The goal with this sketch was to test out the new Erodible brushes in Photoshop CS6, which we heard about and were intrigued. Brushes designed to wear down as you draw, as pencils and other dry media would in real life? This sounded like it could aid in achieving a textured and organic drawing. But at what speed do they erode? And what if we want a thicker, blunt brush, but the tool is still sharp?
Other brushes can be set to exactly what we need, so this option adds a bit of unpredictability. When drawing with natural media, we never notice the way the pencil is blunting as we go. We sharpen when we need to, but until then, we must subconsciously adjust and make use of that element of the tool. But does this intuitive drawing transfer to digital tools, or are they better suited to the control we’re used to?
In the Brush palette, you can find a group of brushes with Erodible in the title. There are five shape options – Square, Flat, Round, Triangle and Point – as well as a custom option.
We start with the Erodible Point brush and experiment with some marks. The first thing we notice is that, although the surface area changes size as the tool wears down, it is a solid shape. There is no variable line width – in fact the Pressure button on the top taskbar is greyed out when these brushes are selected. Any line variation over the course of a drawing will come solely from the changing surface size of the tool.
We set the Point tip to 50% Softness. The Softness setting is like the H/B ratings on pencils, denoting the softness of the digital lead and how fast it wears down. The erosion is instant, and we found ourselves having to sharpen frequently. (To sharpen, click the Sharpen button beneath the Softness slider in the Brush palette.) We end up switching to 0% Softness and simply using it like a regular Hard Round brush while we get an initial sketch down.