Turn Your Video Into An Animated Watercolor Painting (No Plugins) Adobe Creative Cloud Tutorial

Turn Your Video Into An Animated Watercolor Painting (No Plugins) Adobe Creative Cloud Tutorial

September 16, 2019 13 By Bernardo Ryan


Hi everyone. Today I’m going to show you how to make your video look like an animated watercolor painting. I developed this effect for my last video “Taking It All In” in order to capture a dream state. This effect creates a beautiful dreamy atmosphere and is great for dream sequences. I was mostly inspired by the work of an Oscar-winning animator Alexander Petrov who paints each frame on glass with his fingers. I can’t paint so I used Photoshop, Premiere Pro and a little bit of After Effects in order to achieve the desired look. Let’s jump straight into. What I want to do first is to import my video clip into Photoshop in order to apply a watercolor effect to my footage. Before you start working on your footage, please download a free pack of watercolor brushes and a paper texture. You can find these links in the description below. Open your video in Photoshop and record a new action. In this way, you can record each step of the process so that later Photoshop can recreate it for you. I will use this action later on in the project so make sure that you carefully follow the following steps. Let’s call our action “Animated Watercolor Painting”. Convert your video layer to Smart Object. This allows you to apply the effect to the whole video rather than just the selected frame. Go to the Filter Gallery and apply the Dry Brush effect with the default settings 2, 8 and 1. Go back to the Filter Gallery and apply the Cutout Effect with the default settings 2, 0 and 2. And set the Blending Mode took in Pin Light. Next we need to apply Smart Blur with threshold set at 100 and radius set at 5. Set the Blending Mode to Screen and lower the opacity to 50%. Lastly, go to Stylize and press Find Edges. Now you need to set the Blending Mode to Multiply and you have a rough watercolor image. However, in order to make it look more realistic, we’re going to import a paper texture. Make sure to place it carefully so it covers the whole image. To place your texture press ENTER. Right-click on the layer and choose Blending Options. Set the Blending Mode to Multiply. Now we need to do just one last thing before starting to paint. Press Alt and [ to select the backward layer. Because we’re recording an action, it is important that you use your keyboard for this step. We need to make our instructions as generalized as possible, so that Photoshop can rerun the script later. Now we can create a Vector Mask for the layer by clicking on this little icon and then inverting the mask by pressing Ctrl I. Lastly, set the color of the brush to white. To complete the image, we go to our watercolor brushes and start painting with them. Now there are no rules. Choose the brushes you like the most and paint your image. You can also change the size and the angle of the stroke. You have a lot of control over individual brushstrokes, so get creative and go with your feeling of what looks good. Keep in mind that your image should not be painted very densely and heavily because we wanted it to have the appearance of a watercolor painting. If you want to remove color then change the color of your brush to black. Also, I have just one tip. If you have one moving part in the image – like the hand here – and the rest of the image is static, try not to get any heavy brush strokes on the conjoining areas where you have a static background and a moving part. It will come in handy later when we get to add more realism to our animated painting in After Effects. Once you are done painting, stop recording the action and ensure that the two layers have the same length on the timeline. And now you have it! When you are happy with the image, you can render the video. Don’t forget to choose Adobe Media Encoder from the drop-down menu. Choose the standard High Definition dimensions 1920 by 1080 and H.264 codec. We will then import the rendered video to Premiere Pro and do some more tricks to bring it to life. So I’ve imported my video into Premiere Pro and put it on the timeline. I’ll quickly remove the soundtrack because I don’t need it. Next I’m going to right-click on the video and choose out of the available options replace with After Effects Composition. This command will bring my video straight into After Effects. As soon as I’m done editing an After Effects, it will automatically replace the original video in Premiere Pro with a new After Effects Composition containing all of my modifications. It’s a great time-saver. Once in After Effects, I’m going to select my layer and press Ctrl C to copy it and Ctrl V to paste it. Now I have two identical layers and I can start creating a mask. My ambition here is to create a painterly look. If you think about it, when there is movement in a drawn animation, each frame gets redrawn by an artist’s hand and hence each frame has a bit of individuality, because it is not copied and pasted but painted. So I want to give a little bit of individual look to my frames. Because there is only