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Tools Panel in Adobe Photoshop

Lesson 4 of 8

Paint Brush Tools

Ben Willmore

Tools Panel in Adobe Photoshop

Ben Willmore

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Lesson Info

4. Paint Brush Tools


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2 Frame Tool Duration:02:59
4 Paint Brush Tools Duration:13:33
5 History Brush Tool Duration:06:27
6 Eraser and Gradient Tools Duration:03:06
8 Blur and Shape Tools Duration:11:06

Lesson Info

Paint Brush Tools

As we move further down in our Tool panel, next we have a slot that has a bunch of retouching tools. We covered the majority of these when we had a lesson on retouching. So next coming down would be our Paint Brush Tool. Let's create a brand new document to work with. And take a look at some of the settings related to our brush. When you have a brush tool active, you're gonna be painting with your foreground color. If you wanna change your foreground color, just click on it, choose a color from this vertical bar and then choose a shade of it from the big square on the left. Then we have our Brush Settings. If you go on your Options bar at the top of your screen, you'll see an example of your brush edge, click on it, there we can change the size of our brush, we can also change how hard the edge is on our brush. And below that we can click on presets to load various shape brushes just by clicking on these. But there's more to those presets than what you see here. If you go to the Window...

menu, there's two choices. One is called Brushes, which is the same as what we saw in the lower portion of that screen we're on a second ago. And then the second one is Brush Settings. So the one that's just called Brushes are presets. That's where you can load in various brushes that you've designed previously. And the Brush Settings are actual nitty-gritty of what makes up your brush. So let's take a look at what some of the settings do in our Brush Settings. There are so many settings here that we won't have time to get into all of them. I would do that if I had a class specifically about painting but I can give you a pretty good overview of what the settings mean. If we look down here in the lower sections, you will find a bunch of odd-shaped brushes. We could choose any one of these to paint with. And as you go on top of your image, you'll see that you don't have to have a round brush. I'm gonna come down here and just scroll down quite a ways to see if I can find something that I think would be an interesting brush to work with. And let's see. I just can't choose. There's so many choices available. How are you supposed to choose? I'm gonna go with this guy. All right, so I've chosen the shape of my brush. I'll then just click with it and you can see what your brush looks like. And when you're painting, you're going to find that there's a setting down near the bottom called Spacing. And it has large change on how it works with your picture. Let's say I chose the star brush. Well, with the star brush, if I click and drag to paint with it, you think you might just see a bunch of stars but instead you see just their tips, and you see that there's a certain amount of space between them. That's because when you paint, all Photoshop I doing is clicking to add one of these shapes, it's moving over a certain distance and clicking again, and then again, and then again. It's just doing that for you. And the Spacing setting determines how much space there is between each one. If you increase the Spacing setting, so it's above 100, then you're gonna find the stars don't overlap each other and therefore you can get them spaced out like that. So now that we've seen what spacing does, you might know then why when you use a normal round brush, sometimes the edge doesn't look smooth. Let me go back to a normal round brush and I'm gonna use one that has a hard edge on it. When I use one with a hard edge, especially if I use a large one, watch what happens as I paint. It's really going to depend on the Spacing setting. This looked relatively smooth but the default setting for spacing is usually 25%. So let me bring it up to that setting because most of the time when you end up using round brush, especially a large one that is hard edged, you end up getting an edge that doesn't look smooth. Do you see this? Where you can see it looking kinda round on the edge. Well, that's your spacing. So when you use a soft edge brush, just bring that hardness setting down a bit, you don't notice that edge, little bumps going around the edge. And so it's mainly when you end up getting your hardness turned up to 75 or higher that you gotta be careful if you ever use a large brush. Anytime you use that large brush, you're not gonna get a smooth edge. And therefore even though I might want to cover a wide area, I'm probably gonna end up with a smaller brush because it's going to look smoother on the edge. It still has that little roundy edge on it if you look close enough, but as you go to smaller and smaller brush, the amount of space between it goes down. You might think that you wanna set your spacing really low, like bring it down to 1%. And that could be great 'cause now it's only gonna move 1% of the width of my brush. And so when I paint it looks pretty smooth. The problem with that is if you ever work with your opacity turned down. Let's say I bring my opacity down really low like 10%. Well, now that could end up building up rather quickly because when it puts down different paint strokes, it can build one on top of another, especially if you end up using settings like Flow. We'll end up covering Flow in a moment. So anyway you have to be careful with spacing and realize that the default is 25%. It'll mainly affect hard edge brushes because soft edge brush, you don't notice it so much. And now let's go back to a more oddly-shaped brush and see what kind of settings are related to it. Here's the brush shape that I currently have chosen. It just creates a curved line that gets thinner as it gets to the tip. It doesn't look like anything special. Well, if I go to the left side of my Brush Settings, here is an entire list of settings that we can apply to our brush. And if you click on not the checkbox that's here but the name of a category, this area on the right is going to populate with settings related to that. So let's figure out what some of those settings do. Anytime you see the word jitter, it means randomly vary the setting. So here we have a choice called Size Jitter, it's