Watercolor is popular in fashion artwork because of its unpredictable, fluid and
beautiful nature. It enhances models and products and gives any artwork a creative
flair that almost everyone finds attractive. In this step-by- step tutorial I will
show you how simple it is to create a dramatic fashion artwork with watercolor effects
inspired by fashion illustrator, Stina Persson.
First we'll look at the importance of choosing the right imagery and watercolor
textures. Then we'll go through some basic but powerful techniques for our design
composition: background image extraction, layer masks and adjustment layers.
The tricks you'll learn here can be applied in any design that requires a stunning
background to bring the person/product to life.
Preview of Final Results
Fashion Watercolor Artwork Photoshop Tutorial
- Program: Photoshop Cs3
- Difficulty: Beginner
- Estimated Completion Time: 45 mins
Let's start by choosing our photo. The model's pose is crucial in a fashion artwork.
An excellent fashion photo will have the model in a stylish and effortless pose.
A well lit photograph goes without saying. For this tutorial I've picked this beautiful
image from Katanaz.
Next brainstorm ideas for the background artwork. You should ask yourself “ What
elements can I use to complement the model”. Even when doing an artistic background
with watercolor splashes, you should have a theme and use design elements that will
enhance the model/product. Here my inspiration came from the lovely bird necklace
and the bright yellow and orange tones. They make me think of a forest in summer.
trees and the summer color palette.
We're now ready to begin our artwork! Let's say we create this artwork for a
fashion website. The rule of thumb for a website is to have the width at 960px but
we'll create our artwork larger so that people with wider screens can view more
of the background. Create a new canvas of 1440 x 900 pixels, 72 dpi.
Paste the picture of the
and rename the New Layer “model”. Resize (CTRL + T) the image proportionately to
45% of it's original size. Apply a default Filter > Smart Sharpen to sharpen the
Now let's remove the gray background behind the model. Use the Magic Wand Tool,
Tolerance 10, click to make a quick selection on the left side background. Next
hold Shift and click on the right side background to add it to the selection.
Right Click on the canvas and choose Select Inverse from the drop down menu.
With the Magic Wand Tool still selected click on Refine Edge. This will allow
you more control to refine the edge of our selection. It is a quick and easy tool
that you can use in most projects where you need to extract a background.
Click on Add Layer Mask at the bottom of the Layers Window. As you can see the
hair needs some work. The advantage with using a Layer Mask is that you can hide/un
hide selected parts of your work to your heart's content without having to worry
about losing your original image.
We'll now use the Eraser Tool with a Stipple Brush (from the Natural Brushes
Set) of size 8px to add in strands of hair.
Use the Brush Tool with the same Stipple Brush to extract areas of the background
or part of the hair that you don't want to show. Use the Eraser & Brush Tools alternately
until you are satisfied with the result.
tree graphic into a New Layer “Trees”. Place this layer behind the “model” layer.
Resize the tree graphic proportionately such that the width size is similar to the
Now let's adjust the colors of the model and brighten her. Create a New Adjustment
Layer > Levels.
Adjust the settings as below. To make the areas darker, move the left handle
to the right and to make the light areas lighter, move the right handle to the left.
Let's make the model blend in better with the background. Select the model's
Layer Mask. Use the Brush Tool, choose a larger stipple brush of about 26px.
Paint over areas like the cropped shoulder and let some branches show through
as below. Keep the edges rough for the style.
Now the fun part, adding watercolor splashes! Select watercolor shapes that are
long and fine as well as some small splatters (to look like leaves). This
watercolor design is perfect for our summer forest theme.
Paste the image into a New Layer “watercolor 1” above all other layers. Resize
it to 50%. Change the layer's blending mode to Multiply. Move the image around until
you are satisfied with its position.
Add a Layer Mask to “watercolor1”. Remove some of the watercolor drips in front
of the model's face with a round brush, 90px.
Choose another nice watercolor texture. I've picked this
orange watercolor because I find it very dynamic and vibrant. Let's place it
on the model's head to look like an original hat or a splash of sunlight.
Paste the orange watercolor image into a New Layer “watercolor 2” above “watercolor1”.
Resize it to 15%. Change the layer's blending mode to Multiply. Position the splash
above her head.
Make this drip fall vertically. Copy and Paste the selected part on a New Layer
“drip1". Make this layer invisible for now as we'll work on “watercolor 2” first.
Follow Step 18 to remove the extra watercolor drips but this time use smaller
brushes for the drips ends. Use the Smudge Tool to refine the ends.
Rotate “drip1” and position it as below. Add a Layer Mask to “drip1” and use
the Brush Tool to remove the top overlapping watercolor.
Extend the watercolor drip. Copy layer “drip1” and call the New Layer “drip2”.
Use the same technique as Step 22 to erase part of the overlapping watercolor.
Copy and Paste “drip1” and “drip2” into a New Layer “drip3” and move the drip
over to her eye as below.
Again use the Layer Mask technique to remove extra watercolor from her eye.
The watercolor drips look like an extension to her eye shadows and I think they
blend well with the rest of the artwork. Hence let's add another paint drip to her
eye. Go back to the first
watercolor stock image. With the Lasso Tool, quickly make a selection as below
and paste it to an New Layer “drip4”. As you have noticed I'm mentioning the layer
names everywhere. I'm doing this as a reminder for us to practice good naming convention
by renaming each layer with meaningful names. Remember to regroup your layers in
folders for easy access.
Resize “drip4” and position it. Change the layer's blending mode to Multiply.
Remove extra watercolor through the Layer Mask technique.
Copy over another drip section into a New Layer “drip5”.
Again resize “drip5” and position it. Change the layer's blending mode to Multiply.
Remove extra watercolor through the Layer Mask technique.
Now that all the main elements are done. Let's take a look at the artwork as
a whole and see what's missing.
Balance off the big orange splash with a complementary blue splash at the bottom.
Copy and Paste this
into a New Layer “watercolor3”.
Set the Layer's Blending Mode to Multiply. Use the Transform Tool (Ctrl + T)
to resize the image to 41%, rotate the image 90 degrees anti-clockwise and right
click select Flip Horizontal. Then rotate the image a bit to the right at an angle
of 4.8 degrees such that the blue drip is aligned with the orange drip.
Extract unwanted part of the watercolor through the Layer Mask technique until
you achieve a similar result as below.
Add some green splatters to represent leaves. Make another selection from the
watercolor stock, see below. Paste it into a New Layer “watercolor4”.
Resize “watercolor4” by 50% and position it. Change the layer's blending mode
to Multiply. Remove the watercolor spots on her arm through the Layer Mask technique.
Add a big blotch of paint to represent a tree. Make selection as below. Copy
and Paste it into a New Layer “watercolor5”.
Change the layer's blending mode to Multiply.
Lastly add a little splash of orange. Copy part of the orange drip (see below)
and paste it (see below) into a New Layer “watercolor6”.
Use the Layer Mask technique to remove the sharp edge on top of the splash.
Finish off by adding your brand or signature. Ctrl + T to Rotate the text to
follow the slope of the branch.
I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial. View the original size
here. Looking forward to your comments, ideas and versions of what you've learned
Download the PSD
Fashion.psd | 28 MB