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Foundations of Adobe Photoshop CC

Lesson 30 of 36

Painting With The Brush Tool

Dave Cross

Foundations of Adobe Photoshop CC

Dave Cross

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Lesson Info

30. Painting With The Brush Tool

Lesson Info

Painting With The Brush Tool

I just wanna talk a little bit about the world of brushes. This is again a whole nother topic unto itself, but just so you're aware of some of the possibilities. I have a few brushes, a few more than generally the average person does, (laughs) because my name is Dave and I'm addicted to brushes in Photoshop because they're so cool. And you can do so many cool things because, among other things you can make your own brushes. So brushes of the Photoshop are typically round, some shape made with a blurry edge, all very nice. But anything in Photoshop can be made into a brush. So, for example, let's show you this real fast cause it's a very typical example. Maybe you want to be able to add your signature to work you've done. So instead of every time opening this file, dragging it over, blending it somehow, masking it, doing all this hard work, instead, I might just wanna make that into a brush, cause a brush is not only for taking your mouse and going like this. Let me brush with this. You...

can also just go, brush, and with one click it does almost like a stamp or whatever your shape is. So, making your own brush is actually very simple. All you have to think is this. Whatever's black will be your brush. Whatever's white will be transparent. So it works a similar kind of thought process as masking, just kind of the opposite. So, in this case, I took a photograph of my signature. But it's not black. It's sort of a dark blue, which means, by nature, this brush can never be 100% opacity because it's not black. And I'm okay with that because for my purposes I just wanna have it look like sort of a semi see through thing. And that's all you have to do. You don't have to make a selection. I've seen lots of tutorials that make making your own brush way more complicated than it needs to be. They're like, put it on it's own layer. No. Black, white, period. The only thing I would say is, when you're first making whatever document's gonna be your brush, make it bigger rather than too small. In other words if you make a brush this big, and then you decide you wanna make it bigger later, it's gonna look pretty bad. So I would tend to make it a little bit bigger than you think you might need. 5000 pixels is probably the limit, cause after that I don't think you can even make a brush out of it. So if I go down here, that's all. I didn't do anything else. Define brush preset. The number down here is telling me this brush is 1,484 pixels wide. So that's all I have to do. Just open it, think about black and white, click okay. Now, I go to another document, like this one cause it's such a beautiful work of art, I add a new layer. What color would I like my signature to be? Probably black. So I'll just go back to default and I just click once, and there's my signature. So I didn't have to go find it. I didn't have to go copy and paste. It's just built into Photoshop now because now it's one of my built in brushes way down here at the bottom. So, with that in mind, you can make brushes out of all kinds of things if you have from an artistic standpoint, I keep finding all these beautiful, old handwriting, like Old Englishy letters. Take a picture of that and make that into a brush for overlays, all kinds of things. So it's, as I think we talked briefly before about the brushes, and someone asked, where do I find them? And I said if you just have four hours on your time, search for free Photoshop brushes and you can find anything you want, but to me it's equally perhaps more fun to just make your own. Remember that capture app I've talked about a couple times? It also makes brushes. So if you see some cool design on a walk. That would be a cool brush. Take a photograph it. Comes into Photoshop as a brush already. So very, very cool. The only thing I would say, remind you that all of these things you're seeing in this big, huge dialogue box are brush presets, which means ones I have created or added in. And especially ones I've created, if I didn't save a backup copy of them, if Photoshop had a terrible crash and burn, and I open it and suddenly there were no brushes, I'd be out of luck. So at a certain point I would make sure that I, since I've added a bunch of brushes, I go to the preset manager, find all these brushes that I had created, all these ones like this down to here, and save that as a set so I'd have a back up of my own brushes so I would avoid having to make them over again. Question, yes? The duplicates, so multiple 65's and the 45, and they look the same. Would you be service to clean that up and just-- Yeah, I mean, what's happening with me is cause I demonstrate brushes so often, I end up making more than one of the same thing. But, yeah, there'd be no point in having more than one because, if you have a brush that's say 2,000 pixels wide, it can also become 200 pixels just by changing the size. So there'd be no reason to have a 2,000 and 200. That would be pointless. But I'd rather have the bigger, one big one and to be able to, but, yeah, there's definitely. You can go in and clean up unnecessary ones that, in my case, that's just from demonstrating this same thing too many times. (laughs) That's the problem. The great thing about brushes is they're so creative. The downside is I've got so many now, I just can't decide which one to use, or I'll just make another one. You can make brushes out of anything really. So, very fun. And, of course, once you've saved a brush then you can use it in anything and just add whatever color you want. So let's take this one one more time, make a new layer, go to my brushes, and then pick this. If I had one wish, I wish these thumbnails were a little bigger cause sometimes I can't remember which one it is. I think it was maybe that one. And white. Whoops. There we go, and then lower the opacity, maybe. Oh, wait a minute, blend if sliders, yeah. Sorry, you guys go to lunch. I'm just gonna play for a little bit here. (audience laughing) Underline layer. This, slip that triangle, yeah. Maybe overlay blend mode. Make that a mask. I'm serious, I'm just gonna keep working here. So you guys go have some lunch. (audience laughing) That's the downside about this kind of thing is that the beauty of working non destructively is you're never finished, the down side is you're never finished. (audience laughing) Cause you just keep going, oh, I could try this, and I could do that, yeah. But that's what makes it fun, cause even being experimental creative like this, it's just a matter of trying things and see what happens if I do this, and let's add a mask here. That's kinda starting to look a little fun. Can brushes be reorganized so that the ones that you use more often are at the top? Yes. So, basically the way the brush picker works is that, first of all, it will remember, so this bar at the top will ever change to be the most recent. But that's another function of the preset manager is that like my signature brush, I could take that and drag it way up to the very, very top. Just say, I'm gonna use that all the time so I'll put that right there. And that will stay that way until you change it again. Sounds good. Is there an easy way for the signature brush to have it as a default setting so it's uniform throughout a series of pictures you use? Well, any brush will be, when you define it, it'll be that size. So if you just never changed it, cause I'm always keep it that size. Now the only thing that I was realizing cause the way i did it, my pressure sensitivity was actually getting in the way, cause when I tap once, I didn't tap quite hard enough, so it actually make it a little smaller. But if you didn't have that setting on then every time you did a single click it would always be exactly the same size. It's only if you resize the brush down smaller then we would use that uniformity. But if you knew that I want this brush to always be 822 pixels or whatever, you just defined it that size and then just never change it, it will stay consistent. Now, one thing I should mention about just to be clear about brushes, cause some people go, I could make a brush out of my logo. Hold on a second. A brush will paint in one foreground color. You could define it out of anything, but you can paint with one color. So you have a three color logo, a brush will not help you, right? Cause when you go to define it as a brush, it won't look at red, green, and blue, it'll say three different shades of gray. So then your brush will paint with any one foreground color in different levels of opacity. So this is great for any situation where a one color result will work. So you can define a brush out of anything, but you can only paint with that brush using your current foreground color.

