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Photoshop CS5: Painting with the Mixer Brush

Quickly loading and cleaning the Mixer Brush with keyboard shortcuts


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Photoshop CS5: Painting with the Mixer Brush

with John Derry

Video: Quickly loading and cleaning the Mixer Brush with keyboard shortcuts

Just like its natural media counterpart, you need to be able to quickly service your brush by both cleaning it and loading it with color. The Mixer brush has some shortcuts for performing these actions, but Adobe does not assign these shortcuts by default. In this video, we'll learn how to assign shortcuts, as well as add them to the Wacom control tablet surface. I'm going to begin by showing you an example of what I'm talking about, and I'm using the Blunt-Round Dirty brush from the Tool Preset library that is included in the exercise files.
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  1. 2m 29s
    1. Introduction
      1m 26s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 3s
  2. 9m 10s
    1. Understanding the axes of motion
      2m 51s
    2. Assigning TouchRing functions
      6m 19s
  3. 22m 18s
    1. Monitoring brush orientation with the 3D Brush preview
      4m 55s
    2. Choosing the right brush shape
      3m 32s
    3. Using bristle tips
      2m 7s
    4. Adjusting bristle length
      2m 18s
    5. Changing the thickness of the bristles
      2m 1s
    6. Adjusting brush stiffness
      2m 35s
    7. Understanding options for angle adjustment
      2m 15s
    8. Changing bristle spacing
      2m 35s
  4. 26m 1s
    1. Using the Preset Brush Behavior menu
      2m 32s
    2. Color wells: Reservoir and pickup
      2m 11s
    3. Using the Wet, Load, Mix, and Flow controls to adjust color behavior
      5m 39s
    4. Loading and cleaning the Mixer Brush: Manual or automatic
      4m 54s
    5. Sampling color from all layers
      4m 31s
    6. Using the Transfer panel to adjust paint dynamics
      6m 14s
  5. 17m 8s
    1. Selecting patterns from the Pattern Library
      2m 1s
    2. Simulating canvas texture
      4m 15s
    3. Setting texture scale
      2m 33s
    4. Locking textures
      2m 44s
    5. Adding 3D appearance to strokes
      5m 35s
  6. 14m 13s
    1. Understanding tool presets and brush presets
      3m 15s
    2. Saving tool presets
      6m 55s
    3. Organizing the Tool Presets panel
      4m 3s
  7. 22m 23s
    1. Quickly loading and cleaning the Mixer Brush with keyboard shortcuts
      7m 3s
    2. Loading the brush with multiple colors from an image
      4m 53s
    3. Using the Color Picker Heads-Up Display
      5m 55s
    4. Using additional color selection options
      4m 32s
  8. 11m 45s
    1. Creating an underpaint layer to remove photographic detail
      5m 8s
    2. Restoring detail
      6m 37s
  9. 21m 8s
    1. Creating a color mixing layer
      7m 39s
    2. Loading brushes to enhance visual interest
      5m 17s
    3. Adding detail to a painting
      8m 12s
  10. 25s
    1. Goodbye
      25s

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Photoshop CS5: Painting with the Mixer Brush
2h 27m Intermediate Jul 20, 2010

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Understanding the axes of motion with a Wacom tablet
  • Choosing a brush shape and Bristle Tip
  • Adjusting brush angle
  • Loading color and control the behavior of the Mixer Brush
  • Modifying surface texture
  • Simulating the texture of canvas
  • Saving tool presets for brushes
  • Creating a painting from a photograph
  • Painting from scratch with the Mixer Brush
Subjects:
Design Digital Painting
Software:
Photoshop Wacom
Author:
John Derry

Quickly loading and cleaning the Mixer Brush with keyboard shortcuts

Just like its natural media counterpart, you need to be able to quickly service your brush by both cleaning it and loading it with color. The Mixer brush has some shortcuts for performing these actions, but Adobe does not assign these shortcuts by default. In this video, we'll learn how to assign shortcuts, as well as add them to the Wacom control tablet surface. I'm going to begin by showing you an example of what I'm talking about, and I'm using the Blunt-Round Dirty brush from the Tool Preset library that is included in the exercise files.

And let's just put a bit of color onto the screen. Now, when I start to paint with this brush, what happens is whatever is underneath the brush at the end of a stroke, gets contaminated into the next stroke that's produced. So, what will happen is you'll get a natural media type effect of paining wet in wet. Color on the brush gets contaminated by what it finds underneath of it, and that can be a useful technique. The reason it happens in a dirty brush is because neither the Auto Load or Auto Clean functions are enabled.

What would be nice would be able to temporarily enable these effects, and you can do so by clicking on the Color Preview and selecting Load brush. Now my brush loads with the current color and becomes contaminated again. But every time I want to load that brush, I've that got to come up and once again manually select Load brush. It's a bit of a stretch to have to go up here and go through this interface action to make this happen. What would be really elegant is a way to do this with a single click, and we can do that.

We're going to use keyboard shortcuts to make this happen. On the Mac, it's under the Edit menu, and we'll find down here at the bottom, Keyboard Shortcuts, and we're going to make sure we're in the tools panel. And if you navigate all the way down to the bottom, you'll find a set of keyboard shortcuts for loading and auto- loading as well as cleaning the brushes. But you can see, there are no keyboard shortcuts assigned to this, so this is what we need to do. And I searched around in Photoshop's keyboard shortcuts and located some shortcuts that don't appear to be used anywhere, so I'm taking advantage of that.

