Saturday, 5 October 2019

Digital Painting: only one Brush Required - I use three, maybe four...

When I started digital painting I was always hunting for the best brushes to create my images. I regularly got stuck in the loop of brush hunting instead of actually painting or blaming the poor results on not having the exact brush that would solve all my problems. Well, my painting problems anyway.

There are artists who sell brushes, artists who give away brushes and those that don't share. I downloaded way too many and was always disappointed. I studied many art books looking at brush settings and brush sources. While I looked for that magic solution in these books I missed phases like 'I use the basic round brush' or 'You can do this all with a basic round brush' .

Well, the truth is: You can do it all with the basic round brush with opacity controlled by pen pressure. Fancy brushes can speed up the process, but the basic brush will do the job.

This year I set myself the task of using one brush so I could focus on creation. I do weaken and use three. They are: a simple size brush for sketching, a basic opacity brush and a simple blending brush. Sometimes, just sometimes one with a bit of texture, which makes four, but I found wasn't as effective as working on edges and blends with the opacity and blending brushes.

Below are links to the two artists that made me finally stop hunting for the 'right' brush and use the default one. I will, and have, created brushes none of them are worth sharing or using for that matter.

I will probably use other brushes when I better understand what I need, but for now and probably for the foreseeable future I will keep my tool set simple.

And finally the image above was created as follows:

  • Line work was created with Basic-5 Size
  • Background was with Basic-2 Opacity
  • Then modelling and finishing used Basic-2 Opacity and Blender Basic.
  • The only reason the picture doesn't look better is my skill not the tools I use.

Basic-5 Size Brush - Sketching and refining line work.

Basic-2 Opacity working and reworking edges
Further work with Basic-2 Opacity brush
Flat colour added for the figure.
Finished Picture

Useful Links

The Best Brush for Digital Painting (Beginners) - Sinix Design YouTube video on basic brushes
Best Realistic Digital Brush. Beginner & Pro - Boro Drawing YouTube video

Update: here's another video showing why you shouldn't obsess over a what brush you're using:
Can you get good brushwork with only the round brush?- Marco Bucci's video over using a single brush. - Krita the digital painting tool I use and love. They have lots of great brushes and can read Photoshop ones too, though I'm still recommending keeping to only a handful.