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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.
With Photoshop's new Mixer brush and Bristle Tips, you really have two primary directions that you can take these tools. One is to paint from scratch with a blank canvas as your starting point, or you can start with a photograph and use these tools to interact with the photograph that you're dealing with. And in this exercise, we're going to go through, and I'm going to show you how you can deal with a photograph but deal with it in a nondestructive way, so that you've always got the original information available.
So, to start, I'm going to go to my exercise file here, and we'll go to Open and here on the desktop, we have a file, door. So, we'll open this up, and what you could do is just paint on this as it is. For example, I'm going to take my Blender brush here, and let's just kind of play around. You can see very nicely here that I'm able to interact with this image.
Think of the image as if it were wet oil paint, and your brush doesn't have any color on it; it' just the dry brush. And because the oil paint is wet, when you dip that brush into that wet paint, you can affect it and effectively change it into brushstrokes. The issue is though, we're doing this right on the background, so we're destroying the actual pixels that make up this image. So, I'm going to undo here, and we'll go back and instead of painting on the background, we're going to preserve it, and we're going to instead, paint on a layer.
Now, one thing you have to keep in mind is Sample All Layers. If this isn't on, and you attempt to use a blending brush on a layer that you've created, nothing's going to happen. So, the reason for that, and the first thing you should think of when you see this situation when you're dealing with the Mixer brush is, ah, I need to have Sample All Layers on. Once this is on, now it recognizes what's underneath of it, and you can start to mix and smear it, just like we were when it was on the background, but the beauty here is that this is on a separate layer.
So, we now have a working environment in which we can actually paint on layers with expressive brushes using the photograph as our source material, and I'm going to explain a little bit. What you want to be able to do with a photograph is deal with it in a way that it's going to end up not looking like a photograph, and let's just take a second to think about why does a photograph look like a photograph? Well, one way you can categorize visual information is by its frequency.
High frequency information would be like these leaves, or all the little details in this lantern. Low frequency detail, on the other hand, are areas where very little is going on, and what you need to do with regard to photographs, which are visual items that contain a lot of high frequency information, is we need to decimate or remove that high frequency information. Keep in mind that what we're going to be doing here is going to hide the high frequency information, but we always have access to it, and knowing that that is there should give you a very nice safety net to go ahead and be very loose with these strokes.
It's not like you're trying to preserve the photographic information. In fact, your first step is to decimate that information. I do exercise a bit of, I guess, what you'd call in the world of coloring books 'staying in the lines'. I'm not going to try to pull colors way far away from where they existed in the original photograph, but you can see, I'm also not being fastidious about it either. I'm just, at this point, my goal is to primarily get rid of the high frequency information.
For me, this is actually one of the most fun parts, because you're really free to dip your paintbrush into this photograph and completely affect it, so that it is not going to have a photographic appearance anymore. So, this is going to be step one. Okay, so I've taken a few minutes here and basically stroked over this image with a large brush, and as you can see, when we turn this on and off, I've definitely removed, or decimated, all of that fine detail that is inherent in the photograph.
In fact, if we look at this, at this point, it kind of looks like an underpainting for what will become a more finished piece, and that's exactly what it is. This is the rough underpainting of our imagery. So, what we've just seen is the first part of a process of deconstructing a photograph into a painting. Your first order of business here is to eliminate all detail, beyond what you may even think is necessary. That's what we've done here. In the next movie, we're going to start to rebuild that detail, but in a painterly manner.
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