currently set to zero. That means if I paint, the size of this brush is not gonna vary. But if I bring Size Jitter up, then look at the preview that is found down below. And as I bring this setting higher, do you see that it's showing it vary more in height? Well, now if I end up painting with this brush, you'll find that it varies in the size of the brush application, each little brush tip. Well, let's say that I wish these applications were a little spaced out further. Well, that's where I can go to Brush Tip Shape, and we had Spacing. If I brought it up really high, just look at the preview down here. You see the amount of space between them. If I bring it really low, it'll be much more densely packed together. But if we go back in here to Shape Dynamics let's take a look at what some of the other settings are. Here it says Minimum Diameter. Minimum Diameter is how much can it vary the size of my brush. Is it able to go down to tiny, tiny version of it or not? So as I bring this up, it's gonna say I can go from 100% normal brush size down to how much smaller. So if only wanted to vary a little bit, maybe I bring this down to 70%. If I want it to vary a lot, I can bring it down a lot further. So then here we have Angle Jitter. Remember jitter means randomly vary something. So in this case, it's gonna change the angle of my brush. Watch the preview down at the bottom. So it could make it so it rotates them all the way around. But maybe I want this to look a bit like grass. And if that's the case, the base of the grass should always look like it's coming from the bottom. So I think the most so I could vary that would be seven or 8%. But now when I paint, you can see that they vary in angle. Then we have Roundness Jitter, and that means can it scale my brush vertically so that it's not as tall. Just watch the preview down at the bottom. As I bring this up, you can see it's squishing them a little bit vertically. And so I might have it turned up just a little bit, so they can vary. Then, here we have Minimum Roundness, which is similar to the Minimum Diameter, which just means how much can it vary it. If we bring it really low, then it can bring it all the way down to 1%, so it can scale it quite a bit vertically or where you can limit it. Let's look through some of the other settings that are here. We have Scattering. And Scattering is going to make it so each brush tip instead of going in a perfect line where you've painted, it's going to deviate from the line that you're painting. So watch the preview at the bottom. You'll see things moving up and down. And therefore I can get it, so it doesn't look quite as orderly when I paint. So now if I paint, it's going up and down, they're both nicely angled as well. Then we have Count, which is how often is it gonna put in a new one of these. And if I bring that up, it's gonna put in more, fill it in very quickly. But the main thing is Count Jitter is gonna do it randomly. So you get a little more kind of clumping, but you have to have it count up a little bit. If we continue going down, I mean there are whole sections here that we could skip over, because they're very similar. If you look at a word and you see the word jitter, it means randomly vary it. So once you get used to some of those settings, then you can figure these out on your own. Here we have Color Dynamics. And let's say that I change foreground color, since we're making something looks similar to grass, maybe I choose a greenish color. Then, here it says Hue Jitter, that means the basic color, can it vary it. If I bring it all the way up, it can have all sorts of variation in the hue. We can have Saturation Jitter, which means it'll randomly make it more or less colorful. Same with brightness. And therefore if we do all of those things, we can suddenly get it so the color of these is all over the place. Now with that Hue Jitter, it only picks the color the first time you click. And so therefore you'll get just different colors each time. And if I want to I could bring that down just a little, so it's barely turned on, therefore we'll primarily get colors similar to my foreground color but if I let go and click again, it will vary. It's just gonna vary closer to the color I started with, the color I request it. Anyway, there's all sorts of things in here. We can have more than one brush tip where one brush tip kinda crops the other. We can even have brushes that have what looks like wet edges. But the more you experiment with this, the better. And if you got a brush that you really like, then you wanna be able to save that brush as preset. And so we can do that. We can go over here to the Brushes and at the bottom is a little plus sign and that's where I can call this Grass. And I can tell it to include my foreground color, so that therefore it always does green, 'cause I wouldn't want blue grass or black grass, and that kind of thing. And I can also see should the size always start at this size or not by turning on that checkbox. But now I have that as a preset and I can tell by looking at the preset that incudes the color that I would use. Therefore, it's gonna be very easy to make grass in the future just by clicking on that preset. But let's continue working down our Tools panel here and see what other tools we have, so we don't spend too much time on any particular tool. When you go to the Paint Brush Tool, if you click and hold down on it you'll find there's more than one tool in that area. The Pencil Tool is similar to the Brush Tool but it will create a completely hard edged line. It's very rare for me to use it but on occasion if I need a completely crisp edge that's what I'd use. Here we have the Clone Stamp Tool. It has two versions, Clone Stamp and Pattern Stamp. Pattern Stamp would simply apply a pattern, which means a repeating shape that goes over and over. Not something you usually need that often.

Class Description


  • Understand the difference between Opacity and Flow
  • Utilize the History Brush to selective undo changes
  • Use the Library panel to store commonly used elements
  • Combine the Eyedropper tool with the Color and Swatches panels to make color choices easier
  • Create and apply presets to speed your work


  • Beginner, intermediate, and advanced users of Adobe Photoshop.
  • Those who want to gain confidence in Adobe Photoshop and learn new features to help edit photos.
  • Students who’d like to take ordinary images and make them look extraordinary with some image editing or Photoshop fixes.


Adobe Photoshop 2020 (V21)