Photoshop: Opacity on Mixer Brush

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I really love the natural brushes in Photoshop CS5, but the mixer brush leaves a bit to be desired. It appears to imitate oil paint, but without opacity controls it's impossible to emulate oil painting. To adjust the opacity of the paint when oil painting a painter would just add oil to the paint to thin the pigment. Digitally that would be accomplished by just adjusting opacity. It's perfect for gouache painters, however. Absolutely everything else about the brushes are perfect, but an opacity control would make the tool a gem to use when painting for me as a former oil painter. At present I just end up using the natural brushes with the regular brush tool because I can directly control the opacity of my brush.
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Dustin Wilson

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Posted 8 years ago

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Brett N, Official Rep

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Great idea! Thanks for the suggestion.
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Alex Olsen

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Umm this is exactly what I want. Sorry to necro this up but hardly anyone is talking about it.

"using the natural brushes with the regular brush tool" - This is to be avoided because it creates the marker effect! You'll get LINES in the shading literally everywhere. And if you go straight mixer without opacity it annihilates the textures you're putting down while you color!

An opaque mixer brush would be best of both worlds and truly a digital brush. Thank you for making me feel like I'm not alone, Dustin ^_^
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Alex Olsen

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Here's another guy talking about it and offering possible work arounds to make the brush softer. Bullet 4 & 8:

http://gapriest.blogspot.com/2010/08/...

"4.) Using Layer Blend modes and blending with Transparency.

One of the major drawbacks of Photoshop's new Mixer Brush is that it doesn't blend with transparency, making the process of painting on layers a bit of a hassle. Instead, Adobe opted for the 'Sample All Layers' feature discussed above.

However, the Mixer Brush can fake blending with transparency just fine using most layer blend modes, provided the layer is filled with the appropriate 'neutral' color. A 'neutral' color is any color which appears transparent when using a certain blend mode."

"8.) Height Textures can add greater pressure-sensitivity.

While the Mixer Brush lacks an opacity setting, experimenting with Height Textures can add a great deal more subtlety to your strokes.

By setting the Brush Texture mode to 'Height' and the 'Depth Jitter Control' to 'Pen Pressure', you can simulate how real paint interacts with the grain of your canvas; the heavier the stroke, the greater the penetration."
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Dustin Wilson

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Wow. I'd forgotten I'd even made this comment here. I've moved on to ArtRage for natural media simulation. I do most of my painting in it.

Yeah. it can be somewhat simulated by using screen and multiply layers. Opacity alone really isn't the true answer. It needs to simulate the behavior oil paint exhibits when it is thinned as well going from a full impasto effect to thin, translucent washes. It goes into true natural media simulation, and Photoshop isn't really that kind of a program. It's shocking the mixer brush is in there at all.
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Alex Olsen

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Thank you for a quick and detailed reply on this! I tried Corel and it didn't fly with me(it felt clunky to me), though, maybe I should try ArtRage for something else because this simply could be the wrong program for what I'm looking for :)

Thank you. I'm totally there with you on the natural media simulation and honestly the mixer brush does feel out of place in the program. That's what my girlfriend said actually haha, that the mixer brush is trying to be something it's not and it's just better for them to keep the application digital based(not a practical, real-world simulation) because that's what Photoshop is good at.

I'm approaching this brush hangup with a more open mind now, so thank you again sir :)