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For more information, please see full course syllabus of Adobe Photoshop CS6
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  • Mixer Brushes - allows you to emulate a brush and palette. You can mix colors together, adjust the wetness, and make brushes work like different mediums. Realistic artwork in Photoshop!
  • Erodible tip brushes - the tips erode just like crayons, pencils, or pastels. Another wonderful feature for artists!


Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Lesson Overview 0:08
  • Basic Brushes 2:17
    • Introduction to Basic Brushes
    • Brush Control Panel
    • Brush Control Panel: Mode
    • Brush Control Panel: Opacity
    • Brush Control Panel: Pressure
    • Brush Control Panel: Flow
    • Brush Control Panel: Airbrush Control
  • Brush Sizing Shortcuts 8:54
    • Adjusting Brush Size and Hardness Shortcuts
  • Bush Controls 11:54
    • Brush Controls
  • Types of Brushes 16:25
    • Bristle Brushes
    • Erodible Tip Brushes
    • Air Brushes
    • Mixer Brushes
    • How to Make a Custom Basic Brush

Transcription: Brushes

Hi everyone, Michael Brown back with you again, welcome back to's Adobe Photoshop CS6 course.0000

In this lesson, let's talk about Brushes.0008

Brushes is a very important feature and tool in Photoshop--not only do we have the Brush tool that allows you to paint masks and work on images, it allows you to be an artist and create things and literally paint, it paints masks.0011

Brushes are also used in the retouch tools as well, so overall Brushes are quite important but they're important not only for retouching and for those of us who work on photographic images, but even more important for those of you who are going to be graphic artists, or true artists, you can now create almost anything in the computer with Photoshop that you can paint with brushes on a canvas.0028

We're going to talk about first basic Brushes, with a couple of cool shortcuts, and notice here, Bristle Brushes, which allow you to emulate exactly what you buy for an artist brush with bristles, the length, the density, the stiffness of the bristles.0058

Mixer Brushes, which is now a feature that allows you to actually mix wet paints like you would oils or acrylics or water colors.0077

As the paint that goes across another layer will actually mix with the previously wet paint, we have erodible tip brushes which are new in CS6 which erode, just like a pencil or a crayon or a piece of chalk.0089

And there are airbrush effects, more than just spraying it, how it sprays--you can emulate graffiti spray cans, all sorts of controls with the sprays themselves.0104

In other words, this is now a true artist's creative piece of software that is just as good as the brushes, canvases and paints that you use for real.0117

Alright, and we have the brush controls that we're going to talk about that allow you to modify what the regular brushes do as well, so let's get started.0129

Here's the Brush tool, and across the top we have the basic options for the Brush tool; here's the dropdown Brush menu, showing you your default brushes, along with a size slider and a hardness slider.0140

This little gear allows you to add other sets of brushes, for example, let's put in some basic brushes which are the circular brushes--we will append this, not replace, and they will add at the bottom--there's your basic, 100% hardness, and the size and over here you have 0% hardness--these are just your basic circular brushes.0156

Notice up here we have all sorts of shaped brushes--there is a (it closed on me again) a little like a maple leaf, there are smudge brushes like a little sponge--all sorts of stuff, but you can bring in natural brushes, we will append that, let's see what those are.0185

There's some circular ones and again some spongy shapes and fans, and a rose, all sorts of other things--let's try one more; natural brushes regular, append those, and we got some more shapes on there--there's a whole series that you can put in here as well, and you can create your own brushes which I'll show you to do in just a moment, so that's the basic brush panel.0204

This is the brush control panel that gives you your brush tip shape controls, as well as a whole series of other options...there are the brushes in there again, and all sorts of controls that we'll talk about.0229

This is accessible either by the icon here--click to open, click to close--or under the Window menu as a panel; the brush panel, there it is there, and we can close it that way as well.0246

There are blend modes available for painting with your brushes--blends will be talked about in a future lesson, but basically they work this way--this is normal dissolve behind and clear the four basic blends that we've normally seen with all video and stuff.0259

These all darken an image in various degrees, lighten an image in various degrees, increase contrast in different ways, the difference exclusion--subtract and divide--do some odd things that you need to play with, and hue saturation color and luminosity are dealing with color, so darken, lighten, contrast, some weird ones, color, and your basic modes.0278

Alright, over here we have the opacity, which is literally what it says--the opacity of the ink that drops from 100 to 0, we have next to that a control for pressure; it always uses it when it's off, the brush pre-sets control pressure.0303

