it on that subtract, then it's like you're scratching the water. Do you remember, we did this on the Sisson brush. This is a watercolor brush, but you understand, because you can start to see the paper coming through. You're understanding, I can feel it! I can feel it in the room you're 100% understanding what's going on. And just to be difficult, or challenging, or whatever, I'm gonna do something different real quick, because I really, it's imperative for me that you guys understand this. What if we change the pattern? What if we go to that wild, no that's gonna look terrible. Well, let's go to fine grain, just to be fun. (stylus scraping) That's the fine grain one. It looks like, snake skin? Do a little cold-pressed. Cold-pressed paper maybe? Definitely not hot-pressed paper. And you can load up patterns, and all that kind of stuff. There's papers galore available for you on the internet. Alright, I want to now that we've done this, look at some settings together. Because I'm a kind girl, I'm not gonna be cruel and evil to you. (papers rustling) You're gonna print these out, I have to print them out, you have to print them out, everyone's gotta print them out. It's the rules. So, anatomy of a watercolor brush, and what're you gonna do? You're gonna have it next to you, and then you're gonna go to your settings, and you're gonna go, okay, so what's different? Well what we just went over, it's that darn subtract. Now in this one... Directional?! Wait, what? Look at this! Dual brush, transfer, pen pressure... Do you see all these settings? There's so much more you can do under here, and you can see the brush-tip head. It's not a Sisson, is it? It's not a Monet. It's not a Pissarro. This is where that man is genius, he's come up with all of these. That splatter brush I used for the masking? You guys could take that, make a little print head out of this. So you could literally make your coffee, do your cool coffee, print it, take a photo of it with your iphone, do a levels move on it, make a little splatter head, and then go here and go, okay, anatomy of a watercolor brush, what can I do? And you want to check out these settings that he has. A big one for him, for his watercolors, do you remember dissolve, for half-tone? Big one for him is gonna be multiply. Why? Because he wants to build up, just like a watercolor, right? If you laid watercolor down, let's take a look at that real quick. You guys doing okay? Excellent, alright. So let's go back, I'm gonna zero out a brush, and let's just take any one of them. Although, maybe I should try to do the brush we did. What did we do? Real watercolor round? Probably one of those first ones. Do you hate his names yet? They drive me crazy. Alright, real watercolor round. I unfortunately cut the number off. It's either gonna be 80, 90, maybe I can see it. 70! Probably 70. Ahh, we're gonna... Oh here it is! You know how I knew this? Because on the handout, it says regular sized 70. That's the only way I know that's the brush. Alright, detective work! We can all do it. I'm just gonna fill this with white. And we're gonna take this brush, and we're gonna paint. Alright. So because he's got this on multiply. Because he has this brush on multiply, I'm now, I've lifted up my brush. I'm gonna paint on it again. It's multiplying, and this is what a watercolor would do. Picking it up, picking it up, if you keep going, I'm painting, I have not lifted up my pen. I'm waving at this same time, it's kind of amazing. And when I do that, what it's gonna do is just like a watercolor brush, it's laying down a wash, and it's putting all the paint down on the edges. Cool? Texture, you got your texture here. So I'm not gonna beat this dead horse. We're gonna keep going. So let's a look at something we could do with it. Aww! Dogs! I like dogs! Dogs like me. Alright, let's take a look at this. Here's your original, and then what I did, I just put a piece down, I didn't put the okay this one's a little unusual. I did not put the picture up on the top as a viewing. And what I ended up doing, is I put that black, I put the lines on there. I think we've talked about this a thousand times, I don't draw very well. And because I don't draw very well, I like to have a sample. So what I have is a copy of the background that's slightly blurred, just like I did on that sunflower, the watercolor. And I put a channel mask on it, right there, just so I could see it. How did I get such a good channel mask? I kind of suck at them. That sketch filter. I use that sketch filter to make a mask, that's the sketch filter, the plug-in. Do a levels move, bring the mid-tones... There's your line drawing. Because I'm lazy! I'm just a lazy lazy girl. And then you can use that on top, and in this case I used it as a channel. So I could do color, and then I can paint underneath. So what I did, is I took those brushes, and I spelled really well, this is fantastic. I used, I'm gonna just go ahead and walk through this. There's the outline for me. I used a brush, the watercolor blender basic, and then I used a real watercolor spider spread gland, these are the names. I'm copying, don't hold me, it's not my fault. I did not pick these names. And then what happens is, I just start to paint. Now why did I do this? I did this because with the paintbrush, I can't pick the color from underneath, right? I have to just kind of paint, and so I wanted to have the guide. I wanted to have the dude underneath there so I could use him as a guide. Did I mention eyes wanna have a little more pop and color? And then, as I said, over here to myself, I said, "Hey I like this for the dog watercolor," and it is a blender brush. Now, I wasn't very kind to myself, I didn't say where it came from, so I don't know which of Kyle's brushes that is, because I didn't save the name, but that's okay. Let's see what it is. It's a blender brush, we know that. Let's look at the settings. Alright, we've got, it's got a rough tip. It's got shape dynamics for pen pressure, it's got scattering, it's got transfer, and it's adding noise. Wait, we haven't done this before. What's this? It adds a little grit to the file. Now, we haven't talked about this yet, but any of these items down here, it's either on or off. Wax on, wax off. It's either on or off. That means these, blessedly, do not give you 1500 options to choose from, you either pick them or none. And let's just paint on little doggy babe. And I'm just gonna make a new layer. Let's pick a color, any color will do. Do you remember I turned that strokes pull off? Do you remember I did that? He turned it back on. Kyle! Didn't I just turn that off? Turn off smooth. Oh, right, on the layer, thank you, honey. As I said earlier, but I always forget, do you remember I put it in red? I put it in red because I forget it. Not because I think you'll forget it, it's because I forget it. This little bugger. I have to say, so here's my thought about this, and maybe I'm coo coo bear. Why would you want smoothing on, if you're trying to paint? If you're trying to be a little organic, you don't have to dance like that, but if you're trying to do organic artwork, why would you want smoothing? Kyle, what are you thinking? So this is all I'm doing on this brush. I just like it. Do you see how it's kind of green? And it's got no color dynamic, isn't that interesting? What would happen if we clicked on the color dynamic, and we did a huge jitter? It's a little bit of a slow brush. Now, it's really wet, and because it's really wet, I think you're not gonna quite see this color shift. I can see it on this monitor, I'm not sure if you can see it on that monitor. Anyway, I think it's a really beautiful brush. And let me tell you in all honesty, I am the first person to say, I kind of suck at this watercolor. Watercolors, I'm not very good at it. But I give it a go, and it was fun. I put some black splatter on behind, so I just masked out the dog. Again, you can be kind of crappy about your masking, which is so lovely. You don't have to be really precise. Crappy is a technical term. And, you remember that oil and vinegar brush? Do you remember it wasn't a blending brush, it was a paint brush? I used that on the mask, paint out, because I thought it made it look a little more watercolor-ey. This is like a multi-media piece, because that's not a watercolor brush, that's a concept brush. Ooo, I'm blending! It's dogs and cats living together! Anyway, so don't be afraid to cross-pollinate your brushes, if I can say that. Please try out the filters. I think that photo effects filter is really groovy cool and can do some fun stuff. Don't forget to add patterns when you can, because patterning, especially on the brushes, just add a really nice texture. Because I think with digital, so that's a digital painting, which, you know, it's kind of fun, right? It's watercolor-ey, it's kind of interesting, but it doesn't look like a watercolor 100%, and what you really, I think, need to add is the paper. A work-around for that, is to go to that texture button and do the subtract, and then you can paint it through the paper. But then you have to use that same pattern for every single brush you use. Do you understand? Or your papers gonna look like you had corrugated cardboard on one, and cold-press on another, and chip board. Because for every brush, the texture changes, unless you change it.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Brushes Companion Handout
Adobe Stock Contributor

