How to Use Photoshop Brushes

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In Photoshop, brushes are under-utilized tools that can be efficient and effective when the right diameter is chosen. Discover how a brush makes an impression on an image with help from a graphic designer in this free video on Adobe Photoshop tricks.

Part of the Video Series: Photoshop Tricks
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Zach Katagiri, freelance graphic designer in New York City, and today, we are talking about Photoshop. In Photoshop, brushes are one of the most under-utilized tools. In this video, I'm going to show you how to navigate through the brush options so that you can learn how to use brushes more effectively. First, you're going to want to get your brushes window open. You can find it underneath Window and Brushes. Next, I want you to notice a couple of things in this box. The numbers down below are what I'm going to refer to as a brushes diameter. It basically just measures the longest dimension that brush has, whether that's height or width. Notice next that as I click through, you can see down below, there will be a preview of what each brush would look like when you use it. The first options are all circles, but they have different diameters and different hardnesses, so the first ones have very hard edges -- they immediately cut off. And the later ones have more of this faded glow around them -- we call that having soft edges. You've also got a bunch of other brushes that aren't necessarily circles and that can end up looking sort of like paintbrushes, different types of paintbrushes. You have some various shapes. And you've got some different textures. And you may even have some custom shapes if you've created them. Next, I want you to notice that, say, for example, you chose this shape -- a 19 pixel hard round. But if you wanted it to be much bigger, then you could go up and just manually change the diameter and Photoshop will scale up the size of your brush. You can manually also adjust the hardness. Notice, also, that you can change the opacity and the flow. Changing the opacity of a brush changes the maximum darkness that it can be. So in this case, my brush can't get any more than 40 percent black. If I change it up to 100, then the brush will show as it does in the preview box. The flow refers to how often the brush makes an impression on your image. So if I bring the flow level down to, say, 50, then the brush only makes an image half as often as it would have before. And if I bring the flow even lower, then it makes an impression even less. There are also a variety of attributes over here in this box. We don't really have enough time to go over all of them here, but if you poke around and look at the previews, you should be able to get a sense from whether or not the boxes are checked or not, and you can also go and check inside the boxes to see what the each do. So if you click around, you can look at these. I'll use the scattering, and so if you want something that scatters, you can turn on the scattering feature and go crazy.

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