There are a lot of ways to achieve a watercolor effect so let’s get into the topic! In this little tutorial/guide I’ll show you some of the things I’ve learned myself over the years!
There might be many more out there but I’ll take a look at:
1.) Paper Textures as a base layer
2.) Paper Texture as effect layers
5.) and a combination of these points
Just as a side note here: I will collect and mention all the materials (brushes and textures) that I use at the end of this tutorial and give credit to the creators!
I prepared some lineart to actually show you all the following points and tips that I have learned over the years.
To be able to do so I lined my sketch with two different brushes. I lined the right one with the 'Real G-pen' Brush, which is the brush I usually use for my Lineart and I drew the left one with the 'Real Pencil' Brush, as a way to showcase how even the lineart can affect the picture as a whole. I do have to note though that I personally started to overpaint my lineart so maybe if you do that the Lineart isn’t as visible and important but I still think it’s a good thing to have more than one lineart example to showcase the watercolor effect.
The lines are also free to download (as a transparent .png file) over on my deviantArt. You can use them to follow along with this tutorial or even for other coloring practices!
Download them here for free:
1. Paper Texture as a base Layer
The first way that I learned how to make a watercolor like effect was with using paper textures as a base Layer.
This is also one of the easiest ways as far as I know.
To be able to use this technique tho you’ll have to get some paper textures. These can easily be found on the internet if you google for “paper texture” but you’ll have to look out if you are allowed to use them or not. Some are free some are not and not all of them might be open for commercial use etc. so really take your time with your search!
The second method, if you have CLIP STUDIO PAINT, is just using CLIP STUDIO ASSETS. You can easily find really cool Textures there and I got most of mine from there! But I won’t be going more into this topic cause it would be better to do a separate tutorial on downloading texture material and saving it to CLIP STUDIO PAINT!
Let's get back to the drawing!
The first thing you want to do, after you got some Paper Textures, is opening your Artwork in CLIP STDIO PAINT.
Make sure that your lineart layer and color layer are separate, the lineart layer should be on top of the color layer! I color coded and renamed my Layers too so that you can keep up!
Lineart = Blue
Color = Green
And I also colored my Lineart already so that it is easier to see what I'm talking about.
I'll show you two ways on how to import a texture into your artwork, starting with the 'Material Tab' in CLIP STUDIO PAINT.
First, you have to find the Material Tab:
-> go to Window -> Material -> and pick any of the names that come up
Now go into your Material Tab and search for a paper texture!
I’ll be using one I downloaded from ASSETS: '紅茶染め水彩紙'
So when you’ve found your paper texture you can drag and drop it onto the Canvas.
Make sure that it is beneath the color and lineart layer! It really shoud be at the bottom of all layers (except the Paper layer)!
Now you can go to your Color layer and change the Blending Mode to for example Multiply!
Now as you can see with my example, I picked a pretty yellowish texture, so the artwork also looks more beige!
Now you can add more color for lights and shadows, play around with the opacity and texture size and just try out what you like!
I added some shadows and lighting on my work too, to show you how it looks.
Depending on the color your texture paper has it also changes the overall effect of your artwork!
Here, for example, you can see the '紅茶染め水彩紙' on top and my white 'Paper Texture 2' on the bottom.
With this, you can see the difference a colored paper texture makes!
Here is how it looks like with the white texture!
What you can also do, if you don’t have any textures in the Material Tab, is to import them from your desktop files!
For that just have your artwork open and go to File -> Import -> Image -> search for the texture you want (just make sure that your texture is an image file like .jpeg or .png etc.) -> click on the texture you want -> and click on ''Open'' or double click on the picture file
You can continue with the same steps as before!
Put the texture picture beneath the lineart and color layer -> change Blending Mode of the color layer to Multiply and add shadows and lights.
As you can see the end effect of your artwork depends on what texture you use and what color it is!
Just try some settings and different texture to see what you like best!
2 Paper Textures as a effect Layer
The second technique is similar to the first one, it still uses a paper texture layer so we can use the same first steps like before!
Open your artwork (mine is already open) go to the material tab (or your desktop) to get your Texture images and import them to the canvas!
BUT what you want to do now is to put the Texture Layer above the color layer, so that it is in the middle of the lineart and color layers!
[I'll be using the '紅茶染め水彩紙' texture again!]
Now what you want to do is clip the texture layer to the color layer! (use the button 'Clip to Layer below')
What you can also do is adjust the Opacity to for example 62%.
And you can of course again add shadows and lights to make it look better.
What you can also do is experiment with other textures, since, as with the first tip, depending on what texture you have it changes the look of the artwork.
