Using the (Paint) Brush Tool Flash

The Brush Tool is used to paint with brushlike strokes and to fill enclosed areas. Unlike the Pencil Tool, which creates a single, solid line, the Brush Tool creates filled shapes with outlines of zero thickness. (This is easily demonstrated by painting a stroke with the Brush, then choosing a new color for the Ink Bottle, and then clicking that brushed line with the Ink Bottle. The Brush line of zero thickness will acquire the line thickness and color from the Ink Bottle if there were no line, the Ink Bottle would be unable to alter the stroke in this manner.) The fills can be solid colors, gradients, or fills derived from bitmaps. Additionally, the Brush Tool options permit you to paint in unusual ways: You can choose to paint in front of or behind an element, or you can apply paint only within a specific filled area, or within a selection. The Brush Mode option drop-down reveals five painting modes that are amazingly useful for a wide range of effects when applying brush strokes: Paint Normal, Paint Fills, Paint Behind, Paint Selection, and Paint Inside, as shown below.

The Brush Tool and options (left); the Brush Mode drop-down (right)

The Brush Tool and options (left); the Brush Mode drop-down (right)

Depending on whether you have a pressure-sensitive tablet connected to your computer, four or five options appear in the Options Tray when the Brush Tool is active.

The Use Pressure option which only appears if you have a pressure-sensitive tablet attached to your computer and the Brush Mode are both unique to the Brush Tool. The Lock Fill option is common to both the Brush Tool and the Paint Bucket. Although similar to Stroke Weight and Line Style, the Brush Size and Brush Shape drop-downs are also fairly unique to the Brush Tool. In the following sections, we run through all of the Brush options just to make certain that we’re clear on all points, even if there is some review.

To choose or change the Brush Color, either click the Fill Color button on the Toolbox, or use the Fill Panel. Because the Brush Tool creates filled shapes with outlines of zero thickness, the Stroke Color button is defunct when the Brush Tool is active.

Using the Brush Mode option
The Brush Mode option is a drop-down menu with five modes for applying brush strokes: Paint Normal, Paint Fills, Paint Behind, Paint Selection, and Paint Inside.

Used in conjunction with selections, the Brush Modes option yields a broad range of sophisticated paint masking capabilities.The following images depict various ways in which the Brush Modes interact with drawn and painted elements. The base image is a solid gray rounded rectangle drawn with a black, hatched outline. Three white lines of various widths are drawn on top of the gray fill of the rectangle.

Paint Normal Mode
Paint Normal Mode, shown below, applies brush strokes over the top of any lines or fills.

In Paint Normal Mode, a black scrawl covers all elements: background, outline, fill, and drawn lines.

In Paint Normal Mode, a black scrawl covers all elements: background, outline, fill, and drawn lines.

Paint Fills Mode
Paint Fills Mode, shown below, applies brush strokes to replace any fills, but leaves lines untouched.

In Paint Fills Mode, a black scrawl covers both the gray fill and the background which, surprisingly, is considered a fill in this case.

Paint Fills Mode, a black scrawl covers both the gray fill and the background

Paint Behind Mode
Paint Behind Mode applies brush strokes only to blank areas and leaves all fills, lines or other items untouched. As shown below, the only parts of the stroke that cover are those over the background. Effectively, the scrawl has gone behind the entire shape. If the stroke had originated within the gray fill, it would have covered the fill and gone behind the drawn white lines.

Scrawling again in Paint Behind Mode, the only parts of the stroke that cover are those over the background.

Scrawling again in Paint Behind Mode, the only parts of the stroke that cover are those over the background.

Paint Selection Mode
Paint Selection Mode applies brush strokes only to selected fills. Below, a selection was made by shift-clicking both the gray fill and the upper white line. The same black scrawl has been drawn with the selection described in the above still active, using Paint Selection Mode.

Only the selected gray fill has been covered by the brush stroke.

