I’ve long tried to use iPad drawing apps, like Procreate or Photoshop, to simulate my traditional watercolor painting work. Until recently I had no luck using these tools to make anything decently watercolor-ish. But with Procreate 4’s introduction of wet canvas + brush dynamics, an Apple Pencil, and a set of lovely, free watercolor brushes from Abbie at Uproot Jewellery, I’ve been thrilled at how close I can get to the real thing. The only thing missing has been a good set of salt brushes (I use a lot of salt in my paintings to simulate textures like dense fields of coral), so I created 6 of my own. And now you can use them, too!
Grab the brushes here (zip file via Google Drive). . The swatches that follow can give you an idea of what to expect from each of the brushes.
My workflow for salt brushes:
Start with a background layer of white. Create another layer and fill it with a watercolor paper texture (Abbie from Uproot Jewellery includes this paper texture in her free brush set). Set this layer’s blend mode to “Multiply” and keep it above all future layers.
Create the base painting layer(s) to which salt texture will be applied. Usually these are areas that represent large, saturated pigment washes, since salt only pulls away pigment when it’s damp. to do its work.
Create a salt effect layer above the base painting layer(s). I will either set the layer’s blending mode to “Add” (which gives the impression that salt has pulled pigment away down to the white paper) or “Overlay” (which gives the impression that some of the paper was stained a little by the pigment, so that the salt doesn’t reveal full white paper).
Choose white for the salt brush color and apply as desired to the layer. Play with different brush colors and layer blending modes for various effects.
Sometimes I’ll create another salt layer below the first salt layer, set its blend mode to Multiply and opacity low, and brush down salt in a darker pigment. This gives a more variegated effect to the texture, which occurs often in real life due to various paint and water evaporation behaviors.