(Re)Introducing the Brush Tool

You’ve already used the Brush tool for all kinds of things in previous chapters: editing layer masks, creating selections, colorizing grayscale images, and so on. In this section, you’ll learn how to paint with it, and these days it’s a more realistic experience than ever before. But first you need to understand a bit more about how this tool works. Grab the Brush tool by pressing B or clicking its icon in the Tools panel.


You can control brush size and edge hardness with a keyboard/mouse maneuver: Control-Option-drag (Alt+right-click+drag on a PC) left or right to change the size, or up or down to change edge hardness. When you use this trick, you’ll see brush diameter, edge hardness, and opacity info appear next to your cursor.

The brush tool’s Options bar (Figure 12-10) contains a slew of settings:

  • Tool presets. This drop-down menu at the left end of the Options bar lets you access brush settings you’ve previously saved.

  • Brush Preset picker. Photoshop has a ton of built-in brushes, and this drop-down menu lets you access and manage them, control brush size (up to a whopping 5000 pixels) and edge hardness, and save your settings as a preset. New in this version of Photoshop CC, the last 30 brushes you used are perched in the upper part of the panel. You can think of the Brush Preset picker as a mini version of the Brush Presets panel (described next), except that the Brush Preset picker only shows you a preview of the tip of Photoshop’s preset brushes ...

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