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Adobe Photoshop CC Bootcamp

Lesson 34 of 118

Brush Basics


Adobe Photoshop CC Bootcamp

Lesson 34 of 118

Brush Basics


Lesson Info

Brush Basics

I just have a basic new layer here that I've built that just has a white background. So we can just talk about what the brush is and how the brush works. When we think about a brush, we have to think about how are we using this brush. Are we using it with a Wacom tablet, or are we using it with a mouse? A Wacom tablet can really help with pressure sensitivity, and I'll show you exactly how you can use that. But the brush, to find the brush, all you have to do is press B for the brush tool. Or over here on your tool bar, wherever you have your tools setup for your brush, you can just click on the brush. Just like anything that we do in Photoshop, we have to be thinking about things in terms of layers. So what I'm gonna do before I even start teaching you the brush here, is I'm gonna add a new layer and just call it Brush Demo. So looking at this brush, I can see that it's a big circle, that's telling me how big that brush is. If we look up at the top area here, we're underneath our menu...

, which would be our secondary tool menu. This is telling me that I'm using a brush, this brush is a rather large brush at 900 pixels, we can see that there and it's got a hardness of zero. So if I were to click right here, you'd see that this is a blue swatch with a hardness of zero. That means that with the size of this brush being the size that it is, it's spray is going to ... It's gonna feather it's way out towards the edges of that spray with a very strong center. If I were to go ahead and change the hardness up to 100% and then click, instead of it having a hard center and feathering its way out to the edges, it now has a very hard edge. So when you think about these things in terms of masking, masking is all about blending and making things kinda blend in so that we don't have a big, white circle when we're trying to make a nice, beautiful transitioning vignette. We don't wanna have a big, black border around the edge, so we wanna have a nice soft-edge brush. A lot of times with masking, you're gonna pretty much find yourself between the hardnesses of maybe zero and 50% or something like that. At 50% if I were to use this brush right here, you can see that we have a pretty hard center but it slowly feathers out to the edges. On brushes also, we have a ton of brushes that are here in Photoshop. Typically, for photographer's purposes I don't go too far into many of the other brushes that we have available to us in Photoshop, other than a hard-edged brush or a soft-edged brush. Typically I'm working most, I would say 95%, with the soft-edged brush. But you can do a lot of things with brushes. You can even change the blend modes of these brushes. So, if you wanted to, as you're painting with these brushes, you can alter that paint stroke to have it's own blend mode. I find this a little bit confusing unless I'm doing some detailed layered work or maybe even some painting within Photoshop. So I tend to leave that at normal because if you forget about that and you're trying to paint on your mask and it's not working, one of the last places you're gonna think to look is gonna be in that blend mode. Instead, you have the option to use the blend modes right here within the layer that you're painting on. At this point, this isn't actually a mask. We're just showing the basics of the brush. But it's a good idea to keep all of those brush strokes on their own separate layer so that they can have their own blend modes and own opacity applied to them as well. With that you also have the ability to change the opacity of that brush that you're using. So if I were to go ahead and delete this, bring this down and delete it. I'll make my brush a little bit smaller. There's some hot keys here, instead of going up here and changing your brush size with the slider or typing in the pixel amount, you can press the left bracket key to make it smaller and the right bracket key to make it larger. So I'll make this a little bit smaller. Now if I change the opacity of this brush to something like 50% and then brush, you're gonna see that it's not full-on 100% blue like it was before. It's basically a 50% mix of what that blue would be. The interesting thing about opacity is that if I paint and I continue to paint up and down, it's not going to give me any more. It's restricting me to 50% but now if I were to paint in between these lines ... If you press and hold Shift as you paint up and down, it will restrict you to a straight, vertical line. So if you're wondering how that brushstroke is so perfect, just press and hold Shift and that will allow you to just maintain that straight perfect line up and down. I'll go and paint right here and also what it does when you do that, when you press Shift and then go to click the next one, it'll make a line from one place to the next. So it made a line from here all the way up to here. But you see with opacity set to 50%, that line in the middle if we go back here, and