For example, you can take a monochrome texture and put it above the artwork in the same way. -> open your Material Tab -> drag and drop the Texture onto your canvas -> put it above the color layer -> and clip it to the color layer below [follow the pictures and tips above]
I'm using the Texture '[S_wc]水彩テクスチャ02' that I also got from ASSETS.
But what you want to do now is change the Blending Mode of the Texture layer to Overlay!
You can again change the opacity to get a nicer effect. I changed it to 60% in this example.
As with the first tip, feel free to experiment with different textures, blending modes and opacities to see what fits you best!
Besides textures, there also are a lot of amazing brushes that can help achieve a watercolor effect. Some because of their forms like 'Transparent Watercolor' or 'Watery', and some because of their own texture and or blending mode like 'Round watercolor' brush or 'Soft bleed'.
1.) Transparent Watercolor
3.) Round Watercolor
4.) Soft Bleed
The topic on brushes is a bit more difficult though since it requires a lot of testing and practicing. I for example use a lot of brushes and mix them all of the time and I noticed that I can work with some better than with others so I can’t tell you what brush you HAVE to use but I can give my recommendations! So make sure to experiment and try out a lot of brushes so that you can see what suits you and what brushes you like.
Let me show you an example of how I’d use some brushes to achieve a more traditional style.
I usually use flat base colors that fill in the whole lineart like in this example picture!
But for the effect I’d like to have now I’ll leave the lineart blank and use my 'Soft Watercolor with border' brush to color in the lineart!
(With this brush I also made the example thumbnail at the top of this tutorial)
Here is what it looks like as a base color for this tip!
And then I continue to work with the same color to make some shadows etc, everything can be done on the same layer and with the same brush!
Or you make a Multiply layer (for shadows) and an Add (Glow) layer (for lights) and attach them to the color layer.
Just make your brush strokes on these layers and see how it looks on your work!
What I did in the thumbnail though was using a lot of colors on the same layer to blend them more naturally!
I’d also like to show you how to apply some brushes. If you don’t use some of the brushes right it might mess with the effect you actually wanted.
For example let’s use the 'Flat Watercolor brush', so if you work with many strokes and lifting your pen, it will turn out like this (overlapping of the colors).
Now if you do not want this effect you’ll need to put your pen down ones and don’t lift it for as long as you need it.
For example if I want to color this area it means that I’ll put my pen down and color it in one go without taking it away from the screen or tablet.
You literally should NOT lift the pen! On the following drawing, you can see how it looks if you lift the pen and if you dont!
1.) The pen is not lifted. It is always touching the screen of the Tablet!
2.) The pen is lifted while drawing and then put down again. With this, the strokes don't look very nice and even.
But if you likd the second option you can, of course, use it to!
I personally just think that 1.) looks nicer.
Here is an example of how different brushes can look like! All 4 Brushes were made by me.
1.) Watercolor Painting
2.) Watercolor Color Mix
3.) Soft Watercolor with Border
4.) Watercolor with Hard Border
Now if you don’t really like the texture but would like to have some border at the end of your coloring layer, for example on the shadow layer, you can always go to Layer Properties -> Border effect -> Border of watercolor -> and change the Area, Transparency effect, Luminosity effect and Blurring width to your liking
What I also like to throw in, even though they’re not really watercolor themed per se, are Gradients! They can give your Artwork a nice fresh touch! So let me show you how to apply them to the artwork!
Make a new Layer -> make sure it’s above all other layers -> go to the Gradient tool -> pick which one you want -> let’s go with Rainbow this time...
...make a stroke over the whole layer, a line will appear -> and after that the whole canvas should be colored in the rainbow gradient
Now that the layer is filled, change the blending mode to for example Screen...
...and turn the Opacity down a bit; I turned it down to 17%.
Switch on and off and see how much difference it can make.
You can of course also try out other blending modes and Gradients!
Another way to put in gradients is the Gradient Map, to see what I mean: go to Layer -> New Correction Layer (J) -> Gradient Map...
A new window will pop up that looks like this:
Now you can choose which gradient map you want and as you can see, it looks a bit different from the gradient layer I mentioned before! Just choose the one you want and click on OK!
Then you can change the blending mode to Overlay for example and adjust the opacity like before (I changed it to 27%) and now you have another cool effect added to your work.
Similar to the Topic on Brushes, just experiment with layers, blending modes and opacities!
You can for example also change the color of the Texture Layer to get some cool effects!
Just have your color and lineart layer out and put a texture (I'm using one of my textures, Splatter Texture 10) above them.
Change the Blending Mode and opacity to your liking. I used the Blending Mode Overlay and an Opacity of 65%.
Make a new Layer and add color to it with the Bucket tool on top of CLIP STUDIO PAINT.