one moving object in the video, namely the hand, we don’t need to redraw the background. Like in a traditional animation, I will only modify the moving part of the image. So I’m going to mask out the hand. My top layer will thus be the mask containing the hand, to which I will apply one simple effect. My bottom layer will remain unchanged and thus will serve as a static background. I will choose the Pen Tool and go to the very first frame of my video. I will start masking the hand. Don’t be too meticulous with the mask. It should roughly follow the curvature of the object, but it doesn’t need to be absolutely perfect. Once I’m finished masking the hand on the first frame, I will click on the Stopwatch icon to mark the first point of my Mask Path. Press Page Down (PgDn) to go to the next frame and adjust your mask. The process from here on in is very repetitive. Press Page Down to go to the next frame, adjust your mask by creating more points and changing the curvature of the line. You also can move the mask as a whole and then adjust individual points. It’s not the most fun part, but it is necessary. Still easier than drawing though! So now I have masked out the hand and I can start creating a painterly effect. In order to do so, I will apply to the mask an effect called Displacement Map. Again, I will move the play-head to the very first frame of the video and drag the effect on to the top layer containing my mask. Press the arrow next to Displacement Map under the Effects heading. You will see that there are a lot of values that you can change. What we are interested in here are the Max Horizontal Displacement and Max Vertical Displacement controls. Once more, don’t forget to click on the Stopwatch icons next to both controls, as we want to adjust these values for each Individual frame. As you start playing with them, you will see that you can kind of stretch pixels along horizontal and vertical planes respectively. You don’t want anything dramatic here. I normally work within the range of minus 70 to plus 70. You have to see for yourself what looks best. And remember, if you overdo it, it’s not going to look realistic. Go through each frame of the video by pressing Page Down and adjust these values. When you’re finished going through the video, you will see that the moving object now comes to life. It is as if the image now has an added dimension. Once you’re done with this, you’re done! Exit After Effects and go back to Premiere Pro. Your modified video will be waiting for you there. So I’m going to play the video now. This is our progress so far. Now we need to add a couple of finishing touches, adjust the frame rate and soften the look of the image overall. Think less Disney more watercolor. First I’m going to Alt-click and drag my video on to the next layer above it. This will copy the layer. What I want to do now is to reduce the frame rate of the video to make it more animation-like. Search for the Posterize Time effect in the effect search bar. Drag the effect onto both layers. We will set the frame rate of the bottom layer to 12 frames per second and the frame rate of the top layer to 6 frames per second. Then we will change the Blending Mode of the top layer to Darken. Depending on your image, you will want to test other Blending Modes as well to find out what looks best. Now if you play your video, you will see that the movement is less smooth because of the reduced frame rate and also there is a ghosting effect going on because the two layers with different frame rates blend together. It’s already beginning to look like an animated painting. But there are a couple of more things that we can do to improve the overall impression. I’m going to nest the two layers to tidy things up. Now we can scale and position our video any way we like. Next I will create a new Adjustment Layer. It will automatically match the dimensions of your sequence. I’m going to call it Vignette, as I will add some blur around the edges of the image to smoothen the colors. Drag the Adjustment Layer on top of your nest and search for Gaussian Blur in the effect search bar. Create an oval mask. Make sure to increase the feathering and check the Inverted checkbox. Adjust Blurriness and check the Repeat Edges checkbox to make sure that the edges of the image look well. It will take a bit of time to get it right. Play with these controls and you will find what amount of blurriness and feathering suits your image best. Lastly, I will add a bit of film grain to my image. I use the Emulsion Pack from Rocketstock. And it’s not a sponsored mention…I wish it was. Simply drag your grain over all the layers and set the Blending Mode to Overlay. Okay, the video looks pretty good already. But I want to show you one more trick that will take it to a new level altogether. We’re nearly there and there is only one thing left to do to really animate our painting. Do you remember, as a very first step, I recorded a Photoshop action? Well, it will come in handy now, as we’re going to play it in Photoshop and, as it is automatically painting the watercolor brush strokes of our image, we’ll record the screen with a screen recorder. You