Brush Opacity

Lastly, there are times you'll want to apply a brush lightly or heavily. In general, do not change brush color to change density, change brush opacity. When using the Paintbrush tool, opacity represents the amount of black, white, or color a brush lies down as you drag the cursor across your image. By changing opacity, you change how thickly you apply the color with the brush: 10% opacity translating as thinly, 50% more heavily.

The opacity level is changed by pressing the number keys: 1 for 10% opacity, 2 for 20% ... up to 9 for 90% and 0 for 100%. When you press these keys, the brush opacity changes on the option bar.

Try a simple exercise with the paint brush:

1 Open an image in Photoshop. Select the Paintbrush tool, simply press B.

2 Move the cursor over your image and you'll see a circle, i.e., the paint brush. Resize the brush using the [ ] keys.

3 Set the foreground and background colors to the default colors, simply hit the D key. Paint with the brush on your image. Change the hardness of the brush edge using kShift +[ ].

4 Change the brush opacity using the number keys and paint some more. Switch the foreground and background colors using the X key. You should be able to paint various shades of grey over your image easily. Even with a low opacity value, you should be able to paint a part of the image to pure black or pure white by repeatedly painting over the same spot.

5 Next create a new adjustment layer; color balance is easy to try. Select Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Color Balance. Name this new layer "Lots of Red." In the Color Balance dialog, make a strong adjustment by adding lots of red. Hit OK to close the dialog.

6 The image will now appear very red. The "Lots of Red" layer will also appear in the layers palette. And the Title for the Image window will include the text (Lots of Red, Layer Mask).

7 Use the paint brush tool to paint on this layer mask. If your brush color is white, you'll merely be painting white onto a white mask, so start with a black brush. Remember, pressing X switches the fore and background colors. You should be able to mask the red adjustment.

8 Experiment with changing the brush size, the brush edge hardness, the brush color, and the brush opacity. Notice how using a soft edged brush and a moderate opacity can make the painting edges softer.

Make a habit of using the quick keystrokes as you work with the brushes so you won't need to move you mouse away from the image to make these changes. It'll make editing a breeze.

Photoshop CS Mastery

Photoshop CS Mastery

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