From time to time it’s refreshing to try something new, and at the beginning of 2022 I decided to try out a few different brushes which I had been accumulating for quite some time. For a really long time now I have been using the same brush, or brushes, for my paintings, and don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But I was starting to feel a little bit too stuck in my ways, so I decided to give myself some time to experiment.

When I started this experiment I knew I’d end up painting a lot of portraits, and painting the same person over and over could easily become a bit of a chore. Therefore, I chose more than one subject of my experiment, in fact, I chose seven; the seven members that make up BTS. While I have some experiments using the same reference image, I did my best to keep them different, mostly for my own sake.

While I am only showing a few experiments here, I did a whole LOT of them. I believe I painted over sixty different portraits, with very different varying results. In some cases the brushes not performing the way I wanted to, and in others I just didn’t get the likeness right. At the end of the experiment I was amused to see how my style change ever so slightly with the different brushes.

If you like what you’re seeing and want a portrait made in any of these styles, or maybe in the style of my other portraits, feel free to get in touch. I do take commissions!

Portrait of BTS' Jin, painted using two different brushes. The names of the brushes used are written in the bottom left corner (Max U Gouache Details Bristle, and Newsprint).


Media: Digital.

Of all the brush experiments this portrait of Jin is one of my favourites. That’s partially because I on a whim decided to try out a half-tone brush, which I probably wouldn’t have picked up if I wasn’t for the experiment. The grey skin tone is a lower opacity layer rather than a colour, as I couldn’t quite get the shaded effect I was looking for with the main brush, but I’m really pleased with how it looks as just two flat colours (three if you count the white) with the half-tone shading.

To keep track of the brushes I used, I made a note of them on the images themselves. That way it would be easier for me to find and work with those brushes at a later date. It’s worth noting that some of the brushes I used are default Procreate brushes, but the majority of them were brushes I’ve purchased.

Portrait of RM of BTS. The image is painted in a limited colour palette of purples with a peach accent. The name of the brush I used is written at the bottom of the image (Max U Gouache Details Bristle).


Media: Digital.

This brush used for RM’s portrait might seem rather chaotic, but I actually love it. The hatching effect of this textured brush adds a lot of character and creates dynamics I never really would have thought of adding myself. Though, I can also see how it might not be the best choice for a single brush used in a portrait (despite thinking it works well here), but it could be a really good brush for imitating hair, and save some time that way.

In order to keep things “fair”, I initially strived to keep the paint everything using the same colour, and stick to just that one colour. However, as my experiments continued I needed a bit of a break from the monotone and added a few more colours. This was actually the first portrait where I added more colours, which turned out to be another way of testing how the brush would perform.

Portrait of J-Hope of BTS. The name of the brush used is written on the left (Max U Gouache Grainy V2).


Media: Digital.

Of all the portraits I painted of J-Hope, this is hands down my favourite, not just because I feel I got his likeness right, but also because of the brush I used. The texture this brush ahs reminds me a lot of my go-to brush, though it’s a lot softer. Since completing this experiment I’ve used this brush in several paintings, and probably will be used more still.

Portrait of BTS' Suga. The brush used for the image is noted in the bottom left side of the image (Max U Shader Pastel).


Media: Digital.

I have to admit I struggled a bit with this portrait. While I think I captured Suga’s likeness, my biggest struggle was to control the brush. A lot of the brushes I’ve used in the past use pen pressure to control the size of the brush strokes, and can let you taper them. For this one pen pressure controls the opacity of the stroke, which it also fully understandable, but it was a bit backwards for me. Once I got the hang of it though then I feel I’ve painted a rather dreamy portrait, possibly leaning a bit more towards realism than my usual style.

Portrait of Jung Kook of BTS. The names of the brushs used are written on the left (Max U Gouache Detail Gritty, Max U Watercolour Wash Soft and Honeyeater).

Jung Kook

Media: Digital.

For Jung Kook’s portrait I went back to two of my go-to brushes as I wanted to see how they’d work with another half-tone brush. This was heavily inspired by Jin’s portrait, but also driven by my curiosity to see how this change could affect the outcome. While the style isn’t quite there, and the image maybe looks a bit flatter than I woudl like, I feel the likeness is a lot closer, so I’m really pleased with how it all turned out.

Portrait of BTS' Jimin. The name of the brush I've used for the painting is written on the left (Flat Brush).


Media: Digital.

Much like Suga’s portrait, I used a soft brush for this portrait of Jimin. Both brushes work in a the same way as well; with pen pressure controlling opacity. While I did struggle with controlling the brush at times, I’m still quite happy with the outcome, both regarding the likeness and the general look and style of the image.

Portrait of BTS' V painted with my go to brush; Max U Detail Gritty.


Media: Digital.

The BTS member I started sketching was V, and I’m not gonna lie, I struggled with likeness a lot, and at the time I was uncertain if it was because of the unfamiliar brushes I chose to use. Therefore, I ended up going back to my usual go-to brush for this one, and I’m glad I did, because I’m really happy with how this looks. It might be a bit sketchier than many of my other portraits, but it still works. It also shows that even if I’m used to using one brush, I can still vary my style and expression with that as well. Oh, and because I went back to my go-to brush I didn’t bother writing the name of the brush.

Portrait of Jimin of BTS painted in a limited colour palette consisting of purple, blue, two peachy colours and white. The name of the brush I've used for the painting is written on the left (Studio Pen).

Jimin - second attempt

Media: Digital.

Ok, so I was really pleased by the really soft portrait of Jimin, but I also just had to show this portrait as well. While this style is not one I tend to dabble in that often, I just love the colour palette! I usually don’t use hard brushes like this, meaning brushes with a hard, solid edge, which doesn’t blend, be it through texture or blurring. That said, This type of brush is really good to use when creating a cell-shaded look, but can also be really useful for hatching and for line art.