Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How to Make Your Own Rake or Comb Brushes

Rake or comb brushes are very handy when painting textured effects. These brushes have been cut with gaps between the bristles so that they produce grass like effects. They are really convenient when you want to paint rows of lines quickly and easily.

I find them useful for painting the fur in pet portraits.

However the rake brushes I have do have one problem. The spaces between the bristles are all the same size. This makes them excellent for parallel line areas, but not so good for grassy areas where you want some variety in the brush strokes.

I do have one rake brush that has irregular spaces but the majority of the rake brushes seem to have uniform spacing.

So I decided to experiment

I trimmed some old brushes to see how that would work. Don't use new brushes, but if you have some old brushes that are past their best this could be a good project.

As you can see from the photo I cut the bristles to give uneven spaces.

How to make your own

It is probably easier to do this with flat brushes rather than round brushes, although I tried both. Trim the brush across the width of the brush head. You are trying for a thin line of bristles across the width of the brush; this will avoid the final brush being overloaded with paint.

Then cut into the brush head to give the spaces between the bristles. This is a bit like when a hairdresser is making choppy layers in a hair style.

Test your newly trimmed brush to check that you are happy with the effect. If you aren't pleased with it then dry the brush on a piece of paper towel and re-cut it. Repeat this stage until you have a successful rake brush.

When to use them

If you're only painting a small area of texture it'll be easier to just paint it in using a small brush. However when you want to texture a large area it'll be quicker to use this type of brush and you can add several lines with just one brush stroke.

Having made your own brush you will have a more random look to the texture too.