I am going to share some advanced brush settings in photoshop, that I have been experimenting with during the last two years. My goal has been to create a more organic approach and trying to emulate real media using Photoshop.
There are some “hidden” treasures in Photoshop that can be used to create beautiful compositions where is very difficult to know whether the result is real media or digital. Blending is one of the most important tools, the edge quality makes a huge difference in each of the master works that can be analyse.
Note: all the examples below have been created with Photoshop and using a Wacom Intuos Pro.
Comparison between Mixer Brush (sampling a local area), mixer Brush (blending) and Smudge
Mixer brush sampling a local area
This is one of the gems hidden in Photoshop. The mixer brush can use the panting from a canvas area, instead of a flat color. This makes the mixer brush as “magic” when it comes to making painterly effects.
How to sample an area of the painting instead of a flat color? with the normal brush we simply use the Eyedroper tool to sample a flat color from the canvas, BUT with the mixer brush it is possible to sample a whole area pressing ALT/OPT plus click on the area.
This example below shows some possibilities of beautiful brush strokes and wet blending. All is digital, even the canvas with the background texture.
I have here used the smudge brush and also a mixer brush in blending mode. The watercolor effect is also painted using a smudge brush, dragging from the edges.
The canvas has texture which I have created with the bevel and emboss features in the layer options. This is what gives the 3D look.
This is a detail of above painting, see the rich contrast of edges and different types of blending.
The default options of the smudge brush in Photoshop are useless (like all of the Photoshop presets) however there are incredible possibilities for brush design and smudge effects.
For me I like to have variation of edges in the same painting, I like a few hard edges together with smooth silky transitions. It is the variety of edges what adds value and interest.
In the painting below I have used the smudge brush on a separate layer alone using the option of “sample all layers”, this way I can work with a non-destructive approach on a new layer and make use of masks to show/hide some parts if needed. From sharp edges (see picture below) to very smooth transitions, the smudge can be the better option. It is all a matter of trying what best works depending on the personal style.