Hand Painting Photo With Mixer Brush

Hand Painting Photo With Mixer Brush

Photoshop CS6 Tutorial


How to Hand Paint a Photograph with the Mixer Brush in Photoshop



With the addition of the Mixer Brush to Photoshop, there are numerous ways to create paintings that start with a photograph. The trick is to set up a series of layers, Underpainting, Intermediate and Detail. Fortunately, Photoshop includes an Action to do all the setup.

For your first painting you may want to start with a smaller file (1,500 pixels per side or less). Once you understand the process, your skills will easily transfer to larger works.


Step One

Open a source image in Photoshop (File > Open).

Step Two

If the image contains multiple layers or contains a transparency layer, flatten the image by choosing Flatten Image from the Layer panel pull-down menu. You should be left with a single layer called Background.

Step Three

With the Background layer selected in the Layers panel, open the Actions panel (Window > Actions) and click the action labeled Mixer Brush Cloning Paint Setup.

Step Four

To run the action, press the Play Selection icon at the bottom of the Actions panel. A dialog box appears reminding you to use Cloner Mixer Brushes and to disable Sample All Layers in the Mixer Brush option bar. Click Continue to run the action.

Step Five

The Layers panel now includes several new layers. The top layer is locked and is your reference image. Underpainting is used to paint your image base. More detail is added to the Intermediate layer and the final details are painted on the Detail layer.

Step Six

The Hue/Saturation layers are added to give you additional control of your painted layers.

Step Seven

Select the Mixer Brush tool and open the Tool Presets panel (Window > Tool Presets). Choose Artists' Brushes from the panel pull-down menu, then click OK to open the brush presets library. Make sure the mixer brush is not set to Sample All Layers from the previous instructions.

Step Eight

Lets get painting! Select the Fan - Flat Cloner brush and make sure the Underpainting layer is active. Adjust the brush size with the bracket keys ([ or ]).

Step Nine

Paint a series of large strokes on the Underpainting layer to create the base for your painting.

Step Ten

Once you are satisfied with the Underpainting layer, click the Intermediate layer, decrease the brush size and paint in the large details. There are several Cloner Brushes to choose from in the Tool Presets panel.

Step Eleven

Repeat the process for the Details layer with a smaller brush. To see the effect of each of the layers, you can temporarily turn off the visibility for the Reference layer or other painted layers.

Step Twelve

Once you have finished your painting, try adjusting the layer opacities and Hue/Saturation adjustment layers.

Time to Break the Rules

In addition to the Cloner Brushes, try using the Blender and Smeary Brushes to move the paint around.

Where is the Brush Opacity Adjustment?

The Mixer Brush doesn't include the familiar Opacity slider. To apply a thinner coat of paint, decrease the Flow setting.


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