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Create Splatters Of Paint With Custom Brush Settings In Photoshop

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Mar 20

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Phlearn Turns Two Today!

Even though we will be discussing how to create splatters of paint with custom brush settings in photoshop, today marks the second anniversary of Phlearn. Over the past two years we’ve created over 450 videos teaching Photoshop & photography. All Phlearn PRO Tutorials, Actions, and Textures are 20% off for today (March 20th) only as a thank you to everyone who has watched and been a part of the Phamily :)

The Brush Tool: More Than Meets The Eye

At first glance, the brush tool may seem nothing beyond a simple brush with adjustable hardness and opacity. However, the brush’s potential for customization doesn’t end there. The brush tool features a variety of other adjustable settings that make it a powerful multipurpose tool.

By clicking Window > Brush, Photoshop opens a whole new range of features for the brush tool. By adjusting these, we can come up with a brush that matches the pant splatters in Anders’ image perfectly.

  • Size Jitter: This changes the size of the brush as you paint. The size will automatically increase and decrease as you make brush strokes.
  • Scattering: This will break your brush stroke into little pieces that fall around where you paint.
  • Flow Jitter: This adjustment slider will automatically increase and decrease the opacity of your brush strokes.
  • Angle Jitter: When used with scattering, this feature will create variation in the angle or each little piece of your brush stroke. One tiny piece may be pointing left to right, and the next may be pointing up and down.

When used together, these features can be used to create all sorts of different custom brushes for different uses!


  • Pay attention to the preview in the brush window. This creates an enlarged example of what effect your brush will create.
  • Use a tablet. Using a tablet instead of a mouse allows you to use the brush tool in a very fluid and accurate manner. You can learn more about using a tablet in our free two-part tutorial, How To Be Instantly Better At Editing.
  • Experiment! The brush tool has SO many uses when these features are applied. Take the time to explore all of the settings and let us know what custom brushes YOU come up with!
  • Maxime Girault

    Congrats for those two years. You forgot to mention an important point about this success, Talent!

  • CJ

    ABSOLUTELY love this effect and love it when you give detailed help about anything Wacom related. You are a master with that device and the more you get people to use it the better the web and world will look due to the art improving.

    Thank you so much for the tutorial!!!!!!

  • Anders Teibel

    Really nice work!

  • ⓛⓞⓡⓐ

    Love this! Thank you!

Episode Transcript

Phlearn turns two years old today!

Hey guys, welcome to Phlearn. My name is Aaron Nace. You can find me on Twitter @aknacer. We are turning two years old today. That means for two years I’ve been making these episodes helping you guys with Photoshop and photography. We’ve made over 450 videos for free, that we’ve given out, and it’s been an amazing ride. For those of you guys who have been there from the beginning, you know I started very humbly in my apartment in North Carolina just making these out of our house and just doing it totally for fun. Since then, we’ve moved to Chicago, we went through our first studio, now we’ve just moved into our second, and everything has been just absolutely amazing. We’ve gone through a lot of changes and you guys have been there through it all. Thank you so much and I’m really excited to be talking to you year three and four to five. We never know where things are going to go. Well, we have a rough idea anyway (laughs). It’s not a complete guess, but things are going great. Thank so much guys.

I got an awesome tutorial for you. By the way, because we are turning two years old today, this is a Wednesday episode so if you're watching this on Thursday or Friday, it doesn’t really count, but Wednesday, the day this airs, on our second birthday, everything on is 20% off. So a huge sale. Make sure you take advantage of it. We don’t do these kind of sales often, and it’s a great opportunity to think back on all the wonderful times you’ve had at Phlearn and buy something for 20% off.

Let’s get into this tutorial. This is for you. You don’t have to pay for this. All right.

This is a very, very cool image. This is submitted by Anders for a contest, and it’s a very, very cool image. We’re going to do a couple of things in Photoshop just to enhance a couple parts of the image. It's not necessarily enhancement. I'm just going show you guys some really cool things you can do, and how you can apply it to your image. Already, without anything done to it, very cool image. I mean it's been edited already, so it's not like this is straight out of the camera, but I didn't edit it.