Only the selected gray fill has been covered by the brush stroke

Paint Inside Mode
Paint Inside Mode, shown below, applies brush strokes only to the singular fill area where the brush stroke was first initiated. As the name implies, Paint Inside never paints over lines. If you initiate painting from an empty area, the brush strokes won’t affect any existing fills or lines, which approximates the same effect as the Paint Behind setting.

Another scrawled stroke with Paint Inside Mode the only difference between this stroke and the others is that it was initiated over the gray fill.

Another scrawled stroke with Paint Inside Mode

Using the Brush Size option
The Brush Size option, shown below, is a simple pop-up menu with a range of ten preset brush sizes. Although the sizes are shown as circles, the diameter size applies to all brush shapes. In the case of an oblong brush, the diameter size refers to the broadest span of the brush. You cancombine brush sizes and shapes for a great variety of custom brush tips.

The Brush Size drop down reveals ten well distributed brush sizes, ranging from pin line to humongous.

Brush Size drop down reveals ten well distributed brush sizes, ranging from pin line to humongous.

Using the Brush Shape option
The Brush Shape option, shown below, is a simple pop-up menu with nine possible brush shapes that are based on the circle, ellipse, square, rectangle, and line shapes. The oval, rectangle, and line shapes are available in several angles.

Although no custom brush shapes are available, you can combine these stock brush shapes with the range of brush sizes to generate a variety of nearly custom brush tips. When using shapes other than circles, note that the diameter sizes indicated in the Brush Size drop-down apply to the broadest area of any brush shape.

The Brush Shape drop-down is loaded with nine preset brush shapes.

Brush Shape drop-down is loaded with nine preset brush shapes.

Using the Brush Lock Fill option
The Lock Fill option is a toggle that controls how Flash handles areas filled with a gradient or bitmap fill. Once this button is pressed, all subsequent areas (or shapes) that are painted with the same gradient or bitmap fill appear to be part of a single, continuous filled shape. This option locks the angle, size, and point of origin of the current gradient so that it remains consistent throughout the scene. This capability is useful, for example, if you are creating a gradated sunset sky with gradated clouds, and the clouds must appear to be part of one continuous gradient, while the sky needs to appear to be another.

To demonstrate the distinction between painting with or without the Brush Lock Fill option, as shown below, on the left, we created five shapes and filled them with a gradient, using the Paint Inside setting with Lock Fill off. The gradient is noticeably not aligned from one shape to the next. On the right, those same shapes were repainted with that same gradient, still using the Paint Inside setting but with Lock Fill on. Note how the gradient is now aligned from one shape to the next.

The Lock Fill option

Lock Fill option

Using the Brush Pressure option
The Brush Pressure option appears only if you have a pressure-sensitive tablet. This option button is a simple toggle that is used to enable or disable the finer capabilities of a pressure-sensitive tablet. With pressure-sensitivity enabled, the size of the brush stroke increases with increased drawing pressure.

The difference between the Brush Tool and the Pencil Tool
A pencil stroke has no fill, whereas a brush stroke is technically a filled outline of zero thickness. Regardless of the width of a pencil stroke, when viewed as an outline, it will always appear as a single vector. Conversely, when viewed as outlines, brush strokes of varied thickness will be exhibited as outlines whose breadth varies according to the thickness of the stroke. Yet the outlines themselves will always be outlines (or vectors) of zero thickness.

Below it displays a pencil line and a brush line, each drawn with a Stroke Height of 10, (A) in what is regarded as regular mode (View➪Antialias), and again (B) as outlines (View➪Outlines). The same lines are displayed both above and below. This demonstrates the technical detail that brush strokes are filled vector outlines of zero thickness, while a pencil stroke is a stroked vector of zero thickness.

Comparing the Brush and Pencil Tools

Comparing the Brush and Pencil Tools

As shown below, these differences have demonstrable consequences when pencil strokes and brush strokes are edited with the selection tools: A brush stroke can be pulled out of shape, whereas a pencil stroke can only be bent. The results of each operation are shown at the right.

A brush stroke (bottom) can be pulled out of shape, whereas a pencil stroke (top) can only be bent.

A brush stroke (bottom) can be pulled out of shape, whereas a pencil stroke (top) can only be bent.


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