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Lessons:15Length:1.7 hours
Masterwacom
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3.4 Natural Media Bristle Tips

Photoshop’s standard brushes are extremely useful with a pressure-sensitive tablet, but the features certainly don’t end there! In this lesson we explore the brushes that feel even more like their real-world inspirations. These include the Bristle Tips, Erodible Tips, and Airbrush.

3.4 Natural Media Bristle Tips

Hello everyone, welcome back to mastering the Wacom tablet and Photoshop. My name is Kirk Nelson. This is lesson 3.4 on exploring the natural media brushes. When we refer to the natural media brush tips in Photoshop what we're referring to is the brush presets that react a little bit differently than the regular pressure sensitive brushes. In the Brush presets panel, you'll see they have a slightly different look to their icon. Some of them look like actual pencils, some of them look like airbrushes, and others look like actual paint brushes. This is different from the other, more standard Photoshop brushes, which are all just outlines of what the tip looks like as a stamp. So these natural media ones react much differently to the stylus. Let's begin with the first one, if you find the round point stiff. Now when you're first using it, it may not feel any different than what you're use to, but let's open up this little icon here, click on that, and it gives us a brush preview. And we can see that this is supposed to be more like an actual brush that responds to the tilt and the pressure of the stylus. If we increase the size a little bit, we can see a little bit more reaction there. So let's try one of the other ones, like the round fan stiff thin bristles. And you can see how that brush looks dramatically different from the one we were just using. So how does this work? Well if we open up the brush panel, we see a lot of different properties that's available to these bristle tips. First and foremost is the shape. Right now it's set to round fan, but there's several different types in here. My favorite is actually the round angle. So I'll increase the size of that a little bit, the percentage of bristles, the length, the thickness of the individual bristles, and the stiffness too. Now here's something really fun, if we reduce that stiffness, we can start to get some parts where it's like we're dragging that brush around. If you reduce it even more you can actually get it to splay out. So nice long bristles with low stiffness, low thickness, and even reduce the percentage of bristles, and that feels almost like you would expect an actual brush to react. Now imagine trying to create this type of line using the standard brushes, it would actually be really pretty difficult. So there's a good set of brushes in here and these don't feel exactly like authentic paint brushes but they're a lot closer than the other types of brushes that you'll find. Use this brush preview to understand where the tilt of your stylus is being responded to and also it shows when you actually make contact and what the profile of those bristles look like. This can just help you understand what to expect from the mark when you're painting. Now something fun about this preview is if you shift click on it, it changes to a more rendered preview, not particularly a useful feature, but kind of fun. The second type of natural media brush is the erodible tip. If we scroll down, we'll find some of these. This is what the pencil tips represent so the square charcoal. So if you use this, it actually feels like a piece of charcoal. And if you watch this tip here, it starts out very blunt and square, which is nice because if you can tilt it, you can draw with that corner edge, which is something that charcoal artists do all the time. But pay attention to that tip, look what happens as we continue drawing with it. It actually changes the way that tip looks. It has eroded down, you see so its no longer a blunt tip, but the side of it has been worn away by our drawing, which means the actual tip of it is a little bit sharper. This is a great way to achieve very realistic results from a drawing implement. So how do we go back to the way it originally was? If we open up the brush panel, there's this sharpened tip, right there, and that restores it. If you look at the shapes, there's all sorts of erodible tips in here. The one that's most obvious when it comes to the sharpening is the point. So if you use the erodible point. [BLANK_AUDIO] That wears down very quickly. See that. So it's no longer a nice, sharp tip, it's more squarish. And you can see how even the slightest brush stroke creates a much wider, and softer mark than originally when we had a very fine tip on it. So here's the thing with these erodible tips. It's not necessarily convenient to go in here and press the Sharpen Tip button every time you want to sharpen it. Now, I know in the real world it's not convenient either to have to pull out a sharpening knife or use a sharpener to restore the tip on your charcoal pencil. But this is digital, we can get away with things that are a little bit easier here. Here's what I like to do, go to edit, scroll down to the keyboard shortcuts. I'm going to create the keyboard shortcuts for the tools, scroll to the bottom of the tools, there's a sharpen erodible tips. So we can map this to an actual key. The problem with creating custom shortcuts is that all the good ones are already taken. So you actually have to replace a tool that already has a shortcut with your new one. I choose to use the Y key, and we get the warning, the shortcut Y is already in use and will be removed from history brush tool and art history brush tool if accepted. Now I never use the history brush tool or the art history brush tool. In fact, that's how I remember what the short cut is for it, because it's why do we have these tools. I remap it to the Y simply because it's available to me because I don't use it. But here's the great thing, remember our radial menu? Lets go back to the tablet properties, and go to those functions, in the radial menu, right now that welcome tablet properties is in that northwest corner, let's change that to keystroke and the keystroke is going to be Y. Here's the labeled, sharpened tip. We'll close that. Now, as we use that radial menu, it sharpens the tip of our erodible tip pencil. One more natural media tip, and that is the airbrush tip. Let's pick say the watercolor wash, and we'll change it to a color so that we're not spraying black. Now the tip is clearly much different for this type of brush. And as we start painting with it, it looks like it's a spray of paint, but here's the really great thing about these brushes, is the tilt, makes a huge difference. So let's try the air brush soft low density grainy. Look at the difference that the tilt makes on that brush. It actually feels like it's spraying hard from the one edge, but it's been spraying out across the canvas with the other edge. Now I will say, this doesn't feel like an authentic air brush. If you've actually done any airbrush work in the past, you know that pressing that button is a significant part of painting with that tool. This feels a little bit different because you're actually pressing down on the canvas to paint. So, if you actually use the airbrush a lot, I would almost recommend remapping that rocker button to be a click. That way you could make it feel like an authentic airbrush. The other difference is that as great as the sensitivity on the tablet is, it doesn't have much sensitivity for the distance your tool is from the surface of the tablet. And again, that's something that airbrush artists use all the time. If you want a much larger, broader spray, you just pull it back from the canvas. You can't really do that with these. So while these are helpful to know that they're here, they're not the most useful of the different natural media tips. That's it for lesson 3.4 on exploring the natural media brushes. Next lesson, lesson 3.5, we dig into how to apply some of these tips and the things we've learned here to one of the best painting tools in the program, and that's the mixer brush.

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