For the manual Load Mixer Brush, I'm going to use the Left Angle bracket. So I need to hold down the Shift key and press on the Left Angle bracket. For clean, I'm going to do the same thing. I'm going to use the Right Angle bracket and for toggle, automatically, I'm going to use the Colon sign for the Auto Load. Now you can see, here is a place where this is used. I don't use the Magnetic Pin and Lasso tools with any great frequency, so I choose to replace this.

You may find that this is a very important keyboard shortcut for you, so my advice is to find the keyboard shortcut that you're replacing with some tool you never use. In my case, it was the Magnetic Pen and Lasso tool. And then finally, for the toggle, the Auto-Cleaning, I used the semicolon and the same thing; this is also used here by the Magnetic Pen and Lasso tools. Again, I don't use it, so I'm going to accept those. So now, I have a set of keyboard shortcuts that I can use to automatically change the state of these.

Let's just go ahead and look at this. Now, for example, if I go in here and do the Auto Load - I'm just going to click on it - you can see how it's now turning on and off without me having to go up and actually click on it. Same thing with the Auto Clean; I can do that from the keyboard. And finally, I can also go in here - you won't see this happen - but if I do Load brush, I've now just loaded the brush, and then, once again, it reverts to a dirty brush, but if I click on the Left Angle bracket, I have a loaded brush again for one stroke.

Now, that's great, but I want to take it one step further, and we're going to use the Express keys on the Wacom Tablet to assign these, and I find this an even better way to do it because it's just right next to you while you're working, and it doesn't involve having to move your hand up to the keyboard. Again, everybody has different techniques, but I find this to really work well. So, I'm going to navigate to the Wacom driver. On the Mac, it's under the Apple menu in System Preferences, and on Windows, you'll find it in the Control Panel.

So, let's find the Wacom Driver. And we're going to go to the function keys and make sure, if you don't have this, you're going to want to create an application-specific set of Tool presets, so that they are assigned to Photoshop CS5. That way, if you have other applications, you can go ahead and change their settings without interrupting what you've done for Photoshop. And one thing I want to mention before I go farther is that I'm left-handed, so I have the control Surface set up to be on the right side of my tablet.

That way my left-hand is free to paint, and I can use my right-hand to quickly access the control surface. For most of you, you're probably going to have this the opposite way. So, just be advised that I'm doing this for a left-handed setup. You'll just reverse this if you're right-handed. So, I assign to these there as a keyboard shortcuts through the Keystroke command, and we'll just delete this to show how I did this. So all I did is, once again, I just held down the Shift key and the Right Angle bracket, and it's going to look incorrect here because it doesn't know how to display the Right Angle bracket.

But that is the right keyboard command. We say OK, and that is assigned. So basically, I just went through and assigned my keyboard shortcuts that I put into Photoshop into the Wacom Tablet. So, this is a two-step process. You first need to create the keyboard shortcuts via the Keyboard Shortcut command in Photoshop CS5. Once they are assigned in Photoshop, now you have keyboard shortcuts you can place into the Keystroke Commands in the Wacom tablet. And once that's all done, I now have the ability to use these commands right from my control surface, and I'll show you a couple other ways this can be useful.

For example, if I have a Blender brush, and I am blending color, I may want to temporarily change to painting with that. All I have to do is click Load brush, and now, it has got a one stroke fill of color. The next time I start using it, it's, once again, a Blender brush. But this gives me a way to be in Blender brush and temporarily have color on the tip of my pen. With cleaning and loading keyboard shortcuts in place for handy access, you can closely simulate traditional, natural media mark-making, or automate it at will, all with a single click. I think you'll find a great deal of flexibility in having these keyboard shortcuts available for various types of modifications to your brush on the fly.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Photoshop CS5: Painting with the Mixer Brush.


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Q: What factors affect how well the mixer brushes in Photoshop perform? Does document size (i.e. 72dpi vs. 240dpi) affect the performance of the brushes? How can I maximize brush performance?
A: The recordings for this tutorial were generally done at a standard screen resolution, but a real-world situation will often require higher resolutions. For example, offset printing generally dictates files at 300ppi (pixels per inch). Inkjet printing is often discussed in terms of 240ppi. For web-based viewing, imagery at 72ppi is considered acceptable. You can easily determine the pixel resolution of an image by multiplying the size in inches by the above ppi (pixels per inch) factors.
Let's use a typical real-world size as an example: 20" X 24". This is a common photographic print and frame size.

72ppi = 1440p X 1728p = 2,488,320 pixels
150ppi = 3000p X 3600p = 10,800,000 pixels
300ppi = 6000p X 7200p = 43,200,000 pixels

Note that each of these resolution factors quadruples the total pixel count.
It is the amount of pixels being manipulated that dictates both application and brush performance. With this in mind, we can state that performance decreases as image pixel size increases. There are three primary factors that affect an application's ability to handle large pixel-based manipulation.
For the full FAQ, please download the PDF file here
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