Architectural Elevation: digital watercolor effect for presentations


benidict watercolor-tut-cover

In this tutorial we will learn how to apply a digital watercolor effect on an architectural elevation. All building elevations and construction details are directly exported from SketchUp 3D models. Rendering and layering procedure was done using Adobe Photoshop. You will need a basic knowledge of Trimble SketchUp and some photo editing skills for this tutorial.


1. First, we set our camera to Parallel Projection. To achieve this go to Camera and check Parallel Projection. Set the Style to Shaded with Textures so we can display the model with textured faces.


Select Parallel Projection & set the Style to Shaded with Textures

2. For the front elevation Scene, adjust the Camera to front view position, go to Camera>‘Standard Views>Front.

3. Insert entourage such as 2D SketchUp models. Copy & paste all the selected 2D models to your Scene. To adjust the opacity of 2D the tree textures, go to the Materials dialogue box and under Select, click Sample Paint and click the texture(s) under Material Edit to adjust the Opacity with a 30%-50% value.

4. For architectural reference, make a graphic scale model using SketchUp.


Adjust opacity of 2D the tree textures & create Graphic Scale

5. Once the entire Scene is done, export several image passes of the SketchUp model.  You can turn off Layers to hide certain elements for various image exports. For example with the house on 1 Layer and Entourage on another and Graphic Scale on another, you can you can toggle the visibility of them on and off for your image exports. Lock down the file size to 4000+ pixels wide. To do this go to File>Export>2D Graphic and select Options. The ‘Export JPG  Options’ dialogue box will pop up.


Adjust Image Size


Exported Image 1 – Modern House (Front View)


Exported Image 1 – Modern House

Exported Image 2 – Entourage


Image 2 – Entourage

Image 3 – Graphic Scale


Image 3 – Graphic Scale

Watercolor texture sourced from the internet.


Watercolor Texture

6. Open all the exported images and watercolor texture in Photoshop. For all the Layers, set the Blend Mode to Multiply’. Follow the layering procedure below:

Background: Modern House
Layer 1: Watercolor texture
Layer 2: Entourage
Layer 3: Graphic Scale


Photoshop layering procedure

7. Remove the excess colors from the overlapping images. First, hide all Layers. Next, using the Magic Wand Tool, select the upper portion of the background image> right click> click Select Inverse.


Apply Magic Wand Tool

8. Select Layer 1 and 2. Make sure the Magic Wand Tool guidelines are still visible before pressing the Delete button.


Select Layer 1 and 2. Delete excess colors

9. Add Text.


Add Text

10. Save your work in JPEG format.


Final output image

Do the same procedure for the remaining elevations (side and rear view etc…).



Thank you for taking the time to read this tutorial. I hope you will find it helpful in your future projects and presentations.

Benedict Martin Caliwara




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