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!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?
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. 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.
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!
Here are three more ways to make custom textured brushes (with settings changes, from pre-existing textures and creating "natural brushes"):
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 textureSome 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 Resources
Some brush sets you might find helpful for your new adventures in texture (remember to credit when you use them!): Art feature
To conclude this article, some great artworks showing wonderful and creative use of textured brushes: