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Submitted on
April 4, 2013
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PE: Textured brushes

Thu Apr 4, 2013, 6:44 AM

This article is an introduction to textured brushes in digital art painting. I'll cover making your own brushes as well as the use of textured brushes. You'll also find some great art and brush sets at the end of this article. This is my first time writing for projecteducate, so I hope you'll find this helpful!

:bulletblue:Textured brush vs. texture
First of all, what is a textured brush? And why should you bother with it when you can just slap a nice texture over your painting to make it look more interesting?

marble texture by Riemea 

Textured brush:

custom textured brush by Riemea

Alright, let's start at the beginning. "Textured brush" is a brush created out of a texture, so basically a texture in brush-form. Whether it's made with help of a pre-existing image (see texture above) or some wild scribbling on your tablet (like the example brush above) doesn't matter. Texture + select + define brush = textured brush! More on how that process works later.
So, why bother with textured brushes in the first place? Some thoughts on the matter:

1) Searching for the right texture
    Using a texture means you have to search for it first. Whether you have photographed your own or depend on the resources others provide you have to search for the right one. To find the one image that doesn't make your character's face look like sandpaper when you don't intend it to can be harder than you might think. Using someone else's textures (or brushes for that matter) leads us to the next problem.

2) The credit problem
    Unless you made the texture or textured brushes yourself you always have to credit the artist who made them! Even if they explicitely state that you don't have to I think it's only fair to do so. You're honouring their effort this way, and more people might get to know about the resources you thought helpful enough to use them to create your artwork.
Another thing is that you can't just use someone's random photo of the sky. If they haven't labelled their photo as stock you'd also have to ask their permission to use it first (everything else would be stealing).

3) Improving your artistic skills
    When painting, say, a desert, simply painting a sea of yellow and brown, and using texture of sand to make it look like sand, is the easy way out. That way, you might learn something about (Photoshop) filters and blending modes, but not how to draw a desert. Because you didn't draw it, you substituted drawing with slapping a photo over your image. It's not that using a textured brush would be that hard either, it's just a brush after all, only one that can create amazing effects! It's fun and you can achieve the effects you want much easier, because you have direct control over it.   

:bulletblue:Creation of custom textured brushes
Since making your own fancy custom texture brushes is way more fun than simply using presets or someone else's, here are 3 easy steps that will lead to your shiny new brush:

1) Open a new canvas (in whatever programm you use, I use Photoshop CS2 (German version)). You can simply use the standard settings.                                         

2) Open a new layer (transparency is important for this whole endeavor). Take your super plain standard round brush and scribble away! Combine dots, straight lines and random wavy lines, and try to keep the whole mess vaguely brush-shaped.

Textured Brushes Tut Screencap4 by Riemea

3) Use your favourite selection tool to select your scribble and open the 'Edit' menu. Choose 'Define Brush' next. A window should open where you can name your new brush. And that's it! You can now select your shiny new brush and experiment with the settings; go crazy and have fun with it!

Textured Brushes PE article image 2 by Riemea

Here are three more ways to make custom textured brushes (with settings changes, from pre-existing textures and creating "natural brushes"):
:Textured Brush Tutorial: by RezwanaDimech    Texture 222 - Step by Step by Sirius-sdz    Making Natural Brushes for PS by Duffzilla

In case you caught the brush-making-fever: Here are some brushes you could try making, as well as examples on what they could look like (made by yours truly):
    1. Great brush for soft shading and blending
    2. Nice brush for traditional looking lines
    3. Good brush for skin texture

Textured Brushes Tut Screencap7 by Riemea

:bulletblue:Some guidelines on using textured brushes
That's all well and good you might think, but what about using those fancy brushes now? I have a set of 20 super-mega-awesome brushes, so I'll just go and use as many of them as possible in my next painting, right? Wrong.

Part of the magic is knowing (pretending to know) which brush to use for what, so that you don't overdo it. But how should I know that?? Simple answer: Experiment. Let's take the brushes I have up there as examples. How could I know the third one would be good for adding texture to skin? Well, I tried it out. I played with the settings a bit, tried to use it on hair, skin, clothes, background, basically everything. What I found out was, that brushes with such shape - let's call them "speckled brushes" - are helpful for painting skin and hair. Clothes and outlines not so much, at least not in my stlye. And that's why experimenting with your own brushes on your own pictures is so important. I for example love that brush #1 up there, but you might find it completely useless. How would you know? Well, not through staring at it in front of your computer.

And when you finally finished going through that list of 20 brushes you had in the beginning you might find yourself with only 6 left. And that's good, because that means a) a pretty managable and extensible list of brushes and b) you're less likely to overload your painting with texture, since you already have some experience with your new brushes and can guess where to use them best. And you hopefully had lots of fun with creating these brushes and trying them out ;)

Some brush sets you might find helpful for your new adventures in texture (remember to credit when you use them!):

     Tones Brush Set No.1 by tonyhurst   Texture Brushes by AlectorFencer   Texture Brushes by blindthistle  Hannes' Brushes by algenpfleger   <da:thumb id="276107668"/>     
  23 Free PSD Brushes by Marcianek   Texture Brush Set by Stalcry   Skin Texture Photoshop Brushes by KeepWaiting

Art feature
To conclude this article, some great artworks showing wonderful and creative use of textured brushes:

 Bright Lights #2 by JazzySatinDoll Enji Videl by agnidevi Cupid's capture by Dawn-Of-Anarchy
Morning by Algalad
detail by janaschi Embers by jeffsimpsonkh
Jin-e by Papaya-Style Landscape by HughEbdy 
Red Knight by fluxen Do You Hear the People Sing? by alicexz
Dance with the wind by elbardo  

An article about textured brushes in digital art painting. This is the first time I wrote something for #projecteducate, so I hope this is alright and helpful for some of you!
Add a Comment:
Windklang Featured By Owner Jun 24, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I will definitely get through this tutorial very closely when I come closer to digital drawing. At the moment I am running back to traditional since I feel hopless with the computer-mouse - I need a pad first, and cannot afford it right now... :D
Thank you for writing this: good success on your first article :D
Riemea Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
All the best with your future art endeavors!
Thank you! I'm glad if the article is helpful. :)
Windklang Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thaaaaank you :D
It was :)
Riemea Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome.^^
Windklang Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Hihi :) didn't realise in the chat before, that it was you :) ;)
Until next time then :)
Riemea Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I didn't realise it was you either. :D
Until next time. :nod:
Windklang Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
is it regularly? and is it always only announced 30 minutes before?
Riemea Featured By Owner Jun 29, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I don't think it's regularly. There are different weeks at projecteducate and only chat events in some. Like in this week's Community Week, and I think there was a chat event in the las Traditional Art Week, too. There's always a journal posted at the beginning of the week to give an overview over the coming articles and activities. Chat events are announced there, too. They just put that poll up to remind people of it. ^^
(1 Reply)
elbardo Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2013   Digital Artist
Thank you so much for the feature! ;)
Riemea Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
You're very welcome :hug:
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