Join Julieanne Kost for an in-depth discussion in this video The mixer brush, part of Photoshop CC 2018 Essential Training: Design.
- [Instructor] In addition to the regular paintbrush, Photoshop has the mixer brush which will allow us to mix or blend colors together in our images. So, I'm going to select the mixer brush and my mixer brush is located right here in the toolbar and that's because I'm in the painting workspace. If you're in the essentials workspace, the mixer brush is going to be nested with your paintbrush. Now to make sure that we're all starting in the same place, I'm going to right click on the mixer brush icon and choose to reset the tool.
I also want to be painting with white so I'll tap the X key in order to exchange my foreground and background colors. Now, there are three primary controls for the mixer brush. There's the wet, the load, and the mix. So, the wet is really the wetness of the canvas, whereas the load is the amount of paint that you have in the brush and the mix determines how much paint that's on the canvas gets mixed into the brush. So, the easiest thing to take a look at first would be the load.
So, I'm going to set the wet to zero percent and that automatically turns off the mix. So it's really not a mixer brush right now. It's just a paintbrush. And I'm going to decrease the load down to, I don't know, somewhere around 10 percent. So now when I start painting with white, you can see that I can paint for a while, but then it starts to run out of paint because I only have the load set to 10 percent. If we increase that to something like 50 percent, well then I can paint a lot further along in my document before my brush starts to run out of paint.
Alright, so that's what the load does. Now, let's change the wet value here. I'm going to increase it to maybe 10 percent. So I'm telling the mixer brush that the paper is just a little bit wet and for now I'll turn off the mix, so I'll set it to zero. Now, I'm going to use my right bracket keys in order to get a larger brush. And using the brush settings panel, I want to decrease the spacing of my brush down to one percent.
Then, I'm going to click and hold down the shift key and just start painting. And you can see that because I have increased the wet value, the mixer brush starts pulling some of this darker ink as I move the brush from left to right. As I increase the wetness value, maybe to 100 percent, well, now when I click and drag holding down the shift key, you can see that Photoshop can really pick up more from the wetness of the paper and it smears around the pixels more.
Alright let's change the wetness value back down to, let's say 50 percent. And let's increase the mix to 50 percent. So, now I'm telling Photoshop that yes the canvas is a little bit wet so it can smear the pixels, but I'm also going to mix in the colors that are underneath. So as I click and drag, we can see that there's a little bit more mixing going on. And in fact, if I move the mix all the way to 100, well now basically I'm saying ignore my foreground color of white because I'm going to mix at 100 percent so it's going to pull all of those dark values up.
So again with the shift key, as I click and drag, we don't see the white being loaded even though it's my foreground color. Alright, let's go ahead and decrease the mix back down to, say 50 percent. There's two other icons here that are really going to help and that's these two. The first one is the load icon. If I uncheck that, Photoshop won't load any paint into the brush. I'll go ahead and enable it again and let's just select a new color like yellow so that we can see what's going on.
So, with it loading, it's going to load the yellow. So as I start painting in this area, we can see that Photoshop is adding yellow. If I tell it not to load, then I just get a blank area here and well, I can still mix around the paint. I'm not adding anymore yellow. In fact, I'll just change my foreground color to red here just to show you that we're not adding any red. I can't add any paint because I'm not loading the brush with anything. So this might seem like an odd thing, but it's a great way to turn a photograph into a painting without adding any color and we'll look at that in just a moment.
But for now I'll tell it to go ahead and load. And now when I paint, I'm introducing that red. By default, the second icon is going to clean the brush every time I lay down a stroke. If I disable that, now when I paint, as I release the cursor over the black area, you can see that it's picked up a little bit of black. So as I start painting my next stroke, it would include that dark value. So it's just basically whether or not you want Photoshop to automatically clean the brush.
So, I'll leave that enabled. And then I'm going to disable the load value. So I'm just going to switch to this image of the coffee cup and I do want to choose a different brush because I want it to have a little bit more texture in it. So I have my legacy brushes loaded. If you don't, just use the flyout menu here and choose legacy brushes and that will allow me to access a brush under the default brushes. So I'll scroll down and it's actually the last one under the default brushes.
And it's called the rough round bristle brush. Now, it's a little small, so I'll use the right bracket in order to enlarge it and I don't want Photoshop to load anything, so make sure that's unchecked. I'll leave all of the other settings at 50 percent. And we can start in the background. Might be really hard to see on the video because it is such a dark value. So let's go ahead and move into the coffee cup and you can see as I paint, I'm getting this nice paintlerly stroke.
And I'll just do a few into the dark area, so you can see that I actually do have this nice texture. And now I'm going to undo that using command z and then going back in time and then I'll go ahead and paint in the same direction as the coffee cup. It won't be quite as noticeable, but I think it'll actually make for a better painting. So I can be a little bit, not careless, but a little bit loose in my strokes here in order to turn this photograph into a more abstract painting.
Two tips before we wrap up. If you want to load multiple colors into the brush, right now we're not loading any, so I'll enable that. If I hold down the option key and click in the image area, Photoshop will actually load the area that I option clicked on into that brush so I can load multiple colors. And if you're going to use this tool often, you should probably know that under the edit menu, if you come down to your keyboard shortcuts and you choose shortcuts for tools and we scroll down, near the very bottom you have the options here to set a custom keyboard shortcut to load the mixer brush or to clean the mixer brush.
You can also set keyboard shortcuts to toggle the auto load and auto clean. And you can toggle your mixer brush sample to all layers. So, those might be some helpful options that you could assign keyboard shortcuts to. There's two keys by default that don't have shortcuts. That would be the N key as well as the K key, so you could use either of those keys and you wouldn't have to swipe them from any of your other tools. Alright, so there you go.
A creative way to blend colors in an image, whether you're painting from scratch or turning a photograph into a painting.
Photoshop CC boasts tools and features for making tonal and color adjustments, applying effects and treatments to type and graphics, and distorting, filtering, and layering elements—all while maintaining the highest-quality output. In this course, Julieanne demonstrates how to efficiently perform common design tasks, including editing images, drawing shapes, and working with type and fonts. Along the way, she shares the secrets of nondestructive editing using Smart Objects, and helps you master features such as layers, filters, blending modes, typography, custom brushes, vector masks, and much more—increasing your productivity every step of the way.
- Working with Smart Objects
- Linked vs. embedded Smart Objects
- Creative transformations and warping
- Essential filters for designers
- Emulating traditional drawing techniques
- Working with shape and fill layers
- Pen tool basics
- Applying layer effects and styles
- Type essentials
- Creative brush techniques
- Working with libraries and artboards
- Exporting files and sharing images