we just start painting right here and click on down, that line in the middle is maintaining 50% but it's allowing that brush to build up along-side that 50% with those next two layers next to it. Again, we go ahead and push that down and do it again, we're slowly starting to get ourself towards 100%. The difference between flow and opacity is that, if I were to come over to flow at this point, I'll turn my opacity up to 100%, if I were to come up to flow and change the flow to 50%, the flow is based on how much I click and hold on an area and as I move up and down it builds up for me. So opacity restricts you strictly to 50% per pass whereas flow will start out at 50% but as you paint around it's going to build up to 100% starting with the 50%. So if I were to bring this down to something like 10% and then click and drag around, you see how I'm starting to get darker and darker in that circle but the areas in the outside are remaining the same. If I were to try to do the same thing with my opacity set to 10%, I can go around and around and around all day long and it's not going to build up until I release the click and paint back on it. Release the click, paint back on it. Now I'm starting to build up. So opacity restricts that current stroke that you're using whereas flow allows you to build up from that 10%, working your way more towards 100%. The kicker here is also where we start to think about the Wacom tablet and where does a Wacom tablet play in? Well, there's a lot of bells and whistles with all these tablets these days. My main priority when it comes to a tablet is to ensure that it just does pressure sensitivity. For my purposes, I'm just masking. I'm masking and I might be painting some things in for dodging and burning so I just need it for very casual things. I don't need it to turn my canvas. I don't need to do any of that stuff. Now, that can be very beneficial to a lot of people who are doing things like digital paintings, but for my purposes and mainly my recommendation to individuals is it doesn't have to be fancy it just has to be pressure sensitive, because if I look here and I look at these little tick-boxes right here, these tick-boxes control my Wacom tablet. So at this point I'm telling my Wacom tablet that it can control ... It can control with pressure sensitivity, my opacity and my flow. If I just change this to opacity as I click and draw on here, the pressure sensitivity that I'm placing down is just working on that opacity there. If I push harder it's gonna bring on more opacity. So instead of me having to play around with the opacity settings from 10% to 100% I can just come in here with a very light brush and it's gonna be a small brush that then works up to a large brush with that opacity. The same thing happens with flow. If I turn on flow, turn off opacity, it's the same concept. It's set to 100% at flow at this point so if I were to go ahead and turn on flow and opacity I now have both controls with one pen stroke, which can be really awesome for masking also really great for dodging and burning. So I usually have these ticked, both of this ticked, for my Wacom tablet so that as I paint with my masks, it's a gradual build-up. Because when you're masking with strictly just a mouse, if you were to go ahead and paint a black swatch with just your mouse, you're gonna get all black. Well sometimes you just want a gradual build-up and a gradual push-back of that effect on that image and that's why a Wacom tablet can be one of your best friends. If you noticed I'm actually ambidextrous. This is kind of an accidental thing, growing up my dad was left-handed so everything had to be on the left side so I learned that and then I'm right-handed naturally, so if you can train your brain to do that it's really advantageous because you can have the pen in one hand, the mouse in the other hand and be working at the same time, however, if you try to do both at the same time you'll get this thing going on. If you're trying to do this and trying to teach yourself and you're like why is nothing moving it's cause your mouse and your pen are competing with one another to see who's gonna win that battle and nobody wins when it comes to that. When I'm working with my pen in this way, I typically have that pen a little bit farther off. This is just the brush settings that you have here. Inside this folder you have all kinds of different brushes that you can use within your masking process or your painting process. And I highly encourage you to go through those things, but typically for masking I really just recommend a really nice soft-edge brush with a Wacom tablet 'cause it'll help you build that up and I'll show you the difference when we start to get into the practical application of this.

Class Description

Adobe® Photoshop CC® is a valuable tool for photographers, but it can also be intimidating. In this all-inclusive 20 lesson course, you’ll go from opening the program for the first time to creating images that really stand out. Join Blake Rudis, Photoshop expert and founder of f64 Academy, as he shows you how to maximize your use of Photoshop. 

