A watercolor look made easy


Hi there,
In today's tutorial I will show you tips and tricks on how you can easily give your pictures a watercolor look.


Watercolor drawings have their own charm. However, hand-drawn watercolor drawings are not always ideal when it comes to getting them printed. Scanning and cropping these correctly is not always easy and involves work.
Digital drawings have the advantage that you can cut out the background and adapt them perfectly to any format. If the contours have been created as a vector layer, they can also be enlarged as required. This is why some artists prefer digital "watercolor drawings".

Tip # 1 texture layer

The paper is characteristic of a watercolor look.
A rough paper texture can often be seen in watercolor drawings.

This is essential for the typical watercolor look and very easy to imitate in the clip studio.
Under Materials -> Texture you will find an abundance of paper types.

Now just drag it onto the picture. Important: Set "Tiles" so that the texture repeats seamlessly and can be reduced / enlarged as desired

If you only want to apply the effect to part of your illustration, put it in a folder and create a clipping mask. I also recommend that you set the level to "Multiply"

If you go to the object arrow you can now adjust the size of the texture.

In the last step you adjust the opacity of the layer. The higher the opacity, the stronger the paper texture appears. However, so that the texture does not dominate, it should be in a range of 10-40%.

With the paper texture you have already made the first and very easy step towards the watercolor effect.

Tip # 2 Choosing the right brush

For a watercolor look, not only the paper, but also the contours and the type of coloring are important.
Here are a few examples: The first otter and fox is colored with a G-Pen and the standard watercolor brushes. With the first otter, a paper texture was put over it.
the second otter and fox are colored with a pencil (outlines) and a real watercolor brush, which is designed to imitate watercolor

For a "hand-drawn" look, I particularly recommend pencil outlines.
As with a real pencil drawing, you can create light and shadow through hatching, giving your drawing more depth and at the same time enhancing the watercolor look

Tip # 3 Analyze how your brushes behave

Real watercolor brushes, which are designed to imitate watercolor, behave very differently.
Some are designed to reproduce the texture of the paper, others the "hard" edges and still others are made for the right blending effect.
Clip Studio has some great brushes preinstalled.
But the Clipstudio Community also has some fantastic brushes to offer.

However, handling the different brushes can be a challenge. Some brushes have the ability to blend the selected primary and secondary colors together.
In the first example, blue is the primary color and black is the secondary color.
In the second example, pink is the secondary color.

Try out which brush suits you best and which best suits your technique and how it works exactly.

Tip # 4 Courage to edge

"Hard edges" are typical of the watercolor look, which arise when the paper soaks up with paint.
The colors don't always have to be perfectly blended. "Courage to edge" gives your drawings a more realistic hand-drawn look.

Tip # 5 primer

"Real" watercolor brushes are characterized by a low level of saturation. Especially if you don't want any transparent stains, a clean primer with a paint bucket or an opaque brush is essential.

If you don't want to shade each color separately, you can use the clipping mask to superimpose several layers. In this example I created several clipping masks for the white belly. The lowest level is the brown body. The second layer the white belly and the third layer the shading with a watercolor brush.

In the last step I added the highlights (layer style "Add glow" and texture "Multiply".

The clean primer does not create any transparencies and the motif can also be used for printing without any problems.

Note: Of course, you can also shade without clipping masks. If the layer function "block transparent pixels" only the parts of the layer on which there is color are painted over than in this case on the primer. Drawing on the primer layer has the advantage that the colors can be blended more easily.

Tip # 6 tool for dazzling

Sometimes you just want to blend the hard edges of a brush. The problem is when the colors are mixed / blended together, the texture is often lost.

There are three ways to get a watercolor look when blending colors:

1. Use a textured blending brush so that the result doesn't look quite so "smooth".

2. Use a softer "real watercolor" brush that has not quite as hard edges to blend.

3. Use a softer brush to start with. If you generally want a smoother look with fewer hard edges, it is advisable to use a softer brush from the outset, which is easier to blend instead of a hard one.

Tip # 7 Use different brushes to imitate watercolor techniques

For the most natural look possible, you should use different brushes.
There are many techniques for creating different effects in watercolor drawings. Depending on which technique you want to imitate, you should use a different brush.
Here are some examples of watercolor techniques.

Wet in wet is typical of watercolor. A lot of water is poured onto the surface and then a drop of paint that runs towards the edges and forms intense edges. This effect can be "smoothly flowing" with the preinstalled brush
"+" Imitate watery colors

Ethanol is also often used to deliberately create "stains". This effect can also be imitated with "watery brushes"

White spots are created in the watercolor by sprinkling salt on the still wet surface. There are also special brushes for this

Tip # 8 brush recommendations

In addition to the pre-installed brushes, the Clip Studio community has some great brushes to offer. Here are a few recommendations. There are many more great brushes out there.

Just try different settings, brushes and techniques to find your style.

I hope I was able to give you some useful tips in this tutorial and I would appreciate your feedback. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me (English / German), I am always happy to help.



New Official Articles