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Brushes Guide

Understanding Brush Categories

In the following section, descriptions of the brush categories are presented in alphabetical order.


All Acrylic brush variants cover underlying brush strokes. Many are capable of multicolored strokes, and others interact with underlying pixels to create realistic effects.

Captured Bristle Thick Acrylic Flat Wet Acrylic


Airbrushes apply fine sprays of color. Computed airbrushes carefully mirror the feel of a real airbrush in action. The Wacom® airbrush stylus is fully compatible with the airbrush brush variants

Coarse Spray Fine Spray Digital Airbrush

Art Pens

Art Pens are based on brush variants from other brush categories, but they are optimized to work with flat-tipped pens that support 360-degree barrel rotation.

Artists’ Oils

Brush variants from the Artists’ Oils category let you mix paints as though you were working with traditional oil paints. You can use colors mixed on the Mixer palette and apply them directly to the canvas. The colors can then be blended with the oils already on the canvas. Multiple colors from the Mixer palette can be loaded on an Artists’ Oils brush variant at the same time. Each stroke created with an Artists’ Oils brush variant loads the brush with a finite amount of oil, which is then transferred to the image. As you apply a stroke to the canvas, the Artists’ Oil brush loses oil, and the brush stroke becomes fainter. Because layers don’t have the oily properties of the canvas, brush strokes applied to a layer don’t fade as rapidly. Some Artists’ Oil brush variants are palette knives, allowing artists to mix paint directly on the canvas. There are six brush tip profiles designed specifically for Artists’ Oil brushes.

Bristle Brush Soft Grainy Brush Thick Wet Impasto


Artist brush variants help you paint in the styles of master artists. For example, you can paint in the style of Vincent Van Gogh, where brush strokes are multishaded, or in the style of Georges Seurat, where multiple dots combine to form an image.

When you use any of the Artist brush variants, dragging quickly produces wider strokes. You can use the Color Variability settings to adjust how the Artist brush strokes are colored.

Impressionist Sargent Brush Seurat


Blenders affect underlying pixels by moving and mixing them. The variants can reproduce the effects of blending paint by applying water or oil. You can also smooth drawing lines and create shading just as you would on a pencil sketch or charcoal drawing.

Just Add Water Smear Smudge

Whether you want to reproduce the look of calligraphy pen strokes on a grainy texture, or the smooth strokes of a calligraphy brush, the Calligraphy brush variants offer you a range of creative options.

Calligraphy Calligraphy Brush Dry Ink

Chalk brush variants produce the thick, rich texture of natural chalk sticks, and have strokes that interact with the paper grain. The opacity is linked to stylus pressure.

Blunt Chalk Square Chalk Variable Chalk

Charcoal brush variants range from pencils, to hard or soft charcoal sticks. As with other dry media brush variants, the opacity is linked to stylus pressure. Blender brush variants can be used to soften and blend the charcoal strokes. For a smooth workflow, keep your favorite Charcoal and Blender brush variants together in a custom palette.

Charcoal Hard Charcoal Pencil Soft Vine Charcoal


The Cloner brush variants behave like other brush variants, except that they take color from a cloned source. These variants recreate the source imagery while effectively filtering it, reproducing the image in an artistic style, such as pastel chalk or watercolor.

Original photo used as Clone Source Soft Cloner Impressionist Cloner
Colored Pencils

Colored Pencils interact with the canvas texture and unlike other dry media brush variants, apply strokes with even opacity, regardless of pressure. However, these brush variants do react to speed. For example, dragging quickly produces a thinner line; dragging slowly produces a thicker line. As with all pencil-style brush variants, Colored Pencil brush variants build to black as you draw over the same area of the image.

Colored Pencil Hard Colored Pencil Oily Colored Pencil

Similar to Chalk, Conte brush variants produce textured strokes that interact with the paper grain. As with other dry media brush variants, the opacity is linked to stylus pressure.

Dull Conte Square Conte Tapered Conte

Crayons offer a range of styles. From soft and dull, to waxy and grainy, they produce textured strokes that interact with the paper grain. As with other dry media brush variants, the opacity is linked to stylus pressure.

