CEZ – 02

Digitalising sketches, etc.

If we want wo work with analogue sketches, brush strokes, textures, patterns that where photographed or scanned there a few things to consider.

We want to be able to:

  • recolour parts of our image
  • make white parts transparent so we can layer it
  • get rid of unwanted bits and dark blotches
  • use our sketch as a brush tip

We’ll be using the Curves Adjustment quite a bit. Here’s some detailed info on it:

Example: Sketch with very light paper background

Example: Sketchbook with darker pages

Example: Watercolor


1. Choose an images from the base folder “sketches-brush-tips” or your own sketch and recolour it using the above technique.
2. Choose at least two of the images from the same folder or your own and recolour it to black and white and create a brush tip from it.
3. Paint with single clicks of your brush in your recoloured sketch file using separate Layers and create a collage.

To practice try this with a few different images.
Upload at least one “collage” to the padlet.

BONUS: Here is my collection of brushes that I created for and that I’ll use in this CEZ classes. Download and use them for you projects if you’d like.


More brushy things

The Smudge Tool

The smudge tool takes the pixels in the form of your brush tip shape from where you click first and then, depending on your settings, applies them along where you paint.

With a round brush and 100% Strength and Hardness it will create a repeating “noodle” of where you first clicked. Thats a nice effect, but not really helping with the blending.

Reduce the Strength and add some Angle Jitter and a little Scattering and things become interesting.

You can either work in the layer you want to smudge or in a new one with Sampling All Layers turned on.

Finger Painting adds a dash of your Foreground Colour every time you start to paint.

The Mixer Brush

The Mixer brush is similar to the Smudge Tool in that it let’s you mix colors and pixels.

If you turn on Clean the brush after each stroke in the top Bar, the Mixer Brush does not add color and only mixes the pixels that are already there, depending on the amount you set for Wet and Flow. The higher the Wet amount the more it smudges around. The lower Flow is, the softer it blends your colors. Load and Mix will have no effects.

Turn off Clean after each brush stroke and you’ll be able to load colour. To load your brush, Option-click the canvas. Or, choose a foreground color. The brush tip reflects any pixels in the sampled area. So you can brush with more than one colour at a time. If you prefer brush tips of uniform color, select Load Solid Colors Only from the Current Brush Load pop-up menu in the options bar.

  • Wet defines how much off the colour already existing gets picket up by brushing over. Higher values produce longer paint streaks.
  • Load specifies the amount of paint loaded in the reservoir. At low load rates, paint strokes dry out more quickly. This is more true with 0% Wet
  • Mix sets how much the loaded color will mix with the color already on the “paper”
  • Flow is the same as with the regular brush → lower Flow means less color at once and softer brushing.

I recommend trying out different Brushes in the “Real Oils” Folder in Adobes Megapack Brushes Collection.

You can either work in one layer or mix Colours from all Layers by selecting Sample All Layers.

Painting and Drawing in PS –
different Approaches

All those fancy brushes. They can be very useful and we might use them for our own stylistic purposes or to save time, but remember – by themselves they won’t make us better artists.

Knowing all about the tools is one thing but knowing and practicing how to actually draw and paint is the other. So before we start this week I invite you to have a look at Bobby Chiu painting a monkey in 2 hours (the video is only 14 min.) with the default brush only. Also there’s some really nice tips in this video.

In this portrait rendering tutorial you can follow along Christophe Y. in real time, how he paints a portratit. He also shares a lot of great tips and techniques. So deffinetly worth watching the whole thing.

Having said that, in this weeks class we’ll have a look at examples of how to draw, paint and construct in Photoshop. There’s probably a hundred different approaches to one goal and as you’ll work more with PS you’ll find your own preferences. Nevertheless there are a few different ways to achieve certain goals I want to present to you.

Layered – Elements, Color, Light and Shadow separate

In this example we’ll create a painting of this little old TV set. We’ll use Layers, Clipping Masks, Selections and Smart Objects. The aim is to be able to stay flexible with all the elements, colours, positions, etc. This comes in very handy if we work for clients or in a team and want to be able to try out different versions.


Use the TV-starter.psd File from the base Folder Class-02 or download here and work along with the Videos.

Base Colours

Shading with separate layers

Adding Details using existing Layers

Elements with geometric selections

Smart Objects for more flexibility

Painting in the fine Details and Shadow

Working on less Layers and/or with more color mixing and more painterly

Keeping everything in separate Layers might have some advantages but sometimes you want to work more like with real paint and on only a few layers. This is where different ways of blending and mixing colours become very useful.

Colour Sampling

If you use low Flow and lower Opacity you can easily mix colours even with the Default Brush Tool and 100% Hardness by Sampling colours on the go with Option + click and continue painting.

Home Work

Create a Circle in any colour you like.

1) In the same layer with transparency locked : very roughly apply colours for lights and shadow. Use cool colours for shadows and warm ones for lights (or opposite).

2) Copy this layer, move to the side and then blend with a Brush, set to 100% Hardness, lower Flow (maybe also lower Opacity) and a lot of Pressure Sensitivity in the Transfer. Sampling Colours with Option + clicking.

3) Copy once more, change to the Mixer Brush or the Smudge tool and blend more.

Save a jpg into your Home-Assignments Folder.