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Lessons:15Length:1.7 hours
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3.5 Mixer Brush Painting

Now, let’s combine the natural media bristle tip brushes with the amazing Mixer Brush Tool, and control it with a pressure-sensitive tablet! This powerful triple combo makes one of the most impressive features in all of Photoshop’s painting tools.

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3.5 Mixer Brush Painting

Hello everybody, welcome back to mastering the Wacom tablet in Photoshop. My name is Kirk Nelson. In this lesson we finish off chapter three, which is using the tablet in Photoshop. This is lesson 3.5, where we explore one of the best painting tools within the program. That's the mixer brush tool. The mixer brush tool is found hiding underneath the brush tool. So if you hold down on the brush, you get this fly out of tools, and the mixer brush tool is at the bottom of the list. Before we explore more of the properties of this tool, there's a couple of brush-specific functions that I wanna review. First of all, the brush size is an important thing that you'll find yourself changing frequently in Photoshop. Now this isn't unique to the mixer brush, it's to all of the brushes, but you will find you'll need to change the size of the brush quite a bit. The easiest way to do it, is with the touch ring. If you remember, we have the brush size set to the bottom right option of the touch ring. So with it on that, the brush size can be adjusted simply by running your finger around the ring. Or you can right click and use the pop-up brush panel to get the size adjustment there as well. And yet there's still another option. If you use your express keys to hold down the Alt button, and hold down the right mouse button, then you can drag left and right to adjust the size. Also note, you can drag up and down to adjust the hardness of the brush. This is what i find myself using the very most when it comes to adjusting my brushes, cuz it's very convenient for me to be able to adjust the softness, which they label as hardness, and the diameter, or the size all in one convenient place. Let's talk a little bit about setting colors for your paint in Photoshop. You know the foreground color is over here. You can click on it and get the Color Picker, and that's pretty handy. Or with the Mixer Brush Tool, you can use the Paint Chip that's at the top to also set the foreground color. Did you know that Photoshop actually has a color wheel that you can use? But it's really well hidden, and it's not very easy to get to. To get to it, first you have to hold down the Alt and the Shift, and the right mouse button at the same time. Now this isn't a color wheel, this is a pop up HUD color picker. You can choose the color saturation, or the hues, over here, and then choose the individual variations of that color in the larger box. But if we go to Edit > Preferences > General, the top here, the Color Picker, the HUD Color Picker, it's set to Hue Strip Small. Let's set this to Hue Wheel Medium. Now when we use that same combination, we get this color wheel, and I know there's a lot of artists who have been waiting a long time for Photoshop to implement a color wheel. Right now, that's about the closest you're going to get in the interface. You can always load the Kuler color extension but right now we're just gonna work with that. So we've set the size, we've set the color, how does this mixer brush work? We start playing with it, and it doesn't actually look like it's doing very much, which is a little bit odd you would think, and so maybe you've just gone on, and you've not really played with all this confusing settings that's up at the top here. Well let's try to sort things out a little bit. First of all, let's set this to Dry, Heavy Load. And let's pick a different brush preset. Let's use the Round Angle, Low Stiffness. All right, let's reduce that size just a little bit there. And now as you paint, look at that, it actually looks like a physical paintbrush laying paint down on a canvas. Now I do find the default settings for this brush is a little bit long, as far as the bristles. So I'm going to reduce the length of the bristles a little bit. It becomes a bit more controllable that way. Also note that I've got the load set to 100 and the flow also set to 100. And I've engaged both of these options here. This is Load color after each stroke, and Clean the brush after each stroke. This is really great for just laying down some regular color with this brush. All right? But now if we wanna start mixing things in a little bit, well let's change this to Wet Heavy Mix and change the color, maybe to a yellowish. And you start painting on here and you don't really see anything happen. Paint towards the edges, and you do see quite a bit happening. It's mixing in that white with the purple. That's because the wet setting would indicate that pixels that are on the screen, Photoshop is interpreting as wet paint. So, we're starting to mix those in. So, why aren't we seeing any of the yellow? Well,that's because the loads and the mixes are set not quite high enough in relation to the wetness. So, let's go back and say it's on Dry, Light Load. This is going to just lay down some of that yellow in there. Then we'll reset it to the wet, and start mixing things in. Now also note, because it's reloading the same color every time, it's not really going to change much of the way the brush works. So if we turn off these so that it's re-evaluating for each and every stroke exactly what color or what mix of paint is on the brush versus what's in the canvas, we get drastically different results. Now I will say this tool can be very difficult to control, just like an actual paint brush can be very difficult to control. Just get used to the way this feels and know that it's here. If you're looking for a means of actually accomplishing a true digital painting, this is a great way to go about it. I want to leave you with one of the best uses for this mixer brush tool. One that is very fun to do, it is not difficult, and it's a great exercise to get used to using both the tool and the tablet. I've got this pear image open. This is included in the course files. I've also got a blank layer set directly above it. I'm using that same round angle, low stiffness where I've reduced the length of the brush and I'm setting this to Wet, Heavy Mix. My clean brush is turned on, flows at about 25%, and it's critical that you engage the sample all layers button as well. And just begin painting over this pear very gently, very light and controlled strokes, and you'll notice the tool begins to pick up the colors of the pear and smudge them around, much as if you were actually painting this. But you know you're not, you're just kind of smudging it. But it's really a lot of fun and it's an excellent exercise, just to get you used to the feel of the brush and how to use the tablet as well. It's a very simple project and you can have some excellent rewarding re, results from this without too much practice or effort. That's one of the great things about this tool is that sort of simulates painting and it blends these colors together in a fantastic way. So here's the result that I ended up with. It looks like an authentically, expertly painted pear. When really, I'm just using the brush and the tablet to smear these colors around to make it look that way. I'm gonna encourage you to try this on a number of different subjects. Use a pear, because painters always use pears. Use a portrait, use a landscape. Get used to using this tool. You will find that it helps a lot with the way that you approach actual painting in the future. That brings lesson 3.5 to a close. It also finishes off the third chapter of this course. The next chapter, chapter number four, we do an actual drawing exercise, where we take a piece from sketch all the way to finish.

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