Mixer Brush

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The Mixer Brush is one of the exciting new features in Photoshop CS 5.   If you ever wanted to turn a picture into a painting and didn't like the results from the Art History Brush and didn't want to buy Corel Painter then this new tool is absolutely what you are looking for.

According to the Adobe help files ...

"The Mixer Brush simulates real painting techniques such as mixing colors on the canvas, combining colors on a brush, and varying wetness across a stroke.  The Mixer Brush has two paint wells, a reservoir and a pickup.  The reservoir stores the final color deposited onto the canvas and has more paint capacity.  The pickup well receives paint only from the canvas;  its content are continually mixed with the canvas colors."

This may sound really confusing until you try it.

Let's take a look at the options available with the Mixer Brush ...


mixer brushThe Mixer Brush lives with the normal Photoshop brush tool.

To access it just click on the little triangle in the bottom right corner of the brush tool on the tool bar.

When the brush loads the option bar changes with a variety of different adjustments.

The option bar is broken into 3 parts for ease of discussion.

mixer brush

From left to right -
  • The brush
  • The brush tip shape
  • Quick access to the Brush Palette
  • The current brush load (in this case, green).
  • The fifth icon, when selected, loads the brush with the color in the brush load after each stroke.
  • The last icon, when selected, cleans the brush after each stroke.

mixer brush

mixer brush

The drop down list shows the different brushes available using the selected brush tip shape. There are twelve of them plus a custom brush.

These are the different types of brushes available arranged into four categories (Dry, Moist, Wet and Very Wet).

A Setting of 100% Wet will pick up all of the color from the image if you are doing a photo painting.  As this number is lowered less color is picked up

mixer brush

The Mix is an interesting setting.  At 100%, all of the color from the image (in photo painting) is picked up from the image.  As the Mix is lowered, more and more of the color from the foreground color is added to the paint.

The foreground color is selected by Alt-clicking anywhere on the image.

The Flow sets the rate at which the color is applied as the brush is moved over an area.  The amount of color will build up based on the flow rate.

The firs icon is the airbrush.  When it is selected the brush acts like an airbrush.

Sample all layers does just that - it samples all of the layers in a document.

The last icon is the tablet pressure button.  When selected the stylus pressure overrides the settings in the Brush Panel.

After you finish your painting then you can go to the Filter Gallery and add some texture to the finished product - it makes a nice ending.

The thing about the Mixer Brush is this - you have to try it yourself and play with the settings.


Each of these were originally a photograph.

mixer brush

mixer brush
Grand Canyon

mixer brush
Cake Decorator

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