Home / Articles / Adobe Photoshop / Painting with the Mixer Brush in Adobe Photoshop CS5

Painting with the Mixer Brush in Adobe Photoshop CS5

Article Description

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.

Mixing colors with a photograph

Earlier, you mixed colors with a white background and with each other. Now, you’ll use a photograph as your canvas, adding colors and mixing them with each other and with the background colors to transform a photograph of a landscape into a watercolor.

  1. Choose File > Open. Double-click the 11Landscape_Start.jpg file in the Lesson11 folder to open it.
  2. Choose File > Save As. Rename the file 11Landscape_working.jpg, and click Save. Click OK in the JPEG Options dialog box.

You’ll paint the sky first. Start by setting up the color and selecting the brush.

  1. Click the Foreground color swatch in the Tools panel. Select a medium-light blue color (we chose R=185, G=204, B=228), and then click OK.
  2. Select the Mixer Brush tool (mixer_brush.jpg), if it isn’t already selected. Choose Dry from the pop-up menu in the options bar. Then select the Landscape brush from the Brush Presets panel.

Presets are saved on your system, so they’re available when you work with any image.

  1. Paint over the sky, moving in close to the trees. Because you’re using a dry brush, the paint isn’t mixing with the colors beneath it.
  2. Select a darker blue color (we used R=103, G=151, B=212), and add darker color at the top of the sky, still using the dry brush.
  3. Select a light blue color again, and choose Very Wet, Heavy Mix from the pop-up menu in the options bar. Use this brush to scrub diagonally across the sky, blending the two colors in with the background color. Paint in close to the trees, and smooth out the entire sky.

When you’re satisfied with the sky, move on to the grass and trees.

  1. Select a light green (we used R=92, G=157, B=13). Choose Dry from the pop-up menu in the options bar. Then, paint along the top section of the grass to highlight it.
  2. Sample a darker green from the grass itself. Choose Very Wet, Heavy Mix in the options bar. Then paint using diagonal strokes to blend the colors in the grass.
  3. Sample a light green, and then use a dry brush to highlight the lighter areas of the trees and the small tree in the middle of the landscape. Then select a dark green (we used R=26, G=79, B=34), and choose Very Wet, Heavy Mix in the options bar. Paint with the wet brush to mix together the colors in the trees.

So far, so good. The background trees and the brown grasses are all that remain to be painted.

  1. Select a bluer color for the background trees (we used R=65, G=91, B=116). Paint with a dry brush to add the blue at the top. Then choose Wet in the options bar, and paint to mix the blue into the trees.
  2. Sample a brown color from the tall grasses, and then select Very Wet, Heavy Mix in the options bar. Paint along the top of the tall grass with up-and-down strokes for the look of a field. Across the back area, behind the small center tree, paint back and forth to create smooth strokes.

Voilà! You’ve created a masterpiece with your paints and brushes, and there’s no mess to clean up.