will find the link to a free screen recorder in the description below. The idea is to record your image as it is being painted and then overlay it on top of the video that we have worked on so far in Premiere Pro. In this way, we will see actual brush strokes appear on the video, as if it is being painted in real time. Let’s see how it is done because it’s easier to show than to describe. Let’s import the original video without any modifications into Photoshop. Make sure that the play-head rests on the very first frame. Then go to the File Menu and click on Export, then Quick Export as PNG. It should save the first frame as a PNG file in the same folder as the original video. Open your PNG image in Photoshop as a new layer and increase its size to cover as much of the screen as possible. 72% works best for me. Now open Bandicam screen recorder and select to record a rectangle area. You will see a new dialogue window appear on the screen around your image. Adjust the border around your image, but make sure to make the area bigger than the image because there will be a Bandicam watermark on top of the recorded video and you will want to cut it out later in Premiere Pro. Once you’re happy, you can press the record button and start recording the selected part of the screen. As you can see, the border turns red to let you know that your screen is now being recorded. Go to actions and select the “Animated Watercolor Painting” action that we recorded earlier. Press play. You see now what I was talking about? It is automatically painting our image with watercolor brush strokes because we had already recorded the algorithm for it. This is one of the things that make Photoshop a very exciting program. Once the action stops running, you can stop recording your screen. Bandicam will automatically save this video in the dedicated folder that was created when you installed the program on your computer. You can close Photoshop now and go back to Premiere Pro. Import the Bandicam video into your project. Place it on the second video track V2 between the Nest and the Adjustment Layer. Trim the beginning and the end of the Bandicam video to make sure that it starts exactly when the Photoshop action starts playing and finishes when the action stops playing. Scale and position the Bandicam video so it fills the frame. Make sure that the watermark is not visible. You’ll notice that the Bandicam video is considerably longer than the video we’ve been working on. So we’re going to speed it up. If I hover the cursor over the bottom layer I will see that its duration is approximately 11 seconds. That’s the length of my original video. So we’ll right-click on the Bandicam video and select Speed Duration. Now I see a new dialog window pop up where I can manually change the duration of the clip to 11 seconds. I’ll press OK, and I can see that my clip is still longer than I want it. So I will right-click on the little FX icon in the top left corner of the clip and choose Time Remapping and then Speed from the drop-down menu. Now you will see a line in the middle of your video track. If you drag it up it will speed your video up and if you drag it down, it will slow it down. I need to speed it up so I will drag it up a little bit and then trim the end of the clip to align it with the other layers Now I will change the Blending Mode of the Bandicam clip to Soft Light. You can see now that it blends with the other layers and I just need to align it with the video underneath. So again, I will move and reposition the clip a little bit and once I’m satisfied I will play the video to see what we have achieved so far. Okay, so what I can see is that we’re almost there. I like the way the video appears to be painted in real time with all these brush strokes emerging on the screen. The only thing that I want to fix is the hand, as it appears a bit transparent. And I can see the stone column through it. So I will quickly mask it. I don’t need my mask to be perfect, So I will do it pretty fast. I will start masking the hand right before it reaches the stone column. And I will check the Inverted checkbox. I will increase the feathering considerably, so my mask blends perfectly with the background. Like before, I will press the Stopwatch icon once I’m done with this frame. Okay, I’m going to move to the next frame by pressing a little arrow next to the play button and mask the hand again. I’ll go through each frame of the video and adjust my mask. And that’s it! Now we have it. Just one more thing to mention. I know that I mentioned before that masking is necessary but if you don’t like masking and if you only have a small moving object like a bird in the sky, then you don’t have to create a mask. Just be careful when you apply the Displacement Map effect in After Effects and make sure that it looks organic. So that was it. I hope you enjoyed it. If you think that this process is a little bit too long and complicated and if you have better suggestions please leave them in the comment section below. I would love to know what you think. Please don’t forget to subscribe to my channel, and I’ll see you soon in my next video. Bye. Thank you. You