I'm working on a project on Photoshop CC that replaces Mt. Fuji with silhouette of a car in some of the painting of famous Japanese artist Hokusai.

This is his style (and most recognized painting): enter image description here

I've tried using a watercolor brush to mimic the outline, and used the stamp tool to mimic the white color fill.

This my result:

enter image description here

Aside from general tips on what to use in order to get a better replicate, I have three main problems that I'd like help with:

  1. Outline Color

It seems like Hokusai's brush changes color over time. That is, if you look at the outlines of Mt. Fuji for example, it starts off light blue and ends dark blue, almost black.

I want to get a similar effect with my brush, but the brush settings only have an option for "Brush Dynamics", which make the color jitter and jump between tints and hues - as opposed to shifting gradually like I want.

  1. Woodblock Print Texture

The painting has some sort of effect to it, that is caused by the original technique (woodblock prints). It's not really graininess but rather something else that I can't put my finger on (maybe wood-like texture?).

Can't manage to replicate this, unless I use the stamp, which leads to poor and limited results.

Thanks a lot!

  • Hokusai's brush seems to change color?? Is this really a painting? I mean the original one? I have seen a movie where the artist earned his living by letting a publisher print his works. Movies can be fiction, but there's also a Wikipedia article which tells that about 5000 copies of just this work has been printed. The printing wood blocks were created by publishers wood carvers, the painter only created the original. The publisher could do what he wanted with his team.
    – user82991
    Commented Apr 6, 2020 at 22:43
  • 1
    It's probably worth understanding what a Japanese 'wood block print' actually is: youtube.com/watch?v=t8uF3PZ3KGQ . It is not a series of stamps in different colors, so there's a potential for slight color variations. I've seen plenty that have intentional color graduations in them (like the sky behind Mt. Fuji in this one)
    – Joe
    Commented Feb 3, 2021 at 3:13
  • >> It's not really graininess but rather something else that I can't put my finger on (maybe wood-like texture?). Yes. That. A bit of the wood grain from the printing blocks often appears in these prints. Perhaps scan some woodgrain patterns, desaturate+lighten, then paint atop that semi-transparently. Commented Mar 7, 2021 at 2:17

1 Answer 1


Put your outline on a separate layer, and lock opacity. You can fill a gradient over it that way to mimic or hand paint it, but I think illustrator now has gradient strokes available too. Try a texture desaturated and thrown into overlay mode for the wood block grain you're going for. There are some good digital watercolour artists I follow who do children's books and they have good tips for making it look traditional. :) Cool project, best if luck!

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