Dual brushes

Now we'll explore the dual brush function in the brushes palette, creating entirely new brushes from combinations of custom brush tips.

1 I Choose your first custom brush tip from the tool preset picker. Then, in the brushes palette, click on the Dual brush label at the left side of the palette to enable the dual brush function and access the settings.

2 I Choose your second custom brush tip from the tool preset picker. Enable the random brush flip option at the upper right and set the mode to multiply. Increase the spacing to about 20%, you'll notice that it looks like a chalk pastel stroke in the preview.

3 I Leave the opacity and flow at their current settings in the tool options bar and then add this new dual brush to the tool preset picker. Because it looks like a chalk pastel, go ahead and name it something appropriate.

Defining Brushes

When we created custom brushes from images previously, the images were black and white only. However, you can use a color or grayscale image as well. The advantage to using black and white is that you can get a good idea of how your resulting stroke will look from the image used to define the brush, Black areas will deposit paint and white areas will not. A grayscale brush tip will deposit paint according to the density of black it contains. Color images are converted to grayscale when you define brush tips from them.

15 I Now that you have added three new custom brushes and a new dual brush to the tool preset picker, use them to paint some rough strokes on this layer. Just because the presets contain embedded settings for opacity and flow, that doesn't mean that you can't change them each time you use them. Use a variety of colors, brush sizes, opacity and flow settings, to introduce some very real and tactile feeling brush strokes on the current layer. Again, ensure that you do not overdo it as these new brushes, which produce such distinct strokes, can visually overpower the softly blended background quite easily.

16 I When you're finished, target the top layer and then shift-click on the layer directly above the background layer in the layers palette. This will target all of your paint layers. Choose Layer>New>Group From Layers from the menu to add them to a group. Because we're going to start painting the other image components, this grouping of layers will help us keep things separate and organized. Create a new layer for the base color of the figures. In the brushes palette, choose one of the default chalk brush tip presets. Ensure that smoothing is enabled and in the brush tip shape section of the palette, reduce the spacing amount to 1.

Chapter 1

17 I In the tool options bar, set the opacity of the brush to 100 and set the flow to 50. Add this brush to the tool preset picker and name it 'base color' as we'll be using it to create a flat, colored base, for the figures and stars. Use this brush to add flat color on the new layer in all empty regions of the figures and the stars. Choose colors from the background via the eyedropper or select them from the swatches palette. Increase or decrease the size of the brush tip as necessary.

Brush size

When you have a brush selected, a quick way to increase or decrease the brush size incrementally is to use the square bracket keys on the keyboard. Press the ']' key to increase the diameter, or press the '[' key to decrease the diameter. This is a great method for adjusting size on the fly.

Importing brushes

The brushes used to create this chapter's painting are on the CD in the folder entitled chapter_01. You can load the brushes by choosing the load tool presets option from the tool preset picker's palette menu. Navigate to the aforementioned file and these brushes will become available in the tool preset.

18 I Create a new layer and select the chalk blender preset that you created earlier from the tool preset picker. As you did earlier with the background, blend the colors beneath this layer, together with the chalk blender preset on your new layer. Hold down alt(PC)/option(Mac) to quickly sample colors from the canvas and then paint with your newly sampled colors in the appropriate areas until sharp areas of color begin to blend together on this layer. Feel free to alter brush size and opacity as required. Also, feel free to add new areas of color on this layer to indicate the highlights and shadows.

19 I When you are finished adding colors and creating a blending effect on this layer, create a new layer and target it in the layers palette. Select your spatter brush preset from the tool preset picker. Now use the spatter brush to paint some light, yet rougher brush strokes over your recently blended areas on the new layer. Use colors sampled from the canvas or from the ever-growing amount of custom swatches in the swatches palette. Vary the brush size and opacity as needed. You probably want to leave the flow setting fairly low, so that the bristles remain pronounced in each stroke.

Brush opacity

When you are working with the brush tool, a quick way to alter the brush opacity is to simply use the number keys on the keyboard as you paint. Just type the opacity value you're after and it will automatically change in the tool options bar.

20 I Now use your three custom brushes as well as your dual brush to really add a sense of roughness to the figures and the stars by painting with them on the current layer. Vary size, color and opacity as needed. Also, if you feel like experimenting, yet are worried about making a mistake on your current layer, go ahead and create another layer to work on. This way, if you like the effect you can keep the layer. If you don't like it, you can always delete the layer or even reduce the opacity to lessen the effect.

21 I Now, the painting techniques that you've used so far are certainly successful in creating a realistic painterly effect. However, when painting digitally, no matter how convincing your brush strokes are, it is the smooth and perfect surface that ruins the authenticity you've tried so hard to achieve. In order to remedy this, it is often helpful to involve something genuine. Open up the painting.jpg file. This is a desktop scan, in grayscale, of a section of an oil-painted canvas. We're going to add this to our painted file to make use of the canvas texture and the cracked paint effect.

Saving tool presets

To save all of the tool presets that you've created from existing brushes as well as custom brushes you've defined from image files, launch the Preset Manager. Choose Tools from the preset type menu and click on one of your own brush tools, Hold down the shift key and click on the remaining brush tools you created. When they are all selected, click on the save set button to save them as a separate file on your hard drive. Loading the preset file later on is as simple as clicking the load button and navigating to your saved preset file.

22 I Use the move tool to click on the painting. jpg canvas and drag it into your working file as a new layer while holding down the shift key. Holding down the shift key ensures that it lands in your file in the proper position. Ensure that the new grayscale paint layer is at the top of the layers palette and change the blending mode of the layer to color burn. Reduce the opacity of the layer to 14% and you'll see that a surface texture effect is beginning to take shape as the colors on the underlying layers become darker and more saturated.

23 I Now duplicate your painting layer by dragging it onto the create a new layer button at the bottom of the layers palette. Change the blending mode of your duplicate layer to vivid light and increase the opacity to 35%. Finally, duplicate your current painting copy layer and then change the blending mode of the recently duplicated layer to soft light to intensify the surface texture effect within the image.

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