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How to create raster brushes in Affinity Designer for iPad

Paolo Limoncelli, from DAUB Brushes, shows us how to create raster brushes that mimic real-world acrylic brush strokes in Affinity Designer for iPad.

Paolo is a brush expert. As well as creating his amazing real-media brushes for his DAUB Brushes project, Paolo has also made all of the brushes that are included with Affinity Designer for iPad. So who better to teach us all how to create raster brushes?

In the short video below, Paolo shows the creation of a basic acrylic brush in Affinity Designer for iPad.

Creating a basic acrylic brush in Affinity Designer for iPad.

In his previous tutorial, Paolo showed us how to create brush nozzles from real-life media. In this tutorial, Paolo provides you with those nozzles to show his process of creating raster brushes in Affinity Designer for iPad.

Download raster brush nozzles

1. Create your digital brushes

The first brush we’re going to create is a basic acrylic brush (flat bristle acrylic brush), which smoothly releases its pigment and changes its shape depending on direction and pressure. This will be a very versatile tool, suitable for both quick concepts and refinements, with a nice painterly look.

  1. Create a new document in Affinity Designer for iPad, this will be your testing canvas.

  2. Switch to Pixel Persona. Go to the Brushes Studio and use the Studio Preferences icon and choose New Category.

  3. Go the Studio Preferences Menu again and rename your brush category to My Custom Acrylics.

  4. Go the Studio Preferences Menu once more, and this time select New Intensity Brush. Import slice1.png from the DAUB-raster-brush-nozzles folder, which I have provided in the resources.

  5. In the General tab, use the following settings: Size: 128px, Flow: 14%, Accumulation: 68%, Spacing: 2%, Rotation: 25%, Wet Edges: Set Off.

Creating a flat bristle acrylic brush in Affinity Designer for iPad.

2. Add Dynamics

Accumulation represents the dilution of our acrylic (how dense is it) and Flow means how much of it we’re going to release (so the wetness of our brush). These are settings that are found in the Dynamics tab of the Brush Settings.

We want to bind these parameters to the pressure applied with an Apple Pencil, so we will set both Accumulation and Flow to respond to pressure.

To do this go to Dynamics tab in Brush Settings and adjust the following settings:

  • Flow: 55% Pressure
  • Accumulation: 100% Pressure

Now we want to give some dynamics to the brush shape too. This time let’s set the following:

  • Size: 46% Pressure
  • Rotation: 100% Angle
Adding Dynamics to our basic acrylic brush.

Rotation set to Angle allows our stroke to change together with Apple Pencil’s orientation. Size’s ramp has been slightly changed to get a slower size response, which mimics a stiff chisel brush (like the one I’ve used to create these nozzles).

Tap OK to exit the Brush Settings. Long-press on the brush preview in the Brushes Studio and rename this brush to Basic Acrylic.

You now have your Basic Acrylic brush.

3. Iterating to create new brushes

This first brush represents our ‘master sample’ from which we’re going make more variations of brushes.

To start with, long-press on the Basic Acrylic brush preview in the Brushes Studio and choose Duplicate. Repeat this action two more times.

We’re now going to create the following brushes for our set:

  • Textured Acrylic
  • Textured Acrylic Dense
  • Dry Acrylic

3.1 Textured Acrylic

  1. Select the first duplicate in the Brushes Studio, long-press then rename it to Textured Acrylic.

  2. Long-press again and select Edit from the pop-up menu. In the Dynamics section, set Accumulation to 68% Pressure. Leave the other parameters as they are.

  3. Go to the Texture tab and tap the Add button, found right under the Brush Nozzles’ list and select slice2.png from the provided resources. This nozzle is suitable for a nice textured look.

  4. Remove the old one by selecting the nozzle preview and tapping Remove. Our new nozzle (slice2.png) is the only nozzle we want in here.

Now let’s add a Base Texture. Tap Set Texture and add DAUB_paper-light.png (provided in the resources) and set the Mode to Nozzle. Set the Scale to 200%.

This is your Textured Acrylic brush in action…

3.2 Textured Acrylic Dense

  1. Select the second duplicate and rename it to Textured Acrylic Dense.

  2. Edit the brush and on the Texture tab add nozzle slice4.png to obtain a rougher look.

  3. Now let’s add a Base Texture. Adding base textures gives your brush the definition it would have if you were painting on that texture. Tap Set Texture and add DAUB_paper-light.png (provided in the resources) and set the Mode to Nozzle. Check the Scale is set to 100%.

  4. Go to the General tab and set the following settings: Flow: 64% and set Spacing to 4%. Keep the other settings as they are.

  5. Set Wet Edges to Set On and enable Custom Wet Edges, assigning a ramp just like the one represented in the image below. Wet Edges gives a thicker look to our strokes, persisting in the same area will make the pigment spread, just like wet paint.

In the Dynamics tab, keep the same values. You have finished creating your Textured Acrylic Dense brush for your set.

3.3 Dry Acrylic

This time we want to obtain a dry look with nice bristle trails. Tap the third duplicated brush and edit it. Rename it to Dry Acrylic.

As we did above for the Textured Acrylic Dense brush, the nozzle needs to be changed to use a suitable one, this time use slice3.png.

  1. In the General tab, change the Flow to 8% and the Accumulation to 100%.

  2. Now, enable Custom Wet Edges and change the ramp to an ‘S’ shape, like the one shown below. This ramp will increase the effect of a dry looking brush.

Under Dynamics, set Accumulation to None and move Flow to 100%. Using these parameters, the pigment too will have a dense look.

You now have your complete set of custom acrylic brushes!

Want to learn more?

Find out how I created my brush nozzles from real-life media in this article.

You can also find out how to create a custom set of vector brushes using my nozzles in this tutorial.

Andy has also made a great video tutorial about managing your raster brushes that’s worth checking out too.