How to digitize watercolor paintings

watercolor-triangles photo-digital

One of the skillsets that I acquired in my career as an architect includes knowing my way around a bunch of software programs, including the Adobe Creative Suite.  So when it came to digitizing watercolor paintings for my free monthly wallpapers, figuring out a process was pretty straightforward.  I got a few questions on instagram about how I digitize watercolor paintings.  For those people that are just figuring this out and are less familiar with the software programs - I hope this is helpful!

This blog post will cover the process for how I digitize a simple watercolor painting.  Please note that the following instructions assume you know the basics of getting around in Adobe Photoshop (like the essential tools and user interface).  Alright, let’s get started!


First things first:  Guess what? No scanner required!

I think most people (myself included) assume that you need a scanner to digitize your watercolor.  I have a document scanner (one of those that takes one sheet at a time) and did some research on the best scanner for artwork - thinking I MIGHT need to get one.  But then I ran across people suggesting just using a camera (digital SLR is best).  In fact, when I was going down the rabbit hole of researching this topic, I came across a common problem that scanners pick up a lot of the watercolor paper texture - which might be undesirable.  Meanwhile, taking a hi-res photo actually helps minimize this texture.


Tools/Software You’ll Need

  • Your art
  • Cameraa digital camera that takes high-resolution raw files is best, but an iphone would work too.  Just keep in mind that starting with a raw file will give you more control over the photo/image quality
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Lightroom (only required if using RAW files)

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