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Being an novice, this is my first success at trying to get a watercolor splash view. I didn't see this anywhere else, so I decided to post my attempt. There are probably better ways to do this, but I haven't gotten to that point yet.

First. start with your image of the watercolor splash you want to use.

I also loaded my image I wanted to use of the girl on a separate tab. So I copy the image of the girl and paste it over my watercolor splash image.

I select the girl layer and I reduce it to a black and white. I used HSL adj layer and set saturation all the way down, but you can also use B&W adj layer too.

Now I add a curves adj layer. I take the master channel. I slide the highlights (right top) node to the left. I adjust the shadows (left bottom) node to the right. I adjust for a high contrast image.

Now in the layers menu, I rasterize to mask.

You will now have the watercolor showing through the black and gray areas, all white areas are transparent.

Now I unlock the watercolor layer and move, rotate, resize to adjust my display. I didn't modifying the mask, but I suppose you can.

Once I get the picture to where I like it, I paste another copy of the girl photo in a new layer. I add an HSL or B&W adj layer and make a nice looking detailed image. I add a mask. Invert the mask, and now paint in the parts of the image with a hardness of zero, a flow I set to 12, and opacity I set to 12. You can play with this.

Once I paint in hints of detail to complement the image, I then flatten this document.

Last I added a rectangle shape placed it at the bottom, you can adjust color to choice, add a gradient, or whatever. And you are done. I hope you can find something useful. It is my first success at this, so I haven't figured out anything to simplify the process yet. Cheers.


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I wanted to update this with some more specific items to remember for all my fellow novice users.

If you are a novice like me, I some times forget to make sure the placement of my filter layers are in the right place. This can have devastating effects if you aren't watching your placement. Especially when you start rasterizing layers.

So here is my procedure list for the watercolor splash, and I changed the final product by adding a gradient to my rectangle object.


Watercolor splashtest

Start with you watercolor photo layer

I opened up my subject photo, copied it, and pasted over the watercolor photo.

I added an HSL adj layer and took the saturation down to 0.

I added a curves adj layer. Slide the top right node to the left, and the bottom left node to the right until they are almost vertical. Adjust for a high contrast display.

Make sure your adj layers are moved onto your subject photo layer.

Invert the layer. 

Rasterize the layer to a mask.

Paste another subject layer in. Resize to fit. Use the difference blend mode to make sure alignment is good.

Use either B&W or HSL adj layer to make a grayscale image.

Make sure you move the adj layer to the second subject layer

Set a mask, invert the mask.

select a brush. I used hardness to 0%, flow to 10%, opacity to 50%

Paint in some selective detail to you subject to taste.

Flatten the file.

Now you can add a rectangle shape for a background in the color of your choice. Or add a gradient to it.


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Hi crabtrem,


I really like this and thanks for showing how you did it.


Did you create the watercolor splash in AP/AD? If so could you share your procedure with us?



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