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Photoshop 05 – Understanding Brushes and Brush Tools

The Brush Tool and Its Settings

The Brush Tool (shortcut: B) is located in the toolbar on the left side of the screen.

When selected, the Brush Options bar at the top of the screen displays various settings for the brush.

Brush settings include Brush Tip Shape, Size, Hardness, Opacity, Flow, and Blending Modes.


  • Brush Tip Shape: Adjust the size and shape of the brush tip.

    • Click on the drop-down arrow to choose from various pre-defined shapes or click on the small gear icon to create custom brush shapes.
  • Size and Hardness: Set the size and softness of the brush tip.

    • Drag the “Size” slider or use the bracket keys ( [ ] ) to change the size.
    • Drag the “Hardness” slider to the left for a soft edge or to the right for a hard edge.
  • Opacity and Flow: Control the transparency and build-up of the brush strokes.

    • Opacity: Determines how transparent or opaque each brush stroke will be.
    • Flow: Controls the rate at which paint is applied with each stroke. A lower flow creates a gradual buildup.
  • Blending Modes: Change how the brush interacts with the underlying layers.

    • Experiment with different blending modes to achieve various effects.

Using Different Brush Presets:

Photoshop comes with a variety of pre-installed brush presets.

To access them, click on the Brush Preset Picker in the Brush Options bar.

Choose a category from the dropdown menu (e.g., Basic, Dry Media, Special Effects).

Select a brush preset by clicking on its thumbnail.

Customizing Brushes:

Brush Settings: Customize various aspects of the brush using the Brush Settings panel.

Click on the gear icon in the Brush Options bar and select “Brush Settings.”

Adjust parameters like Shape Dynamics, Scattering, Texture, and more to create unique brush effects.

Brush Panel: Open the Brush panel (Window > Brush) to access additional settings and controls.

Here you can modify brush dynamics, dual brush settings, and texture controls, among others.

Creating Custom Brushes:

To turn any image or shape into a brush, make a selection around the desired element.

Go to Edit > Define Brush Preset.

Give your brush a name and click OK. The new brush will appear at the bottom of the Brush Preset Picker.

Importing Brushes: You can also download and install custom brushes created by other artists or shared online.

Save the brush file (usually with a .abr extension) to your computer.

In Photoshop, go to Edit > Presets > Preset Manager.

Choose “Brushes” from the dropdown menu, click “Load,” and select the .abr file you saved.

Brush Shortcuts:

  • Increase/decrease brush size: Use the bracket keys ( [ ] ).
  • Change brush hardness: Press Shift + [ or Shift + ].
  • Cycle through brush blending modes: Press Shift + – (minus) or Shift + + (plus).
  • Rotate the brush tip: Use the comma (,) and period (.) keys.

Experimenting with different brush settings and presets can add a creative touch to your artwork and help you achieve unique effects. Enjoy exploring the versatility of Photoshop brushes!



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