Class Description

Join Dave Cross in this beginner friendly class starting at the very basics with Adobe® Photoshop® CC. You’ll learn how to begin navigating the software and what the best practices and work habits are to approach different projects.

Dave will cover:

  • Working non destructively on your files
  • How to resize, crop, and straighten images
  • Using layers with basic layer examples
  • Adding text, color, and painting to images
  • How to retouch and adjust images using selections and masks
  • Learn how to use the tools you need to create the image you want. Dave will demonstrate using sample workflows that take you through projects from start to finish.

Don't have Adobe Photoshop yet? Get it now so you can follow along with the course!

Software Used: Adobe Photoshop CC 2017

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Adobe Stock Contributor

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Quick Notes Guide

Landscape Image for Practice Edit

Senior Portrait Missing Element for Practice Edit

Senior Portrait With Element for Practice Edit

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes



I really like Dave's methodical teaching style. Step by step works best for my learning processes. He also has a lovely voice to listen to during his classes, that is important if you have to listen to someone talk for any length of time. I also like the "dance" he does by explaining what he is going to do, then does it, and then comes back to explaining the choices he made and why. Very, very easy to follow him in his straight forward explanations. He increased my understanding of so many tools I use and so many I have never used. Wow! Photoshop with Dave took away a lot of "fear"! (Wish I had a "happy face" to place here!) I bought this class today because I don't think I can get along without it!

Jim Bellomo

I was so lucky to get to attend this class in person here in Seattle. I have been a fan of Dave's for years and own a number of his courses from Creative Live. When this class was announced I almost decided to skip it since it was listed as a "beginners" class but decided that it "might" be worth it. One of the reasons I wanted to take it was that I am self-taught. I had started with Photoshop 5 (not CS5 but 5) about 15 years ago (at least). I figured it I took this class I might learn a little something that would help me in my work. Well, two days later I have 18 pages of handwritten notes, a whole new way to work and it has already paid off in a huge way in my daily workflow. I bill out my hours at around $100 an hour as a graphic designer and marketing person. That means in the two days that I spent 10 hours a day taking the class and commuting to it, it cost me about $2000 in working time. But it didn't. I can guarantee that I am way ahead on this one. I l learned so much. The real world things I learned will pay off for a very long time. Within one day after the class I had already started changing my workflow to be more non-destructive and faster. Dave is an awesome teacher and I can't say enough good things about this class. Even if you think you know Photoshop, you don't. I teach it in my small world but I learned so much.


A writer and an old person (over 60), I rarely use neat exaggerations like "great" or "fantastic," and never say "awesome" in the currently fashionable manner. However, I would call this class both great and excellently planned. Cross is well-spoken and a consummate teacher with a rarely non-irritating voice. It is information packed, clearly presented, well-organized, and extremely helpful. I wish I could afford his others.