Sort Your Palettes

If you drag on the tabs at the top of the palettes, you can move them around so that you can use the Layers, History, Color, and Swatches palettes all at once, or whatever combination of palettes you need. Close the ones you aren't using to make more room. Dock the palettes you're most likely to need—for instance, Brushes, Layers, Color, and History—in the Dock at the right side of the screen.

Transparency is one of the distinguishing features of real watercolor. To make a "synthetic" watercolor, you'll want to set the Brush opacity at no more than 75%. Because transparent is the opposite of opaque, this means that your paint will be 25% transparent, which is about right for watercolors. Try the brush on a blank page, and you'll notice that, as you paint over a previous stroke, the color darkens. Click the Wet Edges check box in the Brushes palette for even more authentic brush strokes. This option adds extra color along the edges of a stroke, making it look as if the pigment gathered there, as it does when you paint with a very watery brush.

Watercolor artists painting on paper often start with an outline and then fill in the details. Figure 9.5 shows the beginnings of a watercolor painting of an apple. I've drawn the fruit and its stem and leaves, and now I'm working on filling in the leaves with a small brush. It's often easier to work in a magnified view when you're doing small details like this.

Another useful trick for creating a watercolor is to use the Eraser as if it were a brush full of plain water to lighten a color that you have applied too darkly. Use it at a very low opacity to lighten a color slightly, and at a high opacity to clean up around the edges if your brush got away from you. Don't forget that the Eraser always erases to the background color. If you have been changing colors as you paint, make sure to set the background color to what you want to see when you erase, or keep your painting on a separate layer from the textured background layer.

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