Now pressure obviously here is controlled, in this case, by my pen, on a graphic tablet--one of the things that I can't recommend highly enough that you get if you're going to be serious about Photoshop--this is a Wacom tablet, this is a small one with a 4x6 inch surface--very good to go with my laptop on location, but if I'm going to work in the studio I have a larger one that has a 6x9--they even make larger than that, and it allows you to just work as you would with a pen or a pencil or an artist's brush.0324

For precision work, it's the only way to go--to company that makes the best ones is Wacom (W A C O M) this is their high-end Intuos line (I N T U O S) they cost about $230 new for the small one, about $140 for a factory refer which is equally as good, they have a lesser line called Bamboo which you can get as cheap as $50--I would highly recommend it.0364

You cannot do accurate work with a track pad, a mouse is a little bit better but it's still very difficult to do precise, smooth work.0391

Anyway, that's what the pressure control is.0401

Flow, I will just define it--opacity is the opacity of the paint that's dropped onto paper, flow is the percentage of the opacity that is dropped in each stroke, for example, if you had 100% opacity, and you had 50% flow, on each stroke it would drop 50% of 100% opacity, so it'd be 50% in the single stroke, when you come back across, it'd be 50%, 100%--it would build up, that's what it does, it's a slow build up as opposed to just putting it all down.0405

Now if you do this, it will do the same thing; 50% you make one stroke, make another separate stroke and you've dropped another 50% on top, so there's a way to do that I--don't use the flow, you will use mostly opacity.0448

This is an airbrush control--what that does, very simply, is (let me take a circular brush and show you...let's make it a soft brush, hardness of zero, size in our hardness--make the hardness zero) with the airbrush control on, if I just click notice how it builds up...I'll do it again--I'll just click...I can hardly just barely click and there it is, but if I click and hold, the paint builds up just like an airbrush will.0463

That's the airbrush control only for that, there are airbrush controls in the brush panel now that emulate actually painting with an airbrush, and we'll go over those in a few minutes.0499

Alright, let's go back to the...oh, we are finishing our way down here and this one here is also pressure for the size and size control.0513

Alright, sorry, getting tongue-tied here.0527

So that takes care of your basic options.0532

I want to talk to you right off the bat about a brush sizing shortcuts, the ways--now there are three basic controls for your brush; that's size, as you see over here--diameter is the size, hardness and opacity.0534

In the past, you would have had to go to this size, hardness, and your opacity is over here.0550

You can adjust the opacity three different ways; you can do it with the slider, you can do it with the 'scrubby', which is when your cursor comes up and gets this hand with two arrows, click and drag left or right--you can adjust that way--but it's a lot easier to use the numbers on your keyboard.0560

If I want 50% opacity I hit the number 5 for 50%...and it should adjust it to 50%--it's working off that because I had the airbrush on, sorry...that was controlling flow.0580

With the airbrush off, when I hit 50%, there's opacity--if I hit 0, it's 100%--if I hid 2 it's 20, if I wanted 47%, 47 very quickly, there's how you can adjust your opacity on the fly simply using the numbers on your keyboard--I'm going to hit 0 and go back to 100%.0596

OK, so that takes care of opacity.0617

Diameter...up until Photoshop CS6 to increase the brush size, use the right bracket, click, click, click right bracket--up it goes, or hold it down, left bracket down, right bracket up--on the fly, works really, really well--saves having to go over here, too much time wasted.0620

In Photoshop CS6 we have a new one called the heads up display--you're seeing a photograph of it, a screenshot, I'll show you how it works, real simple.0641

On a Mac, hold down your Control and Option key at the same time, on a PC Control and right click, and what happens is you get that and if you move your cursor to the right, the brush size goes up--if you move it to the left, the brush size goes down--if you move it up, the hardness goes down--if you move it down, the hardness goes up, so you can adjust the hardness and the size on the fly by using Control/Option on a Mac or Control/right click on a PC, very simple.0653

And there you have it right there, and they will occur dynamically within that red patch, actually showing you what the brush looks like.0691

I might suggest that you take a screenshot of this little chart, print it out so that you can remember it--these are really valuable as a big time saver.0699

OK, so let's talk about the types of brushes real quickly here, and brush controls.0709

I'm going to talk about the brush controls first, and we're going to bring them up--we're in the brushes, we're going to hit the icon--here are your brush controls (I'm going to open up that blank page, change the screen view so you can see it) here's your brush tip shape controls, there's your size here, hardness and spacing, let me first of all set spacing all the way back, and I'm going to set my hardness on this brush to zero, and show you--this is a preview of what your brush will be setting down on paper, so here you go, and there it is, exactly the same thing.0715

