Digital Watercolour using Rebelle

There is a particular style of art I really like, which is a combination of watercolour and sketch.  My Pinterest board has many of these images, all done by talented artists, of which I am not one, when it comes to using real paints.

Rebelle is software that digitally produces a realistic watercolour effect.  It is *so* real, that I have actually spent the last few weeks learning how to use actual watercolour paints, so that I could understand and use the software better.  Which has been a fun and interesting experiment in and of itself.

The above image was one supplied to Awake students by Gary Henderson, and is a lovely lighthouse, very unlike the shorter squat ones we have in NZ.

How I made this:

  1. Bring original photo into Rebelle, load up a colour tracing layer and then paint in the watercolour layer over the painting.  It automatically picks up the colours of the image which makes this a LOT easier. Painted everything except the sky.
  2. Open PS and bring a jpg file of the lighthouse file up,  add in three separate layers, and using special watercolour brushes paint in the sky, sampling colours from the original image
  3. Layer in the sketch made of original photo in Akvis Sketch over the top, and remove excess sketch elements and soften sketch effect to be less overpowering.

It is far from perfect but it has achieved the effect I was after.  My biggest challenge is painting large areas of sky with Rebelle, the maximum brush size was simply too small and I couldnt manage a soft wash without too many brush edges looking obvious.  This did not please me aesthetically.

However the specialty watercolour brushes I had bought recently worked very well in filling up the sky with softer blends of colours.  Three different brushes were used to give a bit of depth and softness.

Finally the sketch layer adds the structure to the image to bring it all together and make it whole.

This isn’t a technique I am going to use a lot, it really only suits certain images. Plus all that fiddly painting was giving me terrible hand cramps!

It might seem like a lot of work to turn a photo into a painting, there are easier options, but I personally like the authenticity of the watercolour style done this way. 

Do you like it? Perhaps too fussy for you?  Got some painting tips to share?


About lensaddiction

Mad keen photographer figuring it out as she goes!
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9 Responses to Digital Watercolour using Rebelle

  1. green_knight says:

    That is marvellous, and at some point I will play with it to see whether I can squeeze it onto my wishlist. I’ve also been eyeing the Topaz filters. (Did I imagine that some part of the Topaz suite was part of the Awake content? I could not find any announcement of it.)

    I’m currently playing with watercolour brushes, but I haven’t really found any tools that I find wholly satisfactory.

    • There is a discount for Awake students but that’s all

      • green_knight says:

        Ah well. Thanks to Awake, my budget for this year is rather depleted, and the Topaz filters look interesting… and that’s it.

        Rebelle, on the other hand, looks pretty mind blowing. I’ve downloaded the demo, and while there are some features that annoy me – my canvas keeps turning and you can’t easily set it to ‘0 degrees’ – it’s a marvellous piece of engineering. I’ve played with it a bit and I just adore the way colours run into each other. I’ve used it to create a gloriously grungy brush, and I’d love to work more with it as a painting tool.

      • Oh I somehow missed that you had joined Awake – great news!! How are you finding it, are you in the FB group? Yes there are some issues with the canvas moving, its a bit of a PITA – they did a recent update to fix some tablet issues. Yes making real water colour brushes was something I had in mind as well.

      • green_knight says:

        (out of nesting)

        I’m finding Awake just a little bit overwhelming right now – I’m repeating the Photoshop Grunge course (and picking up more tips), trying to keep up with Awake (not successfully), making time to post a little and engage with the Facebook group (I hate Facebook-the-tool; the group is great, but it’s hard to keep track of everybody). I took the ‘sort your loot’ assignment seriously, and wrote myself a database for it, and spent a couple of weeks doing *that*. On the positive side, I’ve cleared a huge backlog of ‘one day I should’, dumped a lot of guilt over buying/collecting stuff that I’ve never used, and I *do* know what I’ve got, all 9500+ items of it. On the negative side, I’m on Week 2 of the course content.

        For now, I’m mainly playing – trying out different styles, trying to make the most of all of the types of content I have, and finding out which things do and don’t suit me. My weakest point is planning images – I have no vision at all, for most things, I just grab something at random and see where it can go, and I’m trying hard to push my comfort zone when it comes to content and techniques.

      • Well it sounds like you have actually done quite a lot, and doing it at the beginning of the course which is the sensible option. Yeah I hear you on the guilt trips. If you are needing some help or want someone to bounce ideas off, happy to help. Email me 🙂

    • These are the brushes I used in the sky, they are the best wc brushes I have found

  2. leecleland says:

    LOve what you are doing with this style Rose. The sketch part pulls the whole image together with out, as you say overpowering it.

Love to hear your thoughts on my post!

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