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Why you really only need a square, hard–edged brush to make digital paintings.

There are a lot of artists online that give off a brush pack for free perhaps in exchange for a subscription to their site, giving the impression that their variety of digital brushes will give the artist the ability to create the most impressive artwork, which couldn’t be possible with the default brushes that they have in at their disposal in Photoshop or whatever digital painting software they use.

I would argue that to start off, and to do much of the brushwork that is needed to complete a digital painting, all that is really needed is a single brush. My strong suggestion would be to use a square, hard-edged brush that is of course pressure-sensitive. The reason for the brush shape to be square is because a simple square shape hovering over the canvas gives a strong impression of how the bush is going to paint on the canvas when pressure is applied with the stylus pen. If the shape were irregular, it would be a lot harder to predict what the resulting shape would look like, making the artist prone to making more mistakes that they will wish to undo frequently.

The reason for the brush to be hard edged is so that the beginner artist is able to familiarize themself with how to control the pressure with the pen to result in various different brushstrokes that recreate different textures. I would advise against using a soft-brush (meaning the edges of the brush fade and are not sharp) for painting for example skin tones because the artist has a false illusion that skin has a very smooth texture and does not have a few irregularities here and there. It is fairly easy to tell for example if the artist has used a soft brush in certain areas because the result is a very smooth-looking surface. Perhaps if the artist is looking for a very stylized effect it would be appropriate, but the danger perhaps is that the beginner in relying heavily in using a soft brush for most of the digital painting composition will not develop an ability to truly control the pressure sensitivity to recreate any desired texture or effect down the road.

For adding specific effects, other brush types can be experimented with, but it is an ill-conceived idea that a specific brush is supposed to be used for a particular texture or surface. If that were truly the case, the digital painter would be needing several dozen brushes to complete a single painting. Another danger of using too many brushes for a painting is that the different brushstrokes will compete with each other instead of complementing each other, making the painting appear “noisy”, meaning that it looks like it is hard to distinguish what is what in the composition because different effects are competing with each other to be seen first.

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