Multicolored Lettering from Mixer Brush
Multicolored Lettering from Mixer Brush

Create multicolored lettering in Photoshop with the Mixer Brush

Someone asked how to create multicolored lettering in Photoshop on Graphic Design Stack Exchange, so I decided to take a shot at it for them.

To do this we’ll be using the Mixer Brush, a tool that I think a lot of people don’t understand and either never learn or forget about. It’s also helpful for the lettering if you have some idea what you want to write and a Wacom Tablet is very helpful (and yes that is an affiliate link because that is the exact model of Wacom I use and love).

If you don’t have a tablet for the lettering I will be showing you an alternative that works well too using paths towards the bottom of the tutorial. There are pros and cons to each method.

Step 1:

On your document pick a background color. Then on a new layer create some strokes of different colors in this case right next to each other. Once you get some practice with the technique you’ll understand more how to position the colors for your vision. Right now don’t worry too much about it.

Color Swatches for Mixer Brush
fig. 72-1. Create a blank layer with some color swatches on it

Step 2:

Switch to the Mixer Brush Tool, make sure Sample All Layers is deactivated then hold Alt and click over the colors you created. You should see them appear in the Thumbnail on the toolbar.

Paint Sampled to Color Mixer Brush
fig. 72-2. Select the paint sample on the Mixer Brush

You can play with the settings but for this I’d suggest at least having Load at 100 and Flow at 100. Wet values will make the colors run together more. Mix is off because we’re not sampling all layers, but you certainly can play with that too.

Step 3:

Create a new layer, and paint your lettering. How cool is that!? (Note, I decided to change my swatch colors to the ones in this image.)

Multicolored Lettering from Mixer Brush
fig 72-3. Multicolored Lettering from Mixer Brush

Step 4:

Now you can refine the lettering using Clipping Masks and various brushes. To add a Clipping Mask create a new layer then hold Alt and click in between the new layer and the one below it. Adding some shadows and highlights especially helps bring out the effect.

Refined lettering using clipping masks
fig 72-4. Refined lettering using clipping masks to add shadows and highlights.


Now with doing this lettering using paths!

If you’re more skilled with the Pen tool and paths either in Illustrator or Photoshop, you can also create a path and then Stroke it using the Mixer Brush. 

Lettering by Path
fig 72-5. Use a Path to create the lettering

Then with Pen tool selected right click and choose Stroke but change the tool to Mixer Brush. Simulate Pressure is up to you.

Stroke with Mixer Brush
fig 72-6. Stroke Path with Mixer Brush Tool

And there you have it again. With effort this way definitely would give you more control since you could undo, change the swatch colors, and try again.

Multicolored Lettering by Path
fig 72-7. Multicolored Lettering by Path

Enjoy and if you make anything cool I’d love to see it on Instagram, just tag me @RyanfromGDSE

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