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Tutorial no. 3 of Prof's PSP 9 Art Media Tutorials  >
Art Media Brush Options – Snow-Capped Mountains at a Lake
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Art Media Brush Options – Snow-Capped Mountains at a Lake
Created by: Prof


In this series of tutorials I will explore the new Art Media tools and features of PSP 9. We will explore both the palettes and tools and some techniques for painting pictures.

In the first tutorial, we explored the new Art Media Background when creating new images, the Mixer Palette and the Art Media Layer in the Layer palette. In the second tutorial, we explored the Art Media tools or brushes and set the stage for painting a sky scape. In this tutorial we will first explore more about the brush tool options as practice for painting the mountains and water.


Exploring Brush Options

Before we start to paint the mountains, let's take a little time to first explore the Oil Brush options so we can see how various values will produce different results. Ultimately we will be using different option values than the default ones to do our painting of mountains, and later the painting of the foreground landscape and foliage.

In this next exercise you can begin with a new mixer palette and mix your own colors or you can use the same colors as you did for painting the sky scape. I am using new colors of shades of green.

One last point to understand. I purchased a tablet so am using the pen for these pictures. The difference between the pen and the laser mouse is that I have more control over the strokes, thus am able to make finer strokes, and I can vary the pressure on the table. However, one does not need a tablet and can certainly use the mouse. In some ways the mouse also might produce some of the effects just a bit easier than the pen as the pen does require a much more steady hand, much like in drawing with a pen.

New Image  Art Media Background (PSP 9) Start with a new image with a white art media background. Use any canvas texture. You can explore different textures to see how they will show the colors spread upon it. I am using the simple canvas.
Special Tip Tip:  After setting the canvas, make the image window larger than the canvas so that it has space around all sides. You will find that some strokes will then be easier to apply, particularly those that are close to the canvas edge.
The following illustrations will show you differences in strokes as they relate to different tool option values. However, what you want to do is to start with one set of values and just play with it on your canvas. Draw using various strokes, left to right, right to left, circular, curved, just clicking the mouse or pen lightly. Vary the pressure of the mouse as well as speed from slow to fast. Remember, the more you explore and try out things the more you will see what techniques will produce which effects.

Art-Media Oil Brush Tool (PSP 9)

Head Tracking = Track Path

These illustrations are using the Oil Brush with various settings. The painting is from left to right. The top line is the mouse and the bottom line is the pen. Things to notice are the smoothness of the 'ridges' in the painting which are produced by the oil colors as mixed. Also, the Head Tracking is set to Track Path which keeps the shape full size.

  1. Default Preset was used. This line has color variations resultant from the mixed colors. They are relatively smooth. The circle option produces the tip on the left of the lines while the square will produce a straighter starting edge.
  2. The values for Head Loading, Viscosity, Firmness and Bristle Size were all set to 100 in this illustration. Notice how the ridges are more prominent. Also compare with the next setting where the bristle lines are much closer together.
  3. The value for Bristle Size was reduced to 1. In this illustration there will be more ridges or lines in the painting of the line. It will be clearer on your canvas than in the screenshot.
  4. Head Loading and Bristle Size set to 1, Viscosity set to 10, Firmness remains at 100: This illustration shows how Viscosity as well as Head Loading will reduce the colors produced on the canvas. Again, on your canvas the result will be more dramatic. You will see more of the canvas texture with these settings.

Again, just play around with various settings, various strokes from straight lines to curves, move from left to right and then again from right to left. You actually can produce various degrees of how the painting is affixed to the canvas.


Head Tracking = Fixed Angle

In this set of illustrations the Head Tracking is set to Fixed Angle which allows one to vary the thickness of the brush. For all these illustrations Head Loading, Viscosity, Firmness and Bristle Size are set to 100. The Brush Size is 40, Thickness is 1 and Rotation is 45.

On your canvas you will notice your brush is at an angle, and is very thin. Although these illustrations are done with the pen, one can use the mouse to achieve the same effects. The only difference is that one may need to lower the Brush Size as the mouse only paints in one size, while the pen will paint in varying sizes dependent upon the pressure used on the tablet.


  1. All lines are drawn from left to right, only varying the pressure on the tablet with the pen. Though not illustrated, if one draws from right to left the colors will be reversed (the darker top when left to right will be on the bottom when drawing right to left).
    1. With a lot of practice in drawing the brush diagonally, then to the left or right and down one can draw what looks like a leaf.
    2. Reversing the left or right movement one can reverse the colors of the edges.
    3. In this drawing, the first stroke was diagonal from top, then left and down. The second stroke started at the bottom of the leaf and moved up and to the right. Although not illustrated is the fact that extra paint was applied that I did not want so I used the eraser to get rid of the paint at the two tip areas.

  2. I started with the grass like effect from the left and then in the back, coming around to the front. The stroke was very light and slightly curved. The mouse will require changing the brush size to smaller values. This illustrations shows that one can leave the angle of the brush the same, just applying the strokes to create the effect.
  3. This illustration will be the stroke we will use to create the mountains. This stroke sets the Shape to a square leaving all the rest of the values the same. The stroke starts in the center and draws the brush at an angle top to bottom and to the right. One can also start the stroke from the bottom and move up and to the left.
  4. This effect just taps the button quickly to produce a slanted line. We will use this technique to place snow on the mountains.

To achieve these effects, I experimented for hours before I learned how to control the brush to create these effects. So, just play around creating leaves, grass effects, try curves as well as diamonds. Also, if you vary the options of Head Loading and Viscosity as well as Firmness you will see different effects, particularly if using a pen. The mouse has less variability as it relates to pressure used.


