ArtRage’s watercolor tool
Messy live flow versus controlled watercolor effects.
Watercolor is an incredibly unpredictable medium that can react in uncontrolled ways. While this is part of the charm for many users, we found that most of the professional artists we talked to preferred being able to get the look of watercolor in a much more controlled way. This means that our watercolor tool is, in many ways, the opposite of our other traditional media tools and the watercolor tools in other programs. It is actually closer to a custom Photoshop brush, in that you design the result you want, and edit it until it looks just right.
This definitely makes it more difficult to use, but it allows you to replicate much more advanced techniques and looks based on real watercolor paintings.
But why doesn’t it….:
There are some realistic effects that take a little extra work to achieve in ArtRage currently (but are very possible!) or require reinventing the way the tool works, or were just too demanding originally but may become possible with improved hardware and the performance improvements we bring to each new edition of ArtRage. We have plenty of ideas for future developments, and pay a lot of attention to both real world watercolor artists and feedback from users.
Wet or Dry
Because you are working digitally, you never need to worry about overloading the paper with water.
While you can blend the paint directly use color bleed, thinners, and wet brushes, you can often get far better effects by using the Wet Palette Knife to soften, disperse, and randomise the edges of the paint.
Blend Modes and Layers
Layering semi-transparent washes of watercolor paint over time is
ArtRage doesn’t offer a built in ‘gravity’ option, but it is very possible to create handpainted drips.
Water Drops /Salt
Watercolor responds to the grain of the background canvas, so choosing the correct paper can be very important. Watercolors are very sensitive to rough canvas grains and will not apply easily over canvases designed for sturdy oil painting. Browse the presets to find subtler, smoother, paper grains, or create your own custom canvases.
Masking out areas of paper is a very important technique in watercolor painting to control the spread of watery paint. Traditional artists would use masking fluid, masking tape, and scrap paper, to block out areas.
The watercolor tools in ArtRage are much less randomly destructive, so you do not need to mask your work quite so carefully and most of these techniques do not apply. Instead, you can erase any area of paint after the fact and work on separate layers. You can edit the opacity and blend mode of layers, duplicate them for a stronger effect, and even rearrange or remove them entirely.
However, if you still need to mask out a specific area while you work, you can use Stencils and the Selection tools.
Selections allow you to select a specific shape or area of color and then work in or outside of it. A selection is temporary, and can also be used to delete or transform areas of paint, as well as limiting where new paint spreads. You can switch between different layers and use the same selection on any layer.
You can also use the layer lock options to lock transparency (select all paint on a layer and prevent new paint from being added to empty paper), lock paint (to avoid accidentally painting on the wrong layer), or lock position (allows you to paint freely, but prevents you accidentally transforming that layer).
Stencils mask out areas of paper and prevent new paint being added. You can create a custom stencil out of a layer, or use the many default stencil shapes included in the program. You can have multiple stencils active, transform them in size, shape, position, and even invert them. Stencils also offer ‘Ruler’ and ‘Guide’ modes to help you draw neatly along their edges.
Unlike real world stencils, ArtRage’s Stencils and Selections also allow transparency, so you can get smooth gradients and custom texture effects by using them to partially block paint from being added or erased.
How to Paint Realistic Watercolors
Photorealism Tutorial by Vic Shelley
Greek Archway Watercolor Tutorial in ArtRage 4