Real Watercolor Deposition Vs. Flow

Real Watercolor Deposition vs. Flow 

How time flies when you spend it with a new baby emoticon  After a wonderful parental leave, I am happy to be back at work this week.  And for my first blog post in several weeks, I decided to write about a topic that I think can be a bit confusing sometimes: Real Watercolor Deposition vs. Flow.

When you paint with the new Real Watercolor media in Painter 12, there are actually 2 very distinct painting models happening: deposition and flow.

  1. Deposition
    In this model, some media is transfered from the brush onto the paper surface. 
    *You can have brushes that only do deposition without flow... these would be dry watercolor brushes
  2. Flow
    In this model, the media already on the paper surface flows and spreads on the surface and into the paper.  
    The flow process will continue until all the water is evaporated, absorbed and the pigment is settled. 
    *Flow can't happen without having deposition first.

As you can imagine, Painter provides brush settings to control how each of these models will behave.  

For instance, in the deposition model, you can control such things as:

  • Brush wetness
  • Pigment concentration (on the brush)

In the flow model, you can control settings like:

  • Evaporation rate
  • Paper roughness
  • Wind strength

Changing settings that affect the deposition process will have no effect on how the media flows and vice versa.  Of course if you deposit more water in the deposition process, then more water will be available to flow, so there is a link between the 2 models.  But the controls themselves are independent between the deposition and flow models.


      • Changing flow settings while media is still flowing ***

As I mentionned, flow controls affect media on the surface that is not completely evaporated or settled.  This means that while the media is still flowing, you can change flow controls to dynamically change how the media flows.  This way, you can visually see the live impact of the flow controls on the flowing media.

Because flow controls are stored with the brush, there is an important side effect to consider. If you switch between two watercolor brushes, having different flow settings, and you do this while the media is still flowing, you will actually change the result of your brush stroke.

This is because if you switch to a brush with different flow settings, these flow settings will apply to ALL the currently flowing media that was deposited, even if it was deposited with another brush.

You can always wait for the media to finish flowing before switching to a different brush if you prefer.


      • Deposition controls ***

For this blog post, I will briefly describe the deposition controls. In a future blog post, I will cover the flow controls.

As I mentionned above, the settings that control deposition have no impact on how the media will flow or settle on the paper.  These settings ONLY change how the media is transfered from the brush to the paper.

The settings that control deposition include:


  • Brush Wetness: how much water is on the brush (and how much will get transfered to the surface)
  • Pigment Concentration of the media on the brush (this controls the concentration of the pigment that gets deposited from the brush, not the concentration of the pigment as it settles during the flow process, that would be another control called Settling Rate)




  • Dab shape and profile (and related controls such as Angle, Squeeze, Static Bristle, Hard Media etc.) 
    This will control where and how much of the media gets deposited. 
  • Method of deposition (again, this only affects how the media, water and pigment, gets deposited from the brush to the flow surface, what happens during the flow process is independent of this setting)



  • Opacity - Controls how much media is deposited
  • Grain  - Controls pigment concentration as it is deposited (pigment concentration follows the grain pattern).


Note that these settings can be hooked to Expressions (such as pressure or velocity), which is a good way of creating Watercolor brushes that respond to tablet expressions.  For instance, if you hook Opacity to Pressure, you can control how much media is deposited from the brush to the paper using pressure.

Also, as mentionned, Grain affects only the deposited pigment from the brush to the paper.  There are other controls to control paper grain behaviors during the flow process (such as Granulation in the Real Watercolor controls).

For example, in the image below, only the Grain setting was adjusted between the 3 strokes.  You can see that the deposited media responds to the grain setting.  The pigment concentration of the deposited media folllows the paper pattern.  The flow process was paused to capture the image.



Then we let the flow proceed by unpausing the process:



Because the brush used in this example has some granulation in it's flow settings, some grain is visible in the first stroke, even though none was visible after the deposition.

I think this covers the most common settings that control deposition.  In a future blog post, I will review what settings control the flow and how they work.

If you have specific questions on the topic of Real Watercolor Deposition, or any other comments let me know emoticon

Happy painting!

View Author's Blog Post

Was this article helpful?
0 out of 0 found this helpful
Have more questions? Submit a request