The best brushes for painting skin

Digital artist Charlie Bowater reveals her top brush choices for emulating the skin's natural texture and imperfections.

Best brushes for painting skin

I think this all comes down to finding which method works the best for you. Plenty of artists have a specific set of brushes they use for skin. I tend to use very few brushes and keep things pretty simple.

My favourite brush types tend to be hard edged and have a little bit of texture to them. I find these kinds of brushes to be very diverse and I can use them to paint pretty much anything: fabric, hair, and specifically here, skin. One brush I would absolutely avoid though is an Airbrush type.

It might be easy to fall into the trap of painting perfectly smooth porcelain skin, but it's very unrealistic and can easily suck the life out of any character. You'll end up with something very plastic looking.

Best brushes for painting skin

Here I’ve used a Speckled brush on an Overlay layer and set it to around 10-20 per cent Opacity

Using something with a bit of texture helps to emulate the skin's natural texture and imperfections. Even if the texture is really subtle, it adds to the end result. It also helps with painting the planes of the face.

My preference is to paint in the main bulk of the face and not worry too much about detailing anything too early, like trying to paint individual pores for instance. As long as I'm using a hard-edged brush, the general texture will come naturally. I then like to add in final textures towards the end.

Words: Charlie Bowater

This article originally appeared in ImagineFX magazine issue 101.