Example Lesson

Pen & Ink Water Color Washes

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1. History Brush and Art History Brush will bring back color value from your original file and can simulate light watercolor washes.

2. Click on any image below to enlarge


Start by opening your file and making a copy of your background layer (Cmd/J or Ctrl/J).

Then use a Smart Blur (Filter > Blur > Smart Blur) to create a selection of your file. In the Smart Blur window, choose 'Medium' to 'High' Quality depending on your needs and 'Edge Only'

Then, dial the amount and threshold that works best for your image (you are looking for a line art effect that at this stage shows white lines against a black background.

Then invert it to create a line art drawing of your image by holding down Cmd/I or Ctrl/I. This creates a quick line art from your image.

TIP:  To correct stray lines in the drawing, use the paint brush tool (B) to paint out the lines completely with the color white.

Make a snapshot of your line art. 

To add a watercolor wash to your line art, use the History Brush (Y) and click in the area to the left of the the original image in the history palette to turn delegate the layer to paint back to and start painting back color and details from the original file into your new line art drawing layer (#3 above).

TIP:  Use a fairly large brush set at a low opacity (20% or less) as you build back color and details.

TIP: If you brush in an error, choose the paintbrush icon to the left of the snapshot to paint the error back to this history.

The final effect is the result of several passes with the History Brush at different settings, snapshots dragged in as new layers then blended with various blend modes (also try APPLY IMAGE with 'invert' checked and 'mask' checked; Color Dodge, Linear Dodge, Multiply are good blends) which created this particular pen & ink watercolor wash effect below .  Your settings and blends should be specific to your own image as there is NO ONE FORMULA for this effect.

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Alternate Technique :  Softer Line Art Effect

Take any image and add a Hue and Saturation Adjustment layer.

Then take the Saturation down to -100 to remove all the color from the image.

(Note: You can also go to Image>Mode>Grayscale, but you won't have the option to put color back in later.)

Duplicate the background layer by holding down Cmd/J or Ctrl/J and Invert (Cmd/I or Ctrl/I) this new layer
Set the Blending Mode to Color Dodge (your image will become almost completely white, but don't panic, it's still there.)
Adjust Gaussian Blur to best effect (Filter > Blur > Gaussian)
If you like, you can go back into your Hue and Saturation adjustment layer and add a bit of color back into the image.
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