For decades, Edvard Munch’s paint brushes sat in the archives of Oslo’s Munch Museum, their bristles hardened and handles still stained. But they’ve now been made available for public use, reborn for the digital age in the form of Adobe Creative Cloud brushes that precisely replicate their individual properties. They’re all available to download for free, for users of Photoshop and Sketch.
The museum recently partnered with Adobe to launch “The Hidden Treasures of Creativity,” a collection of seven digital paintbrushes modeled after Munch’s own. The new tools include the Filbert brush, the Short Flat Sparse brush, and the Round Ratty brush, which creates soft, smoke-like marks. Adobe tasked designer Kyle T. Webster, an award-wining Photoshop brush maker, with creating the brushes, and he worked closely with museum experts to replicate the shape of each paintbrush so they reflect the originals’ flexibility and bristle type, as well as art historians’s analysis of Munch’s brushwork. The museum has owned the artifacts since Munch’s death in 1944, as Munch willed all his work tools, artworks, and private library to the City of Oslo, which founded the museum two decades later.
Launched “to celebrate digital preservation of masterpieces,” as per Adobe’s press release, the project followed processes similar to those involved in digitizing paintings. Each brush was photographed in 360˚ with ultrahigh-resolution cameras to create a 3D representation, which Webster then referenced to build the digital brushes. The results are intended for use with a tablet, as the brushes react to the pressure, rotation, and even tilt of a pen. (The author’s attempt to recreate the 1893 version of “Der Schrei der Natur,” or, “The Scream,” with a desktop mouse can be seen at the top of this post.) The digitization is a creative way to engage the public with an artist’s archives in an accessible way; using the tools also allows you to appreciate and learn a little more about Munch’s brushwork from a new and intimate perspective.
To better acquaint yourself with the Munch-Webster brushes, you may want check out the handy set of tutorials Adobe has released on YouTube. The company has also launched a competition for artists interested in reinterpreting “The Scream” with the new tools. The winner of #MunchContest — the deadline to enter is July 14 — will receive a cash prize, a trip to Las Vegas, and have their digital masterpiece on display at the museum.