Join John Derry for an in-depth discussion in this video Simulating canvas texture, part of Photoshop CS5: Painting with the Mixer Brush.
In this movie, we are going to take a look at how we can interact with the character of the texture as it appears within the brushstrokes. One of the first things we want to take a look at here is the Depth slider. This controls the appearance of the depth within a brushstroke. Right now, it's set pretty high, so that as I paint, my strokes are almost black. I can lighten up with a little bit of pressure, but not much is happening here. So to start to change this quality, the Depth slider can be used.
When it's all the way to the top, it's saying, use the full depth of the texture. As I lower this down, we'll see a lower value here. Now, I'm starting to see more texture, and less fill of the lower parts of the grain. What's actually happening here isn't so much a factor of texture itself, but Photoshop's built-in way it works with the Mixer brushes; pressure, in this sense, is really controlling how thick and full all of the hairs within the brush are responding to pressure.
So it's not really associated with pressure per se, but we are getting a nice variation in here, even at this level. Now, just depending on where you set this, you are going to be able to get only at the tops of the grain that we're working with here. So at this lower level, you can see that now, I'm just skipping along the very top of the grain. I can never get all the way down into the little valleys that make up this three-dimensional texture. So one of the first things you'll want to do then is play around with this slider to determine the quality or the character of the texture within your strokes.
I should also point out here that going from one texture to another can give you very different results. For example, this one we got just along the top of the grain, whereas here you can see this grain, same Depth setting, but now all of a sudden we are addressing all the way down into the bottom of the texture. So each texture is going to respond a bit differently. In this case, I need to play around with this Depth slider again, in conjunction with a particular texture, to find out what kind of visual quality I can get to and then decide what I want it to look like.
The reason for this variation is that each one of these has a differing set of grayscale values that make them up, and some of these settings are dependent on the grayscale within the particular pattern. So there is no one consistent setting for depth. You'll have to play around with it for each texture based on its own self-contained grayscale. The other thing we can look at here is the Mode. These are different algorithms that describe how texture is going to be handled when it's applied to the screen.
It's almost like these are various filters through which the texture is being examined and then applied to the screen. Height is the one I use most of the time; sometimes you can use Linear Height. Now, this texture I can see a little better here, but this does give a good example. I am going to clean off the screen here. I am going to use the Command+Delete key, which clears the image to the background color, which is currently white. Now, what I want you to see here is, and this is very indicative of Linear Height, it is a very soft kind of rendition of the texture, unlike what we saw before with Height, which was much grainier, much harder-edged.
And a third one that I use sometimes is Hard Mix. This one is even more of a severe hard-edged appearance of the texture. This one, typically you have to turn Depth up very high to see it there - now I can see it. But it even has a more graphic hard-edged appearance than either Linear Height or Height. You can play around with these other ones, but in conjunction with the mixer brush, I find the bottom three here, and probably Height to be the most wide-ranging useful of the three.
So now we've looked at how to control the appearance of texture within our strokes; the next thing we'll take a look at is how to control the scale, and we'll look at that in the next movie.
- 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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