Then clip it to the texture layer and you can see that the color of the texture has changed and you get a new effect out of it!
As you can see I also adjusted the Opacity of the texture layer to 87% so that you can see it better!
And one more thing I’d like to mention with Layers is: Coloring the Lineart.
As I mentioned before, I used two different brushes for the lines and you can see that the artworks look a bit different depending on what lines you use.
So what you can do to make it look even more traditional is coloring the lineart.
For that just make a new layer above the lineart layer and clip it to the Lineart layer!
Now you only have to add colors to it and you’re done.
You can add just one color or mix it with more colors! I prefer to pick the colors of the artwork and add them to the lineart!
And this is how the layer that is above the lineart layer looks like when it's not clipped to the lineart layer:
Again everything comes down to experimenting yourself and trying out new things!
And last but not least, and this is my favourite option: combine everything into your work!
There isn’t much to it but just using the points from above and combining them into your work!
For example, put a white paper texture as your base layer and then draw normally on it with watercolor brushes and at the end add a paper texture with a little color on the top, put some gradiants on and tadaa this is basically how I made my Thumbnail Image!
1.) Paper Texture as a Base Layer
2.) Watercolor Brush
3.) Colored Lineart
4.) and 6.) Texture as Effect Layer
5.) Gradient Layer as an Effect Layer
This is the end of the Tutorial and here is a List of all the Brushes I used in this Tutorial and a link to where you can get them!
Credit goes to all the amazing people who created such fantastic materials!
Here are the materials that I have used in this tutorial:
► Real G-pen (preinstalled in CSP)
► Real Pencil (preinstalled in CSP)
► Transparent Watercolor (preinstalled in CSP)
► Watery (preinstalled in CSP)
► Round Watercolor (preinstalled in CSP)
► Soft Bleed (preinstalled in CSP)
► Soft Watercolor with border (made by me)
► Flat watercolor brush (preinstalled in CSP)
► Watercolor Painting (made by me)
► Watercolor Color Mix (made by me)
► Watercolor with Hard Border (made by me)
► 紅茶染め水彩紙 (made by 朝野れい; https://assets.clip-studio.com/en-us/detail?id=1475080) https://assets.clip-studio.com/en-us/detail?id=1475080)
► Paper Texture 2 (made by me)
► Splatter Texture 3 (made by me)
► [S_wc]水彩テクスチャ02 (made by よどがわ; https://assets.clip-studio.com/en-us/detail?id=1681744) https://assets.clip-studio.com/en-us/detail?id=1681744)
► Splatter Texture 10 (made by me)
Font (on the title and end picture):
► Atmosphere (by Pixel Surplus; https://www.pixelsurplus.com/freebies/atmosphere) https://www.pixelsurplus.com/freebies/atmosphere)
Hare are even more materials that I like to use and can recommend!
► Textured blender (preinstalled in CSP)
► Rough transparent water color(with border) (preinstalled in CSP)
► Wrinkled Paper Brush (preinstalled in CSP) [I like to use it for textures]
► Splatter color blend (preinstalled in CSP) [nice for a splatter effect]
► Splatter line (preinstalled in CSP) (also nice for a splatter effect]
► Watercolor Blur (made by me)
► 色置き＆水筆ブラシ (by 鉄男; https://assets.clip-studio.com/en-us/detail?id=1689120) https://assets.clip-studio.com/en-us/detail?id=1689120)
► 四角水彩 (made by のきした; https://assets.clip-studio.com/en-us/detail?id=1481478) https://assets.clip-studio.com/en-us/detail?id=1481478)
► Paper Textures [1 - 3] (made by me)
► Splatter Textures [1 - 14)] (made by me)
► テクスチャ/水彩ムラ (by ×ェ×; https://assets.clip-studio.com/en-us/detail?id=1682349) https://assets.clip-studio.com/en-us/detail?id=1682349)
Brushes and Textures I made
As you can see I made quite a lot of brushes and textures for myself but if you want then you can also get them!
The Soft Water color with border Brush can be downloaded for free:
Thank you very much for reading this Tutorial! I'm already working on a Voice Over Tutorial Video about this topic but it will take more time since I don't have any experience with using a microphone and talking for videos. [Edit: the Video will take longer than I thought since I have some problems with my laptop and mic but it will come someday, I am soo sorry!]
I still hope my guide could help you a little and that maybe you learned something from it! These are all the tips and tricks that I have learned over the time and I wanted to share them in one bundle with everyone!
If you have any questions or requests for further Tutorials feel free to comment them down below!
If you want you can click here to find out where you can finde me:
Ko-Fi: https://ko-fi.com/A883Q9W https://ko-fi.com/A883Q9W
Thank you again very much for reading and have fun while drawing!