Open Image

New Art Media Layer (PSP 9)

Painting the Mountains

Open your .pspimage or .psp file that you created when you painted the sky scape. Add a new top Art Media Layer for the mountains. Using a separate layer for each part of the painting allows you to experiment and delete and begin again until you have something you like. Also at this point I don't want the mountain colors to blend into the blue sky background.


Keep in mind the following points:

  • When painting the steps do not necessarily flow in an orderly fashion.
  • Use various Art Media tools to paint, smear, erase in various combinations to create the effect wanted.
  • There are no mistakes. One can paint over an area to remove unwanted parts of a painting.
  • Take breaks from the painting so that when returning you see it in a different light. Often returning to something after a bit of time allows you to see the object more clearly.
  • Experiment with different brushes, option values, colors.
  • Paint what feels good for you – e.g. where you think something should be, for you it should be there where you place it.
  • Have fun.


The Colors

Since my mountains will be in the a distant part of the canvas I have chosen colors that make the mountains mainly a dark color. I also chose colors in the Mixer palette that would blend together and give variations when painting. The basic colors I chose are dark purple using variations (four) along with one swatch of white.

I alternated between mixing the colors and then selecting the color using the Oil Brush initially. I wanted some variation in the colors to be used.


Art-Media Oil Brush Tool (PSP 9)

The Tool Option Palette Settings

After much experimentation with different settings and different brushes, I settled on the following:
– Brush = Oil Brush
– Shape = Square
– Size = 40
– Thickness = 1
– Rotation = 46
– Head tracking = Fixed angle
– Head loading, Viscosity, Firmness, Bristle size = all 100
– Auto clean = checked



Initially I spent many hours just finding out a technique to create mountains. I started with one in the middle of the canvas near the top and then painted the others to the right and left. I also will be using the bottom of the mountains as reflections in water so I created mirror images of the peaks without worrying they were exact mirror images.

With the values I would draw my brush from left to right at a down angle of about 45 degrees. (I used the mouse rather than the pen as I found the mouse was something I could better control at this point). I also would draw my brush up and to the left at times to create sharper peaks or fill in areas I originally missed. I would often go over an area or mountain until I had something I liked.


Art-Media Smear Tool (PSP 9)

Blending the Mountains

I also wanted to soften the look of the mountain variations so I used the Smear Brush with these settings:
– Size = 6
– Thickness = 1
– Rotation = 46
– Head tracking = Fixed angle

Also, I first duplicated the mountain layer because as I learned to blend, I often lost the contrasts I initially had after I blended things with the Smear Brush.

I would very carefully just smear the lines I wanted softened. Smearing is like using a finger on paint and will blend the colors. I did not want to lose definition but I did want definition softened.

Once I had the effect I wanted I would delete the original layer so it would not affect later techniques in this painting. It would also reveal spots I had inadvertently created so I would touch up with the Smear Brush.


Art-Media Palette Knife Tool (PSP 9)

Creating the Snow-Capped Areas

For creating the snow-capped mountains effect, I used the Palette Knife. The idea here is to very very lightly draw it on the mountain edges where you think you would see snow. My settings were similar to the Oil Brush settings above:
– Size = 15
– Thickness = 1
– Rotation = first 45, later 315 and finally 90
– Head tracking = Fixed Angle
– Head loading = 1
– Auto clean = checked

I basically started with the top left edges of the mountains, using the mouse for more steady control, I clicked quickly on the edges to get white lines. I then changed the angel to 315 to get the snow reflections as I am going to make water lines there later. I finished up with an angle of 90 to get the shore line.

This step only requires that you place lines where you think there should be snow. In subsequent steps we will alternate between the Smear Brush and the Palette Knife to get the shading.


Art-Media Smear Tool (PSP 9)

Refining the Snow Effect

In this step I again duplicated the layer so I would not lose the initial look. I then set the Smear Brush first briefly experimenting with the brush size. Over the many hours of playing with this technique I found that the larger the brush the greater the smear effect. So, I ultimately chose a very low brush size. Again, I used:
– Head Tracking = Fixed Angle
– Thickness = 1
– Brush Size = 4

At times I zoomed the canvas to get better look at the scene. I used very slow and brief strokes, sometimes drawing down the snow, sometimes drawing across it. My objective was to get a more realistic appearance. I also found that in this step taking brief breaks and returning to view the image is more helpful to see the effect produced.

The other technique I used was to periodically return to the Palette Knife and re-apply a snow line. I did this when I had blended the white more than I wanted into the mountains.


Art-Media Palette Knife Tool (PSP 9)   Art-Media Art Eraser Tool (PSP 9)   Art-Media Smear Tool (PSP 9)   Art-Media Oil Brush Tool (PSP 9)

Creating the Water Effect

To create the water effect, one will use a multi-approach of different brushes, mainly the Palette Knife and the Art Eraser on two separate layers. On occasions one may also want to use the Smear Brush. All settings for these tools are very low values. And, if one smears too much, or erases too much, one can use the Oil Brush and just add some additional white markings for the water effect.

The key technique is to first use the Art Eraser and erase straight horizontal lines in the water area. How much to erase and how much reflection to keep is just a personal approach. Often alternating between Art Eraser and Palette Knife strokes is a good technique. And, the Palette Knife setting for the Head Loading should be set to 0 so that no paint is added, but just a smearing effect is achieved.

One will do the mountain reflections first and then will go on to the skyscape (blue) and erase there to have white from below show through. This step will take some time as one needs to proceed slowly to maintain some definition of the reflections, snow caps and water lines.


Final Comments

Taking the time to try different strokes, brushes, and brush options one can develop a style and technique to produce a fairly realistic effect and painting. The key is the combination of using various brushes for a particular effect. As examples: the mountains, snow, and water lines.

In the next tutorial we will continue to use these techniques to create a landscape with foliage using a new technique. In the meantime, have fun and let your creativity run wild.

– Prof –