How to Use Advanced Brush Settings in Affinity Photo
In this step by step tutorial discover how to use advanced brush settings in Affinity Photo
In today’s tutorial we will guide you through the advanced brush settings in Affinity Photo. Brushes can be fine tuned to create a specific effect for any type of project. You will learn how to use the different settings available and apply to any type of brush.
Open Affinity Photo and create a new document of any dimension. On the right hand side you will find the Brushes Panel. If you don’t see it, go to View > Studio > Brushes.
Under the Brushes panel you have a selection of Brush Categories. We have already selected a custom made brush.
It’s generally a good idea to make a copy of any brush that you edit. This is so the original brush can be preserved.
Right click the selected brush and choose Duplicate. This brush will appear at the bottom of the brush category you are in.
Double click on the brush to open the Brush Edit settings. Here you will get a preview of the brush as changes are made. Here you will get a preview of the brush as changes are made.
Size - this adjusts the size of the brush
Accumulation - while this is an odd name, all it does it adjust the Opacity of the brush
Hardness - this adjusts how hard or soft the edge of the brush is
Spacing - this setting spaces each brush stroke making the design more defined
Flow - the flow of color is gradually built up as you paint over and over
Shape - the shape is changed but will only work with basic shapes such as circles
Rotation - the brush is rotated
This is how our Intensity brush appears in the preview after a few edits.
At the bottom you have the following options.
Blend Mode - this is the mode applied when using the brush
Wet Edges - this creates a wet or dry edge to a brush, with the edge being darker
Associated Tool - with this option, you can add an associated icon e.g. a paint brush icon that will appear next to the brush under the Brush Panel
You can also Reset the brush settings or Duplicate the brush if you want to preserve the original.
Step 2 - Adjust Brush Dynamics
Brush Dynamics opens up a whole new level of editing options. This is where you can fine tune the brush to work exactly as you want. You will need to experiment with the settings to see what works for you.
The option on the right for each brush, set as Random by default, works with a graphics tablet. We won’t be going over every single setting but will point out a few to note.
The brush design size will change throughout the brush stroke.
This rotates the brush as you paint, which is visible in the preview. You do need to select the Direction option on the far right else the rotation will be at random. This works great for simulating direction brush strokes.
Scatter X and Scatter Y
This moves the brush design on the X and Y axis, or up and down and sideways. You can create a number of variations with these brush settings.
As you experiment further you will learn what works best for your brush style.
Step 3 - Add Texture and Sub Brushes
Click on the Texture Tab to open the options. Here you can add additional designs or texture to your brush. Select the texture by clicking on Add. To remove, select the texture then click Remove.
Base Texture allows you to add another texture to the brush itself. You can also scale the texture up or down. The Base Texture will affect how visible the brush is. So you may need to play around with the Opacity for a better result.
The Sub Brushes category allows you to add additional brushes. Click on Add Bitmap and add a PNG image in the same way as the Texture above. This will create a new brush.
Double clicking on this newly added brush will open the Brush Edit Settings. Not all options like Spacing will be available. However, you can edit this Sub Brush in the same way you edited the Intensity Brush.
Step 4 - Edit Brush With Top Toolbar
When you select the Paint Brush Tool, editing options become available on the top toolbar. We already know the first group of settings, Brush Width (brush size), Opacity (also called Accumulation), Flow and Hardness.
The More menu opens the Brush Edit Settings as an alternative option to double clicking on the brush.
Next to this is a circular icon with a brush. This handles the pressure when using a graphics tablet. The description says “Force pressure to control size. When disabled, size is controlled by brush defaults”.
If using a mouse this option should not be selected as it won’t do anything.
Stabilize the Brush Stroke
The Stabilizer helps to create smooth brush strokes. To better show this, we have selected a Basic brush.
The first option is Rope Mode where the brush stroke acts as if it is being pulled. When creating corners, the “rope” waits until it has been pulled to max length before painting again. The length can be adjusted short or longer. A longer length creates a smoother flow.
The second option is the Window Mode. This mode doesn’t pull or wait like the Rope Mode. Increasing the Window number creates a smoother flow.
The graphics below give a visual of how these two modes work.
Use the Symmetry Brush Option
Symmetry allows you to paint on several planes. Think along the lines of a Mandala. Depending on the amount of planes selected, the painting will be duplicated on the opposite side.
Click on the Paint Brush Tool then tick the box for Symmetry top toolbar. The Symmetry number is currently set to 1 and a single line will appear. Move your cursor off the document and over the line. It will change into a curved handle.
Now, click + drag to place the first Symmetry line where you want.
Add Symmetry Lines
You can now add additional symmetry lines that will be placed according to the first main line. Wherever you paint, the result will show on the opposite side.
Mirror and Lock Options
Ticking the box for Mirror will mirror the paint stroke across the symmetrical planes.
If you don't want to accidentally move the main symmetry line, tick the box for Lock. This will lock it into place and can only be moved once the box has been un-ticked.
Change the Brush Blend Mode
Did you know that you can adjust the blending mode of paint strokes? This adds to the creative options available. On the top toolbar, click on the Blend Mode drop down menu and select an option. In the image below, we experiment with four blending options.
As you can see, under the Layers Panel, the brush strokes are all on the same layer. The Blend Mode affects each brush stroke even though they are on the same layer.
Create Watercolor Effect with Wet Edges
You can use your paint brush to create a watercolor effect by ticking the box for Wet Edges. Much like the name implies, the brush will act like a wet brush where there is more color on the edge. This works very well for slowly building up your paint with a watercolor appearance.
In the image below, the only thing that was changed was ticking the Wet Edges box.
Protect Alpha Brush Setting
The Protect Alpha brush setting is a very handy option to have. If you decide you want to change the paint stroke, but it’s something like a splatter brush, then use this option.
Tick the box for Protect Alpha. For this example we used a Dry Media brush from the Brush Panel.
If we want to change the color of the brush stroke, first select the Paint Brush Tool. Now, select a new color from the Color Panel. If you try to paint anywhere on a blank area of the document, nothing will happen.
Instead, paint over the purple brush stroke. Depending on the brush used, you may need to brush over the area a few times. Just like that, the color has been changed and only the painted area is affected.
The advanced brush settings in Affinity Photo are an invaluable tool for editing. Always keep in mind to duplicate a brush if you intend editing the settings. Get creative and add more options to your brush library. There is no limit to the number of creative opportunities for brushes in Affinity Photo.
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