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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.
When an artist paints, traditionally, he has to start from nothing and build it up until he has completed with the final details. We have the benefit here of starting with a perfectly refined, finished image and we go back, and we first destroy all that detail. That's what we did previously. Now, we're going to go in, and we're going to start to bring detail back, and one thing I can tell you about the way this works is your brush is like a aperture on a camera. Just like the aperture on a camera, as it gets smaller, it records finer and finer detail. As you adjust the size of your brush, smaller brush size is going to start to reveal greater detail.
And we're going to take advantage of that fact, and I'm going to create another layer. And to do this, we need to shut this layer off temporarily. So there is a little bit of a shell game going on here. You're not going to see this in concert with this layer at the same time, although we will turn it on and off to check our progress. But you do need to shut this back off because, once again, we are going to sample the original, full, photographic image, albeit with a smaller brush on this layer, so, let's get started.
And now I am going to begin to get a little more careful about my strokes. I'm still not worried about absolutely following everything precisely, but this is detail-oriented work, and once you've done this a time or two, you'll start to get a sense of what this is going to look like once it's combined with the other layer. In fact, we'll just turn this on quickly, and you can see how that layer now is bringing through greater detail. You can already see just a little bit I've done. Your eye wants to go to that greater detail, and it doesn't spend as much time lingering on the low frequency or lack of detail on the underpainting, so, let's keep going here.
And the real star of the show - and that's something you've got to constantly ask yourself is, what is the main focus of this image? - and in this case it definitely is the door. So I'm not going to spend as much time restoring any detail with these brushstrokes as I am at the door area, because that's where, ultimately, we want the viewer's eye to invest its time. And the more detail we put in an area, the more viewer is naturally going to spend looking at that area of the image.
Okay, I've now finished putting this detailed paint layer on here, and I'll turn it on and off, so once again, you can see how it looks before that detail layer and after. Now you do have a couple of things you can do here. You can, for example, play with the Opacity of this layer, and if you decide it's too strong, you can play around with how much you want this to be emphasized. I'm looking at it now, and at 100% looks nice, but maybe it's a bit much. So, I'm just going to maybe take it down around 80%.
It just softens it up a little bit, and it doesn't get too contrasty because I don't want that to happen. So if we go back, here's our original photograph, here's our underpainting layer, and here's our detail paint layer. Now, we're going to go one more step. So I'm going to add one more layer, and in this case, to highlight specific parts of this, to really make it pop, I do want to actually bring back near photographic detail, and to do that, I'm going to now switch to the History brush.
And you'll notice something I've done with the History brush - by default, it appears with an airbrush style tip, but we can assign a bristle tip to it, and why not? That then gives the History brush a brushstroke-like appearance. So instead of being a perfect, soft, airbrushy-type brush, it's now going to have a bristled appearance, and so let's go ahead, and also the other thing I'm going to do here is I'm going to enable Texture, and you can see what that's going to do to the look of this brush.
That's another form of that high frequency, fine detail. But we're not restoring it purely in its photographic form; we're imbuing with it a certain amount of canvas texture, which is something consistent with painting. Now I'm going to downsize this just a little bit, and in this case, we don't need to rely on the actual background, because it's going to use the initial state of this brush. And so I will just start to show you, in a couple areas here, I'm just bringing back little bit to that, and if I turn it on and off, you can see it's subtle.
You don't want to go crazy bringing this back, but just in some areas, I'm just bringing back a small amount of the photographic detail, but in a way it's being screened through the texture of the canvas. So it's not just a wholesale edition of photographic information; it's photographic detail, but with a textural element embedded in it. As I said, you want to be the selective about this.
If you just bring it back wholesale, it will start to be too photographic. So I might just highlight a couple of these edges to give some sharpness, particularly areas of the door. Okay, well, now let's take these three painted layers, and I'm going to group them. Now this way we can turn this on and off, so we can see the before and after, but you can see where now, because this has been drained, initially, of all of its photographic detail, as we did in the first step, then we added a bit of detail with a smaller paintbrush, still referencing the original photograph.
And then finally in the third layer, we actually used the History brush, but we gave it a bristle tip, rather than a standard tip, and that way the photographic detail is coming back, but it's coming back with a bristled appearance, as well as some texture added to it, which is canvas texture. So, all of these elements add up to give this a painted, final result, as opposed to its photographic source. So this is a technique that enables you to transform your photograph into a painting.
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