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Painting with the Mixer Brush in Adobe Photoshop CS5

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This excerpt from Adobe Photoshop CS5 Classroom in a Book shows you how to customize brush settings, clean the brush, mix colors, create a custom brush preset, and use wet and dry brushes to blend color.

From the book

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Classroom in a Book

Adobe Photoshop CS5 Classroom in a Book

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Selecting brush settings

The image includes a palette and four tubes of color, which you’ll use to sample the colors you’re working with. You’ll change settings as you paint different colors, exploring brush tip settings and wetness options.

  1. Select the Zoom tool (zoom.jpg), and zoom in to see the tubes of paint.
  2. Select the Eyedropper tool (eye-droper-tool.jpg), and sample the red color from the red tube. The foreground color changes to red.
  3. Select the Mixer Brush tool (mixer_brush.jpg), hidden under the Brush tool (brush-tool.jpg).
  4. Choose Window > Brush to open the Brush panel. Select the first brush.

    The Brush panel contains brush presets and several options for customizing brushes.

  5. In the options bar, choose Dry from the pop-up menu of blending brush combinations.

    The effect of the brush is determined by the Wet, Load, and Mix fields in the options bar. Wet controls how much paint the brush picks up from the canvas. Load controls how much paint the brush holds when you begin painting (as with a physical brush, it runs out of paint as you paint with it). Mix controls the ratio of paint from the canvas and paint from the brush.

    You can change these settings separately. However, it’s faster to select a standard combination from the pop-up menu. When you select Dry, Wet is set to 0%, Load to 50%, and Mix is not applicable. With the Dry preset, you paint opaque color; you cannot mix colors on a dry canvas.

  6. Paint in the area above the red tube. Solid red appears. As you continue painting without releasing the mouse, the paint eventually fades and runs out.
  7. Sample the blue color from the blue tube of paint. You can use the Eyedropper tool or Alt-click (Windows) or Option-click (Mac OS) to sample the color. If you use the Eyedropper tool, return to the Mixer Brush tool after you sample the color.
  8. In the Brush panel, select the round fan-shaped brush. Choose Wet from the pop-up menu in the options bar.
  9. Paint above the blue tube. The paint mixes with the white background.
  10. Choose Dry from the menu in the options bar, and then paint again above the blue tube. A much darker, more opaque blue appears, and doesn’t mix with the white background.

The bristles from the fan brush you selected are much more apparent than the bristles you used originally. Changing bristle qualities makes a big difference in the texture you paint.

  1. In the Brush panel, decrease the number of bristles to 40%. Paint a little more with the blue brush to see the change in texture. The bristles are much more obvious in the stroke.
  2. Sample the yellow color from the yellow paint tube. In the Brush panel, select the flat-point brush with fewer bristles (the one to the right of the fan brush). Choose Dry from the menu in the options bar, and then paint in the area over the yellow paint tube.
  3. Choose Very Wet from the menu in the options bar, and then paint some more. Now the yellow mixes with the white background.
  4. Sample the green color from the green paint tube. Select the flat-angled brush (the fourth one after the fan brush). Increase its Thickness value to 80%. Then choose Moist from the menu in the options bar. Paint in the area above the green paint tube to mix the green with white. You can paint over the paint tube itself to mix the green with those colors.
4. Mixing colors | Next Section Previous Section