Amazing Watercolor Effect in Pixelmator


In this tutorial I will show you how to create a really cool effect using some watercolor brushes mixed with photos. The image we will create is inspired by the works of Bruno Fujii, Margot Mace, Raphaël of My Dead Pony, and Stina Person.

This tutorial was originally published at Pixelmator Learn site, you can see more tutorial I wrote for them at

Step 1

Open Pixelmator and create a new document; I’m using 1440×900 pixels. Then select an image for the background. The one I used can be downloaded at: Place the image in the center of the document and then go to Edit>Transform>Scale and reduce its size to fit the page.

Step 2

Let’s add another texture. I’m using a canvas texture, and you can get it here: Again, resize it to fit the image’s size and then change the Blending to Multiply.

Step 3

Now that we have our background done, we will add a photo of a woman that will be the model for our painting. Use the photo you want, but if you want to use the one I used, go to

Import the photo to your document and place it like the image below.

Step 4

Go to Layer>Add Layer Mask. Then, with a very soft brush using black as the color, start painting over the layer mask. You will be hiding some areas of the image. We need pretty much just the face for now.

Step 5

Go to Filter>Quartz Composer>Stylize>Color Pencil.

Step 6

Go to Image>Desaturate. Your image will become black and white. Then select the Brush Tool (B) and white for the color; paint over the girl’s layer mask to show some of the masked areas, especially the neck and part of the hair, exactly like the image below.

Step 7

Now let’s start painting some watercolor splatters. You can download the brush I used at

Create a new layer and, using black, paint the first like the image below.

Step 8

Paint another one in a new layer. The idea is that it simulates the girl’s hair, but does so using the brushes.

Step 9

Add another one and go to Edit>Transform>Free Transform, or just Command+F. Rotate and scale the brush to match with the girl.

Step 10

The last one and we have a nice image already. But it needs some color.

Step 11

Add a new layer and fill it with the Gradient Tool (G); the one I used was the Pink/Purple one. Then select the Brush Tool (B) and, using the watercolor brushes, paint with different colors like red, orange, blue, green, and yellow. Use the image below for reference.


Change the Blending to Screen and there we go—we have a super cool watercolor effect. You can add your logo and also try a different color to see how it works. Also, if you try different blendings you will produce different results that are really cool as well.

Other Examples

Here is our example without the background image, only the canvas texture.

In this example, I changed the layer with the gradient and brush splatters to Soft Light, a much darker but really nice effect.

Here is an example using Multiply for the Blending—a really crazy result, though not my style.

This example uses only one color instead of that pretty colorful layer.

Tutorial Resources

Pixelmator file

Written by

Fabio Sasso

I'm a Brazilian product designer based in Oakland, California currently working for Google as a Staff Designer. I am also the founder of Abduzeedo, an award-winning digital publication about design and a personal project that has become the source of inspiration for millions of designers and enthusiasts.