Culling and Naming Brushes; Brutal

I am so excited.  Open Studio starts next Saturday at Digital Art Academy.  We are going to study sumi-e painting, which is one of my favorite art forms.

To get ready, I started researching sumi-e by watching You Tube “how to” videos and trying it myself in Painter 11.  Guess what?  It “ain’t” so easy, at least not digitally.  To make life simpler, I decided to create some brushes that I thought would make the process easier.  Did I just write that?  Anybody got any whiteout?

Simple, easy, and brush creation do not belong in the same paragraph.  Brush creation can be frustrating, and it can be satisfying.  In Painter 11, there are a seemingly infinite number of controls, yet the one tweak that I need to make the perfect brush is just out of reach, so frustrating.  However in the search for the ideal brush for sumi-e, many flawless brushes for different styles develop, which can be very satisfying.

Many does not describe the actual reproduction phenomenon.  Brushes ripen in numbers equal to the spore of a mushroom.  In case you don’t know, that’s a whole bunch.  So, I need to cull and name.  Have you ever tried to name a brush.  Think about it.  It has a stick and some bristles.  What do you name something like that? If you think about it, digital brushes have neither stick nor bristles, but are pretend brushes.  The difference between digital and traditional will have to wait until another day, besides, the function of the brush is most important.

I like the name of the brush to reflect its function, but that isn’t always so easy.  In this current set, I made a brush I called curly leaf because it made a curly leaf.  But then I proceeded to make 11 variations of that brush, each called curly leaf followed by a number; curly leaf 1, 2, 3, etc.  I know, it is not very original, but in the heat of tweaking, naming is not a high priority.

Tweaking is over; naming and culling are hot.  In my last set, I had descriptive names like rouge, powder, lipstick, and I have a mind to continue descriptive names with this set.  If I do, there will be names like Iris Blade, Carnation Splash, and Thistle Prickles.  I wonder if I have the first signs of dementia.   

Okay, so I am naming and culling; luckily, I have experience.  I used to raise fancy goldfish.  Some babies got named and some got eaten by the Red Oscars.  Naming and culling can be brutal.  Mistakes will be made.

Here is a sample page of the brushes that have made the first cut, but are yet to be named and still in danger of being culled. 

Masterpiece in the works

Brushes from the first cull

Notice how similar they look at first glance.  So, how do I decide who makes the grade.  For me it is through application.  Normally, I don’t start creating a set of brushes without some idea of their function.  In this case, I’m interested in sumi-e.  I need brushes that can help me create the essence of a form, without giving too many details.

Want to see some brushes in action.  Check out this video.

In another post, I’ll talk about tweaking brushes, but today, all I can think about is culling, naming and getting ready for Open Studio.

10 responses to “Culling and Naming Brushes; Brutal

  1. Interesting video and discussion. Being a complete novice in Painter, I’ve create brushes but never with any purpose in mind. I hope we get to see some sumi-e painting results here 😉

  2. Hi Skip,

    So far, so good. You’re doing great at this blogging exercise.

    One thing about Sumi-e, you mentioned up above that painting Sumi-e “‘ain’t’ so easy, at least not digitally.”. I have a set of bamboo brushes and ink plus a small supply of rice paper. Trust me, Sumi-e is much, much easier digitally than in real life, which I suppose is why is takes so many years to master. Remember, the real Sumi-e artists do not have the Undo button. Plus, those brushes are miserable to clean. LOL

    It is a magnificent art form though, isn’t it?


    • Thanks Elaina,

      My experience with sumi-e like work was on clay. I used the same brushes, same techniques, but used colored slips as inks. I know, not exactly like ink. Can’t say I was a master, but I did work many years perfecting painting on clay. I have always loved the look of sumi-e.


  3. Brutal is right! But I didn’t know you felt that way about creating brushes. I thought it was second nature to you.

    I love what you’ve begun with this new set, Skip. Open Studio will be enlightening, for sure. It’s all new to me — I have borrowed 4 library books and I bought one from Borders.

    And somehow must share my Open Studio participation time with time spent in your class. Fun. Challenging.

    Have you told everyone you are a teacher? An outstanding instructor at the Digital Art Academy??? May I brag for you?

  4. Nothing is second nature, Barb. It takes work for me to do anything; maybe it looks easy or like it is second nature because I tend to laugh my way through the endeavor.

    The new set keeps changing. Be sure to keep the set I sent you separate from the final set. This morning I have been very brutal in the culling process, and I keep tweaking. I don’t think the latest edition resembles the original at all.

    I think I have mention being a teacher. I’m not sure. Right now, I am definitely a student and I have lots to learn about this blogging business.

    Thanks again for visiting,

  5. Hey Skip,

    I think you write loverly. And the brushes are awesome. Post me a Pic you make with them. I loved the e-Sumi site you showed me last week. Cool Stuff. Not enough time in my life to do everything I would like to. Like I mentioned, I have a Wacom pad and have been using a pen (brushes) in PS for years. I would love to do Painter… but spread thin as it is. See ya around new friend.

    • Hey Bean…just wait. I really haven’t talked about creation, just naming and culling. I’ll get to actual creation later…wow, that sounds a bit over the top doesn’t it? It doesn’t happen in seven days, that’s for sure.


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