What is the smudge tool?
The smudge tool is a blending tool, used for all sorts of things. It’s easy to forget about and ignore, but it’s actually quite useful. I also find it satisfying and fun! If you don’t already, you should definitely experiment with it. I’ll explain why.
When do you use the smudge tool?
As I’ve said before the smudge tool is incredibly useful. You can use it to improve your shading and lighting. It also works well for many styles of drawing blush. It’s even useful for various textures.
Any Style Works
You don’t have use the smudge tool for digital paintings only. I use it all the time and my art style is very cartoony. Many artists use it who don’t paint. One of my favorites is lavendertowne; she has a cute cartoony style. You could use it for just some things in your style or all your shading. Or even just the backgrounds. Use as much as you want.
Beware of Edges
When you’re blending, remember to not blend everything. If you use the smudge tool on an edge it can make it look blurry and weird.
You should draw the edges on your sketch layer and put your sketch layer on top of the layer you’re blending on.
Blend the round areas but not the edges. Sometimes I still forget this.
Colors are very important when blending. Colors that are closer on the color wheel blend better. If your colors are far apart on the color wheel then add some in between colors.
Sometimes the colors can get muddy. If they do, then you should add a clipping mask with a brighter color.
How do you use the smudge tool?
So far I’ve talked about when to use the smudge tool but not how. There some very important things like opacity and brushes. You should never settle for the default settings. You should change up your brushes.
Size and Opacity
Changing the size can add different effects to your drawing. If you’re blending small areas, you should never have a large brush and vice versa. This may seem obvious, but when you’re drawing it can sometimes be easy to forget. The size actual does make a difference, so don’t forget.
The opacity slider for the smudge tool could be more accurately described as a strength slider. If you have it too high, it can sometimes drag the colors around more than actually blending them. If you have it too low then it can sometimes have no effect at all or take a long time to take effect. Similarly to the size slider, you should have the opacity slider on low for details and high for larger areas.
Some people don’t know but you can change the brush for the smudge tool. It can create totally different textures. You shouldn’t leave it at the default brush, because you might want different textures in your drawings. You could even use certain brushes as a stylistic choice. It changes a lot.
I’m glad you’ve made it this far, because all the minutiae are important. I would like you to keep in mind that while I have experience in blending, I’m not a master. I simply know somethings that I think should be shared, but you should also look at other resources. There are many different ways to use the smudge tool, and you should try to learn them all.