My my my! Our guest blogger Denise Palmer has created yet another fabulous tutorial for the blog. This watercolor border Photoshop tutorial is an amazing resource for many of your stationery needs. Use it to create invitations, to-do list, and what-not! Happy creating.
I am thrilled to be writing my second guest post for Inkstruck Studio today, and to bring you another tutorial on the blog!
This time I will be using Adobe Photoshop and will show you how to take clip art graphics and create a lovely repeatable border. The border can be repeated to be used on products, stationery, or anything else you can dream up.
The graphics I will be using are from my Orchard Park Watercolor Graphics set. You will be able to download the watercolor border graphics at the end of this tutorial.
The border we will be creating in this post is shown below mocked up on a stationery notepad. But, you could use borders for all kinds of projects like stationery, fabric tea towels, or even the footer of a website.
Now let’s dive into my watercolor border Photoshop tutorial.
1.Create A New Document & Use Smart Objects
The size of the document we are using to create the border in will be:
2500 x 1000 pixels and 600 dpi (shown in the first image below)
The PNGs we are using from my graphics set are at 600 dpi, and I am using Adobe Photoshop CC for this tutorial.
To create the border, we are going to add the graphics from the graphics set into Photoshop as a smart object from the PNG file folder. My Photoshop settings always create smart objects when placing and you can set this within Photoshop under Edit > Preferences > General and make sure the Checkbox is selected. Alternatively, you can also Right Click on your Image Layer in the Photoshop Layers Panel, and Select Convert to Smart Object.
When scaling images as a smart object, we will not go over 100% of the image size since that would result in a blown out, lower quality image.
You do not have to place the graphics as smart objects, but using them as smart objects makes adjusting the size of the images easier.
2.Transforming Graphics & Adding More Watercolor Elements
To scale our smart object, we will use the Transform Tool, with the Keyboard Shortcut Ctrl + T or Command + T for Mac, while holding down the Shift Key to scale proportionally.
I am scaling my watercolor leaf element smaller and moving it to the left of the canvas so we can build the border from left to right of the document. Then, rotating the leaves by moving the bottom right corner to give it an angle.
Keep adding more graphics into your document and adjusting them by rotating, scaling, and transforming the graphics as you add them. They do not need to be perfectly placed right away, we are just building up the border here and getting the graphics placed nicely into the document. You can always adjust later.
3.Duplicate Same Graphics & Build the Watercolor Border
Continue to add more graphic elements, but also duplicate existing ones by copying them. There are multiple ways to duplicate an object in Photoshop.
To duplicate a graphic, drag the Layer you want to copy to the bottom of the Layers Panel and hover it over the Create New Layer Icon. This will duplicate the layer (shown in below image).
Remember, as you are adding graphics the watercolor elements on both ends of the border design will overlap some to create your border. So, do not put any graphics on the ends that would not look good when overlapping each other.
Once you get all the watercolor elements into your document and are happy with your border design, we can begin to prepare to save out a PNG file of the border to test and use. Are you having fun with the watercolor border Photoshop tutorial so far?
4.Create Group from Layers & Add Mask
Now that the border design is ready, we can organize the file and prepare to save out the border PNG file.
We are going to group the layers together, so Select all the layers in the document by starting at the top of your Layer Panel and Select the First Layer, then scroll down to the bottom of the Layer Panel and Holding Down the Shift Key, Select the Last Layer – but do not select the background white layer.
With all the Layers Selected, go to the Layer Panel Menu, and Select New Group from Layers. (Shown in image below).
This will group all the graphics in the design together – there should be a little Folder Icon with an arrow. You can click on the Arrow to open the Group and see all the Layers in the Group.
Next, Apply a Mask to the Group with the Mask Icon at the bottom of the Layer Panel. This will create the border edge and hide everything we don’t want in the border once we fill the mask with black in the next section.
5.Create Border Edge with Mask & Crop Design
Now that everything is grouped, and we have a Mask Applied to the Group, we are going to fill the Mask with black to create the border edge. Masks are great for non-destructive editing in Photoshop.
To create the border edge, use the Rectangle Tool, and Select the bottom area of the artwork you want to hide by dragging the Rectangle Tool from Left to Right across the canvas. This will give you a selected area to mask. If you need to adjust your selection, go to Select > Transform Selection to adjust the rectangle.
Be sure to have the color black set as your Foreground Color.
With your area Selected, go to Edit > Fill and Select Foreground Color, or you can use the Drop Down Box and Select Black from there.
When using Masks, Black conceals areas you do not want to have visible.
Next, Hide the White Background Layer by turning off the Layer, revealing transparency.
Note: I like to have my documents set up with a white background rather than transparent, because it is easier to see your artwork as you create the design. You can always turn off the white background layer, as shown below.
Now, using the Crop Tool, crop close to the artwork and the border edge.
6.Save Your Border Step Design & Create Repeating Border
Now, let’s save out the border step design so we can create the repeating border in any length.
Go to File > Save As, and Select PNG format, so we maintain transparency. Name your design and click Save.
Note: I saved out my design at 300 dpi since that is the size needed for most print design work, and it helps on file sizes. You can adjust your Image Size in Photoshop under Image > Image Size.
To create the repeating border, we will create a New Document sized to the number of step lengths we want in the finished border. In this example, I will be showing 3 steps. My PNG Step Design is 3108 pixels long, so I am going to multiply that number times 3 to get my canvas size for my new document. My new document will be 9330 pixels long (rounded up a tad so I can show you adjustments), and the height will be 1220 pixels.
Bring the Border Step design into the New Document and, starting from the Left of the document, we are going to copy the step. (Do this in the same way we created the step design with copying & bringing in artwork).
Hold down the Shift Key, and slide the Copy of the Border Step to the Right. This will keep it aligned. Overlap the Step slightly with the first one. Don’t worry about getting the spacing just right, we will adjust it in the last step. Do this for all the steps you want in your border.
Once you have all your steps, Select all the Layers and, with the Move Tool Selected, use the Distribute Horizontal Centers Button at the top of the screen. This will align the border steps. If you have overlapped them closely, you may not notice much of a difference when you distribute.
Now you can save out your repeating border and use it as you wish! I hope you learned a lot from this watercolor border Photoshop tutorial.
(ZIP file, graphic format is PNG)
You may use the free graphics border step for personal or small commercial use (up to 500 copies). If you want to use it for larger commercial use, please contact Denise Anne. Note: Please do not sell the graphics, or share it on a file sharing system.
The clip art graphics shown in this tutorial are from Denise Anne’s new watercolor pack, Orchard Park Watercolor Florals. Check out the rest of the graphics from the clip art watercolor graphics set on Creative Market, and see all the graphic elements included in the Orchard Park Watercolor Florals set!
Denise Palmer, the owner of Denise Anne, is an illustrator, watercolor artist, and surface pattern designer. She creates illustrative design resources, and you can see more of her work on Creative Market, Spoonflower, and her website.
Visit her blog to read more of her thoughts on design & illustration.