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!

An image showing 6 swatches of salt brush textures

Download brushes from Google Drive (zip file)

Detailed brush swatches

Red watercolor pigment swatch with a white, dense, and soft salt brush texture

“Loaded soft” salt brush

Red watercolor pigment swatch with a white, dense, and crystalline salt brush texture

“Loaded crystalline” salt brush

Red watercolor pigment swatch with a light dusting of a white salt brush texture

“Sprinkled” salt brush

Red watercolor pigment swatch with a sparse, white crystalline salt brush texture

“A pinch” salt brush

Red watercolor pigment swatch with individual grains of soft, white salt textures applied by a brush

“Granular soft” salt brush

Red watercolor pigment swatch with individual grains of crystalline, white salt textures applied by a brush

“Granular crystalline” salt brush

Using the 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.
Screenshot of Procreate for iPad app's layers palette showing a watercolor paper texture layer added above a white background layer

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.
Screenshot of Procreate for iPad app's showing a red, orange, and blue watercolor painting of an underwater scene, on a layer named base coral

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).
Screenshot of Procreate for iPad app's layer palette, showing a layer named

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.
Screenshot of Procreate for iPad app with brush palette open to salt brushes, and a sparkly salt texture applied above the base coral layer

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.

Enjoy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.