Topics covered will include:

  • Class Introduction & Bridge, Adobe Camera Raw, Setup Interface, Cropping and Layers
  • Layer Tools, Masks, Selections, Clean-Up Tools and Shapes & Text
  • Smart Objects, Transforming, Actions, Filters, and Editing Video
  • Custom Creative Effects, Natural Retouching, Portrait Workflow, Landscape Workflow, and Composite Workflow

Don’t let the many aspects of Photoshop prevent you from maximizing your use of this amazing app. Blake will help you develop the confidence to use your imagination and create the images that you will be proud to share with your clients.


Adobe Photoshop CC 2018


  1. Bootcamp Introduction
  2. The Bridge Interface
  3. Setting up Bridge
  4. Overview of Bridge
  5. Practical Application of Bridge
  6. Introduction to Raw Editing
  7. Setting up ACR Preferences & Interface
  8. Global Tools Part 1
  9. Global Tools Part 2
  10. Local Tools
  11. Introduction to the Photoshop Interface
  12. Toolbars, Menus and Windows
  13. Setup and Interface
  14. Adobe Libraries
  15. Saving Files
  16. Introduction to Cropping
  17. Cropping for Composition in ACR
  18. Cropping for Composition in Photoshop
  19. Cropping for the Subject in Post
  20. Cropping for Print
  21. Perspective Cropping in Photoshop
  22. Introduction to Layers
  23. Vector & Raster Layers Basics
  24. Adjustment Layers in Photoshop
  25. Organizing and Managing Layers
  26. Introduction to Layer Tools and Blend Modes
  27. Screen and Multiply and Overlay
  28. Soft Light Blend Mode
  29. Color and Luminosity Blend Modes
  30. Color Burn and Color Dodge Blend Modes
  31. Introduction to Layer Styles
  32. Practical Application: Layer Tools
  33. Introduction to Masks and Brushes
  34. Brush Basics
  35. Custom Brushes
  36. Brush Mask: Vignettes
  37. Brush Mask: Curves Dodge & Burn
  38. Brush Mask: Hue & Saturation
  39. Mask Groups
  40. Clipping Masks
  41. Masking in Adobe Camera Raw
  42. Practical Applications: Masks
  43. Introduction to Selections
  44. Basic Selection Tools
  45. The Pen Tool
  46. Masks from Selections
  47. Selecting Subjects and Masking
  48. Color Range Mask
  49. Luminosity Masks Basics
  50. Introduction to Cleanup Tools
  51. Adobe Camera Raw
  52. Healing and Spot Healing Brush
  53. The Clone Stamp Tool
  54. The Patch Tool
  55. Content Aware Move Tool
  56. Content Aware Fill
  57. Custom Cleanup Selections
  58. Introduction to Shapes and Text
  59. Text Basics
  60. Shape Basics
  61. Adding Text to Pictures
  62. Custom Water Marks
  63. Introduction to Smart Objects
  64. Smart Object Basics
  65. Smart Objects and Filters
  66. Smart Objects and Image Transformation
  67. Smart Objects and Album Layouts
  68. Smart Objects and Composites
  69. Introduction to Image Transforming
  70. ACR and Lens Correction
  71. Photoshop and Lens Correction
  72. The Warp Tool
  73. Perspective Transformations
  74. Introduction to Actions in Photoshop
  75. Introduction to the Actions Panel Interface
  76. Making Your First Action
  77. Modifying Actions After You Record Them
  78. Adding Stops to Actions
  79. Conditional Actions
  80. Actions that Communicate
  81. Introduction to Filters
  82. ACR as a Filter
  83. Helpful Artistic Filters
  84. Helpful Practical Filters
  85. Sharpening with Filters
  86. Rendering Trees
  87. The Oil Paint and Add Noise Filters
  88. Introduction to Editing Video
  89. Timeline for Video
  90. Cropping Video
  91. Adjustment Layers and Video
  92. Building Lookup Tables
  93. Layers, Masking Video & Working with Type
  94. ACR to Edit Video
  95. Animated Gifs
  96. Introduction to Creative Effects
  97. Black, White, and Monochrome
  98. Matte and Cinematic Effects
  99. Gradient Maps and Solid Color Grades
  100. Gradients
  101. Glow and Haze
  102. Introduction to Natural Retouching
  103. Brightening Teeth
  104. Clean Up with the Clone Stamp Tool
  105. Cleaning and Brightening Eyes
  106. Advanced Clean Up Techniques
  107. Introduction to Portrait Workflow & Bridge Organization
  108. ACR for Portraits Pre-Edits
  109. Portrait Workflow Techniques
  110. Introduction to Landscape Workflow & Bridge Organization
  111. Landscape Workflow Techniques
  112. Introduction to Compositing & Bridge
  113. Composite Workflow Techniques
  114. Landscape Composite Projects
  115. Bonus: Rothko and Workspace
  116. Bonus: Adding Textures to Photos
  117. Bonus: The Mask (Extras)
  118. Bonus: The Color Range Mask in ACR


