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Brush Tools

Lesson 4 from: Advanced Techniques with Brushes in Photoshop CC

Lisa Carney

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Lesson Info

4. Brush Tools

Next Lesson: Stamp Brushes

Lesson Info

Brush Tools

It is come to me that during the course of some of this conversation that there's some confusion as to what the brushes are and what the brushes do, so for today, here's what I'd like you to takeaway or understand. When we're using these tools, the paint brush puts down paint. Okay, you're putting pixels down, you're putting paint down. What color, how you do it, with what kind of nib head, what kind of texture, that's up to you. The mixer brush, the mixer brush, it's got a little icon with a drop. It will put down paint, but it'll also pick up paint from underneath, so you can use the show all layers, or use all layers to pick up paint from underneath and put it down. In addition, the mixer brush will smudge. It'll smudge whatever you've got as you go. It'll also smudge using a reference for what's below. Now, the mixer brushes and what Kyle brushes, he calls them blender brushes, blender brushes. A blender brush for Kyle is a smudge tool. Okay, a blender brush for Kyle is a smudge to...

ol. Just put that in your head. A smudge tool is a blender. Now the blender brush blends or smudges, interchangeable word, what you already have there. It'll pick up what's below. What that means, when I say it'll pick up what's below, it'll do it on a blank layer for you, but it's picking up what's underneath. So the difference between a mixer brush and a blender brush is that the mixer brush will lay down paint and pick up, it's very complicated, a blender brush will only pick up paint. Pick up paint. Now, in addition, the difference between a mixer brush and a blender brush is no texture. You cannot add texture to a blender brush. You can add texture to a mixer brush. I understand this is a little confusing. The difference between a mixer brush and a blender brush is a mixer brush will add color, add color, and you can add texture. A blender brush cannot. I will be 100% honest with you. I use them both completely interchangeably. So I'll be using a blender brush and then if I need to pick up color from underneath, I will go, oh, or add color, I'll switch to a mixer brush. That's the only difference. I find them basically the same. Color replacement tool, poop, don't use it, okay. It's just poop, poop-ey, poop-ey, poop-ey. Alright, we went over the symmetrical drawing. It's fun, enjoy it. Now I just wanna have a real fast conversation about terms and understanding what you're looking for. This is what we're in the photo world for this conversation, we really are talking about illustration and painting, and so I just want you guys to kinda have an understanding about the tools, like the pencil, when people say a chalk line, a conte line, a hard line, a thin line, and then if you go down here and you've got like an airbrush look, or a bristly look, or a spatter look, or oil, and in the handout, this is just a reference for you to take a look and when this really becomes important is when you're looking at 1,200 brushes. So Kyle has named his brushes with these kinds of themes. And, I think if you're just starting out, it's like well, what's the difference between a nice smudge and a scratchy smudge. I mean, you can sort of figure it out by the name, but at least this'll give you a little bit of a visual sample. Like, a splatter versus a scribble, or a heavy texture versus a dapple texture. So just use this as a guide to kinda get your mind wrapped around what kind of terms we're looking at.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Brushes Companion Handout
Adobe Stock Contributor

Ratings and Reviews


Knowledgeable Lisa is the best teacher. She makes learning Photoshop fun. Great course. Lisa has a great teaching style. She mixes in a great speech cadence, great voice up and down and pausing, jokes, and is extremely knowledgeable and fun to watch. Awesome course. Really helpful course for getting my feet wet with brushes.


This is a comprehensive overview of Ps CC Brushes, what they do, how they work and how to control, manage & modify them. I found it extremely useful to learn about the functionality/features that Ps CC brushes can provide even though I'm a photographer and not an illustrator or painter. I will never ever be able to employ everything Lisa explained & demo'd in the class - she covered a wide gamut of info. But she served the purpose, in this class, of being essentially what I'd call an 'idea sparker'. Once you see how she works with brushes and you find out how you can adapt (or create) brush tools to suit your personal artistic style the options for creativity are unlimited. I might re-title this class "Oh the Places Brushes Can Go" (apologies to Dr Seuss and his classic graduation gift book 'Oh, the Places You'll Go...'). Keep in mind a few things about this class (& back away from it and your credit card if you don't note a few key facts...): (1) It is called 'Advanced Techniques' - it is for intermediate to advanced Ps users, not newbies unless you're a child prodigy who picks things up really fast, (2) This is not a 'Paint with Lisa' class - we don't all paint a butterfly like a color by numbers together. Rather we learn about Ps brushes, how they work, what they look like and how to modify them and change their dynamics for different types of artistic/retouching/post-processing uses. Each person will have to experiment - there's no one 'this is it' formula that can be provided, (3) Lisa talks and thinks fast and has a pretty amusing patter too (she's clearly very intelligent!) - so be prepared to hit the Pause button. She repeatedly advises during the class, don't overload your brain with all there is to absorb with regard to Ps Brushes. Take breaks to try the info she shares & see what works for you before going on to a different section of the class. Don't buy this class thinking you'll whizz through it in 15 minutes & figure out how to complete a job you've committed to deliver in 2 hours, (4) There's a large packet of material that comes with a purchase of the class (descriptions, definitions, brush settings, drawing examples, etc.). Item #4 is the only thing I'd ding this class on. While the handout material contains lots of really really useful info it is - sadly - microscopic print. The text is exceedingly difficult for my poor old eyes to read. I value that there's plenty of white space on the pages to write notes as Lisa talks - I've done so prodigiously. But the print in that accompanying brushes class guide needs to be larger. I honestly wish I could enlarge the print in some way (unless it is a PDF that I can alter & I haven't figured it out). If there is a way to re-print with larger type font sizes someone please let me know! Bottom line: I highly recommend this class to more advanced Ps users who want a comprehensive overview of Brushes and working with them. It's definitely not a class for someone who wants a linear, step x step, "do this then do that" type of recipe class. As I've noted above, it's best as a way to learn about richly varied Ps tools you may have only had superficial exposure to previously; and get enough new knowledge to make you dangerous (and, dare I say it, boldly creative!).

Skye Taten

Lisa is the BEST teacher!!!!! Everyone should take this class!!!!!!! This class is utterly phenomenal!!!! Lisa is so knowledgable and so very talented. She is incredibly smart, super funny and so very helpful. This class contains so much valuable information, and at this price it's a complete steal. This class has forever changed my life!!! I'm so happy to have a new skill set. Thank you Lisa from the bottom of all of our hearts you are completely incredible and have touched all of our editing in photoshop lives forever!!!!! You are so very talented thank you so much for sharing your incredible skills and knowledge with us, you are a true beautiful talented soul. xoxo, Skye

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