Convert Picture into Watercolor Painting


Converting Picture into Watercolor Painting

This tutorial will show how to turn a usual photo into a watercolour painting, quickly and simply.

Tools used: Adobe Photoshop with the Filter Forge plug-in and a photo I’ve personally taken. Special Thanks to our sponsor Filter Forge for this tutorial. It is written by  Kochubey.

You might also be interested in our other tutorials like Create an Explosive Text Effect in Photoshop or Simple Jelly Text Effect Photoshop Tutorial

Update: This is a product review. The features of this product may have been changed/modified.

Step 1. Open the Original Image

Launch Photoshop. Press Ctrl+O to open the source image to be modified. I used a photo taken in Venice by an inexpensive Canon camera.

Filter Forge Tutorial

Step 2. Adjust the Hue/Saturation

Let’s improve saturation: Image > Adjustments> Hue/Saturation (Ctrl+U). This step is optional: you can skip it if your image doesn’t require correction.

filter forge 2

Step 3. Apply a Filter Forge Filter – “Watercolor Painting”

Now we’ll apply the Watercolor Painting filter. Launch the Filter Forge plugin (Filter > Filter Forge > Filter Forge).

Open the filter web page – – and click the ‘Open in Filter Forge’ button

filter forge tutorial 3

Note: if you don’t have Filter Forge installed, download and install a free trial version using this link:

Step 4. Fine-Tuning the Filter Parameters

Now we’ve got the necessary filter and can figure out the parameters required for the modification. For the start let’s try the factory presets (on the Presets tab) – double-click a preset thumbnail. One of them is acceptable but can be fine-tuned. Click the Settings tab and start experimenting with the sliders.

One thing can be of great help: the ‘Next variant’ button in the Randomizer section. You can simply click it until you get sufficient results. The following variant seems to be close to perfect:

water painting photoshop tutorial

Step 5. Looking for Imperfections

Look thoroughly at the result. The dirty blotches near the boat reflection spoil the picture. Some extra correction is needed.

watercolor painting photoshop tutorial

Step 6. Masking Places that Need Fixing

Undo the last action (Ctrl+Z) and start the color correction. Switch to the Quick Mask mode (Q) and use Soft Round brush to paint the areas that are meant to be preserved – everything except the water.

filter photoshop tutorial

Step 7. Fixing the Water with Masked Levels

Switch to the Standard Mode (Q) and invert the image: Select > Inverse (Ctrl+Shift+I). Go to  Image > Adjustments > Levels and drag the slider until you get the detail that looks good to you.

filter forge photoshop tutorial

Step 8. Sharpening the Water

For better results sharpen the water areas using the Sharpen Tool (R) with large diameter and soft edges.

water painting effect photoshop

Step 9. Final Filtering

Launch the Filter Forge plugin and apply the Watercolor Painting again. Here is the final result:

final result filter forge

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Further Related Readings

  1. Hermitbiker April 26, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    …. thanks Ayaz for this great tutorial for converting pictures into watercolor paintings and showcasing it here at Designzzz !!

  2. MyBabyBarn April 26, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Just bookmarked your site, thanks for sharing!

  3. personal injury Houston April 26, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    Wow this is such a nice and useful tutorial to convert picture into watercolor painting.I have never even heard about it and now I would also like to try this for some of my pictures.This looks exactly like watercolor painting.No one can figure out original picture.

  4. flash drive April 27, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    This one is very nice technique for me I am very happy about this one It is so nice and fantastic for me.I will try this at my home.

  5. britaxcarseats April 30, 2010 at 11:29 pm

    very good tutorial and plugin for photoshop thx for sharing

  6. Frances Mcenaney May 1, 2010 at 8:54 am

    thanks !! very helpful post!

  7. Fulvic Acid May 4, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    Well this is great work, I see the first image and the final image which you have modify, nice creative work. Thanks for giving this tutorial and photoshop plugin.

  8. Graphic Forums May 16, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Very inspirational post! Thank you!

  9. shindigdada June 10, 2010 at 9:57 am

    i was really looking forward to filter forge when it was first announced. then i got rid of my pc and mac was supported at the time.
    because of your post, i revisited the site and it turns out its mac -friendly again. wOOt!
    thank for the great tutorial and hooking me up with filter forge again.

    1. Ayaz Malik June 10, 2010 at 12:04 pm

      Your very welcome Shindigdada , yes it is very helpful indeed.

  10. taiocruzringtones July 11, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    Hey, superb post.

  11. air conditioning service July 30, 2010 at 12:07 am

    This is very nice picture making technique which can be developed by highly designers. I like very much all images. The color combination is too good.

  12. morteza November 9, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Thankyou for plugin paint

  13. algeria December 11, 2011 at 1:37 pm


  14. Pozycjonowanie Top December 14, 2011 at 7:03 am

    First of all I would like to say awesome blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you do not mind. I was interested to find out how you center yourself and clear your mind prior to writing. I’ve had trouble clearing my mind in getting my ideas out there. I do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any ideas or tips? Thank you!

    1. Tayyab December 14, 2011 at 7:25 am

      I never thought of like that, I just start poking at the keyboard and Voila! an article is made.

      One tip I can give you is that first you need the points you want to mention in your article. Once you have the points written doing, then connecting them and filling the missing pieces shouldn’t be that difficult.

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