Most, if not all, of us, once drew with a simple pencil and paper. Think back to the time when you would try to blend your charcoal or colors with your finger— it was a messy process, wasn’t it?
Traditional blending with your finger is a technique used in traditional media, such as painting or drawing, where the artist uses their finger to blend the colors together on the surface of the canvas. This can be done by gently smudging the colors together, or by using circular motions to create a more even blend. The result is a smooth transition between the colors, which can add depth, dimension, and even some interesting mix of colors.
With today’s digital tools, it’s a little bit different. Much more intuitive, and efficient, and definitely opens up infinite possible paths in which your art could go! In this guide, we will tackle only a few different ways you can best utilize your Procreate blending brushes. For a more in-depth course about all the tools and techniques, you can use, check out Procreate Masterclass, where we’ll give you everything you need to kickstart your creative journey!
To start off, we need to familiarize ourselves with Procreate’s blending tool, or Smudge tool, as others might call it. You can find this tool on the upper left side of your panel, right between the brush tool and the eraser tool.
This tool is used to create smooth transitions between your colors wherever you need them. You can create gradients with Procreate blending brushes by blending colors together as you drag the brush over your screen. The most amazing part? You can use just about any brush you have at your disposal! Be it a hard round brush, gouache brush, or watercolor brush— all of them can function as a blending brush. To get you started, here’s some free Oil Sampler brushset for you to try out:
Find these brushes fun? Get the whole set here! The Oil Brush Pack has 99 brushes to choose from and play with, you’re sure to make something gorgeous with these! Each brush will, of course, have its own unique properties and characteristics that will ultimately create a different drag, blend, and texture— all of which may give your piece the finishing touches it might need.
Another way to use blending brushes in Procreate is to create custom brushes using the brush settings. In the brush settings, you can adjust the dynamics of the brush, including the smoothing, spacing, and texture, to create a unique blending brush that is tailored to your specific needs. For example, you can adjust the size of the brush, the amount of pressure sensitivity and the opacity to create the desired effect. Don’t be afraid to play with the sliders and you could come up with something new and exciting!
Onto the cream of the crop— when should you use your blending brushes and how do you best use them?
There are plenty of instances when you’re going to want to reach for the blending brush, but before we get into a few samples, we need to go over the two common mistakes you might have.
Your blending brushes will work much better if you use colors analogous to each other. Trying to blend colors that are too saturated and far apart isn’t an impossible feat, but it will more likely than not, result in a muddy grayish-brown mess. If you do find yourself in this situation, a simple trick is to use an Overlay layer on top of everything and add a slight tint of your desired color!
Blending brushes are god-sent to us digital artists— it makes our process quicker and we don’t have to spend hours upon hours color picking and trying to blend our colors. However, too much of anything isn’t good. The same goes for blending brushes— use this too much and your work will look too digital or too polished. Best to sprinkle in this tool here and there instead of using it for the entirety of your process.
Now that over and done with, let’s go ahead with a few samples on how to best use your awesome tool!
One thing Procreate unfortunately lacks is the ability to make gradients automatically. However, until they finally roll out that feature (fingers crossed!) Procreate blending brushes are our best friend. Simply divide your canvas into two different colors and use your blending brush to create a gradient. Depending on which brush you use, this might not be the smoothest but it definitely has character!
Blending, essentially, is moving pigment around in your canvas. In that sense, you can create new shapes with just this tool! A portion of our previous blog about the Smudge Tool explains and shows exactly how you can do this.
Human skin isn’t just one color— it’s a combination of many different and subtle hues and it might be tricky to try and blend them all manually. This is where blending brushes come in to save our day! Choose your desired skin tone palette and blend away!
If you don’t know what color to start with, we have these amazing Tropical Skin Swatches and Dark Skin Swatches for you to try out.
There you have it! Of course, these are only a few of the endless possibilities of this tool. There’s so much more technique and style you can do to enhance your illustrations. If you’d like to learn more about it, make sure to check out our Procreate Masterclass for in-depth tutorials and tons of fun activities! 🤩
Courses and brushes by Freya Kotchakorn helped mored than 10.000 students excel in Procreate drawings.