The Art of Watercolor Brushes



I have to say, I love Photoshop brushes.  I use them in all my work.  They are easy to use, versatile, they can be stamped, blended, layered…the list goes on!  It’s almost limitless what you can do with brushes.  I really like taking a watercolor brush and layering it with one of my ornate brushes to make an interesting overlay…you may have seen a couple in my kits.

I especially love my watercolor brushes.  I do take real watercolors, paint with them and transfer them into Photoshop brushes.  You can pick and choose which ones you want.

I have created a simple tutorial on how to turn a blank “canvass” into a watercolor paper in PSE.  I hope you check it out!





I also have a lovely little set of vintage postcards on sale.


Now on to the tutorial.  This is just a simplistic paper.  Nothing extravagant.  I just wanted to show how easy it is to make a paper look watercolored with little or no effort.

First, you will need to open up your PSE and create a New Page.  To do that, at the top left of your screen, click “File” and when the drop box appears, click “New”.  Your you can use the shortcut “Ctrl+N” for New Page.  This will open up a little window so you can chose your layout settings.  Generally scrapbook papers are 12×12.  So, do your settings to 12×12 inches, make sure your resolution is set to 300 pixels/inch.  This will give you the best printable quality.

At the bottom of the window, make sure your color mode is set to RGB Color and Background Content is set to Transparent or White.  It actually doesn’t really matter in this case because you are going to fill it up with color.



Next, all you need to do is fill in the blank paper.  First, chose the color you wish the base of your paper to be.  I already have a set of colors I wish to use in my color palette on the bottom right.  But, all you need to do is chose a color you want by clicking the two “color palettes” at the bottom left.  If you click the one in the foreground, it will open up a window for you to adjust your colors.  Just move the slider around until you have the color you want.

Once you have selected your color, click on the “paint can” on the left tool bar.  This is called the Paint Bucket Tool.  Once you click on that, just click the paper with the paint bucket and it will fill your whole paper in with the color you chose.  As you can see I chose a pretty light blue color.


Now you will need to select your watercolor brushes.

NOTE:  A quick step in loading brushes.  I don’t keep all my brushes loaded in my PSE.  I have WAY too many.  What I do is I have created a file in my computer called Brushes, then I created sub-categories of brushes to make them easier to find.  For example, all my “paint” brushes are listed under “Paint” or my grungy brushes under “Grunge”.  I place this file where it’s easy to access.  Then when ever I need a brush, I simply find the one I wanted and load it.

To select a brush file you have saved, click on your Brush Tool on the left.  It looks literally like a paint brush.  Once that is done, right at the top of your paper and just under your main tool bar at the top, there are your brush options.  The far left drop down gives you the option to choose which brush you want.  Click on the drop down arrow and when the little window opens up for your brushes, click on the double arrow pointing right. This will open up your brush options.  Towards the bottom, you will click on “load brushes.”  This will open up your file window and you will find where you stored your brushes and click the brush you wish to use.



First, I chose my new Watercolor Brushes 5.  Once you clicked on your brush of choice, you will see all the little brushes within that brush file.  Before you start brushing away, you will want to create a new layer.  Go to “Layers” at the top menu and click “New” then click “Layer”.  Or, you can use the shortcut “Shift+Ctrl+N”.  Using layers always helps when you mess up or do something you wish to change easy.  It also helps with moving around elements or brushes easy around your paper.


Now you can select which brush you would like to use on your paper.  It’s good to chose a different color for your brush, or else you won’t be able to see it on the paper :).  I chose a slightly darker blue color.  I want to keep my paper mostly blues, but you can do what ever colors you want.  I simply just “stamped” my brush onto the paper.  I don’t drag around the brush like a real paint brush.  It doesn’t look right.  So, just do a one click brush onto the paper.  There you will see your brush.

I make my brushes pretty large, but they can only be so big.  It doesn’t allow you to make a brush as big as the paper, for example.  But, I want my brush almost as big as my paper.  Because I have stamped the brush on a new layer, I can then enlarge it.  I just simply click on the layer where my brush is and drag the corners with my mouse of the object to make it larger.


All you have to do now is with each brush create your new layers and keep stamping assorted watercolor brushes until you get the effect you want.  Move them around until it’s just the way you want it.  Change up colors or variations of the same color.





As you can see, I have added a bit of red for interest and fun.  I went to a different set of watercolor brushes I have and chose some paint spatter (LOVE me some paint spatter!).  In a new layer, I started stamping away with off-white paint spatter.  And, I am done!  That’s easy…easy peasy.  You can add more brushes than I did, varying colors, change blending modes, etc.  Just play with it and have fun!



I hope you enjoyed my little tutorial in using watercolor brushes and found it useful!  Thanks for reading!


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