Real Watercolor and Paper Texture Interactions

Real Watercolor and paper texture interactions 


There are many ways for paper textures to be used with Real Watercolor brushes. The paper texture can be used to create pigment granulation, to influence the flow of the water and more. In this blog post I will try to shed some light on various ways that paper texture can be used with Real Watercolor.

There are 4 distinct paper texture interactions that I want to describe.  In order to make the distinction between these 4 effects clear, I will modify a brush throughout these examples so as to only have 1 paper effect applied at a given time.

To demonstrate the 4 effects, I will use the Light Fringe variant, from the Real Watercolor category. 


To make sure the brush has initially the default settings, hit the Reset button on the property bar. 


I will use a paper texture that I like, such as the Artist Canvas paper texture. 



Before getting into the specifics of each of the 4 effects, it's good to know that the Real Watercolor technology uses a 2 step process.

1) Brushing (affects what happens when applying brush strokes)

2) Drying (affects what happens when the watercolor flows and evaporates).


Some of the Real Watercolor controls and effects are for the brushing part.  Others are for the drying step.


Effect 1: Pigment Granulation (Drying process)

In this effect, the pigments tend to accumulate more in the valleys than in the peeks of the paper texture.

As the water evaporates, and pigment remains on the surface, you will start to see the paper texture become visible in the dried pigment.


The control for this effect is called Granulation.


Adjust the controls in the Real Watercolor panel to be as follows:

Granulation: 100%

Flow Resistance 0%

Dry Rate 0%

and set grain to 0% 


This turns off all other paper interaction except the Granulation.


Here are 2 images showing the watercolor media in 2 states: wet and dry.

The image on the left shows no paper texture, the media is wet the drying as not started. Only brushing as occured.

The image on the right shows the watercolor completely dry, and some paper texture is visible in the dried pigment.


By making adjustments to the granulation amount, you can effectively affect how much paper texture will be visible in the dried pigment.


Alternatively, you can adjust your paper texture. For example, you can increase or decrease the paper contrast to control how much granulation will occur.

If the paper is completely flat (0% contrast), the pigment will dry evenly, without any texture.

In addition, paper roughness also allows you to affect contrast of the paper texture. 


Effect 2: Grainy deposition (Brushing process)


The previous effect showed how you can control granulation of pigment as the watercolor dries. This second effect will show how you can make use of the paper texture to affect pigment that is being brushed. 


This is a somewhat artificial effect, in that this doesn't necessarily have a real world counterpart. The paper texture is used to adjust the pigment concentration at each pixel in the brushed media. The paper texture does not affect the fluid amount, only the concentration.


Once the drying process is started, the pigment that was brushed is free to move along with the water.  It is only the pigment brushing that uses the Grain amount.


To see this effect, set Grain to 100%.


And disable the previous effect, by setting Granulation to 0%.


For a watercolor with more "movement" (to see the pigment actually move on the surface), I also adjusted:

Wetness: 100%

Viscosity: 0%

Evaporation Rate: 0%


These images show the media wet and dried: 



You can see the paper texture in the wet media on the left.  Once the water starts to evaporate, the pigment moves with the fluid.


You can still see some texture in the dried media on the right, however the texture is not uniform, because the pigment moved in many directions.


Remember that you could combine this effect with Granulation to have complete control over your pigments, both in the brushing and drying process.


Effect 3: Flow Resistance (Drying process)

Moving away from pigments, this next effect uses the paper texture to affect the movement of the water. This can help to create interesting patterns by forcing water to move according to the texture.


Taking the brush from the previous example, adjust:

Paper Roughness: 100%

Flow Resistance: 100%


And set grain to 0%.


Here is the same brush stroke applied with Flow Resistance set to 0% and 100% 



Often, you will want to adjust the scale of the paper texture to allow for larger scale branching patterns in the water flow. 


Here is the same stroke with larger scale branching patterns:


Keep in mind that if you do adjust the scale of your paper, this will also affect the other paper effects described, not just the flow resistance.


Effect 4: Dry Rate (Drying process)

This next effect uses the paper texture to absorb some of the water on the surface. This is similar to evaporation, but the absorption will be greater at the peeks than at the valleys. This can help to create uneven evaporation and paper texture patterns in the final dried result.


It can also make you simulation run faster by making the water dry faster.  (The same goes for Evaporation Rate.)


Let's adjust the current brush by settings:

Flow Resitance: 0%

Dry Rate: 100%.


Also reset your paper scale to 100%.

And set contrast to 400%


These 2 images show the result of the dried watercolor with Dry Rate set to 0% and 100%.


Note that the stroke with Dry Rate set to 100% took less time to dry.


In summary, you can achieve various effects with Real Watercolor and paper textures. You can combine these together for very creative and realistic effects to simulate watercolors. 


If you have any questions on this topic, or any other brush related questions let me know!

In the mean time, happy painting emoticon


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