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Colin Smith
January 16, 2017

Note: This blog post and brush set was originally created by Michelle Li

In the real world, wear and tear happens on everything we interact with. Grunge can tell the story behind an object — from the torn edges of your favorite hoodie to the paint that peels from that spot where you always place your hand.

How do you make your artwork feel gritty and grainy? With our free set of SketchBook Grunge Brushes. Adding textures (a brand-new feature) can make your artwork more realistic and visually interesting. This set has twelve different dirty textures are in this set: Oil Spots, Tire Treads, Dirt Splash, and many more.

The 12 brushes in the Grunge Brush Set can make your art wonderfully tore up from the floor up.

It’s a pretty simple matter to take something squeaky clean and make it a mess. Follow along as we dirty up a shiny blue robot.

How to Lay Down the Grunge

After installing the Grunge Brush Set, open it up and give it a look. You’ve got twelve different types of gritty goodness to muss up your drawing with. I made a new layer for my grunge under the robot line art, and I went to town! Check out the transformation below from clean to scratched up:

These Grunge brushes are especially great for making metallic textures look beaten and blasted.

Use Transparent Ink for Detail

The Grunge brush textures look good, but they can be even more unique with “transparent ink.” Transparent ink is a special feature in SketchBook. You can find it in the color puck, right here:

With transparent ink, any brush you use actually becomes an eraser. That means you can use any textured shape, like the grunge brushes, and add more detail by erasing the edges.

Play with Blending Modes

Blending modes are a powerful way to get neat effects quickly. They use complicated equations to change the way the layer’s color behaves in relation to the other layers. You can find them in the Layer Editor menu here:

On my grunge layer, I tried out a few blending modes to see the way it changed up my robot. Depending on the colors and tones you use in your art — the dark and the light — you’ll get wildly different results from each blending mode.

You should try as many as you can. You might be surprised at what happens! Check out this video below, which shows Normal blending mode vs. Soft Glow and Multiply:

Installing the Brush Set

If you’re using the latest desktop version of SketchBook, simply double click on the .skbrushes file, and it will automatically install.

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Colin Smith

Colin is a Sr. Product Manager on the Automotive and Conceptual Design Team at Autodesk. During his 25-year career in the CAD industry he has worked in customer support, training, consulting and as a product manager for Alias and Fusion 360. Currently, he works on SketchBook Pro and Create VR and is based in Toronto, Canada.