Spacing...the way the computer works is it very simply--I'm going to click's very hard to do with a soft brush, let me up it to a hardness of that...and I'll try to just click one time here--there, that is one droplet of paint from the computer.0759

As I click and drag, you notice it seems to be continuous--what it's really doing is laying down individual droplets very close together, and that's the spacing--let me first of all get rid of it's cleaned out--as I increase the spacing, as I get to 100%, now you see the drops don't overlap anymore and they spread out beyond each other so now if I paint (let me make the brush a little smaller) notice I get a series of dots...whatever the shape of the brush, and let's talk about the shape for a moment.0781

Right in here, you can change the shape--look at the circle, we can change that circular brush into an oval, change the angle and now we have little ovals--spread out, if I paint like this, I paint ovals, so these are creative adjustments for your brush, and it doesn't matter what the brush shape is--you can do the same thing with--here's a maple leaf...we increase the spacing, we got a lot of maple leaves.0821

We can change the shape of the maple leaf actually...and rotate it...rotate it the other way--whatever you want, you can do the same thing with whatever the particular shape is.0849

Let's go back to the circle...up that spacing a lot again just so you can see it--now we have all of these other option for controls--very quickly shape dynamics, and I'm going to turn all of these off because I had them on...what else did I have--there must, there we go.0863

These are all now off.0886

You can size jitter--let's change that shape to an oval a little bit...and get the spacing out so we can see those little ovals...get them there--there we go.0888

Now, we go back to shape dynamics--size jitter will randomly alter the size, so if I take this brush size, increase it and drop it, notice it's dropping different sized randomly.0904

I can also change the diameter, I can change the angle, this is called jitter.0919

I can go and scatter them...both axes really scatter the heck out of them, and play with accounts, so that what you do is you just lay a random pattern down, which gives you options here, for example, let's just really quickly pick that...where was it...the maple leaf, we're going to go back to the brush, we have it all over the scattering--we're going to increase the size of that maple leaf, we're also going to go add color dynamics, hue saturation, brightness, we'll change this to red, and now when I lay it down it just comes up like that, so there's all sorts of things that you can do with the brush panel.0926

Now, I want to go back here to the brush pre-sets, and let's talk about...let's see, I want to see brush pre-sets...there we go...brush panel we'll close that out, we're going to pick up in here, we're going to pick the bristle brushes, and let's take a look at what the bristle brushes can do...there we have a bristle brush and we have all of these shape options--we'll just pick a round fan, and you can adjust--notice down in the preview.0968

This up here by the way, is under Photoshop or Edit in...Photoshop on a Mac, Edit in a PC, Preferences and performance, if you turn on the graphics processor you get this, and it shows the angle of my pen against the surface of the canvas.1004

Now, back over here, you can adjust the number of bristles, the length of the bristles, the thickness of the bristles, the stiffness of the bristles, and the angle of them, as well as a spacing control, and if I go over here, increase the brush size, knock it down until we get just a few bristles, and now you can (should be able to...thickness down) see what you can do is you can paint with purely just a few bristles and create a different kind of brush...and that takes care of the bristle brushes--there's all sorts of shapes and controls, that's all these brushes right up in here.1025

Below them, we have the erodible tip brushes, which are--and you see up here right now, it's just like a pencil, and what I'm going to do--this is an erodible point--there's different ones, the size of the brush, the softness--if it's 100% hard, no matter what I do here, that's all--oh, pressure control, let me see if I can do this very carefully--I want to just do it with my...I'm going to do it with the track pad instead so that you can see that as we go along here, it's eroding, because it's 100% soft brush.1074

See over here in the setting, so as we started out, it was sharp, and now look at the tip--it's flat.1118

I'll re-sharpen it--go to a zero softness, so that will just never change...if I'm partly soft, you know, the harder I press and the more I go on the side you can see that the tip is eroding and changing, and you can adjust all of those particular controls.1126

So there you have the erodible tip brushes--kind of another one--so now it's emulating pencils and chalk and crayons, so we're back to the brush tip shapes and we have one more and that's the airbrushes, and here you have hardness.1147

Notice some of the airbrushes are a distance away, and others are very close up, so you have those choices; the hardness--let's get the spatter...and the size of the brush--why is it--oh, I don't want scattering...I want this thing all to come together...must be some pre-sets are off on this thing...pen pressure off, that was hopefully it will get all this down to zero here...why is it still off?1163

I have one problem and I can't figure out what it is...scatter--there's a scattering here--control off, color dynamics, scattering off...color dynamics, shape dynamics, all of that is off--brush tip shape, we should be able to put an airbrush down--there it is, now it's coming up...spacing out, there we go.1205

