Painting in Photoshop

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The simulation of natural media is always a tricky prospect when working digitally. There are endless filters and niche applications out there that promise convincing results. However, quick fixes and prefab effects often result in disappointment. When painting digitally, the old saying, 'if you want something done right, do it yourself' comes to mind, and this is exactly what you'll learn to do in this chapter. Photoshop may not be the first application that you think of when you're setting out to paint. However, taking a closer look at what Photoshop has to offer in terms of paint tools will reveal that everything you need is there. Equally as valuable when it comes to painting, are all of the image compositing tools at your disposal. A successful painted result relies not only on actual brush strokes, but also on the way that the image is carefully constructed within Photoshop.

The Brushes palette is an excellent resource for crafting convincing and customized brush looks. Whether you want to simply tweak a preset brush tip, or create something entirely new to paint with, everything you need is there. Layers are invaluable tools when painting too, as they allow you to separate the applications of paint, giving you the flexibility to edit specific painted regions and colors without affecting the rest of your image. In addition to editing advantages, layers also allow you to easily and gently build up brush strokes within your file, resulting in a beautiful and authentic appearance.

The Brushes palette is a bottomless pit of options and flexibility when it comes to painting in Photoshop. There is a little something in there to suit any user or simulate almost any artistic style. In this chapter, rather than predictably going through every single feature within the brushes palette like a list, you will focus more on establishing a logical method of working, as well as explore the techniques involved in building up a realistic looking painted file.

When it comes to working, Photoshop nicely addresses the issue of translating your traditional tools from within the tactile realm into their digital counterparts. The swatches palette can be thought of as your artist's palette, allowing you to store all of the colors you're going to use. The tool preset picker is a fantastic place to store your brushes as you create them, allowing you to switch back and forth between your own custom tools instantly. When you decide to use Photoshop as your digital paint tool, you'll never run out of paint or canvas, you'll never misplace your favorite tool, and you'll never have to worry about cleaning your brushes at the end of the day.

1 I Open up the sketch.jpg file. Starting with a sketch is an essential part of the process when painting in the tactile realm, and working in Photoshop is no exception. The main difference here is that in this case the sketch is scanned rather than being drawn directly onto the canvas. Once you've opened up the sketch, select the brush tool. In the brushes palette, enable the smoothing option at the left. We're going to work with this option enabled for the entire chapter, because smoothing guarantees that your brush strokes contain nice, smooth curves. And that is an essential quality when you want your painting to look convincing.

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