Using Brushes

You can use brushes for a lot more than painting in Photoshop. As you will see in Chapter 3, you often use brushes in the digital darkroom to edit images in many ways. Choosing a brush shape is the most important decision in determining the character of its stroke, but this is only the beginning. Brushes have numerous parameters that affect their stroke's appearance, including hardness, spacing, textures, dual brush tips, scattering, and many dynamic properties that occur in time. You will create a new file to experiment with brushes.

1. Create a new file by choosing File > New, or press Ctrl+N.

2. In the New dialog box, select 640x480 from the Preset Sizes drop-down list, and click OK.

3. Type B to choose the Brush tool. Click the popup on the Options bar to open the Brush palette, or Brush Preset picker (see Figure 1.34) in which you can see a list of preset brushes.

TIP You can enlarge the Brush pop-up palette by dragging its resize handle in the lower-right corner.

Scroll through the list to see which presets are available in the default brush library. The list starts with a series of hard, round brushes and continues with a number of soft, round brushes. Near the bottom of the list are many brushes with custom tips and advanced features.

Figure 1.34

The Brush pop-up palette, or Brush Preset picker

4. Click the round button with the right-facing arrow to open the Brush pop-up palette menu (shown on the right side of Figure 1.34). This menu includes a listing of brush libraries in the group at the bottom. Choose Calligraphic Brushes from this menu.

5. A small dialog box will appear, asking "Replace current brushes with the brushes from Calligraphic Brushes.abr?" Click OK.

NOTE The .abr file type is used for brush libraries in Photoshop. These files are stored in the C:\Program Fi1es\Adobe\Photoshop CS\Presets\Brushes folder and its subfolders. You can share your libraries with others by putting custom .abr files in this folder and restarting Photoshop.

Now the preset brushes are different in the Brush pop-up palette.

6. Double-click the 20-pixel flat calligraphic brush to close the Brush pop-up palette. Press D and paint some black strokes in the document window.

7. Repeatedly press the right square bracket key to enlarge the brush. Paint another stroke.

8. Hold down the Shift key and press the left square bracket key three times to soften the brush. Paint yet another stroke.

The square bracket keys in conjunction with the Shift key are convenient shortcuts to the two most important brush parameters. For greater control and far more options, we will explore the Brushes palette.

The Brushes palette is in the palette well in the default workspace. The palette well is on the far right of the Options bar.

9. Click the Brushes palette, and it pops up within the well. Drag this palette out of the well, and it becomes the floating palette, as shown in Figure 1.35.

The Brushes palette functions in a way similar to the Layer Style dialog box. The categories on the left side of the palette control which parameters are accessible on the right.

Figure 1.35

The Brushes palette

NOTE You can dock any of the palettes in the well, float any of the palettes in the well, and rearrange the palettes in any way according to your working style. You can then save your favorite arrangement by choosing Window > Workspace > Save Workspace.

10. Click Brush Tip Shape to display the corresponding parameters on the right of the palette. Change Angle to 120 degrees, Hardness to 50% and Spacing to 300%. Paint a stroke in the document window.

11. Click the Shape Dynamics category. Change Jitter to 30% and Angle Jitter to 5%. Paint another stroke in the document window.

You can combine an almost limitless number of parameters in the Brushes palette to create a variety of strokes. Spend some time exploring all the various parameters.

12. Click the round button with the right-facing arrow icon in the top-right corner of the Brushes palette to open the menu, and choose Reset Brushes.

13. A small dialog box will appear, asking "Replace current brushes with the default brushes?" Click OK, and the brushes you saw in step 3 return to the Brushes pop-up and palette.

NOTE The default brushes are part of Photoshop itself and cannot be altered by overwriting an .abr file.

14. Drag the Brushes palette back into the palette well to save room in your workspace. Close the current document; it was just for your experimentation.

Learn Photoshop Now

Learn Photoshop Now

This first volume will guide you through the basics of Photoshop. Well start at the beginning and slowly be working our way through to the more advanced stuff but dont worry its all aimed at the total newbie.

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