a Creativelive Student

Amazing course, but don't be fooled into thinking this is a beginner's course for photographers. The problem isn't Blake's explanations; they're top. The problem is the vast scope of this course and the order in which the topics are presented. Take layers for example. When I was first learning Photoshop (back when we learned from books), I found I learned little or nothing from, for example, books that covered layers before they covered how to improve/process photographs. These books taught me how to organize, move, and link layers before they showed me what a layer was actually for. Those books tended to teach me everything there is to know about layers (types of layers, how to organize them, how to move them, how to move them two at a time, how to move them two at a time even if there are other layers between the two you're interested in, useful troubleshooting tips, etc. ) all before I even know (from a photographer's point of view) what it is the things actually do. The examples of organizing, linking, and moving mean everything for graphic designers from Day One, but for photographers not so much. Blake does the same thing as those books. Topics he covers extremely early demand a lot of theoretical imagination for a photographer who doesn't already know quite a bit about what he is talking about. Learning about abstract things first and concrete things later only makes PS that much harder to understand. If you AREN'T a beginner, however, this course is amazing. I thought it would be like an Army Bootcamp, taking you from zero and building you into a fit, competent Photoshop grunt. Now I think it's more like Army Bootcamp for high school varsity jocks. It isn't going to take you from the beginning, but the amount you'll get out of it is nonetheless more than your brain can imagine. I've been using PS for years to improve my photographs, and even to create the odd artistic composite or two. The amount I've learned in the first week is amazing, and every day I learn something -- more like many things -- which I immediately implement to improve my productivity and/or widen the horizons of what I can achieve. If you ARE a photographer who's a Photoshop beginner, I'd take very seriously the advice Blake gives in the introduction: Watch one lesson, and practice the skills and principles you learn in that one lesson for two weeks. THEN watch the next lesson. You can't do that of course without buying the course, so it's up to you to decide whether you'd like to learn Photoshop and master Photoshop all from the same course. Learning it first and mastering it later will cost more money, but I think you'll understand everything better and have a much more enjoyable ride in the process. As for me? I'm going to have to find the money to buy this course. There is simply way too much content in each lesson for me to try to take on all at once, but on the other hand I don't want to miss anything at all that he has to share.

Esther Gambrell

WOW!!! I've been purchasing CL classes for several years now and have watched HOURS of "How-To Photoshop" classes, but this is the first one I've actually purchased because of the AWESOME BONUS content!!! SERIOUSLY??!!?!? A PLUG-IN??? But not only that, Blake is SO easy to understand, and he breaks down concepts in different ways to connect with different people's learning styles. I REALLY appreciated this approach because I am a LEFT-BRAINED creative that has an engineering background, so I really connected to what Blake was saying. THANK YOU FOR THAT! There are TONS of Photoshop courses out there, but I found this one to be the most helpful in they way Blake teaches concepts so that you know WHY you're doing what your doing. I feel like he taught me how to fish with Photoshop to feed me for a lifetime instead of just giving me a fish to feed me for one day. This is the BEST overall PS course out there!!! Thank you!!!!

Sonya Messier

I'm been using Bridge, Adobe Raw and Photoshop for 12 years. I thought I knew those programs until I started to follow Blake and do this Photoshop CC Bootcamp. This course is AMAZING. I love the way Blake teach, brakes down concepts and tools... excellent teaching qualities! I'm half way in this course and I change all my workflow already. Much better results and better use of what Adobe offer me. This course is an investment! When I will be done, I will listen it again. Great job and congratulations on your success Blake!