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Join John Derry, a pioneer in the field of digital painting, as he shows how to master the natural-media painting features introduced in Photoshop CS5 in Photoshop CS5: Painting with the Mixer Brush. This course shows how to use the Mixer Brush, the Bristle Tips feature, and a new mechanism for blending colors in Photoshop to add beautiful, painterly effects to photographs, enhance artwork with paint-like strokes and illustrations, and paint entirely new art from scratch. This course also covers customizing brush characteristics and surface textures, applying keyboard shortcuts to paint smoothly and efficiently, and using a Wacom tablet to get the most out of Photoshop CS5’s painting features. Exercise files are included with the course.
Bristle stiffness works in concert with length. The less stiff bristles are, the more they will have a tendency to bend and separate based on pressure and bearing. Correspondingly, longer length and less stiffness will make for what I call a very floppy brush. Conversely, short bristles and higher stiffness results in a very controlled brush. Let's take a look. So we have our Stiffness slider here, and let's just consider 50%, or thereabouts, to be the average of stiffness, and if we start with that as our model, we will see that as I press down, that intermediate stiffness allows the brush to bend and separate somewhat.
If we turn this all the way down, this is going to be the least amount of stiffness, and this is where we get that very floppy style brush. You can see that, based on just bearing down, how the bristles want to separate and splay out, and maybe if we reduce our thickness a bit here, we will see, with finer bristles, exactly what we are getting here. See how I can get those splayed out marks? Now those can be useful marks in creating some very interesting kinds of strokes and abstract shapes within a stroke.
Let's take a different color, and you can just start to see here how that floppy quality makes for a lot of interesting express-ability. Now if I go to the other end and make these very stiff, well, now I get a very controlled stroke. Nothing at all is really happening when I press down. So like some other attributes we have talked about, Stiffness, or the lack thereof, can actually make the brush a little bit more processor-intensive because it's having to dynamically adjust that shape and width and the amount of contact with the canvas dynamically, and that's where a little extra horsepower may be needed, or if you don't have that horsepower, you'll start to see a decrease in performance of your brush.
And on the other hand, you've got stiffer bristles, which will give you a more controlled style stroke. So you may need to play around with the degree of Stiffness in concert with Length and Bristles in order to find out where that sweet spot is where you're going to get the maximum performance as well as the look that you are after. Now the Stiffness control should be used sparingly. It's very sensitive to small adjustments; be sure to take time testing your brush as you make small adjustments.
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