A Week of Brush Creation

I usually don’t like messing with the default brushes in Clip Studio Paint because they’re already so good, but every so often you come across a limitation with one of the stock brushes, like a fixed angle, that make you wish it performed just a bit more like the tools you’re more accustomed to. I’ve spent a great deal of time delving into Clip’s brush mechanics this past week, and after hours of tinkering, I arrived at five or six brushes I’m very pleased with.

One thing I realised in the process was that CSP’s brush engine is quite different from Procreate’s. I’m more of a sketcher and when I do paint it’s almost always in Procreate or with traditional watercolours, so I’d never really had cause to notice the differences when it comes to their painting engines. Procreate’s brushes have a much richer implementation of texture, but their blending properties are quite superficial: when you layer one oil paint stroke over another, it’ll mix alright, but it’s more of a flat, digital smear than a true build up of pigment. With the rendering engines in Clip Studio, Art Studio, and Paintstorm Studio, paint picks up on the colour of the paint below it, and blends more organically- like real paint. The same goes for Adobe Fresco’s live paint brushes, though those are so true life that they skimp on some of the advantages of working digitally, such as not needing to wait for paint to dry. Paintstorm is exceptionally fun, because it deploys this mechanism even if the colour underneath is on a separate layer.

But having said that, I find Art Studio’s interface a bit too Photoshop like for my liking, and Paintstorm unfortunately lags terribly with larger brush sizes. I’m already familiar with CSP, having used it for longer even than Procreate, so while it’s lacking on the texture front, I enjoy the way it handles colour and blending enough to do more painterly studies in it.

This is a quick study done after Rembrandt, to trial out the new brushes I’d spent hours obsessively tweaking. I always like to keep studies on a single layer, with minimal undo and blending so that I don’t overthink it. I’m especially interested in learning how to work with full, strong pigments and hard edges without resorting to blending, because the artists I admire all have a mastery over a range of softened and hard edges, and how to use them to define areas of focus.

The one thing I like about having just a few brushes is that while there is one for every purpose, it’s not too many that you spend more time hunting for the right brush for the job than actually drawing or painting. I think brushes and brush creation in general can be rabbit holes, and now that I’ve got a handful that I’m happy with, I definitely don’t want to spend any more time in brush settings. I’m not going to have as much time for personal work as I’ve hard for the past couple of months, but I’ll try and do painterly studies from masters at least once a week.

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