Brushes are (Not) Magic.

About a year ago, I stopped hoarding brushes and started focusing on learning how to use the favorite sets I had at the time.

If there’s one thing I can recommend to do first, it’s getting a good set of starting brushes. Very concise sets to be specific. Not those artist brush sets that give you hundreds in one download but ones that have just the very basics. In fact, even those artists would tell you that they only use a handful to get a painting started. Around 5 to 10 brush tips should cover everything you need for painting.

Smaller sets are easier to memorize. A mnemonic device I use personally to help me remember brushes is to name them personally. Along with the name, I also take note of the thumbnail since that’s what I use for the primary display. Another advantage of smaller sets is that they are easier to rotate through. For example: you can get to the flats, to the airbrushes, to the rough brushes quickly. Faster and more efficient tool rotation will be something I’ll talk about in another post.



This is one of the very first sets I searched for because I really liked wlop’s art style. Seeing GhostBlade’s panels for the first time was amazing. The slick painterly look of the round brushes just drew me in.

Shaddy Safadi


Shaddy has one of the best tutorials I’ve ever had the pleasure to see. It’s his no nonsense, straight talk about how to get better. ‘Artists take a lot of time to make something that looks easy’. One of his mantras that stuck with me.

David Sequeira


This set was a surprise to me. I found it when looking for inking brushes specifically. I had it just sitting on my panel for a while, but really went back to it a lot because of the painting brushes. There’s a good selection of tips and textures in here that I’ve also seen in other sets. A great example of easy tool rotation. Looking through his DeviantArt, he also has a lot of drawing tutorials.

Karla Ortiz


She does a lot of work on games and movies. If you’re an MTG player you must have seen her cards. And if you’ve seen Doctor Strange, she designed his main superhero costume. In the tutorial she mentions having over 700 brushes, but only uses 3 most of the time. That is how far mastering the basics can get you.

Xia Taptara


Xia taught me to appreciate the flat brushes. His style of speedpainting in his videos was one I enjoyed a lot when I was starting out. They have a very distinct transparent and glossy look.

Yanjun Cheng


YJC does beautiful things with color. Chalk that up to how she builds her textured brushes on top of each other. The color of overlapping layers peek through, giving it interesting variety.

4 thoughts on “Brushes are (Not) Magic.

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