Join John Derry for an in-depth discussion in this video Adding detail to a painting, part of Photoshop CS5: Painting with the Mixer Brush.
There are probably a million techniques for creating a painting, and all I can show you in this exercise is a handful of them. So whatever I show you, there are other ways to do it. And I'm not here to tell you how to paint. I'm just showing you a set of possibilities for ending up with a piece of final artwork. Once you start taking these brushes and incorporating them into your painting, each one of you is going to go off into a different direction and hopefully end up with very different results.
That's the idea behind painting is to express yourself, and that's what we want to do here. But what I am going to do to finish this up is to show you a couple techniques that I employ sometimes that gives an interesting look to the work. And the next element I am going to apply here is I am going to put just a curving beach into here. So I am going to create another layer. Right now, this layer is our background. And if I was taking more time, I would probably name these layers, so I could just look at them and know what they are, but for our purposes just knowing what is on which layer is good enough.
So far our fourth layer, I am going to start to add my beach sand, and so I will grab a color here. I am going to reduce the size of my brush, so let's go in and set it up so I can use my Touch Ring, and we will going here and just assume there's a kind of a curved beach coming into the foreground. I am not going to worry too much about the edge. I might do a little finalizing work on how the edge of this whole image looks.
Now I am definitely going here for very kind of expressive quality in the work. I'm not trying to be precise. I like little mistakes. I want the whole image to have that kind of loose quality to it. Now here is what I am going to do. I've created the basic shape for this beach that curves. I can now take that layer and lock its transparency, and by doing so - just take a temporary color here - I can paint in this now, and I am only going to paint within that area.
So effectively, this area is masked, and it now allows me to play with atmospheric depth so that it changes color as it goes towards the background. So for that, I might get a lighter color. I'll enlarge my brushstroke a little bit here, and this is where I am just going to apply, not probably 100%, but just kind of give some change in transition, so that as it goes back, it gets lighter and loses some saturation.
Okay, next we're going to put a palm tree kind of arching over our scene, and once again, I am going to do the same technique using the transparency lock, but this is where I want to take advantage of the Pointed Round Floppy Opaque brush. This has a lot of nice character in it. And at this point, because I know I'm literally going to be using this as a mask, I don't have to be concerned with color. So I am actually going to go so far as to use black on a new layer and paint with it, knowing that I can go in here and change it.
So my idea is something like this. Okay, that's good enough, and we'll lock that off. Now once again, I can go in here, with some of my color, and we'll go back to my Short Opaque, and now I can go in here and paint into this. And I can try different things out, because I can keep adding different colorations in here.
I might want something a little darker on little shadow edge, something a little lighter on the sunlit edge, and it seems like palm trees have somewhat of a skin on them. So let's once again go back to the Floppy Opaque here, and we'll just grab coloring. So we are just putting some texture into here. The other thing I can do is - this was another thing we looked at earlier, I have set the rear button on my Wacom Pen to use the number zero and when I click it once, that changes the Wet value to 100%.
When I click it in rapid succession twice, it goes back to zero. This gives me a brush that can alternate between being a opaque brush and a fully smearing brush. So now I can go in here and just kind of mix this up a little bit. I just want to have some character within the strokes. So there is just interesting texture. The next thing is going to be the actual palms on this tree. So we are going to do another layer, and this might be another time to save your image. Just whenever you think about saving, I'd say do it.
Okay, so now I've got my layer set here for painting my fronds, and I am going to grab some green, and I want to switch from being wet, so I am going to do a double-click here real quick, or you could press the zero button twice, if you don't have your barrel set up that way. Now I am going to go in here and do a little frond painting and again, I don't have to be 100% concerned with exactly how these look at the moment, in terms of their color, because I can mask this off. That's exactly what I am going to do.
So we'll mask this off, and maybe at this point, I am going to grab the Short Opaque, and you can see here now, see how I can really add a lot of interesting detail within this area, just based on the strokes that are going into it. And one thing we may do here is I am just going to get a darker green. In fact, I am going to use my Express key, so I can call up my HUD Color Picker here.
I am just going to give it a darker green. And again, I'm doing this very light, so that I'm putting in some texture in darker areas, but I am not completely overriding it. Okay, one thing I am going to do here real quick is I see how I let the top of the tree show through, so that I can pick this up and move it, which is a nice thing. In fact, I can grab both of these elements in the Layer list and just play with the positioning. I might want this a little more organized in the center.
And the last thing I want to do now is, just to add a little bit of separation between the background and the palm fronds, is I am going to create a new layer which is beneath both of the base of the tree and the fronds. And I am going to put some clouds in the sky. So once again, I am going to use my Floppy Opaque here, grab some white, just to help pop that foreground a bit.
Oh. While we're here, let's use the same layer and put a little bit of whitecaps. So the idea here is to just be a very loose free kind of sketch. So this demonstrates just a combination of all of the things that we've learned in the different chapters, and putting it together into a real-world style project. This kind of look I can see it fitting maybe in a children's book. The other thing I might want to do here at this point is I can go in and turn off my layer.
So now we don't have that distraction. We'll just grab all of this and center it, and there is our finished art. So hopefully, you've seen through this, how all of these various techniques can come together, so that you can end up with a very nice, loose and carefree style of painting, but certainly you're the master of your own brushes, and you'll decide exactly what kind of look you want when you put all this together.
- 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
Skill Level Intermediate
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.