Making Customized Brushes in PI

Software used: Ulead PhotoImpact v8
Author: JenT
License: Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 3.0

Subtitled: JenT’s Retouch Tool-Bristle Smear Splatter Brush

The inspiration for this tutorial was sharing my customized Bristle Smear Splatter Brush on the new PIRC Forum and getting loads of questions on how it was made.

This tutorial assumes that you are using a Drawing Tablet such as a Wacom or other tablet. If you don’t have one, some of the settings mentioned below will not be available to you. Nevertheless, you will be able to make and use a customized brush and save it to your EP. My brush was made in PI v8, but this is probably workable in any version of PI as the Painting and Retouch Tools haven’t really changed in newer versions even if the location of buttons have moved around a bit on the toolbar.

The process of creating a customized Retouch Tool brush is essentially the same as creating a customized Paint Tool, the difference being whereas the Paint Tools create their own color, texture, etc., the Retouch Tools change what already exists on the canvas. So let’s give our Bristle Smear brush something to work on.

bristlesmeartut001-jentOpen a new canvas 500×500 pixels in PI’s workspace. For our example let’s use this fill from the EZPalette Fill Gallery>Gradient. If you don’t have this fill, just pick something similar to work on. There should be a definite contrast between the areas. Once you fill your canvas with your gradient, you can close the EP for now.

bristlesmeartut002-jentNext, open PI’s Retouch Tool>Bristle Smear brush (1) and change the Preset to “Coarse Smear” from the drop down menu (2). As we are going to be changing this Preset, open the Brush Panel if it is not already open by clicking on the Panel button (3). Notice that if you don’t have a Drawing Tablet, the “Tablet” button on the Attribute Bar is grayed out. That’s OK. If you have a Drawing Tablet, this button will be active.

Let’s start making some changes to the Coarse Smear Preset. Try out the changes to the brush on your canvas as we go along so you can see how these changes affect the brush.

bristlesmeartut003-jentSince we want our splatter brush to cover a wide area, on the Brush Panel’s Shape Tab, change the Size of the width and height from 45 pixels to 120 pixels. (If your PI is v7 or earlier, the largest brush you can create is 100 pixels.) The Bristle Smear brush by default has a fixed equal height/width measurement and can’t be changed.

Next, change the Random setting from 33 to 40. Random “creates a random size variation among the bristles of the selected brush. The higher the value the more the sizes of the bristles vary.” (Quoted from the PI Bristle Smear Brush Panel Help file, which is surprisingly quite helpful. If you want more detailed information on the various settings, open PI’s Help file and refer to it while you are doing this tut.)

Soft Edge will be grayed out since the Bristle Smear tool doesn’t allow a soft edge.

Change the Brush Head Size from 20 to 6 and the Density from 70 to 20. We want smaller and fewer bristles in our brush.

Now, let’s click on the Brush Panel’s Options Tab. The settings for Smear (100), Transparency (100) and Wet/Dry (Dry) should stay the same for our brush, though feel free to change these settings and try them out on your canvas.

Finally, click on the Advanced Tab. Here’s where using a Drawing Tablet makes a difference. If you don’t have a Tablet, the only option you will have on this tab is Spacing, which you should change from 30 to 70 to make the centers of the bristles more spread out.

If you are using a Drawing Tablet, in addition to the above, change Pressure Options to Size and leave Delta at 90 and Step at 10. These last settings further control how the Pressure Options settings are applied.

bristlesmeartut004-jentHere you can see the progression from PI’s Bristle Smear’s Coarse Smear Preset to our customized Bristle Smear Brush.

bristlesmeartut-005bSo now that you have made a customized Brush, save it to your EP for use on future projects. You can do this by clicking on the “Add” button in PI’s Attribute Toolbar and telling PI where to save the Brush in your East Palette. PI by default will create a thumbnail for the EP from whatever image you are currently working on. I personally like to make a new thumbnail, but whatever you choose to do, make sure to save your new Brush!Save to your EP

If you have any questions or problems, please use the contact form on my *About page. I’m always happy to help.

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