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Photoshop: Painting Brushes

Version: Adobe Photoshop CC 2021. Be aware that different versions of Photoshop will vary in appearance and functionality. Full Guides: Photoshop: Images, Photoshop: Graphic Design

Brushes serve multiple purposes, but are mainly used for drawing and painting. Before using a brush, we recommend creating a new layer to avoid inadvertently modifying other layers. Also, select the desired color before painting as the color of brush strokes cant be easily changed later. 

The two brush tools are: the Brush tool and the Mixer Brush tool. The Brush tool is used for standard drawing and the Mixer Brush tool simulates real painting by mixing colors together and adding wetness and color build-up to the brush. 

Expand each section below to see its content.

When a brush is selected, basic controls for it will appear in the Options bar. Additional and more advanced brush settings are available in the Brush Preset picker from the Options bar and from the Brush panel. Some of these options include size, hardness, brush load, wetness, tip shape, texture, etc. If the Brushes panel isnt open, navigate to Window > Brushes.
Different types of brushes are accessible from the folders in the Brushes panel and the Brush Preset Picker (General Brushes, Dry Media Brushes, Wet Media Brushes, Special Effects Brushes). These brushes are presets that have different settings applied to them. When trying to find the desired type of brush and effect it creates, these presets are typically a good place to start. The settings of preset brushes can be modified at any time in the Options bar and Brush Settings panel.

To save a custom brush as a new preset, click the Create New Brush button to the bottom-right of the Brushes panel. This is useful for saving brush settings in order to use the same brush later.

To draw or paint with a brush tool:
  1. Create a new layer in the Layers panel.
  2. Select the desired tool, either the Brush or Mixer Brush tool.
  3. Select a color from the Swatches panel or from the bottom of the Toolbar.
  4. Select a brush preset from the Brushes panel or the Brush Preset Picker in the Options bar.
  5. Modify brush settings in the Options bar and Brush Settings panel as desired.
  6. Click-and-drag on the Canvas to draw and paint as desired.
To undo mistakes, open the History Panel and revert back to a previous step. The History Panel records each brush stroke as its own step. Be aware that reverted to a previous step will erase all steps that were taken afterwards.

Be aware that the color of brush strokes cant be easily changed later. Always select the desired color before painting.
To change the color of a brush stroke:
  1. Select the layer with the brush strokes in the Layers panel.
  2. Click the Layer Style button to the bottom of the Layers panel, which has an fx. A pop-up will appear.
  3. Select Stroke.
  4. Click the Color and make a new selection. Ensure Preview is check to see a live preview of changes.
  5. In the Position drop-down, select Inside.
  • The Size may need to be increased in order to fill the entire stroke.
  • When done, click OK.

  • Using this method will change the color of all brush strokes in a layer. Unfortunately, there isnt a way to change the color of single brush strokes in a multi-stroke layer.

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