Alright, now it's back to a control on an airbrush--sorry, some of the controls got turned off there.1238

So now we adjust the hardness distortion of the spray granularity of the display--it's another little bit of spatter, the amount of spatter size and amount, all sorts of stuff, and I'm going to try and do this very there you have a sideways airbrush--if we do it just on the top, it does list--let's go to spatter size and amount, and it's now spattering some more, just like an airbrush would normally.1245

Let's take one from a distance, and do the same thing...the distortion, and we'll try it at an angle from a distance here...1276

Oops, I'm painting with white, no good...and there you see, depending upon the pressure and the controls, you're emulating the way an airbrush works, so there you have...1287

Let's go back...and go back to our title bar, come on...and get back to a regular brush, I don't use these very often so it's always fun when I'm trying to play with these.1302

We've talked about our basic brushes, and some shortcuts...we got that taken care of--the shortcuts are well worthwhile--remember, Control/Option click, up, down, up, down, size and opacity or your right and left brackets.1316

We've talked about bristle brushes--how you can control how the brush looks, we've talked about erodible tips and airbrushes and the various controls and now I'm going to try to show you what I can about Mixer Brushes--I'm not a painter, but I'm going to give this a shot.1336

Here we are back to the untitled, I'm going to delete that, put a color in here, and let's bring up the brushes panel very quickly, and let's talk about Mixer Brushes if I can do this.1353

So here under the brushes down at the bottom is the Mixer Brush tool.1371

This controls the load and cleaning of your brush, this is whether it actually loads it every time, or clean it after each stroke or not.1375

That allows you to build paint up on the brush if you don't clean it after every stroke.1388

Over here, you can clean it or load it after each stroke, in other words you could build it up like a painter would dipping at the pallet to get different colors to change the color on the brush.1393

Here are pre-sets; a dry with no load at zero wetness and 100% load is going to give you, hopefully, a regular stroke, just like we normally see--there's red right there.1405

But if we try this, and change the color to, let's say, some pastel here and go wet, with a light mixture that's mixing the two, and we put this down there--notice what happens as it goes through the red, it mixes, and when it comes out it has that kind of dirty feel, so you can adjust the amount of mixing...let's try a third color to see if I can demonstrate--let's go with some odd yellow here and see how the yellow goes in and comes out--it's turning green, see what's happening?1423

It's just mixing in with different colors--we go back to the red and mix that in, and we get oranges and all sorts of other things.1461

What this allows you to do is just adjust the wetness, which is the...literally the thinness of the paint--the wetter it is, the more it blends--the drier it is, the less it blends, the load is how much is on the brush, the mix is how much it's mixing, and you can also adjust the flow here, so there you have how the mixer brush works--it's up to you to make it work for your own artistry.1470

There's one more thing I want to show you about brushes that I forgot to tell you...and that is how to make a custom, basic brush, so I'm going to go back to the untitled (clear this thing up) and here is my signature, actually.1502

I just signed it on white.1522

You can make a custom brush out of anything--you can also make a custom texture out of anything, it needs to be on white though, that's all it needs.1526

This will be a colored brush of this color--watch what happens--I've already got it against white, and I'm going to flatten the image so that it is actually on go to your Edit menu, you come down to define brush pre-set or define pattern, one or the other--let's make a brush pre-set, up it comes--now this is a huge brush, that's because it's 1745 pixels, let's not do this, let's just change it down to one inch and resample it...let's make that 800, and we will make a new size.1535

Edit, define brush pre-set--no matter what it is, it doesn't matter, you can always change the brush size.1577

I'm going to call it that, and now if you go to the bottom of your brushes panel, there it resides--it's a new brush pre-set, and notice the brush is now my signature--if we go to the untitled page and I make this black ink, and I just reduce it a little bit--if I click once, it's just my signature...we don't the Mixer Brush because we want a regular brush...pick my custom brush, there we go...change the size, click, and there's my signature.1582

That's one way to save your arm from making it but it's also a brush, and if you wanted to make a pattern (I just made one) go to the Edit menu, go to define pattern, and we'll call it Pattern Test...and so if you're using Edit, fill with, for example, fill with a pattern, you can see we added a new pattern.1620

So there you have all about brushes in a nutshell; basic brushes, how to quickly change the size and hardness, bristle brushes and we did talk now about Mixer brushes.1648

Bristle brushes are for your artist's brushes--Mixer Brushes to mix the paint--erodible tip for pencils and chalk, airbrush controls and all of the brush controls to change all of the items.1663

Go off and play with them, and that sums up the brushes in Photoshop CS6.1677