Creating Flow Patterns using Paper and Real Watercolor


I really love to play with settings on the Real Watercolor panel.  You can create very interesting brushes by adjusting the behaviour of the water, pigment, paper etc.  In future blog posts, I will describe how these controls work.

But for now, I want a brush that will flow quite a bit on the paper, in order to create some flow patterns.  I don't want the water and pigment to be absorbed exactly where I brushed it, I want it to move around somewhat...


Using the "Light Fringe" brush variant, I will make adjustments to make it flow more.


"Light Fringe" brush with default settings:



If you make the following adjustments, the brush will be more wet, the water will move more easily and will last longer (more time before it evaporates completely).


1. Brush Wetness = 100%

2. Water Viscosity = 0%

3. Water Evaporation Rate = 0%




The brush now creates this sample stroke instead:



Before moving on with this brush, I want a paper with large and interesting texture so that the water will flow according to that texture.


I can use existing papers, but I want to create a new one.  Here is what I will do:


1. From the Window - Media Control Panels , select Patterns.

2. From the flyout on this panel, select Make Fractal Pattern.



3. Select 256 for the size, then click OK to generate the pattern.



4. Select the whole canvas.



5. Capture the paper, giving it a name.



6. Finally, go back to your original document and make sure you select your newly created paper.



Ok, now I want to make my brush flow, but following the texture in the paper. I want to make the paper more rough and make the water "follow" the texture more by increasing the "resistance" of the paper texture.

Make the following adjustments to the Real Watercolor settings:


1. Paper Roughness = 100%

2. Paper Flow Resistance = 100%




In this brush, I have adjusted the controls to "extremes" to make sure I actually get some "flow patterns".  I can now make further adjustments to reduce the effect if I wanted.


I could make the simulation dry faster by re-adjusting the brush's:


- Wetness (reduce)

- Evaporation (increase)


I can also control the paper effects by adjusting the following settings to create various kinds of patterns:


- Paper Roughness

- Flow Resistance


In addition, I can control the flow patterns by adjusting the paper itself on the Paper control panel with the "Scale" and "Contrast" settings: 





And finally, by switching between various papers I can create very different flow patterns.

Note, most of the papers that Painter ships with are not well suited for creating flow patterns.  You will want to scale most of these papers UP to create larger textures in the paper.


Here is a sample image, with different papers at different scale and contrast settings.

The edges in this image were created because the water was actually flowing with the texture in the paper (not because I brushed the shapes).





So in summary, you can make the Real Watercolor media create flowing patterns by making it more wet, and making it more responsive to paper textures.  The paper texture that you use, and the contrast and scaling settings for that paper make a huge impact on the actual flow patterns created.


As always feedback and questions make me happy :)





  • Oh boy, more new toys to play with. I didn't know about the make fractal pattern, this is going to be fun.

    Thank you very much, I am thoroughly enjoying this blog.


  • Hey Chris...interesting info! Thanks!

    What would your samples look like if you had increased the Grain setting for the brush? With the exception of the (lovely) purple-y color on the far right, all of the others look like there was 0% Grain.

    Is that an accurate observation?

    Have you tried using Medium Tooth (or Rough Tooth) paper texture? Painting with the RWC brushes using either of those paper textures can produce lovely grain and you don't need to muck with the paper texture settings to get good grain display--you know me...I love grain...'-}}

    Also...I have found that increasing Evaporation Rate to a high-ish value (70-100%) produces a softer looking result--depends a bit on the Dab Profile setting. I started playing with Evap Rate in an effort to reduce "overlap" edges when painting large areas in sections.

    Using a high Evap Rate sort of worked but I didn't care for the softness of the result and then I discovered adjusting the Dry Rate to a high value could help reduce that overlap edge better than Evap Rate but with DR at 100% you can get what I call "bubbles"--areas where you know you painted but don't have any color--they tend to be sort of circular. They aren't necessarily bad things but it's a different look. The purple on the right of your samples has at least one "bubble" and a few of what I call "splotchies" which, if you aren't careful can be impasto-like which is weird in watercolor...

    Anyway...I'm really enjoying your blog...can't wait for the next installment...'-}}


  • Hi Terrie,

    I don't remember what grain setting I was using.

    I know that I was trying to make the water flow more, and also make it flow following the grain.  But that does not necessarily translate into granulation into the paper...

    I will try to create a brush that hopefully reduces "overlap".  If I get something going, I will post it on the blog :)

    Thanks for the feedback!

  • >>But that does not necessarily translate into granulation into the paper... that...I don't know why I have this thing for grain...I've been trying to play more with reducing the Grain percentage--I usually have it set to 75%-100%--with the RWC brushes but while I may paint a layer or two with Grain set to a low value, I always end up going back to bumping it up because the no/low grain looks "plastic" to me...but...that's just *my* taste which has always been known to be weird...'-}}

    >>I will try to create a brush that hopefully reduces "overlap".  If I get something going, I will post it on the blog :)

    That would be very cool! Thanks!

    It's not that "overlap" is a bad thing but if what you are looking for is smooth(er) transitions when painting large areas using multiple strokes it would be nice to be able to do that--I have clone color turned on most of the time and it would be nice to be able to use a small-ish brush (say 10-25px) to pick up more detail without overlapping. One can, of course, turn on Pause Diffusion but sometimes that's not what you want to do.

    >>Thanks for the feedback!

    You're welcome...thank *you* for the interesting posts...'-}}