There are a couple of things that I want to talk about, and it's going to show a great way to show up some of the cool features in Photoshop. What we’re going to do is I’m going to make a new layer on top of everything, and I’m just going to point out some of things that I want to talk to about. We’ll just get a nice red brush here. OK.

When you guys are working with makeup and hairstyles and things like that, it’s really a great way to get some really interesting things in the photo. I mean very cool photo and the makeup really does make it. I love these dark circles just around the eyes completely.

We also have this, what looks like a brush stroke here, and you can see this is a little bit of powder and things like that.

I was looking at this image, I thought it might be really cool if this transitioned from dark areas in her eyes to the powder, but it transitioned more in like a gradient. You have a little bit more full there and it faded out a little bit more as it went out. We can do the same thing here. I was thinking about that.

This will be something that would be really hard to do actually with makeup, but it's something that we can do in Photoshop. It's going to give us a cool opportunity to show you some of the features of using like the Brush tool, for instance.

What we’re going to do is, I’m going to grab a new layer. Let’s just go ahead and grab this color here. I'm going hold Alt or Option, click on that color there. Now, what we're going to do is just … You can see painting, regular, with my Brush tool. Nothing fancy is going to happen at all. What I'm going to do is go to Window and then down to Brush. This is where all the cool things are going to happen. It's right here in my Brush dialog. Let’s close that guy up. I want to make something that imitates this spatter of what's going on here.

Let's make our Brush a little bit smaller. I'm going to go ahead and make our Hardness … We'll bring our Hardness up so our painting looks like a fairly hard brush now. We're going to click over here where it says "Shape Dynamics" and I'm going to turn this to Size jitter. You can see right down here that it’s looking a little bit jittery. Some of these are going to be larger and then some of these are going to be smaller. We’re going to have our Minimum Diameter all the down so even as I paint along there you’ll see some of those get larger and some of those get smaller.

I’m going to bring…  my Opacity is 100%; my Flow is 30. I’m going to bring my Flow up so it just paints a little bit more on there. We can see we have a size jitter, all ready looks pretty cool. Have fun with those.

Now what we’re going to do is turn on Scattering. With Scattering is turned on, what it does is it creates all these little dots. These little dots are basically what’s going to wind up, making up our little particles of makeup. I’m going to turn our Scattering this all the way up, so we’re Scattering quite a bit more. If you're using a smaller brush, you're going to have to use Scattering that’s just quite a bit bigger.

Now, I did have this Transfer turned on which means that some of these areas are just going to be lighter and some are going to be darker, depending on how hard I push. You can have that turned on if you want to. Let’s turn on Transfer and then you can click on your Flow jitter, if you want that to be controlled by the Pen Pressure, or you can just have it be off, and then just turn your jitter up. Some of these are going to be a little bit more visible and some of these are going to be a little bit less visible.

You know what, to add a little bit more or irregularity in there? What we could do is you can either just change your brush shape completely, or we can just make our brush just a little bit smaller. Here we go. Grab one of those guys, just get it more like an oval or something.

Now we can do our Shape Dynamics. I’m going to turn my Angle jitter all the way up. These are going to rotate as they get painted around to, so they won’t look like they’re the same thing.

All right. Now I’m going to paint around with this brush. It’s basically just going to look like this, which we can see, it looks quite a bit different than what we started. All ready looking very good! Let’s just go ahead and take them out there and hit Delete.

The idea now is to paint from her makeup on her eye all the way to makeup on her cheek, and make that area look like it’s blending a little bit more.

I’m not clicking many times here. What I’m doing is I’m just clicking … You can see, if I paint over here, this is all it does. Just go over and over it again and we’re creating these little splatters. By creating all these little splatters, it’s just layer them over here and I’m going to just spend a little bit more time with these splatters that are closer to her eye.