Basic Crayon Grainy Hard Crayon Waxy Crayon
Digital Watercolor

Digital Watercolor brush variants produce watercolor effects that react with the canvas texture. Unlike Watercolor brush variants, which work with the Watercolor Layer, Digital Watercolor strokes can be applied directly to any standard pixel-based layers, including the canvas. For example, if you’re applying watercolor effects to a photo, Digital Watercolor brush strokes can be applied directly to the image. If you’re creating a realistic watercolor from scratch, the Watercolor brush variants allow colors to flow, mix, and absorb more realistically.

Digital Watercolor brush strokes affect each other as you apply one brush stroke on another, and they react dynamically to the Wet Fringe setting. When you achieve the results you want, you can keep the brush strokes from changing by choosing Layers menu Dry Digital Watercolor.

The width of Digital Watercolor brush strokes is affected by stylus pressure, with the exception of the Wet Eraser brush variant.

Simple Water Diffuse Water Dry Brush

Distortion brush variants apply special effects that distort an image. Some variants, such as Grainy Distorto, or Grainy Mover, produce blending effects. Other variants, such as Hurricane, Turbulence, and Water Bubble, produce more dramatic effects.

Bulge Confusion Hurricane

There are three types of Eraser brush variants: Eraser, Bleach, and Darkener. Eraser brush variants erase down to the paper color. Bleach brush variants erase to white, gradually lightening by removing color. Darkener brush variants are the inverse of Bleach variants. Darkener brush variants gradually increase color density, building colors toward black. With all Eraser brush variants, pressure determines how much you erase.

Bleach Eraser Flat Eraser

F/X brush variants give you wildly creative results. Some add color; others affect underlying pixels. The best way to appreciate the F/X brush variants is to experiment with them on an image and a blank canvas.

Fairy Dust The Fire brush works with underlying colors Glow
Felt Pens

Felt pen variants let you create marker-style drawings. The brush variants range from fine point to blunt and have a variety of nib shapes and opacity levels. Felt Pen brush variants build to black as you draw over the same area of the image.

Art Marker Dirty Marker Felt Marker


Gouache brush variants let you paint with the fluidity of watercolors and the opacity of acrylics. These variants range from fine, detail brushes, to flat or thick brushes. Brush strokes created with Gouache brush variants cover underlying brush strokes.

Detail Opaque Thick Gouache Flat Wet Gouache Round

Image Hose

The Image Hose is a special brush that applies images instead of color. The images it “paints” with come from special image files called nozzles. Each nozzle file contains multiple images that are organized by characteristics such as size, color, and angle. Each characteristic (parameter) can be linked to a stylus attribute (animator), such as Velocity, Pressure, and Direction.

The name of each Image Hose variant tells you which parameter and animator are in effect. For example, the Linear-Size-P Angle-R brush variant links size to stylus pressure (P) and sets the angle randomly (R).

Linear-Angle-B (Bearing) Linear-Size-P (Pressure) Spray-Size-P (Pressure) controls size and spread

Impasto brush variants let you create the classic technique of applying thick paint on a canvas to create depth. The depth information for the brush stroke is stored on the Impasto Layer.

Some variants apply depth effects to underlying pixels, such as Acid Etch, Clear Varnish, Depth Rake, and Texturizer-Clear. Other variants apply three-dimensional brush strokes with the current paint color.

Opaque Flat Smeary Round Loaded Palette Knife
Liquid Ink

Liquid Ink brush variants combine ink and paint to create a thick, liquid paint effect. There are three main types of Liquid Ink brush variants: ones that apply ink, ones that remove ink to create a resist effect, and ones that soften edges. Like Watercolor brush variants, a new layer is created automatically when you first apply a brush stroke. You can also create 3D effects by double-clicking a Liquid Ink layer and adjusting the Threshold and Amount sliders.

Clumpy Ink Coarse Bristle Smooth Flat

Oil Pastels

Oil Pastel brush variants produce the thick, rich texture of natural pastel sticks. Most Oil Pastel brush variants cover existing brush strokes with the current paint color. However, the Variable Oil Pastel brush variants blend the underlying color into the brush stroke. As with other dry media brush variants, opacity is linked to stylus pressure.

