Watercolors in Illustrator

    ●   Some Vector portraits look cold and clinical because the lines are so precise.

    ●   The trick is to use brush textures to make the lines more natural looking.

Learn About:

Paintbrush Tool Transparency Colors Template Layers

  •   This tutorial is part of the CD Cover Design Project and is the 1st tutorial in a series.

1 - 140-line-art-ai.htm 2 - 141-watercolor-ai.htm

Other People's Work:

Here are examples of work inspired by this tutorial.

water color example water color example watercolor example watercolor example

Step #1: Open your Illustrator Document ~

Open your line drawing in Illustrator …


Lastly, select all your lines by hitting Cmd (⌘)+A +

… then open the Brushes palette by clicking on the icon brushes icon or go to: Window > Brushes


… click on the Brush Libraries Menu

brush libraries menu

… and go to: Artistic > Artistic ChalkCharcoalPencil

artistic charcoal brush

… and choose a brush to apply to the strokes.

Also, lower the stroke weight and see what that does …

Step #2: New Layer ~

Make a New Layer BELOW the outline layer by holding down alt option key+cmd key and clicking create-new-layer-icon.png

alt cmd click new layer below

Lock lock your other layer(s) …

lock layers

Step #3: WaterColor Brushes ~

Open the Brushes panel and click the flyout menu on the top right

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… go to: Open Brush Library > Artistic > Artistic_Watercolor, and select a brush that looks good.

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Step #4: Short Stroke~

Choose a Stroke color in the Color panel, and draw a short stroke with the Brush Tool somewhere on your composition.

stroke face

Step #5: Blending Mode

With the brush stoke selectecd, open the Transparency panel …


… and change the stroke’s blending mode to Multiply, and lower the Opacity to around 60%.


Step #6: Start Painting ~

Paint your face …

… now change the Transparency to Overlay …

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… change the color and brush size and keep painting.

Step #7: Warp Tool ~

Find the Warp Tool

warp tool

… and Double-Click the icon itself warp tool small to bring up the Warp Tool Options. You may need to lower the size of warp tool brush.


Now you can push your brush stroke around to get it where you want it.

Last Step: Save and Attach ~


save as

Attach it!

  •   ALWAYS save your projects using the following naming convention:

  •   DO NOT name your project any other way - Improperly named projects will not receive credit and you will be sad.

  •   NEVER leave your work on the desktop or depend on a flash drive - instead, save your work in a folder you can find later - preferably on a virtual drive where it can be backed up.

Other Resources: http://vectips.com/tutorials/free-watercolor-brushes-and-tutorial/