Enter the world of magical digital watercolor! Join me to develop an art piece of beautifully illustrated image for your special someone — and learn new digital watercolor techniques, tricks, and styles along the way.
This visually rich tutorial follows the start-to-finish process of illustrating Faerie scene from a photo as reference: including powerful custom brush, versatile basic brush, and more.
✦ The secret? This illustration was built only from digital watercolor, inside Clip Studio Paint and rendered to fit special purposes: to make your loved ones happy, for birthday gift, or simply a unique way to propose him/her to marry you.
【1】 Photograph for Reference
Sketch is always an important part of our illustration process. I like to have a good basis to start working on with various poses, my first initial idea; we need some references, either from real life or from photographs. I highly recommend it when you go for a realistic style, even if it's just to check that you've got things correct.
⬩ I use my lovely Grace Tjahyadi photo to help me visualize the Faerie character and try to build up the scene in my head. Plus she's so cute, her character and personality aside made me think she's a real life Faerie.
(´ ε ` )♡
【2】 Choose Starting Point
I start my canvas with 3000 x 3000 pixels weight and height with 300 dpi resolution. Plus paper color sets to Pale Tone color settings. Because I want the background to suggest that the Faerie emerges from the woods into a softly lit clearing where flowers grow and creatures live.
⬩ Grace, my lovely Faerie will subtly brings light and life into her surroundings. Just like my whole life turned from flat monochromatic scheme into beautiful colors.
【3】 Use Standard Brush to Sketch
✤ CSP version 1.85 comes with new names for standard brushes, so I find it quite interesting with this 「 Real pencil 」 brush on Pencil tab. It has rich texture that looks like pencil sketch.
You can create your line-art ⟪ of course with new layer on top of pale green background ⟫ with dark brown to match the pale green background which calm to your eyes. Various of digital artists begin their sketches with either white background or grey.
・I am not modifying anything on Brush settings/Tool property, instead I'm using transparency (as seen on image above) to remove/erase some parts of my brush stroke to make fading effects.
🔰 This is a simple technique to save most of the time by switching color to transparency brush when sketching.
【4】 Get Exclusive Digital Watercolor Brush for FREE!
From now on I prefer painting on ONE new layer BELOW my sketch layer. Important note: you can quickly get lost with lots of layers, also this brings you closer to thrill of traditional watercolor painting with all the advantages of working digitally. You can UNDO, remove unwanted parts without discard the 'fail attempt' to recolor what's done.
Before starting to paint, you can DOWNLOAD FOR FREE my personal custom brush exclusively for this tutorial 「 Faerie Grace 」 in link below:
【5】 Background Making 〸 New Brush Testing
The background won't be over detailed because we focus on the Faerie but it will be the proper place to test your NEW brush 「 Faerie Grace」 to mix colors you wish.
▼ Take a look on image below, as you can see I paint my background scene DIRECTLY on my background layer ⟪ on top of Paper layer ⟫ for efficient blending mode.
(づ ◕‿◕ )づ These are steps to color the background ▼
➊ Use the brush directly with LESS PRESSURE if you're using Graphic tablet.
➋ Change another color (my example is the dark pale green) then brush over the top of first color with MID PRESSURE of Graphic tablet.
➌ Use〚 Color Mixing 〛tool and choose 「 Running color on fiber 」 and smudge over the top and other directions of brush.
❗ IMPORTANT NOTE ❗
Don't use vibrant colors, instead use pale or toned down colors a bit to mimic analog watercolor.
【6】 Recolor Sketch with Lock Transparent Pixel
Before continuing the color, I'd like to remind you it's important that we start RECOLOR the outline or sketch first, as it will boost our visual guide while adding final colors to our artwork that similar to watercolor. My initial outline color is dark brown as shown with image above.
Click〚 Lock Transparent Layer 〛then use any brush to recolor chosen outlines just like image below ▼
Now my outlines have been colored with various watercolor tones. It's a pretty unique way to recolor any of your outlines to achieve soft digital watercolor result without worry about 'destroying' your original sketch.
【7】 Faerie Watercolor Painting
✤ There is one powerful default brush from CSP 1.85 on Pencil tab called 「 Design pencil 」.
Try to use it with single big stroke (like the green brush strokes for example), then do it again for another strokes in the same place to achieve the textured one for thicker result.
Finally use the〚 Color Mixing 〛: 「 Running color on fiber 」 method to blend the hard edges.
You can achieve more visual effects or brush strokes for entire painting like the face, even one stroke for pinkish rose. It's all depending on PRESSURE of your Graphic tablet and also try to combine 「 Faerie Grace 」 brush with 「 Design pencil brush 」 .
【8】 Finishing Touch
(づ ◕‿◕ )づ These are steps to make the background mimics analog watercolor ▼
➊ This is the original green Background layer.
➋ Duplicate the Background layer with right click →〚 Duplicate Layer 〛→ After that, press CTRL+U to bring〚 Hue/Saturation/Luminosity 〛box, reduce the Saturation to -100 then click OK.
➌ Set layer mode to Overlay to achieve subtle colors that looks like opaque watercolor.
❗ IMPORTANT NOTE ❗
・You can always play with〚 Hue 〛to add some color balance to your background.
・Make sure your〚 Saturation 〛on the middle point (0) before changing Hue, because (-100) will change the background into monochromatic and (+100) will modify the background with more contrast.
・I suggest to leave〚 Luminosity 〛as it is.