Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Photoshop Brushes: Brush Panel

In my previous posts, I covered the Brush Presets, which are a permanent library of Brushes. The Brush Panel gives the digital painter ways to temporarily modify the Presets. Of course, if you find a good combination of Brush and settings, you can save the Brush into your Preset library (hit the New Brush icon on the Brush Panel; it's the graphic of the page with the corner turned up, bottom righthand corner). In this post I'm going to highlight some of the features on the Brush Panel.

To get started, choose a Brush (hit the "B" key) and open up the Brush Panel (F5).

The top button ("Brush Presets") is yet another way to access the Photoshop Brush library.

Click "Brush Tip Shape." Here you can adjust size and angle, but also check out "Spacing."Move the slider to the right and you can see how Photoshop's Brush Engine works: It's taking a shape and repeating that shape to create the effect of a brush stroke. The Bristle Brushes, introduced in CS5, actually track individual bristles, which is why the Bristle Brushes are a great feature for us painters.

Open up the Spacing to see how the brush stroke 
is generated. I usually leave the spacing all the
way to the left for actual painting.
(Click any image to enlarge).

Now click on "Shape Dynamics." If you're using a pressure-sensitive tablet (like a Wacom), make sure to select "Pen Pressure." I have to admit that I often paint with my Wacom Intuos4 and turn off the pressure sensitivity. However, if I'm drawing a line in Photoshop or touching up a pencil drawing, then I'll turn on the "Pen Pressure."

The "Scattering" option, the next one under "Shape Dynamics," breaks up the otherwise smooth flow of the shapes in the brush stroke. Adding a little Scattering can give the effect of drawing on a slightly textured surface. If you add in some pressure-sensitivity, then you have a line with some character!

Select "Pen Pressure" (under Shape Dynamics) to
take advantage of  pressure sensitive tablets. Notice
the slightly bumpy line in the Brush Preview
(bottom of the Panel) that you can get by adding
a little Scattering.

The "Texture" controls (see graphic below) are very important in creating custom Brushes and making your digital work look textured and organic. So important, in fact, that I covered this feature in more detail in a previous blog post.

The Texture feature.

There are some decent textures in the Photoshop library, but I tend to make my own (which I also covered in the "Adding Texture to a Brush" post). For one thing, I don't think that the Photoshop preset textures tile well; the swatches are too small. However, you should still load and try out some of them (see below):

The Texture Library. Check them out, and
remember to try different settings, especially 
for Invert, Texture Each Tip, and Mode.

The "Dual Brush" option can be magical. It allows you to mix the effects of your current Brush with an additional Brush, which can give you interesting and unexpected results. Some of Photoshop's most interesting default Brushes use this feature. I've noticed that adding a Dual Brush effect can cause the texture in a Brush to scale up, which I like because it gives you another way to vary your texture. 

The Dual Brush feature. Notice that Bristle Brushes 
don't work here because they're driven by a different
Brush engine. Definitely play around with some of the
options here (look at the cool Brush that I just created
in the Preview area). When you find a combo that you
like, make sure to click the "New Brush" icon (I've circled
it above) in the bottom righthand corner.

As a footnote, I'd like to show the difference between Brush Opacity and Flow in the screen shot below. The top stroke is 50% Opacity, which is a solid stroke of 50% of the foreground color (which in this case is black). The bottom stroke is at 50% Flow. You can see that Flow affects the rate of this repeating shape. I talk about the Spacing (and that repeating shape) in the first part of this post. I usually leave Flow alone and just adjust Opacity.

The top shows 50% Opacity, the bottom shows 50% Flow.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Photoshop CS6 Brushes: Part1A

 Part 1A: Additional Brush Presets
In the first post about Brushes I showed samples of strokes from the default set. The following images are from three additional collections: Dry Media and Natural Brushes. You can access them by choosing a Brush (hit the "B" key), then by right-clicking, button-clicking (stylus), control-clicking, or go up to the Menu (see first graphic below).

As you can see from the list, there are a bunch of collections to explore. Check out the "Rubber Ducky" Brush under "Special Effects." They call it "Ducks Not in a Row." I use it all the time. OK, never, except in demos.

When you select another collection, choose "Append" so that the collection will show up at the end of your current list. Otherwise, the new collection will replace your current Brush collection, which you usually don't want to do. I'll cover managing Brushes in Part 3.

These are the three collections that I'll show below.
Click any image to enlarge.
Dry Media. I've highlighted some 
good textured Brushes.
Natural Brushes 2. In my opinion these suffer from
Photoshop's odd "Spacing" issue, and they look fake.
I'll cover that when we get to the Brush Panel in Part 2.
The "Watercolor" options from this collection are
Natural Brushes. I use the ones that I circled to create Brush strokes. 
Give them a try; you can create some cool effects.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Photoshop CS6 Brushes: Part 1

Part 1: the Brush Library
Understanding Brushes is a vital part of using Photoshop for digital illustration. I'm going to cover Brushes in three main parts: the Brush Library, the Brush Panel, and customizing Brushes (creating your own, saving them, organizing them, and setting up your Tool Presets).

The Brush Library is a permanent collection of Brushes. They stay the same between Photoshop sessions. Photoshop CS5 added some great new Brushes to the arsenal, including the Bristle Brushes and the Mixer Brush, which I plan to cover in a subsequent post. CS6 includes those types of Brushes and adds some useful new ones that have a more natural feel.

To get started, choose the Brush (hit the "B" key), then right-click or button-click with the stylus if you're using a pressure-sensitive tablet (which you should). That will bring up the Brush Library. Or you can go all the way up to the Menu and click on the Brush Presets drop-down. Power-Users use the button-click method, by the way.

Here's the Brush Presets Panel:
A: Menu drop-down
B: Brush fly-Out
C: Different views for the Brush Presets
D: Different collections that you can (and should) explore
(Click any of these images to enlarge)

You should take some time to explore the default set of Brushes. You can use several different views for the Brush Presets (see C above). I use the Small List view for the most part. The Stroke Thumbnail view (shown above) will give you an idea about what the Brush looks like when you use it, but it won't give you the name.

The images below show the Default Brushes in List view, and I have made some sample strokes (starting after the utilitarian and boring soft and hard varieties) to give you an example of what they do.

First section of the Brush Presets. The Bristle Brushes,
Charcoal, and Watercolor varieties start to get very interesting!

Lots of interesting ones here, too. I like to use the
"Airbrush/Grainy" Brushes for texture. You can get a
lot of variety with a stylus and these Airbrush variants.

I implore you, please avoid the Grass and Leaf Brushes. 
Stay away from those Star Brushes while you're at it.
But look at those wonderful Brushes at the bottom of
this section! You could use the "Chalk 36 Pixel"
Brush by itself and create a rich, interesting illustration.

So get started exploring the default Brush collection. And remember that you can get a wide range of effects by layering, adjusting Opacity and Flow, and using a stylus and tablet with Pen Pressure enabled.

I'll do another post (Part 1A) about the additional libraries, like "Dry Media" and "Natural."

Go to Part 1A