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How to create a watercolor map in Photoshop.

Need to change your style a bit? Tired of the same one in every single one of your architecture project presentations? What about a watercolor drawing? We have this easy way of turning your projects into a watercolor drawing. In this case, we will get a map, and turn it into a watercolor-like map. 


Stick around, there is also a link where you can download free frushes. Anybody said free?? Y-E-S.

1.  Get your map ready

1.1 If you already have a map that is in a pdf format, you can just upload it to photoshop. If you don’t, you can use a dwg file and export it as a pdf, as we did here.  Check out this really cool page where you can download dwg maps of almost any city! Click here. 

1.2 After you have your map in a pdf file, you can import it to illustrator, but why though? It is easier and faster to select the lines and put them all in one stroke color and size. In this case, we chose the stroke size 0.1

1.3 Then, save it as pdf and import it to Photoshop. You can resize it, you can also rotate the map and even crop to the ratio you need. 

2. Water selection

2.1 When you have the cropped map, you will choose the magic wand to select the water parts, this is what we will be coloring first. Make sure that the lines are closed, so the selection will be easier and faster. 

2.3 When you have completed the selection of the water, create a new layer and fill it with color, be sure to name this layer so it can be easier to find. 

3. Pick out a color palette

3.1 Now, you may have your own color palette already, but just in case you don’t and still trying to figure out the whole color palette of your project, you can always go to Windows > Extensions > Adobe Color Themes. 

3.2 Pick the color palette you like the most and add them to the swatches. 

3.3 If you want, you can also put the palette into your artboard, just pick out any brush and select the colors from your color palette. Name this layer as well. 

4. Add brushes

4.1 Hey, and we said we had something free, and here it is. Download this file where you can find the watercolor brushes to install in your photoshop. Go to Brushes settings to import new brushes.

Once you have them installed, you will begin to select different brushes with the color you want to start painting. 

4.2 Remember this is not only about the brushes, this is also about your technique on how to use the brushes. Make sure you alternate between different brushes and also different sizes, make it look like a real painting. 

4.3 Once you’ve done painting with the brushes of the water, adding an inner shadow will avoid making the map look plain. In the water selection layer, right-click and choose where it says blending options. Select the inner shadow option and just adjust the shadow however you want.

4.4 Ok, so it looks pretty neat, right? Well, we can add just one more thing, we can make the mainland also watercolor, so we will just do the same step that we did with the water. Just create a new layer, and choose the different watercolor brushes, choose the color you want and just paint away. Remember, the technique in brush sizes. 

4.5 If you want that old map vibe, you can leave it in this tone, and just save it and ready to use. 

5. Adjusting your image color

5.1 We want it more subtle, so we are just going to adjust the mainland layer to the color we like the most.

Final result

We think this is a different style of showing our architecture projects. Have you ever used this watercolor technique before? 

Check out the tutorial in our YouTube video. 

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