Watercolor painting is a popular medium, but it can be challenging to achieve the same effect digitally without experience in digital painting.

Fortunately, Photoshop offers a range of tools that can help you create your own watercolor brushes to use in your digital art, With a little bit of experimentation, you can create a brush that mimics the look and feel of traditional watercolor paint.

In this article, we’ll take a step-by-step approach to show you how to create your own watercolor brushes in Photoshop. 

We’ll cover everything from creating brush presets to adjusting the brush settings and customizing it, and you’ll be able to make multiple variations of watercolors just by changing the textures and the brush settings to achieve the perfect watercolor effect. 

By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of how to create your own watercolor brushes and how to use them in your digital art.

so let’s get started.

1 – prepare the needed textures

to make a watercolor brush in Photoshop that looks realistic, you’re going to need a couple of things ready first, 

the first thing you are going need is a watercolor brush stain, just like the one you see here.

how to make a watercolor brush in Photoshop

I downloaded this one from Texture Labs, and I like to use this one because it has a nice rounded shape and it has, some watercolor stains on the edges.

the next thing we’re gonna need is a watercolor texture background that we will be using as a texture in the brush settings later, it will give our brush an authentic watercolor look. 

You can use any watercolor texture you like, but it’s best if you use a seamless repeatable texture, that way you don’t get a hard edge in your brush strokes,

i have already created a watercolor texture pattern, and you will find it with the project files so make sure to download it and follow along

And the last thing we need is another texture for the dual brush settings.

Don’t worry, I’m gonna explain dual brush later, the only thing you need to know here is that I took a normal soft brush from the general brushes folder, and I just clicked once in the middle. (this image is also included with the project files)

You can experiment with different brush hardness levels, and if you are going to use your own dual brush, make sure that the brush stamp is not exceeding the canvas and making hard edges

2 – Create the Watercolor Brush

Once you have all textures open and ready, you can start defining them as brush presets and patterns, start by selecting the brush stain document and defining it as brush preset.

To create a watercolor brush in Photoshop, select the image you want to make a brush from then go to Edit > Define Brush Preset, next give the brush a name from the popup menu and then click on ok

the background needs to be white or transparent and the brush shape black.

Next, switch to the paper texture, then go to Edit > Define Pattern, and we can call this “Watercolor Texture”.

the last one is the dual brush and we’re gonna convert it as a brush preset as well and name it “watercolor dual brush”

Now we have everything we need to create the watercolor brush, so start by selecting the watercolor brush you just created, if you right-click on the canvas with the brush tool selected, you will see the brushes that we just created at the bottom.

this is how it looks like right now, So to make this look like realistic watercolor, we’re gonna need to change some brush settings.

3 – Modify the Brush Settings

First, open the brushes panel by clicking on the brush panel icon and then go to brush settings, If you don’t see this panel, you can open it by going to window > brush settings

Starting with the first setting:

– Brush Tip Shape

Click on “Brush tip shape” and start by reducing the spacing all the way down to 1%, We don’t need spacing for this particular brush.

– Shape Dynamics

Next, enable shape dynamics and the first thing you need to do is change the control to “pen pressure”, This will control the size of the brush, The harder your press on your pen, the bigger the brush is going to be 

And then the next thing is “angle jitter”, change this one to “direction”

So now if I press lightly with my pen tablet, you can see that the size is small, and if I press harder, it’s gonna be bigger.

– Scattering

Next, enable “scattering”, and make sure it’s scattering on both axes, and then add about 15 to 20%

then increase the count to 4 so we can have a smooth brush, And that’s it for scattering.

– Texture

Now let’s enable texture, click on the box at the top to change the texture to the one you just created

we’re going to keep the scale to 100%, but the most important thing to change here is to make sure that “texture each tip” is unchecked, and the mode is set to “subtract”

Now, as you can see, the texture is visible on our brush.

