Messy Brushes: Free Brush Set of the Week

Skip to entry content

messy brushes banner

Welcome back! If you follow this blog you know that every Monday we have a new free brush set. We’ve got quite a treat for you this week. A brush set everyone should have in their library, our Messy Brushes are essential tools to get that perfect messily painted look — messy on purpose, of course. If this is a style you’ve admired from afar but haven’t had the guts to try, today’s the day! If you’re a beginner and want to learn a bit about messy techniques, keep reading. If you’re already familiar with this style, then you can get some great inspiration below.

Painting with Messy Brushes

Being able to paint with these messy brushes and with a messy technique is a great skill to have. The more you do it, the better you’ll get, and the faster you’ll begin to turn your ideas into physical manifestations. This style of painting is great if you want to quickly get some inspiration down without spending hours and hours trying to perfect every aspect of your drawings. Plus, it looks really, really cool.

With anything in life, practice makes perfect (or close enough). Go with your gut feeling and keep building up textures and colors wherever you think appropriate. If you’re new to this style, try painting an object from real life or even recreate work from others you admire. It may be frustrating at first to try to create something from your imagination so this is a good place to start. Your technique will eventually improve and you’ll be able to create amazing visuals such as the one shown below. What’s great about messy painting is you don’t have to think about including every single detail, you can get your message across using only a few strokes. Who needs to paint every single leaf on a tree when you can quickly paint the entire tree with the illusion of there being thousands of leaves?

princess mononoke messy painting
Princess Mononoke digital painting by Muju

Making a great mess with brush strokes

Notice the brush strokes if we zoom in to the painting below. Take a look at the hand holding onto the fur. It doesn’t quite look like a hand close up, does it? But when you zoom out to view the image as a whole (above), it makes perfect sense. Use neater detail where necessary, but sparingly. The cleanest part of the painting is the face, and it stands out beautifully against the more chaotic surroundings. Be loose with your strokes. Don’t try to make everything perfect. You want there to be raw emotion and a sense of movement within your paintings, something that is uniquely achievable with messy brushes and strokes. When it comes to blending, don’t make anything smooth. Use the strokes to create color gradients, but don’t go in afterward to fix things with a blending brush. For this type of painting you want rough textures. For the backdrop, the Messy Airbrush and Messy Watercolor brushes in the set are perfect for creating rough textures.

princess mononoke messy brushes zoom

If seeing this painting rekindled your love affair with Princess Mononoke, take a look at some of Muju’s other work on his DeviantArt page. Also be sure to check out his gorgeous selection of available prints for purchase.

Installing the brush sets

Being able to share and install these weekly free brush sets in the desktop app is one of the features for SketchBook subscribers. If you’re using the latest desktop version of SketchBook, simply double click on the .skbrushes file, and it will automatically install. Check out this article for all the details about brushes and legacy versions. If you haven’t tried the subscription, you can download a free trial and unlock Pro membership for 15 days (no credit card required).