Things I’ve Learned #1

As has already been stated, I am a self-taught Photoshop user. Of all the pastimes in the world, this is the one I have chosen. I suppose that, as a photographer, that only makes sense. (Don’t worry. I do have other pastimes that do not involve me staring at a computer screen with an intense expression on my face.) But with being a self-taught Photoshop user comes the need for increased self-motivation. And patience. Lots and lots of patience. But with said self-motivation and patience and persistence, one can achieve many a fascinating thing. And today I’m going to show that to you.

Things I’ve Learned #1: Abstract Watercolor Effects

I know it sounds awesome, and believe me, it is. But of course some of the coolest things are the hardest to do (like finding the courage to sky dive or go scuba diving with man-eating sharks – neither of which I have ever done). The following technique was one of them. Consider the following (Bill Nye the Science Guy reference for the win):

Pretty psychedelic, right? That is my face. Those are splats of watercolors. That is my face filled in by splats of watercolors. And yes, I really did do that myself. No preset program or anything. That was a lot of Layer Masking and merging and such (if you don’t recognize those terms, they do mean basically what they say). I even learned how to make the watercolor letters. Below is the final edit:

So how did I do this? And how can you learn to do this, too? Well, here’s the link for the YouTube video I used:

If you do decide to use this video, just be aware that there is no sound. So don’t freak out and think that your computer is broken or that you’ve finally gone deaf when you don’t hear anything. But the video zooms in and shows you up close all the buttons and tabs and such to click (though to enter some of the values, you may have to strain your eyes a little). There are also other tutorials online, but I found this one the most helpful because I could see exactly what the person was doing, and I could always pause the video to complete a step before moving on.

Other tips I’d like to give about this technique include things like making sure that in whatever photo you use, make sure the background is white. If you don’t know how to change the background color of your photo, here’s a tutorial for that:

This link gives five examples, and you can choose whichever you think will be easiest for you. However, be aware that extracting backgrounds is a very tedious task and it takes practice to get really good at it. I’ve only had to do it once, and it took longer than the tutorial said it would simply because of the fine details. But the more you practice, the easier it will become.

So give it a try. I’m glad I learned how to make this abstract watercolor photo because it’s artistic and exciting. And once you figure it out, you really will feel accomplished. I know I do. But then again, there are just the things I’ve learned.


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