Finding Brush Controls - Adobe Photoshop

As is common in Photoshop, you have several ways to access brush controls. On the options bar at the top of the screen, when you have the Brush tool selected, you see the brush shape and size assigned to your brush. Clicking the Brushes submenu brings down the Brush Presets menu, which has some brush tip control sliders.

This simplified palette, the Brush Preset picker, works for the basic controls.

simplified palette, the Brush Preset picker, works for the basic controls.

In contrast, you can open the Brushes palette by either choosing Window ; Brushes or clicking the Brushes tab in your palette well.

The Brushes palette has many wonders to behold!

Brushes palette has many wonders to behold!

The Brushes Palette

Open your Brushes palette from the palette well and drag it to your workspace so it stays open.You can see your available brush presets, heaps of brush-editing options, and a handy-dandy brush preview window. The preview window instantly reflects the attributes you assign to the brush, so you can ensure that the brush behaves the way you intend. The preview is only black and white. As you can see in , no color information is reflected.

Drag the palette from the palette well to the desktop so that it stays open during this overview.

Brush ending options

rush Presets

The first setting on the Brushes palette’s left frame is the Brush Presets choices. Clicking Brush Presets at the top of the left list reveals the available brushes in the scrolling list at the right side of the palette. This is the same list that is accessible in the Brushes submenu in the options bar. By default, Photoshop shows them as stroke thumbnails, which is the best way to familiarize yourself with what each brush looks like.

Choose the Scattered Maple Leaves brush. Click the brush preset and deselect all of its default settings. points out the checkboxes in the list on the left of the palette. Now you can see how the preview instantly reflects the brush changes.

You choose Scattered Maple Leaves and deselected all its options to show the influence on the brush

Scattered Maple Leaves and deselected all its options to show the influence on the brush

Brush Tip Shape

All the brush options appear below the Brush Presets choices on the left side of the Brushes palette. The first option is the brush tip shape. Do you want to be able to paint a flurry of leaves? Duplicate the look of a traditional airbrush? The shape of your brush is a major contributing factor.

Click Brush Tip Shape. You see the options for changing the fundamentals of the brush in the right frame: the diameter, angle, roundness, hardness, and spacing. The first option is the diameter. Your brush tip an have a pixel width of 1–2,500 pixels. The Use Sample Size button appears if you modify a custom brush, allowing you to revert to your originally created size.

You can adjust angle and roundness interactively or numerically. Note that if you have a symmetrical brush, you don’t see the angle change. The allowable angles are –180 to 180 degrees, comprising an entire 360 degrees. The hardness slider controls what falls off the edge of the brush tip. Falloff is the rate at which the ink decreases from the center of the brush;100 percent makes the edges very sharp and 0 percent gives the softest edge. This option is not available on custom brushes.

Spacing controls the amount of overlap that falls between the brush shapes as it is stroked across the canvas and can be anywhere between 1–1,000 percent. A spacingof 100 percent lines up the shapes edge to edge, a spacing of 200 percent leaves the brush shapes exactly one shape width apart, and a spacing of 50 percent puts each shape overlap halfway through the last one. Of course, instead of thinking numerically, you can just play around with the slider until you get the look you want.

Photoshop 7 introduces the ability to change the ratio aspect and rotation of any brush, including custom brushes. You didn’t change the spacing, but the change in the roundness gives the effect of more space between each leaf.

ability to change the ratio aspect and rotation of any brush

With just these settings, you can create a variety of brushes. Changes in one setting may give the illusion of a different adjustment.

shows a comparative example of different settings. Changes in diameter(measured in pixels [px]), horizontal mirroring (Flip X), vertical mirroring (flip Y), angle, roundness, hardness, and spacing can give quite a variety of looks. The Comment column allows you to quickly see the relationship of one brush stroke to another;brush stroke 2 is the same as brush stroke 1 but with a spacing difference, for example. Take a look at the brush strokes in Figure and compare the settings depicted in .

Brush Stroke Settings

Brush Stroke Settings

Brush strokes2 and 3only differ in their hardness, but it looks like the spacing has increased in 3. It’s because the edge of the brush is fading to transparent

brush is fading to transparent

Shape Dynamics

The Shape Dynamics setting enables you to specify randomness and variation in a stroke. Some of its options are only available if you are using a pressure-sensitive digital tablet.What?! You say you don’t have a tablet? Using Photoshop without a tablet is sort of like going snorkeling without a mask. As long as you have the snorkel, you technically are snorkeling, and yeah, you can see…sort of…mostly…but you really miss out on a lot. So get a tablet!Click to highlight the Shape Dynamics option on the left frame of the Brushes palette. You can see your options for the shape dynamics on the right.

Angle Jitter lets you control or randomize the brush tip angle, which is great in a couple instances:

  • You’re creating a texture that has to follow some logical change in angle. An example is arrows pointing along a path (0 percent jitter, but using direction).
  • You want to give a more natural look to a shape(leaves blowing in the wind, 100 percent jitter).Roundness Jitter controls the roundness that you have set for brush tip shape. Minimum roundness sets a limit to how flat the brush can go.

This sampling of Scattered Maple Leaves has different size, angle, and roundness jitters applied.

sampling of Scattered Maple Leaves has different size, angle, and roundness jitters applied

Scattering

Click Scattering on the left frame of the Brushes palette to see the options available on the right side. Scattering distributes the amount and position of brush marks on a stroke. The higher the scatter percentage, the farther the brush mark may be from the line of the stroke. Selecting Both Axis scatters the marks radially, while deselecting the option scatters only on the perpendicular of the stroke.