The texture is a little bit harsh for the moment, but we will come back to the texture settings later, it’s settings will make more sense when we have the other options checked

– Transfer

Go ahead and enable transfer next, and here, make sure “control” is set to “pen pressure” for the “opacity jitter”, and also for the “flow jitter” options.

then set the minimum from 15 to 20%

Now the texture will not be as strong when we press lightly on the mouse, When we press harder, it’s gonna be more visible.

– Brush Smoothing

Next, You can enable smoothing if you want to, and then you can increase the smoothing From the options bar, in my case i like a value between 15 to 20%, this will help you make smoother strokes when you are painting.

– Dual Brush

Now the secret to having this brush look like real watercolor and having those wet edges is by using “dual brush”, Let me show you how you can do that. 

Click on “dual brush” to enable it, select the dual brush you created before from the brushes list, and then change the blending mode at the top to “linear height”

As you can see, now we have two brushes on top of each other, and this is what will mimic the wet edges

Now you can change the settings to create the wet edges effect, so set the size 104, the spacing to 11%, set the scatter to 23%, and lastly set the count to 3

Now you can come back to “texture” and decrease the depth a little bit more, and increase the contrast and the brightness a little bit more as well.

these are the Settings that I settled with, i kept the scale to 100%, the brightness to -30, the contrast to -4, and the depth to 17%

and this is what the brush looks like, If I press lightly on the mouse, we’re not gonna see the texture very much, When i press harder and harder, the brush size is going to be bigger, and we’re gonna see more of the wet edges.

Another thing that we can do is to change the blending mode to “multiply”, and Now when you paint another stroke on top of the other you’ll see that the overlapping part is gonna get darker Similar to a real watercolor brush.

and that’s pretty much it for the settings on this watercolor brush.

4 – Save the Settings as a New Brush Preset

Now we can save it as a brush preset, so we don’t lose all those settings that we just changed.

you can do that by clicking on the menu in the top right corner, and then selecting “New brush preset”

then you can choose to capture the brush size in the preset, you can include the tool settings, of course, which are all the setting changes that we made in the brush settings panel and the toolbar.

you can choose to include the color as well, but most of the time I don’t save the color, And then click okay to save the brush preset.

Now if you open the brushes panel, you will find it at the bottom of the brush list.

5 – Make Variations of Watercolors by Customizing Brush Settings

So this is one variation of the watercolor that we just created, but you can create many more variations by changing the brush settings, let me show you how you can do that. 

With this brush still selected, you can go back to the brush settings panel, and then from there you can change the texture of the brush by choosing another watercolor pattern, it’s easy to find watercolor textures from the internet, you just download them, open them in Photoshop and convert them to patterns as we did before.

then you can modify the depth, contrast, and brightness, depending on your new texture’s brightness.

And the last thing you can do is change the dual brush setting, If you want your brush to look wetter, you can start by increasing the scattering, as well as the brush size, you can copy the same settings from below if you want.

and as you can see, the brush now looks like a wet watercolor and is totally different from the first one.

And once you are done with all the setting changes, you can click again on the menu in the top right corner, and select “new brush preset”

And that’s it!

You can use the techniques that I showed you today to create a lot of variations of watercolor brush types by tweaking the settings and changing the brush types and textures, and also the dual brush style.

if you like to download the brushes that we created today, you can do so down below 

Download Free Watercolor Brushes

free set of two watercolor brushes, dry and wet edges

6 – Get my Watercolor Brush Set

These brushes are one of the so many brushes that I created and included in my watercolor brush set, So if you don’t like to do all the work yourself, you can purchase my watercolor brush set.

This brush set includes everything you need to start creating realistic digital watercolor artwork in Photoshop. 

From wet edge brushes to dry edge brushes, pressure-controlled brushes, brushes for painting details, soft washes, and so many more, Each brush has been carefully crafted and fine-tuned to mimic the natural flow and movement of real watercolor paint.

So click here to learn more about my watercolor brush set If you are interested. 

I hope that this tutorial was helpful to you. Thank you so much for following along, and I’ll see you in my next tutorial. ✌️