Join John Derry for an in-depth discussion in this video Choosing the right brush shape, part of Photoshop CS5: Painting with the Mixer Brush.
The Bristle Shape dropdown menu, located in the Brush panel, is at the top of the Bristle Qualities list for a reason. It is the most important decision you can make in designing a brush. After that, it's just a matter of adjusting all the rest of the characteristics associated with these basic shapes. Let's take a look. Earlier, we talked about the iconic representations of flat and wide brushes in the Preview panel; however, if we go down to the Bristle Qualities area of the Brush panel, the Shape pop-up also gives me access to the same set of bristle brush tips that we have talked about previously.
You will see, they are basically divided up into round and flat variations of the same five shapes. So you have got Pointed brushes: You have got Blunt brushes, Curve brushes, Angle brushes and Fan brushes, and you just got out a Round and a Flat variation of each of those five types. Let's look at just a few of them here. I am going to start with the Round Point, and you'll see that this is a pointed brush. It's round, and I am just holding it, so we are kind of examining it in the 3D preview, rotating it, and basically this brush will work based on pressure.
So the harder I press, the more of that tip that's going to be smashed down against the canvas, which is going to change the basic shape, and it's doing this dynamically. And this is one of the reasons these brushes are so powerful, particularly in conjunction with a Wacom 60 pen, where I have a control over all of the various attitude adjustments of this tip, and then based on pressure, what's happening when it's actually pressed against the canvas. If we take a look at the Round Blunt, you'll see that this, once again, is a round tip. And these brushes, the round tips, are particularly suited to working with non-barrel rotating pen tips.
For example, the grip pen, which is the standard pen that ships with the Wacom tablet, is a non-barrel rotating pen, and you don't have the luxury of having this tip do a lot, in terms of its shape, by changing the aspect or the angle of it in your hand. If I go, for example, and get the Flat Blunt tip, you'll see that this tip has a narrow and wide aspect to it, rather than being symmetrically round. So if I draw with the narrow aspect of this pen, I get a very narrow, thin line, whereas the wide aspect gives me a much broader mark.
So one tip, again, is able to make a lot of variations based on what the artist's hand is doing with the stylus in their hand. Let's also take a look at the Flat Angle. This one shows you, once again, a flat aspect, but you can see here that if I use pressure very lightly - I am only touching part of the tip to the surface - and as I bear down in pressure, the tip gets wider and wider, because more and more of the entire brush shape is coming in contact with the canvas.
Once again, this is why Wacom pens, particularly the Art Pen, make such a good companion to the bristle tips. It gives you the ultimate control over the various shapes and things that can happen with these tips when they come in contact with the surface. The Shape menu is a good place to begin when you're designing a brush. You can also take an existing brush and radically alter its expressive character by simply changing the shape.
- 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.
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