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Brush Tips

Posted by PatriciaD on March 8, 2010

This is CS3 but even Elements will be similar

I love brushes.  There is so much more than meets the eye at first glance. 

First select the brush tool-well, duh!  When you click the down arrow in the tool bar next to the currently selected brush (in the tool bar at top)  a list of brushes will drop down.  There’s a little tiny right facing arrow inside a circle next to the Master Diameter slider.  If you click on this little arrow you will see all kinds of more brushes.  The list is at the bottom of this menu.  When you select a set of brushes to load, PS will ask you to select OK, Cancel or Append.  If you choose Append the new brushes will be added at the bottom of the current brushes.

Once you’re done with whatever brush set you’ve selected you can also reset the brushes back to the original set by clicking on that little tiny arrow and selecting Reset brushes and OK.

ALWAYS create a new layer before applying or using brushes.  This allows you to maintain control of your brush once you’ve applied it.  Then you’ll be able to move it, resize it, change the opacity and use your blend modes.

Shortcuts are the most awesomest thing in PS and I encourage you to learn a few as you go along.  DO NOT try to learn all of them at one go.  But rather as you find yourself doing any particular thing over and over learn the shortcut for that particular thing.  For example, brushes have some fantastic shortcuts that make them easier and even fun.  Here are a few.

Resize brushes:  to make a brush smaller click the left square bracket – [ to make a brush larger click the right square bracket – ]

To move to the next brush in the list:  to move to the left use the left arrow – <
to move to the right use the right arrow – >  (hint here – it’s actually the comma and period that you’re using but it’s easier to remember them by the left and right arrows but you don’t actually use the shift key)

Color:  brushes will be either the foreground color or the foreground AND background color.  For example select the Flowing stars (29) brush.  When you make a single click on your “paper” you will get some variation of the foreground color.  But click (or click and drag) on the Grass (134) brush.  When you click this one you will get a combination of the foreground and background color.  You may get a solid foreground and solid background or a merging of the two. 

Single brush or stroke:  brushes can be used as something similar to a stamp by a single click on your digital paper or you may drag the stamp across your paper as with a paint brush and get a flow of laid down brush strokes.  Try it with the star and grasses we’ve already looked at.  Then you might see what a totally different effect you get if you use the Soft Round 100 pixels (100) brush.  Try several, change sizes, maybe colors.

Brush Menu:  To access the brush menu either click on the Window Menu and select Brushes, use the shortcut key – F5.  Click on the Brush Tip Shape on the left of the window.  This brings up a bunch of options.  Use the circle large cross lines through it to rotate the brush or use the Angle percent box to enter a number.  Use the spacing slider to create space between the brushes as they’re laid down. 

 Softer and Harder brush:  Hold the Shift key and click the left square bracket keys to make the edges of the brush softer (blurrier) or the right square bracket keys to make the edges of the brush harder (sharper).  For example choose the Hard Round 19 pixel (19) brush.  This is already as hard edged as it gets.  Click the right square bracket key until the size shows 400 pixels.  Click on your paper (don’t forget to create a new layer).  Now hold the Shift key while clicking the Left square bracket key.  Again, click on your paper.  See how the edges are softer.  Repeat.  This only works up to five degrees of softer or harder edges.

One more tip related to the above tip – click on the “Set to enable airbrush capabilities” button on the brush toolbar.  Now if you click your brush (use the same one as for softer/harder example) your brush will continue to grow as you continue holding the mouse button just as if you were airbrushing.

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One Response to “Brush Tips”

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