When is smudge not a four letter word?

This week’s PS Friday is all about the smudge tool.  My theory is that when someone first learns Photoshop they fall in love with a few tools and tend to stick with the same techniques through many software updates.  My very first foray into Photoshop was with Photoshop 7.  And we are talking waaaaay before CS up in here.  That was what, almost 15 years ago?

As I was saying there are so many tools in PS (even in ye olde PS 7.0) that you just have to stick to a select few.  The smudge tool may be one of your old faves or a new friend waiting to be discovered.  Either way, here are some examples and techniques to get to know the smudge tool better.

Smudge Tool Tips & Techniques

First off, here’s a little cheat sheet I made on the smudge tool and the ‘strength’ setting.  At 100% the smudge goes on for EVER.  Around 50% is where you’ll usually use the smudge tool for most applications.  You get a good amount of smear but not too much.  The last example shows the smudge tool at 10% strength.  It’s barely visible, which is why you’ll want to use this setting for things like smoothing skin in photo retouching.

smudge tool samples

Next here’s a quick video showing you how to recreate the effects above.  Plus what you can do with the ‘finger paint’ setting.

smudge tool video

You can download a ton of lovely brushes to achieve different smudge effects from John Silva on devianArt.

smudge brushes

This tutorial shows you how to use the smudge tool for painterly tone blending in digital art work.

smudge tool painting

Finally, here’s how you turn a photo into a painting using the smudge tool.

smudge tool photo painting

What’s your favorite PS tool? How long have you been using it? Does the smudge tool make your list?  Share your tips and stories in the comments!

Photoshop Friday: Smudge Tool Techniques
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