Painting with Coffee: A Free Brush Set

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painting with coffee header

If you haven’t heard already, we’ve been giving out free brush sets every Monday! This week, we wanted to get messy with coffee… minus the mess. Download the Painting With Coffee brushes and give them a whirl, perhaps while enjoying a nice cup of coffee (the smell really rounds out the experience). Once downloaded, double click the .skbrushes file to install.

The inspiration for this brush set comes from the work of artists like Maria A. Aristidou, who has perfected the use of coffee as a medium for painting. Now you, too, can paint with coffee (without potentially staining your desk). Check out more of Maria’s work on her Instagram feed @ma_aris as well as her Facebook Page for some additional inspiration. If you like Star Wars or Game of Thrones, you’re in for a treat.

khaleesi painting with coffee
One of the many beautiful pop culture drawings made with coffee as the medium from the Instagram feed of @ma_aris

Tips for painting with coffee

If you want your work to look like a genuine coffee art piece like the beautiful Mother of Dragons above, you may want to keep the following pointers in mind:

  • Try using a textured background. Most coffee artists use watercolour paper for their creations so that’s a great place to start. You can also experiment with painting on different “surfaces” such as reproductions of a napkin, paper bag, or a nice wood pattern. The best part is when you do this digitally you can easily try different textures on your painting after you’ve completed it by creating a lot of different textured layers and then settle on what you think works best. Head over to our Adding Photo Texture to Your Artwork with Blending Modes tutorial if you need to brush up on your blending modes.
  • White space is your friend! Because you can’t use coffee as a highlight in real life, coffee artists utilize white space to bring out the lightest accents in their paintings. Of course, it can be difficult and tedious to plan ahead for this when painting on paper. Luckily, we have the luxury of the eraser tool at our fingertips to go in and fix things up or add more highlights afterwards.
  • Be loose. Let the brushes do their work. Try to only modify the size and opacity. Use the “Hairline Espresso” brush to build colours with multiple strokes. If you don’t allow for imperfections, it will feel too digital. Choose a variety of browns (both warm and cool) and use the Multiply blending mode to add more intensity. Don’t forget to use the splatter and coffee stain tools we’ve provided you with to complete the look.
coffee painting girl
A doe-eyed coffee girl made with the SketchBook Coffee Brush Set by our community manager Renée.

Additional cups of inspiration

Maria may be the best coffee painter out there, but she’s not the only one. Artist Giulia Bernardelli combines coffee and chocolate sketches with a camera to create unique photos with a fun and lighthearted spirit. Michael Aaron Williams puts his coffee drawings on top of 100-year-old vintage ledger paper. Elena Efremova uses her morning coffee drinking time to draw cats. Yes, cats. If you are ready to try coffee as a medium and need some inspiration, check out Pinterest for some excellent examples of coffee painting subjects and techniques.

coffee painting with cats famous painting and more
Coffee artists often incorporate cups and spills to further the motif — and some even paint on interesting mediums.

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).