Do you know how to use the brush tool in Photoshop? It’s easy to use, and is extremely versatile for drawing, designing, creating textures and patterns, and changing or adding colors in your images. A wide array of brushes are available and the customization options are endless. Let’s get started with the tutorial.
The Brush Tool In Photoshop
You can find the brush tool in the toolbar. It’s the 8th tool from the top, right above the pencil tool.
If you can’t locate the toolbar, go to “Windows” in the menu, and make sure “Tools” is checked. The quick command for the brush tool is “B” on the keyboard. You can always find the shortcut key by viewing the letter to the right of each tool.
The best way to learn is to follow along while I teach you how to use the brush tool. Open an image you’d like to edit. Below is the image I’ll be working on. I want the white sneakers to be purple instead of white.
Hit “Shift” + “B” to bring up the brush tool. First, I need to change the foreground color in the “Color Picker” to the exact shade I want. Press “OK” after you’ve selected your color:
Below, you can see how the color changed in the color picker. Instead of the foreground color being black, it’s now lavender. I didn’t want the shoes to be too bright so I chose a light shade of purple:
Create a new layer by going to “Layer” in the top menu, then “New” and “Layer.” Alternatively, you can hit “Command” or “Control” + “N” on your keyboard. You can see this quick command to the right of “Layer.” Making edits on a new layer will preserve your original image.
Working on your new layer, go to the paintbrush icon above the toolbox. Right next to it you’ll see a dropdown menu where you can customize the brush controls. Play around with the size and hardness of your brush. As you can see in the screenshot below, you can import your own brushes as well.
You can also customize your brushes by going to the “Brush Settings” to the right of your image. There are a variety of options you can configure.
If you go to the top of the dashboard, you’ll see a number of controls you can customize to get your brush just how you like it. I typically keep the “Mode” at “Normal,” but it will depend on your image, and what you’re trying to create.
Opacity is a measure of the transparency of your brush, while the flow determines how much paint your brush will deposit onto any given area. Play around with the “Opacity” and “Flow” to see how your brush behaves. I usually never have them at 100%. Again, it will depend on the look you’re trying to achieve. I’ll talk about “Smoothing” below.
You’ll want to zoom in while you’re editing to better control your brush. You may need to change the size and hardness of the brush when you zoom in. You can also change your brush altogether.
The girl’s shoes are now lavender. Pretty cool, right?
The Pencil Tool
Now let’s move on to the pencil tool. This tool is similar to the brush tool except the pencil is very hard-edged and works with only one pixel, whereas, the brush tool can be soft or hard with feathered edges. Even if you change the hardness setting, the pencil default will still be a hard edge. However, you can change the size of the pencil, and erase previous edits.
You can also change the opacity, smoothing, and blending modes. As you can see the settings are a little different from the brush tool settings as there is no “Flow” option. The “Smoothing” setting is really important for the pencil tool because the higher the setting, the slower your strokes become, which gives you the most control.
I don’t know about you, but free-hand drawing is tough so you’ll want to customize this setting for optimal control. The “Auto Erase” feature allows you to eliminate portions of your pencil strokes without reverting to the erase tool. I think you’ll find more uses for the brush tool than the pencil tool, although it’s certainly handy when you need it.
The pencil is applicable for using in detail-oriented areas, and where pixel-by-pixel editing is applicable. Use the pencil for different forms of artwork, free-hand drawings, retina displays, web graphics, animations, or favicons (favorite icons).
[Read More: How To Use Font Awesome In Photoshop]
To begin using your pencil, click your mouse on the point where you’d like to begin. Start drawing with the mouse button depressed. If you lift and hold the “Shift” key, your movements will be more controlled, and your lines will be straight. I created this little graphic using the pencil tool. If I wanted, I could paint the inside of the hearts red with the brush tool:
If you’re working on a Mac, you can hold the “Option” key to select specific areas of your drawing that you want to change to the foreground color in your color picker. Another time-saving shortcut is to press the “V” key to access the “Move” tool. When the “V” key is released, you’ll still be working with your pencil.
This quick command lets you move between tools without having to navigate to the tools panel, and also applies to the “Color Replacement Tool” and “Mixer Brush Tool,” which I’ll talk about in my next tutorial.
I frequently use the brush tool when editing in Photoshop. It’s great for changing colors in a photo, or painting shades and hues onto an image. Brushes are highly customizable, making it easy and convenient to use. I don’t use the pencil tool that often, but it’s useful if I want to sketch shapes or figures by hand. Practice using these handy tools. There’s tons of different applications for them, especially the brush tool. Have fun!
How do you use the brush and pencil tools in Photoshop. Let me know in the comments:)