Anything Photoshop or Photography

HOW PHOTOSHOP’S COLOR DYNAMICS BRUSH SETTINGS WORK

Image of abstract buildings painted in Corel Painter
I found some good info in my old notes on the settings for Color Dynamics in the Brush Settings Panel. With so many sliders it is easy to be confused on how to use these settings when you want to just add another color to your brush for painting. In the image above, which was created in Corel Painter, a scatter brush was used on a separate layer in Photoshop using Kyle’s scatter brush below using blue colors. The Color Dynamics section is not available for all PS brushes, but is for the Regular Brushes, Pattern Stamp Brushes and Art History Brushes.

Back in 2014, Melissa Gallo, a Corel Master and great painter, created Painting with Photoshop Workshop with 26 videos. It contained all kinds of brushes, patterns, actions, etc., that covered everything needed to learn to paint in PS. It is still available on her site and worth getting if you are really interested in learning to paint with PS. One of the her videos has a very uncomplicated way of looking at the Color Dynamic sliders. The other major reference for this is from David Belliveau, who mainly draws portraits in Photoshop (he offers a free class a couple times a year which are excellent so look for this) and has some wonderful free PS brushes (scroll down the page to find them). He covered this topic in Brushmakers Blueprint, a video from 2016 which appears to be only available on his member site.

Below is a screen shot of the Color Dynamics Section as shown in PS. Be sure to click on the actual words “Color Dynamics” to open up the settings. If just the left side check mark is clicked, it does not open up.

Image of the Color Dynamics section in PS Brush Settings Panel
Kyle’s Spatter Br-Pressure Control brush is in his Scatter Brushes group, one of the free sets that can be downloaded if you use PS. (To find these brushes, go to upper pop-out menu in the Brushes Panel and select Get More Brushes – the Scatter brushes can be downloaded from this page.) Note that this is an Airbrush as shown by the icon checked in the Options Bar – the longer you press on the brush, the more dense it gets. The original brush does not have Color Dynamics checked so all the brush strokes will appear in just one color. To get the colorful effect shown in my top image, the screenshot settings were used.  After adding the settings, the brush was resaved (by clicking the “plus sign in a box” icon at the bottom of both the Brush Panel and Brush Setting Panel). In the New Brush dialog, rename the brush (I added my initials to it so I knew it has the new settings) and check “Capture Brush Size in Preset” and “Include Tool Settings.” Below are listed all the color settings and what they do. The word “Jitter” means change in the digital world according to Melissa.

Foreground/Background Jitter: When kept at 0, the colors will mix just fine but will have mostly Foreground color variations. If you move the slider right, more of the Background colors are picked up until the stroke shows more of the Background color variations. (This is when the Hue is set to 0 – move this slider and get a lot more color variations.) This setting is not so important if the Control field is set (see next paragraph). I tend to adjust this slider and not change the Control field when adding color to most of my brushes.

Control: In the above brush settings, Control is set to off as I liked the effect I was getting as is. By switching in the drop-down to Fade with Foreground/Background Jitter set to 0, it takes 25 steps (if that is the number chosen in this field) to go from the foreground color to the background color. If set to Pen Pressure, it lets you paint using foreground to background colors depending on how hard you press (when using a tablet & pen). Many people just use this and not change much else in the panel.

Apply Per Tip: Located at the top of the Brush Setting Panel, when turned on, the colors are all mixed according to the panel slider settings. With the Pen Pressure set in the Control field, press hard to get the foreground color and light to get background colors. If you turn this off, each time you make a stroke, the same color will appear. So all the scatter color might be pink with one stroke and red with another. Different way of laying down the color in the stroke. I find this a little hard to control.

Hue Jitter: This decides how many colors you get between the foreground and background colors. Want more, move slider right; want fewer, move slider left. Note that as you increase the slider, more colors will be added into the stroke with Apply Per Tip on. Set to 100%, all colors will be shown. The Hue Jitter above is set to 25% which means 25% will go from the foreground color to variations of the foreground color, and 25% will go from the background color to variations of the background color. Increase that amount to get more color variations.

Melissa says the next three settings work in tandem, meaning they work together.

Saturation Jitter: How much of a change do you want between Saturation and no saturation? Set to 50% means that 50% of 100% of the colors are saturated and will show some gray randomly placed. When Saturation is set to to 96%, 4% of the colors are saturated and 96% of the colors will be randomly grayed out. When Saturation is set to 0%, no colors are grayed out and are all equally saturated. The scatter brush is set to 40% so 40% of 100% means that 60% have some gray showing up. This seems a little complicated to me. Basically this means when set to 0%, PS is using the original saturation of the foreground and background colors for all color variations created, and when set to 100%, PS is adding in a lot of desaturation to the color variations.

Brightness Jitter: Set to 100% means the colors are very dark – the jitter goes from high to low randomly. The brush above shows a 54% change in brightness – pretty middle of the road between overly dark (100%) and overly bright (0%).

Purity: How pure the color is. I wondered what this meant and David says the slider is acting like Hue and Saturation. When set to -100%, it becomes a black and white stroke and when set to +100%, it is totally saturated. The brush above was set to -12 which causes it to be slightly darker overall. To get a black and white brush, set everything to 0 but Foreground/Background Jitter should have some setting to be able to see the variations, and set Purity to -100.

Here are some ways to set up these sliders:

  • With some Hue added, set Brightness Jitter to 80% and Purity to 55% to get very bright strokes.
  • Decrease Brightness Jitter to 15% and get a much lighter look.
  • Adjust Purity to -45% to get more of a pastel look.
  • For a nice pastel look set Brightness Jitter to 23% and Purity to -47%. To put some color in gray and others in pastel, set the Saturation to 100% (changes how many colors are completely grayed out and how many are in full color).

I figure you will not remember all these settings (I know I won’t), but maybe you can use this blog when you need a reference on the settings (that’s why I wrote it). Bottom line is to experiment with your brush and the different settings to get that perfect effect. Hopefully it will help you get the brush results you need. Hope everyone is having a great winter – so far not too bad!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Where to Find a Good Photoshop Painter

3 responses

  1. Ann Mackay

    Thank you for all this great info, Syd! I have a LOT to learn! This will be so useful when I get to using Painter… BTW, Melissa Gallo has a sale on her tutorials. Bookmarked you post for future reference – along with many of your other posts! 🙂

    01/19/2020 at 6:37 am

  2. Hi Ann – this blog is actually for brushes in Adobe Photoshop. Melissa Gallo has just the one Photoshop painting tutorial, the others are for Corel Painter, which is much more complicated to learn all the settings. The PS tutorial is excellent, but so are her Painter tutorials – I have done several. Lots of info here!

    01/19/2020 at 4:25 pm

  3. Pingback: WORKING ON DIGITAL PAINTING IN PHOTOSHOP | Digital Lady Syd's Fun Photoshop Blog

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