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View Full Version : Smooshing / blending tools for paint?


plnelson
03-28-2019, 11:40 AM
I often use my fingers to smooth and blend paint when I want a really smooth, subtle blend, say for large areas of skin surface (I paint lots of faces, figures, oversized hands, etc) or sky.
And yes I wear vinyl or nitrile gloves doing this!
I find I can get a much smoother, softer blend than I can get with brushes, totally free of brush marks, And when I'm done I just throw out the glove.

But it has its limits because my fingers are too fat to work into small places or tight corners. So my question is: are there any tools that are good for this?

In drawing with charcoal or graphite I use tortillons and chamois cloth to achieve the same effect, and the former are great to work into tight corners. I actually DO use tortillons in painting, but to ERASE tiny mistakes - they're no good at smoothing. I've tried Q-tips - they leave marks and fibres. I'm pretty good at blending with brushes but I find I can get a different effect - - almost an airbrush effect - smooshing, and do it a lot faster, so I'm looking for a tool especially one that can get into space smaller than a finger. Thanks in advance!

RomanB
03-28-2019, 12:52 PM
Try make-up sponges! You could cut them in any shape you need, some of them have delicate textures which is good for blending.

AnnieA
03-28-2019, 01:20 PM
Two possibilities immediately come to mind:
Color shapers (they tend to be smaller):
https://www.dickblick.com/products/colour-shapers-tools/
And Princeton Catalyst tools (they've tended to be larger, although I notice some labeled "mini" now):
https://www.dickblick.com/products/princeton-catalyst-blades-and-mini-blades/
There are also Princeton Catalyst Contours and Wedges (which are very large - too large I think for what you've described):
https://www.dickblick.com/products/princeton-catalyst-contours-and-wedges/

I have a small color shaper that I use for just the kinds of tasks you mention. Note that all of these come in different shapes.

plnelson
03-28-2019, 03:21 PM
Two possibilities immediately come to mind:
Color shapers (they tend to be smaller):
https://www.dickblick.com/products/colour-shapers-tools/
And Princeton Catalyst tools (they've tended to be larger, although I notice some labeled "mini" now):
https://www.dickblick.com/products/princeton-catalyst-blades-and-mini-blades/
There are also Princeton Catalyst Contours and Wedges (which are very large - too large I think for what you've described):
https://www.dickblick.com/products/princeton-catalyst-contours-and-wedges/

I have a small color shaper that I use for just the kinds of tasks you mention. Note that all of these come in different shapes.
\Wow! I never even heard of these things! That's what so great about this forum - people always say look it up online, but if you don't even know something exists it's hard to look up. This place is a gold mine of esoterica. I'm definitely going to try these! I'm all take a look at the makeup sponges - another thing I didn't know about. Thanks for the suggestions!

JCannon
03-28-2019, 04:59 PM
I would love to try those color shapers.

For now, I make do with a variety of impromptu blender brushes. Often, I use cheap makeup brushes from the dollar store. Ebay offers ultra-cheap brushes for fingernail painting; they are no good for the traditional purpose of conveying paint to surface, but they sometimes work well as blenders in tight areas.

Basically, any non-pointed brush with long, soft hairs will do.

For larger areas, I have large makeup brushes, a badger shaving brush (cheaper than an "official" badger oil painting brush), and about a half-dozen fan brushes. Ebay offers Chinese-made fan brushes (https://www.ebay.com/itm/3-Size-Fan-Brush-Pen-for-Oil-Acrylic-Water-Painting-Tool-Artist-Wooden-Handle/191950111609?epid=1984447063&hash=item2cb11e4379:g:qv4AAOSwZ65cdp6o) that are surprisingly good.

I am SO grateful that we can have a civilized discussion about all this without some Art Stalinist insisting that we must never, ever blend because John Singer Sargent would not have approved. There were a lot of Art Stalinists around in the 1970s and '80s.

AnnieA
03-29-2019, 01:45 PM
\Wow! I never even heard of these things! That's what so great about this forum - people always say look it up online, but if you don't even know something exists it's hard to look up. This place is a gold mine of esoterica. I'm definitely going to try these! I'm all take a look at the makeup sponges - another thing I didn't know about. Thanks for the suggestions!
I'm glad those links were helpful. I have only one color shaper and find it a very useful tool. If art supply money is tight, you could consider getting one of the color shapers made for children, which generally have shorter handles and run about a third of the price as the regular ones. For your use, shorter handles may not be an issue.

Also, please note that the color shapers come in various hardnesses and sizes and are made of silicone. The larger Princeton Catalyst Blades are made of something stiffer than the soft colorshaper that I have, although perhaps now there are softer, more pliable ones that I'm not aware of, as I purchased mine some time ago. Probably going to a large art supply store that would carry both products would be the wisest way to go - that way you can see for yourself and choose the hardness/size that's right for your work.