Editing Watercolor Scans
Hi again, guys! Sorry again to spam your dashs, but here’s how I edit my watercolor scans. My scanner, like most scanners I’m sure, doesn’t have very good color accuracy, plus I tried out some new brown Higgins ink on this and it bled REALLY bad, so I have lots of edits to show you, lol!
This is what we’re going for with the final colors:
A photo of the painting itself. I actually use watered down gouache for a lot of my paintings, so this one ended up “thicker” than usual watercolor. (see that smeared Higgins ink!?!?! grrrr)
The photo looks a thousand times better than the raw scan:
Here’s the problem with scanning watercolors: your scanner is probably off in color (mine’s too yellow usually), it flattens out all your cool values that you spent forever on, and the background texture of the white is annoying. If your painting doesn’t have large empty white spaces, editing is easier, but I like spot illustrations that don’t have white-paper backgrounds, so…onto to editing.
Erase the background and adjust the levels to get rid of the paper texture like yesterday (again, it’s okay if there are some fuzzballs the levels didn’t catch):
Now to deal with color correction. This is a bit of a process, and an art, and it takes lots of personal tweaking to find what you like. Because this ended up too yellow, I dropped a layer of red in, set to screen, and then because I wanted to darken her hair, I added another layer on top and painted a dark brown with the flow (under “other properties” in the brush palette) set to pen pressure, and then I set the whole layer to overlay and dropped the opacity. I used a layer mask on this layer so I could paint roughly and clean up later. (Layer masks are the rectangle with the circle in it at the bottom of the layer palette; click that while selecting the layer you want and then you can erase parts you don’t want of that layer using a black paint brush; using white is like “erasing” the mask). I also tend to use the hue/saturation tool (image > adjustments > hue/saturation) to tweak either the layers I lay on top to get the right color or the entire painting itself (for pieces that require less editing, that’s sometimes all I do).
Then I fix the fuzzballs and ink smears (thank you Higgins) using a white paint brush and the rubber stamp tool like yesterday:
And after looking at the color rough and seeing that I liked her face better in it, I used the rubber stamp tool to change her face shape a bit. I also added some black to her eyelashes because they had been lightened more than I wanted by the screen layer of red.
Not all of my watercolors require this much editing, but I learned my lesson with Higgins ink – it does not like thick gouache under it! :P I guess it worked as a demo though because I had a lot to change. Adjusting the colors with overlay layers, hue/saturation, or the color balance tool (image > adjustments > color balance) just takes experimentation and practice, but this is why I label half of my pieces “mixed media,” haha! Anyway, I hope this was helpful to some of you and thanks again for reading! :)