What’s cool about this is, first of all, if this were something that your makeup artist wanted to do, maybe just didn’t have the time for, or something like that, you’d say like, “Oh, don’t worry about it. I can take care of that in Photoshop.” The other thing is, it doesn’t really look like it’s Photoshopped, because it doesn’t look like a Photoshop brush, right? It just looks like something that is actually there. That’s usually the difference between doing something with Photoshop and just doing something for real, is that oftentimes when you do things for real you get these little nice details. Photoshop often can’t produce those details because you don’t have like that type of, like particles and things like that.

But, you can see just by painting around there, now we have like a nice even fade from the eye makeup all the way down to this other type of makeup. That’s just, I literally just held the brush down and painted around.

I figured out what I needed to do first, create all these little splatters, and then made a custom brush for that, and then just apply the brush.

Let’s create a new layer and I’ll do this over here. This time instead of just sampling this color, which would be way too dark, what we’re going to do is I’m going to hold Alt or Option and I’m going to sample this color. All right. Normally, I would be doing this before editing. If there’s a large white glare there, I would probably do this before I edit that white glare, so it would just be a little bit easier. There you go.

You can see what I’m doing, I’m just grabbing these colors that are here in my image already, and painting them around. This is just … It’s a lot fun. You can continue to do this however you want and you can see … There you go. Again, it looks very nice and natural, even on the other side of her eyes. If it’s too visible in any place, just grab your Eraser tool, just erase away just a little bit… and there you go. You’re good to go.

That’s basically it guys! The whole lesson was … Let’s do it one more time then. I just really like this one, I think it’s fun, do it around her lip. There you go. I don’t know if I like it around her lip, I just want to play with this a little bit more. All right. No, we’re going to delete it out.

Playing around with your Brush settings, you can really create a lot of different looks with your brush and accomplish some things that you might not have thought you could do in Photoshop.

Let’s go back to our Brush Tip shape. Our size is really small. We brought our Roundness to 72 and our Angle is at 8. We brought our Hardness up and our Spacing up as well. That way what we’re doing is it’s going to have a hard edge so it’s going to look like particles. They’re going to be spaced apart, and they’re not going to be perfectly round. It’s going to look less like Photoshop.

In our Shape Dynamics, we turned our Size jitter all the way up, which makes some of them large and then some of these little areas small, and our Angle jitter turned all the way up. It means that some ways because they’re oblong some are going to be like this, some are going to be like that. Those are going to change here.

Here in our Transfer, I turned my Flow jitter up as well as so some of these are going to be a little bit darker; some of these are going to be a little bit lighter.

All those things combined together to create a lot of randomness in there, and it’s not going to look like Photoshop. That’s it!

If you want to save your Brush, if you're super proud of it, just click right over here in your Brush menu, this Brush menu icon. Go to New Brush Preset and Hard Elliptical 6 1, that’s just your Brush sizes and settings, and things like that. We’ll just call this “Makeup Brush.” There you go.

If you want to get back to your makeup brush ever again in Photoshop, just grab your Brush tool, right click, go all the way down the bottom. If I just hover over there, you could see now it’s going to be “Makeup Brush” and I’m back to painting. It’s going to have all those settings all the way built-in.

Just a really cool example, something you guys can do with a Brush tool. You might not have thought you had to do that or you thought you had to click a little many, many different times, but you can just create your settings in this way and really you can accomplish just about anything you need to in Photoshop, with the Brush tool. It’s really, really awesome!

Guys, thanks so much for watching Phlearn. It’s been a wild two years and I can’t wait to see you two years from now. Things are going to be even more incredible. Again, I can’t thank you guys enough. I hope you learned a lot. I hope to see you again soon. Bye, everyone.  I’ll Phlearn you later.

Guys, if you want your image edited on Phlearn, all you have to do is submit them in contest. We have them every single week. We’re going to edit your images on Phlearn, and if I choose your image to edit here on Phlearn you guys all win a Phlearn PRO.

Anders, congratulations! You are the winner of a Phlearn PRO tutorial.

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