Monday, December 16, 2013

Adding a New Background to a Watercolor Painting with Photoshop

My watercolor painting of a chocolate mousse dessert needed a little pizzazz for a package design. So this is what I came up with!

Here is the original watercolor with a plain, no distraction, background.

My idea was to come up with a design that resembled the chocolate spirals on the dessert plate. So I sketched random spirals and painted them in sepia watercolor. Then I scanned it into Photoshop.

I rotated the file several times, dragging each new layer on top of the next until I had about three layers of spirals. I made each layer transparent by clicking "multiply" instead of "normal" in the mode drop down menu.

But how do I get the black spirals to be white?  I inverted the black line-work to white line-work over another color (blue in this case, but it really doesn't matter because the blue color disappears): 

I held "command + I" (ctrl + I) to invert, and the black line-work turned white (with a black background)!  I renamed that layer "spirals".
At the layers panel I clicked to make a new adjustment layer, and for that layer I selected blue as my solid color background, painted that layer blue, and named it "blue".   Then I dragged the blue layer to the bottom, under my "spirals" layer (It again appears black with white spirals).
Then I went up and set the mode to "screen," and voila!  White spirals over blue!

Now This "spirals" layer is ready to click and drag over to any file (in this case, my chocolate mousse picture). And it will be white spirals with a transparent background so that my chocolate mousse will show through!  Of course, I used some tools for additional steps to adjust, erase, burn, & dodge the layer to get it the way I liked it.

I hope you enjoyed this. And now, here is a fun little math lesson about spirals. Go to  for the direct link.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Watercolor Patterns for Quilting

Painting patterns in watercolor has my interest lately. It reminds me of doodling on  my notebook paper in elementary school, kind of "mindless" and relaxing. 

My mother, aunts, and several friends are quilters and they patiently turn out beautiful works of art with fabric, a much more laborious and time-consuming process than watercolor painting! Watercolor painting is a solitary profession, for the most part. So what I love about quilting is how women come together and share the work of making a quilt, as well as the joy of each other’s company.  That's how the "quilting bee" was born in early America. Women and girls would come together at one house and quickly make a quilt that could take several weeks for only one person to make. Once the quilt was completed for one woman, they moved on to the next one. There are generations of family stories and history stitched into thousands of quilting fabrics, patterns and designs.