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Selecting and Configuring a Brush

To select a brush, open the Brush Preset Picker and choose a brush (see Figure 1). To add more brushes, click the palette flyout and choose a brush set from the foot of the dialog box (such as Assorted Brushes, Drop Shadow Brushes, Dry Media Brushes, and so on). When you select a collection of brushes, you can append them to the current selection or replace the current selection. After you have selected a brush, adjust its size (measured in pixels) by using the master diameter slider and vary its hardness to make it a harder or softer brush—100% is very hard; 0% is very soft. Think of hardness as being something akin to focus—a soft brush has a blurred edge, and a hard brush has a solid edge. In addition to selecting the brush diameter from this dialog box, you can enlarge or reduce its size by using the [ and ] keys on the keyboard.

Figure 01

Figure 1 Choose a brush from the currently active set by clicking it in the Brush Preset Picker.

The Brushes palette has settings for everything from brush tip shape to smoothing and edges. Click Brush Tip Shape to choose a tip for your brush. Below this, set the brush diameter and its spacing. The default spacing is 25%; if you increase it to 100% you will space tips so they paint side by side instead of overlapping (see Figure 2). Increase it to around 250% and see in the preview area that the brush tips will paint at an enlarged spacing. You can use it to paint a line of evenly spaced dots or angled shapes.

Figure 02

Figure 2 Setting the spacing for a brush to 100% lets you paint a repeated series of brush tip shapes side by side by dragging with the mouse.

Use this same dialog box to adjust the angle and roundness of the brush by typing values into the dialog box or by dragging on the preview image with your mouse to change the angle or roundness (see Figure 3).

Figure 03

Figure 3 Altering angle and roundness lets you configure your own brush shape by entering values or by dragging on the small image with your mouse.

The Shape Dynamics setting lets you set your brush roundness, size, and angle to change as you paint. Set a Size Jitter value, and the size of the brush will randomly alter as you paint. Below this is a setting for specifying the minimum brush diameter so you can set a size below which it cannot shrink (see Figure 4).

Figure 04

Figure 4 The Size Jitter value setting adjusts the size of the brush randomly as you paint. If desired, you can set a minimum size below which it cannot be reduced—here that setting is 25%.

The Control setting configures how the change is managed. Set it to Off and the brush paints continuously as shown. Set it to Pen Pressure if you use a tablet; if using a mouse, set it to Fade and specify the number of steps by which time the effect will fade to zero. Angle Jitter works similarly by randomly changing the angle of the brush and it has a similar set of Control options. The Roundness Jitter setting lets you configure the brush to randomly change roundness, and it has a minimum Roundness setting and the same Control settings as the other effects (see Figure 5).

Figure 05

Figure 5 Results of randomly varying angle and roundness are shown here, the Size Jitter stops partway through as it is set to Fade, but the other Jitters continue indefinitely.

The Scattering options let you scatter the brush head so it paints over a wide area (see Figure 6). You can make the result denser by increasing the count so you paint with the equivalent of multiple brush heads at the one time. Count Jitter randomly varies the number of brushes that you’re painting with.

Figure 06

Figure 6 This brush has a scattering value set so the brush heads spread out over a larger area.

The Texture option lets you create a brush that paints with a texture of your choice. Your choices include built-in Photoshop patterns and any patterns you created yourself. The Scale slider lets you adjust the scale of the texture that you’re painting. Enabling the Texture Each Tip checkbox applies the pattern over itself so that it builds up as you paint; if you disable the checkbox, the pattern is painted, but not overpainted where brush heads overlap.

Figure 07

Figure 7 With the Texture Each Tip checkbox enabled, the leftmost pattern is painted; with it disabled the results are those shown on the right.

One of the most surprising tools in this palette is the Color Dynamics option, which lets you vary the color of the brush as you paint. Although each brush tip is still painted in a single color—brushes can’t paint in multiple colors at a time—you can vary the hue so each tip is a different color, and the result is a rainbow painted effect. To do this, set a foreground color other than black or white and set the Hue Jitter value to 100% to use the full span of available colors. Ensure that the Purity value is set to 0 or higher and test the brush (see Figure 8). Other values such as Brightness and Saturation can also be randomly varied here.

Figure 08

Figure 8 Using the Color Dynamics settings you can set the brush so each tip as it paints is painted with a different color.

There are other options for brushes in the Brushes palette, such as adding noise to a brush that is not a solid black color and wet edges that make the brush edges look like the brush is painting with watercolor. Clicking the Airbrush option in this dialog box is the same as clicking the Airbrush option on the Tool Options palette. Smoothing is a tool used to smooth shapes drawn using a tablet.

When you configure a brush you like, make a brush preset from it by clicking the flyout menu, choosing New Brush Preset, and giving it a name. To add it to the Tool Preset button so you can use it with the current settings at any time, click the Tool Preset icon, click the flyout, choose New Tool Preset, and save your configuration.

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