Paint like a modernist master – Edvard Munch’s 100-year-old paint brushes are recreated in Photoshop

One of the most feted Modernist artists, Norway’s Edvard Munch (1863-1944) was a pioneer of Expressionist art at the beginning of the 20th century. He lived and worked in Paris and Berlin as well as travelling and exhibiting his work all around Europe. Even if you don’t know the full extent of his work, it’s likely you’ll be familiar with his famously haunting The Scream. Munch painted it four times in the course of his life and the iconic work was a fixture of student bedrooms, at least in the 1990s. In a bid to inspire the next generation of master painters, Adobe’s Master Photoshop brush maker Kyle T. Webster, in collaboration with The Munch Museum in Oslo, has digitally recreated the artist’s 100-year-old paint brushes so you can now paint with them (digitally) yourself.

Launched under the title The Hidden Treasures of Creativity, the projects makes seven of Munch’s original brushes available for Photoshop and Sketch users as a free download from Adobe. The brushes were photographed in 360 degrees using high-resolution cameras so that Webster could build 3D models of each brush and details such as bristle type and flexibility were analysed from the original tools to create as close a digital match as possible.

Webster said of the process, “To get started, I manually drew an outline of each brush, then determined which bristles would make contact first with the canvas if the brush were simply to graze the surface and isolated these to complete each brush stamp. I wanted to provide users with enough options to be able to confidently reproduce the oil painting effects and behaviours seen in Munch’s paintings.”

Webster also studied Munch’s work before designing the brushes. “This is why three of the brushes are Photoshop Mixer Brushes; it is important that users have the option to mix paint on the surface, so to speak, to produce a full range of effects. Also, it was very important to have the brushes respond naturally to the tilt of the stylus, to allow for more varied brush strokes,” he says.

If you’re interested in immersing yourself in Munch’s work in a non digital fashion, the museum in Oslo is currently showing a collection of his lesser known pieces as selected by celebrated writer Karl Ove Knausgård – the writer has had a long standing fascination with Munch. Later this year in New York, the Met Museum will be unveiling its own exhibition, containing many of the artist’s private collection.

Self-Portrait: Between the Clock and the Bed (1940–43) © Munchmuseet

Jill Macnair


Jill Macnair has worked as an interiors journalist for 13 years, contributing to titles including Elle Decoration, The Sunday Times and The Guardian. She set up cult interiors blog My Friend’s House in 2009 with Ros Anderson and continues to run the forum daily.

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