Oil Pastel Chunky Oil Pastel Variable Oil Pastel


Oil brush variants let you create effects you’d expect from oil paints. Some variants are semitransparent and can be used to produce a glazed effect. Other variants are opaque and cover underlying brush strokes. For realistic interaction with the Mixer palette, and to apply multiple colors in a single brush stroke, try using Artists’ Oil brush variants.

Fine Camel Opaque Flat Smeary Round

Palette Knives

You can use Palette Knife brush variants to scrape, push, or pick up and drag colors in your image. Only one Palette Knife brush variant, the Loaded Palette Knife, applies the current paint color. Palette Knife dabs are always parallel to the shaft of the stylus.

Loaded Palette Knife Palette Knife applied to a brush stroke Smeary Palette Knife

Pastels range from hard pastel styles that reveal the paper grain to extra soft pastels that glide on to completely cover existing brush strokes. Opacity is linked to stylus pressure.

Artist Pastel Chalk Soft Pastel Square Soft Pastel
Pattern Pens

Pattern Pen brush variants let you use a brush to apply a pattern to an image. You can vary features such as the size of the pattern and the transparency. For example, Pattern Pen Micro decreases the size of the pattern, and Pattern Pen Transparent applies a semitransparent version of the pattern.

Pattern Pen Pattern Pen Masked Pattern Pen Marker is based on the current color.



Pencil brush variants are great for any artwork that would traditionally require pencils; from rough sketches to fine line drawings. Like their natural counterparts, Pencil brush variants interact with canvas texture. All of the variants build to black and link opacity to stylus pressure. The width of Pencil strokes varies according to the speed of the stroke, so dragging quickly produces a thinner line and dragging slowly leaves a thicker line.

2B Pencil Cover Pencil Greasy Pencil


Pen brush variants, like the Scratchboard Rake and Bamboo Pen, create realistic effects without the drawbacks of traditional pens, which can clog, spatter, or run dry.

Croquil Pen Scratchboard Tool Thick and Thin Pen

Photo brush variants let you modify digital images or existing artwork. For example, you can clean up photos by adjusting color or removing scratches, add a blur effect, or sharpen an image.

Blur Dodge Burn

RealBristle brush variants bring a new level of realism to the digital painting experience by simulating the natural movement of an artist’s brush. The RealBristle brushes are based on individual brushes from other categories, but their Natural-Media(TM) capabilities are enhanced so you can better control how the bristles interact with the canvas and the paint.

Real Fan Short Real Round Bristle Real Tapered Round
Smart Stroke

Smart Stroke brush variants are based on popular brush variants from other brush categories, but they are optimized to work with the Photo Painting system.


Sponges let you create a variety of textures by applying the current paint color to cover or blend existing colors. Some Sponge brush variants apply dabs of paint at random angles with each click of a stylus. Wet sponge brush variants, such as Grainy Wet Sponge, apply sponge dabs as you drag across the canvas. Smeary Wet Sponge variants let you blend the current paint color with existing colors as you drag across the canvas.

Dense Sponge Grainy Wet Sponge Smeary Wet Sponge


Sumi-e brush variants let you create flowing sumi-e-style brush strokes. There are a variety of brush sizes and shapes to help you recreate traditional sumi-e brush strokes.

Coarse Bristle Sumi-e Detail Sumi-e Sumi-e Brush

Tinting brush variants let you apply effects to photos or existing artwork. For example, you can apply translucent color to areas of a black and white photo using the Basic Round brush variant. Applying each color to a separate Gel or Colorize layer lets you adjust the opacity of each color layer independently for a more subtle or dramatic effect.

Basic Round Blender Soft Grainy Round


Watercolor brush variants paint onto a watercolor layer, which enables the colors to flow, mix, and absorb into the paper. The watercolor layer is created automatically when you first apply a brush stroke with a Watercolor brush variant. The layer lets you control the wetness and evaporation rate of the paper to effectively simulate conventional watercolor media. Most Watercolor brush variants interact with the canvas texture. You can use Watercolor brush variants to apply a watercolor effect to a photo by lifting the canvas to the watercolor layer. To paint directly on the canvas, use a Digital Watercolor brush variant.

Diffuse Flat Splatter Water Wet Camel

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