Ratings and Reviews


Knowledgeable Lisa is the best teacher. She makes learning Photoshop fun. Great course. Lisa has a great teaching style. She mixes in a great speech cadence, great voice up and down and pausing, jokes, and is extremely knowledgeable and fun to watch. Awesome course. Really helpful course for getting my feet wet with brushes.


This is a comprehensive overview of Ps CC Brushes, what they do, how they work and how to control, manage & modify them. I found it extremely useful to learn about the functionality/features that Ps CC brushes can provide even though I'm a photographer and not an illustrator or painter. I will never ever be able to employ everything Lisa explained & demo'd in the class - she covered a wide gamut of info. But she served the purpose, in this class, of being essentially what I'd call an 'idea sparker'. Once you see how she works with brushes and you find out how you can adapt (or create) brush tools to suit your personal artistic style the options for creativity are unlimited. I might re-title this class "Oh the Places Brushes Can Go" (apologies to Dr Seuss and his classic graduation gift book 'Oh, the Places You'll Go...'). Keep in mind a few things about this class (& back away from it and your credit card if you don't note a few key facts...): (1) It is called 'Advanced Techniques' - it is for intermediate to advanced Ps users, not newbies unless you're a child prodigy who picks things up really fast, (2) This is not a 'Paint with Lisa' class - we don't all paint a butterfly like a color by numbers together. Rather we learn about Ps brushes, how they work, what they look like and how to modify them and change their dynamics for different types of artistic/retouching/post-processing uses. Each person will have to experiment - there's no one 'this is it' formula that can be provided, (3) Lisa talks and thinks fast and has a pretty amusing patter too (she's clearly very intelligent!) - so be prepared to hit the Pause button. She repeatedly advises during the class, don't overload your brain with all there is to absorb with regard to Ps Brushes. Take breaks to try the info she shares & see what works for you before going on to a different section of the class. Don't buy this class thinking you'll whizz through it in 15 minutes & figure out how to complete a job you've committed to deliver in 2 hours, (4) There's a large packet of material that comes with a purchase of the class (descriptions, definitions, brush settings, drawing examples, etc.). Item #4 is the only thing I'd ding this class on. While the handout material contains lots of really really useful info it is - sadly - microscopic print. The text is exceedingly difficult for my poor old eyes to read. I value that there's plenty of white space on the pages to write notes as Lisa talks - I've done so prodigiously. But the print in that accompanying brushes class guide needs to be larger. I honestly wish I could enlarge the print in some way (unless it is a PDF that I can alter & I haven't figured it out). If there is a way to re-print with larger type font sizes someone please let me know! Bottom line: I highly recommend this class to more advanced Ps users who want a comprehensive overview of Brushes and working with them. It's definitely not a class for someone who wants a linear, step x step, "do this then do that" type of recipe class. As I've noted above, it's best as a way to learn about richly varied Ps tools you may have only had superficial exposure to previously; and get enough new knowledge to make you dangerous (and, dare I say it, boldly creative!).

Skye Taten

Lisa is the BEST teacher!!!!! Everyone should take this class!!!!!!! This class is utterly phenomenal!!!! Lisa is so knowledgable and so very talented. She is incredibly smart, super funny and so very helpful. This class contains so much valuable information, and at this price it's a complete steal. This class has forever changed my life!!! I'm so happy to have a new skill set. Thank you Lisa from the bottom of all of our hearts you are completely incredible and have touched all of our editing in photoshop lives forever!!!!! You are so very talented thank you so much for sharing your incredible skills and knowledge with us, you are a true beautiful talented soul. xoxo, Skye

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