How to Make a Watercolor Painting in Adobe Fresco

Adobe Fresco has Live brushes that behave as if you had real paint on your brush. See how Yellena James paints with watercolor while keeping her creative space dry.

Headshot of Yellena James against a background of bamboo plants

 

Yellena James is a graphic designer and painter who explores the intricate and delicate forms of an imaginary ecosystem and twists and floats them together into alluring environments. To learn more about her, watch a video profile.

 

Poster image for the 1-minute videos; shows the complete underwater scene and Adobe Fresco logo

Take a one-minute look at James’s technique; the steps are written out below.

Before You Start

James exported part of her art as a Photoshop document (PSD) from Adobe Fresco. If you’d like to use it for practice, save her PSD to Creative Cloud Files, or your preferred cloud service that you can access from your tablet. Then, open Adobe Fresco and choose Import and open to open the PSD file.

Step 1: Discover Live Brushes

James sampled the available watercolor Live brushes before she started painting the second jellyfish in her composition. She thought the Watercolor Wash Soft brush could get her the look she wanted, so she chose that one.

Digital watercolor painting of an underwater scene, Adobe Fresco Live Brushes shown on the left

Step 2: Start to Paint

Next, James tapped the + icon to add a new layer, tapped the color circle, and used the color stops to choose the color. Then she set her brush size to 180 and started painting the head of the jellyfish. She pinched, expanded, and dragged with two fingers to zoom in and out and pan the image as she worked.

Color wheel on left shows cyan selected, digital watercolor brush strokes on the right

Step 3: Blend and Dry

James chose a second color to blend with the blue she just painted. She wanted the colors to spread as she mixed them, so she increased the Water Flow to 60. The colors blended as if she had more water on her brush. When she was finished, she tapped the Layer Options icon and chose Dry Layer to stop any further blending of the watercolors.

Watercolor brush settings on left, water flow set to 60, pink and blue digital brush strokes, Dry Layer setting highlighted

Step 4: Brush with Texture

As she experimented with the available watercolor brushes and their settings, James discovered that she could add a wide range of textures to her art. As you practice, select the tentacles layer for the second jellyfish and choose a brush to enhance with additional detail. For the finer lines, the Blotty Ink brush under the Ink brushes worked well for James – Size: 150; Hardness: 100%; Blend Mode: Normal; All other settings: default.

Blotty ink pixel digital painting brush selected on the left, sample brush stroke in cyan on the right

Step 5: Erase and Show  

James had drawn the head and body of the jellyfish in a previous session. Once she was ready to finish her work, she tapped the layer thumbnail with the head and clicked the eye icon to display it. She did this for each of the hidden layers. She then selected the blue and pink layer and used the Eraser to clean up the paint that flowed outside of the lines. Finally, she tapped and held the head layer and dragged it above the pink and blue layer.

Adobe Fresco eraser highlighted in tools on the left, brush strokes emerge from jellyfish head, drawing layers on the right

Create New Worlds

Combine texture and color to blend elements from the world you know and create colorful, imaginary ecosystems.

Yellena James’s final ethereal underwater scene consists of blues, pinks, purples with jellyfish and sea plants

Note: Project files included with this tutorial are for practice purposes only.