How to Paint Mountains and Trees using Twisted Brush
Lesson 2: Mountains and Trees
This lesson will show how to paint mountains and pine trees. I also emphasize traditional painting techniques along with the digital techniques. Twisted Brush is a program that has over at least 5, 000 brushes and maybe even up to 7, 000. You can download a version of the main program for free and you can buy different collections of brushes or you can buy the whole progam with all the brushes. To create this painting, I used my Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet with S pen hooked up to my HP Pavilion PC using the Splashtop HD Remote app.
Tools for This Lesson
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Apps for This Lesson
Mountains and Trees: Step 1
Twisted Brush Website
- Pixarra : TwistedBrush Digital Painting and Photo Editing
Here you can find all the current versions of Twisted Brush and all the brush collections.
Twisted Brush Interface.
At first glance the interface of Twisted Brush looks rather complicated, but once you start using it, you find that it is fairly straightforward. This program is all about the brushes. As I said in my summary, it has at least 5000 brushes. Of course that applies to the full program. You can just customize this program with individual brush collections if you like. I have the full program and all the brush collections. I will give a brief overview of the interface in this lesson. For more detailed information you can download the instruction manual at the Twisted Brush website.
The top panel on the left hand side contains 9 current brushes that you are using. You can change those brushes by clicking on the arrow after each brush. Right underneath the brushes tabs B1 through B6 are located. Each one of these tabs contains 9 brush settings. This means you can work with six sets of 9 brushes for each project! Underneath these tabs are the brush settings such as shapes, opacity, brush thickness, and several others. Below this is the color picker. You can set hue, saturation, and luminosity. You can also float these panels and arrange them however you like or make them vanish if you want more painting space.
Another thing I like about this program is that you can have reference photos open in a window on your workspace. Here I have loaded the photo I used for this lesson. The picture is of White Mountain where the village of Ruidoso is located. It is a popular tourist destination in New Mexico. The layers are shown in a panel alongside the other panels or you can open a more detailed version by clicking on the Layers menu at the top.
Mountains and Trees: Step 2
Picking a Brush for the Sky
As you can see there are many brushes and many of them imitate natural mediums such as acrylic, oils and pastel. For the sky I chose an Acrylic Heavy Wash brush and picked a shade of cerulean blue for the sky. This brush gives a nice natural acrylic brushstroke texture.
Mountains and Trees: Step 3
Blending the Sky
In this step I've added a pink color to give the sky a lighter color at the horizon. I then selected the Soft Pastel Blender and started blending the two colors together. When painting traditionally, I use an x shaped stroke to blend my sky colors and I found it also works well using the natural style brushes in Twisted Brush.
Mountains and Trees: Step 4
Underpainting the Mountain
Starting with a new layer, I chose the Large Format Basic Paint brush to underpaint the mountain. Each time you pick a new brush, the settings menu automatically opens up and you can adjust your brush.
I picked a light bluish grey color to show aerial perspective. Aerial perspective basically means objects in the distance are less intense in color and details are vague. As you come forward in a painting, colors should get more intense and details get clearer. Utilizing this principle gives your paintings a realistic three dimensional look.
Mountains and Trees: Step 5
Adding Snow and Highlights on the Mountain
Next I picked a light orangish white to add the snow and highlights. I chose the Pro Chalk brush for a rough textured look that suggests distant canyons and ridges. Then to soften the edges and give the painting a more natural look, I used the Soft Pastel Blender on the chalk.
Mountains and Trees: Step 6
Adding Distant Trees
ln this step, I added another layer for the distant pine trees. I picked a light violet color and switched to the Simple Oil on Dry brush. My technique for making pine trees is using a z stroke to make the jagged look of the branches. I start by making a vertical line and then begin at the top, using a scribble type stroke, and go down the line in a zigzag z pattern. Each z pattern gets wider and wider as I go to toward the bottom, just like the branches on a real pine tree. When I am using traditional painting tools, this technique works well with a fan brush or a bristle brush.
After I painted the layer of trees, I picked the Pastel Blender 1 brush to soften the edges of the tree. At this stage, the trees still need to be distant and indistinct to show depth.
I learned the technique of painting "z trees" from watching Bob Ross on television.
Mountains and Trees: Step 7
Adding the 2nd Layer Trees
On a new layer I added the second layer of pine trees and used the same oil brush from the previous step. I darkened the color because these trees are closer to the viewer and will look more intense in color and more distinct in details. I also used the pastel blender again to soften the edges.
Mountains and Trees: Step 8
Final Layer of Trees
This was the final layer of trees and I picked a pine green color for it. Since these trees are in the foreground they need to be more detailed and intense in color. I still used the pastel blender to soften the tree edges because I wanted a natural look to the trees.
Mountains and Trees: Step 9
Highlighting the Trees and Adding Detail
In this step, I needed to add more details and highlights. Using the same Oil Brush on Dry, I chose a light yellowish green (Thalo Yellow Green in real acrylic paint) to bring out the highlights and give more definition to the pine trees. Then I blended the edges with the same pastel blender. I also added dead pine trees for extra detail and more realism. I didn't add as many bare trees as there are in the photo reference because that would make the painting too crowded. I' ve heard many artists say that it's not what you put in a painting, but what you leave out. Which leads us to another subject, composition. However, I will cover that in a future hub. Also in this step, I've shown that the brushes menu can be brought up with a right click of your mouse in any spot where your cursor is.
Mountains and Trees: Final Steps
In the final steps, I have added what is called eyestoppers. This is a compositional element that means you put things on the corners or sides of your canvas to keep the observer's eye from getting bored and wandering off of your painting. One of the goals of a painting is to capture people's attention.
For the eyestopper on the left side of the painting, I added a large blue-green pine tree . For the eyestopper on the right side, I added a dead tree. I highlighted them and blended the highlights. To make the dead tree more realistic, I added branches to it. I also added more darks to the pine trees to make the highlights show up better. Then I clicked on the save to file option in the File menu and saved the painting as a jpeg file.
I hope this lesson helped you understand how to paint trees and mountains a little better as well as showcased some of the Twisted Brush features. I only used a few brushes for this painting, but there are tons of brushes to experiment with and to try. I would say the main strength of this program is that you don't have to spend time creating new brushes.
Books on Painting Trees and Mountains
This book has several lessons on painting trees and mountains in it. I have all of his books and Jerry Yarnell is my main source for acrylic painting.
Even though these books are for traditional painting and not digital, the painting principles of composition and brush strokes styles can be applied to digital media.
Claudia Nice paints with watercolor and pen and ink. She is very talented and I love to read her books. I have nearly all of them.
Although Thomas Kinkade is known for his cottage and village paintings, he did some truly magnificent landscape paintings with beautiful mountain scenes. He was very heavily influenced by the Hudson River School artists.