The Textured Brushes

The Extra Brushes

Usage Tips




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Paint on a Natural Scrubbed Gesso Texture

I am always pushing to make my digital illustrations feel more natural and less digital. That is how these gesso textured brushes came about. To create the texture, I scrubbed thick gesso onto a board with a very coarse, bristly brush. After that dried, I rubbed paint into the cracks and wiped the top surface clean. I scanned chunks of this board and cobbled the scans together into a seamless, tileable pattern. This pattern is the backbone of most of the gesso brushes.
5 Resolutions. I have set up the texture in to five separate resolutions from 50 to 200 percent. 200% for large printed images, 150% and 100% for things like giclée prints and 75% or 50% for screen and internet images.
6 Brushes with 2 variations. There are six brush styles with two options each. A HIGH option for painting on the top of the texture surface and a LOW option for scrubbing down deep into cracks.
Plus 16 Extra Detail Brushes!

The Textured Brushes

1. INK. Lays down bold flat color with a rough edge that complements the gesso texture. If brushed lightly it is possible to get some high contrast texture. Great for cropping out rough image borders like the header at the top of this page.
By lowering the opacity or flow and painting stroke on top of stroke, you can achieve some interesting hard edge effects. Included is a third smaller ink brush for rough line work.

2. WASH. For covering large areas with a gentle texture if brushed lightly. With heavier pressure and you can get to almost solid color.
I usually start applying texture with this brush first because it has a soft edge and low contrast details until it builds up strength.
It is best to paint texture on to a new layer so you can control and adjust the texture and base coloijers separately.

3. SCRUB. A smaller brush with higher textural contrast for scrubbing in sharper details.
I like to use this brush to paint secondary colors and values into a texture I have washed in.
This brush will not go to solid color no matter how hard you push it. The edges of the texture will just get sharper.

4. SCRATCH. Paints with a super high textural contrast. Use it to create a very scratchy surface or to bring in a little punchy color to an existing softer texture.
This brush can be almost brutal, so I use it very carefully. Try turning down its opacity or using colors with a lower contrast.
Unless you purposely want the texture to scream!

5. SOFT. A great brush for painting in color with just a soft hint of the gesso texture. It can go to solid color pretty quickly.
You can come back in and punch up the details with the wash or scrub brush... But sometimes it is good to have some calmer, softer parts to a composition for the more detailed, contrasty areas to pop out of.

6. CHALK. Another way to brush in dense color but with sharper details. You can go to solid color with heavy pressure and still apply tone and subtle texture with lighter pressure.
Brush back over the top with the scrub brush to pop out the texture.

SECRET ERASERS! Each resolution section header is an eraser with the gesso texture built in. It lets you erase parts of an image and still maintain the natural texture.

The Extra Brushes

These brushes are not tied to a texture. I use them to paint and detail the base color layers before adding the texture on a new separate layer.

SPONGY. For applying transparent, soft-edged color. There are two Spongy Brushes, the first soft and light, the second a little more sharp and dense.
Blend different colors with varying opacities for gentle wash effects.

SCATTERY. Paint with many smudgy dappled brush strokes. There are three Scattery Brush sizes that all work the same.
This brush goes on light but will build up nicely.
Change colors as you paint to creat a pointalism effect quicky.

BLOTTO. The Dense brush paints solid rough edged color. The Sparce and Scarce brushes are solid but blotchy.
They all have a natural and slighty out of control feel.

BLOTTO LINE. The same Blotto attitude but for smaller details and rough-edged line work.

SPLATTERY. For making toothbrush splatter effects. There are three brushes with different densities.
Use the three in succession to create a nice graduated effect.

RAKES. Sometimes the locked-in texture might not work with your composition. These Rake Brushes will let you add in more texture and change direction when needed.
There are 9 tooth, 5 tooth and 3 tooth versions.
These three brushes are fun to paint and draw with too!

BRISTLY. Another tool to help imitate the gesso texture where needed. And it's a good tool for doing crosshatched shading.

SOFT BLENDER. Set up for very gentle blending when you just need to subtly blur the details in the texture.

Usage Tips

Always Determine Image Size and Resolution First. The brushes start the texture in the upper right corner of your image and tile out from there. If you crop or change the image size, the texture will likely not align the same way any more. It is best to do any cropping or sizing only when the illustration is completely finished.
Work in Layers! I usually do my base color and detail on one layer and any texture work on another. Sometimes the layers affect each other in unexpected ways. You will have much more control if the work is on different layers. If you are working with a LOW brush it is sometimes helpful to make that layer a Multiply mode.


WoodardWorks Gesso Brushes are designed for Creative Cloud versions of Photoshop.
The brushes take advantage of pressure sensitivity and work best with a graphics tablet.
1. Open the Tool Presets Window (Photoshop > Window > Tool Presets).
2. Uncheck the "Current Tool Only" option at the bottom left of that window.
3. Click "Load Tool Presets" to append the new brushes to your current tool set...
    OR click "Replace Tool Presets" to erase the current set and load the new set in its place.
    (Make sure to save your current set first, in case you need to go back!)