Count specifies the number of brush marks at each spacing point, and Jitter randomly varies that number along the stroke by the percentage you set. Setting the count and variation to 0 percent uses your brush tip shape settings. Setting jitter to 100 percent gives the maximum randomness.

Scattering controls the number and placement of brush marks on a stroke

Scattering controls the number and placement of brush marks on a stroke

Texture

Texture control applies either a preset or user-defined texture pattern to a brush stroke. It makes the stroke look like it was done on a textured canvas. To see the texture options, click the texture option on the left frame of the Brushes palette; The texture controls are listed on the right frame of the Brushes palette.

  • Invert reverses the light and dark pixels in the pattern.
  • Scale sizes the pattern in each stroke.
  • Texture Each Tip activates the Minimum Depth and the Depth Jitter controls. This option adds the randomization to the texture application over the stroke as it’s applied to the canvas. Texture Each Tip renders each tip as it is stroked, giving a more saturated effect

Texture can add an interesting effect.

Texture can add an interesting effect.

  • Depth controls the amount of the pattern integrated with the stroke, specifying how deep the paint penetrates the texture. The lower the number, the more covered the pattern; at 0 percent, the pattern is completely obscured. Specifying a setting for Minimum Depth limits how low this percentage can dip to when you are using Depth Jitter.
  • Depth Jitter randomizes the depth. At 0 percent there is no change over the course of the stroke. The higher the percentage, the more randomized the depth.
  • Mode lets you choose one of Photoshop’s blending modes, which determine how the texture and paint interact.

Dual Brush

Dual Brush uses a second brush tip, blended in, in a single stroke. This is great once you’re familiar with all the brushes. You can even specify and control the mode with which the second brush is applied to the first brush. To display these settings, click the Dual Brush option on the left side of the palette. You can see the option . The settings appear on the right side of the palette.(You do see the trend here, don’t you?)

The second brush gives your Scattered Maple Leaves brush a stamped quality. It breaks up the clean edges and gives it a more organic feel.

second brush gives your Scattered Maple Leaves brush a stamped quality. It breaks up the clean edges and gives it a more organic feel.

Color Dynamics and Other Dynamics

The last set of options are the Color Dynamics and Other Dynamics. By now you will have figured out that you need to click the left side to see the options on the right side.

Color Dynamics allows color variation in a stroke, which gives a natural, organic feel. Foreground/Background Jitter determines how paint varies between the two colors. To the left(0 percent)is all foreground color, but to the right(100 percent)is not all background color:It is a full mix. Think of it as a 0-percent mix and a 100-percent mix.

The Hue, Saturation, and Brightness Jitter choices introduce variation to their respective aspects. The higher the percentage, the more the variations deviate from a numerical setting. The best way to understand this is to think of painting in HSB(hue, saturation, and brightness).

Looking at an HSB slider, you can see how the variance affects you. Painter had this option long ago, and I’m glad to see Photoshop has finally included it.Purity is simply the saturation level. At 100 percent it is fully saturated and at–100 percent it is fully desaturated (grayscale).

Since nothing in nature is a solid color, playing with these settings at a more subtle level gives some very organic results

nothing in nature is a solid color, playing with these settings at a more subtle level gives some very organic results

Other Dynamics, shown in , introduces jitter to the opacity and the flow aspects. The settings do not override the main brush opacity setting, but give variation from the point at which they were set. For instance, an opacity jitter of 50 percent does not jitter around 50 percent, but jitters 50 percent of the opacity set. In other words, if you have a brush set at 50 percent opacity, a 50 percent jitter randomizes between 25–75 percent opacity, a 100 percent jitter randomizes between 0–100 percent opacity, and a 10 percent jitter gives you an opacity between 45–55 percent. The Flow Jitter option works on the same concept.

Randomness in the opacity and flow gives a feeling of more depth.

Randomness in the opacity and flow gives a feeling of more depth

Other Brush Tip Characteristics

These brush tip characteristics are toggles; they are on or off. Clicking these options on the palette’s left frame does not bring anything up on the right frame; notice the line that separates these characteristics from the earlier options.

  • Noise applies additional randomness to the brush tips, but does not fade the noise to match the edges of a soft brush. Brush tips that contain gray values(fading areas)see the effect more prominently.
  • Wet Edges lightens the central portion of the stroke, giving a watercolor brush look due to paint buildup at the outer edges.
  • Airbrush is represented on the options bar as well as the Brushes palette. It emulates a traditional airbrush, producing a soft buildup that increases the paint saturation. This gives the wider buildup airbrush effect if you hold your brush down in one spot.
  • Smoothing works on freehand strokes to eliminate any hard edges.
  • Protect Texture overrides any brush texture preset so that if you’re painting with several brushes, the texture remains consistent over the entire image.

Putting the Brushes Palette to Use

You put most of the Brushes palette options into effect, but here’s an example of how the brush controls have made life so much easier. The graphic of leaves in swooping in on the wind was made with little more than one sweep of a brush. All the settings are shown in through 20, so you can emulate them—in case you don’t believe me!

This figure was created with a few dabs of a paint brush.

created with a few dabs of a paint brush

Brush Tip Shape settings

Brush Tip Shape settings

Shape dynamics.

Shape dynamics.

Scattering.

Scattering.

Color dynamics.

Color dynamics.

Other dynamics

Other dynamics

Almost overwhelming isn’t it? Well, hold on to that almost because all of the brushes can be applied with different blending modes, which are much like layer modes.

Foreground color.

Foreground color.

Background color.

Background color.


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