How to mix colors with a brush in Photoshop?

If you are new to digital painting, then I advise you to start with the articles:

  1. We get acquainted with the panel of brushes
  2. Drawing a soft or hard brush in Photoshop

Blending plays an incredibly important role for digital painting in Adobe Photoshop.

Today, we will look at mixing colors with a tool. Brush (Brush Tool). Try to get the most out of this technique, as it will help for most of your drawings.

To begin, let’s find out what should be done, and what it is better to refrain from. Do not forget these tips when using the tool. Brush (Brush Tool).

What do we have to do:

  1. Save color swatches for a common color scheme.
  2. Change settings Stiffness / Opacity (Hardness / Opacity) according to the details you draw.
  3. Examine the difference between painting a hard and soft brush.
  4. Use heavier brushes (50-100%Opacity (Opacity)) to receive block in colors, main details and final touches.
  5. Use lighter brushes (0-50% Opacity (Opacity)) to smooth out details, add an atmosphere (like smoke / fog) and soften textures.

What not to do:

  1. Take colors from other photos.
  2. Create an entire picture with the same setting. Stiffness / Opacity (Hardness / Opacity).
  3. Use Soft brush (Soft Brush) for parts that require sharp edges.
  4. Forget about mixing!
  5. Give up!

The main problem for newbies is choosing the right settings. Opacity (Opacity) and Stiffness (Hardness). Usually, they start with either a very stiff brush and high opacity, or vice versa.

Hard brushes (Hard Brush) with high opacity are not suitable for blending, while Soft brushes (Soft Brush) with very low opacity quickly “pollute” the drawing. If you are not careful, you can get an airbrush pattern effect, which does not always look good. The best advice I can give is to get used to permanent change stiffness and opacity. Ideal parameters do not exist.

Brush Settings

To demonstrate the color mixing technique, let’s keep the settings very simple:

Rigidity (Hardness) – 50%.
Opacity (Opacity) – 50%.

Two hotkeys you need to know

Tool Brush (Brush Tool) can be activated English B… It is obvious.
To select a tool Pipette (Eyedropper Tool) hold Alt with active tool Brush (Brush Tool).

Video drawing lessons are great for learning, but they show everything so quickly that viewers do not have time to see the tiny window of the tool. Pipette (Eyedropper Tool), which is used when mixing. Everything happens so fast! In the following steps, I will show you how to use a brush and pipette for the perfect blending effect.

From now on, do not touch the rest of the settings! Experiments with different parameters of the Brushes panel look very tempting, but I don’t want you to get confused. Here you can not just run through the main steps, because later you will not understand the more complex options. It is best to start with the basics, repeat these examples a couple of dozen times, and then try other techniques.

How to mix colors: the basics

Step 1

To get started, choose a color from Color palettes (Swatches panel) and place it on the document using the tool Brush (Brush Tool) with 100%Opacity (Opacity) and 100% Stiffness (Hardness). Then reduce these parameters to 50% each.

Step 2

Make sure the selected color is set as Of the main (Foreground Color), then click next to it. The new touch will look more transparent and softer thanks to the changed settings.

Step 3

Use the tool Pipette (Eyedropper Tool) to select the color of the new stroke. After selecting a new color, click next to this bar. Repeat the process, not forgetting to place new strokes with a small overlap.

With each step the color will fade. This result can already be called a kind of mixing.

Step 4

To finish blending, select two colors that are nearby and click on the place where they overlap. Continue by gradually reducing the opacity. In this case, the tool Pipette (Eyedropper Tool) will be a great helper Brushes (Brush Tool). Continue the process until you get a complete mix of all colors.

Let’s look at this technique in black and white.

Drawing in black and white colors is a technique that you absolutely must own. Many people, and I am not an exception, often use it to set the light mood before working with color. Choose two shades of gray and try to mix them.

Now again in color

Here are some color combinations for this technique. Practice with different colors to fully master the mixing technique.

Your turn to practice: exercise!

I took a few color choices for you to mix. Copy and insert this image in photoshop and start blending with Brushes (Brush Tool). Add more colors if you want. Do not forget to share your skills in the comments!


I hope you enjoyed today’s digital painting lesson. Keep in touch with our series. Digital painting from A to Z, in which we will continue to give advice and resources on topics that are important for the beginning artist. Do not stop, be confident in your abilities and do not give up! Good luck!

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