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In the all-new Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Mastery, the third and final installment of the popular series, join industry expert and award-winning author Deke McClelland for an in-depth tour of the most powerful and empowering features of Photoshop CS5. Discover the vast possibilities of traditional tools, such as masking and blend modes, and then delve into Smart Objects, Photomerge, as well as the new Puppet Warp, Mixer Brush, and HDR features. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisites: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals and Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced.
Now that we've seen what Bristles, Length, Thickness and Stiffness mean in the context of this Bristle Brush preview, let's get a sense for how you might change those numerical values and what kind of differences you can achieve. I'm still working inside Brush settings diagram.psd and I've got my Brush tool selected. If I bring up the Brush panel, you can see that I've entered all of the values that are listed at the bottom of this image. So the Size 75 pixels, Bristles 30% and so on, and the Shape is set to Round Blunt and I'm going to go ahead and save off these settings as a Custom Brush either by clicking on the page icon at the bottom of the Brush panel or the one at the bottom of the Brush Presets panel.
That brings up the Brush Name dialog box. It's already called Round Blunt 1 by default. I'm going to name it Round Blunt Medium 75px for 75 pixels, the Medium meaning by the way that most of these numerical values are set to their medium settings with the extent of Thickness, which I have set pretty low. If you raise the Thickness value though, you tend to get really doughy results which are not particularly cared for. I am going to go ahead and capture the Brush Size in the Preset and now I'll click OK and notice that we have a new Bristle Brush listed here at the bottom of the Brush Presets panel and that's in addition to the 10 Presets that are included along by default, which is great.
So you don't have to have just one Preset per Bristle Brush style, as by default, you could create 10 Presets per style or as many as you want. Anyway, having saved off this Preset, let's go ahead and close the Brush panel for a moment and I'm also going to close the Bristle Brush preview, so that we can switch between layer Comps. If you check out the layer Comps panel, you'll see that I have a bunch of Comps going on right now, Round Blunt Medium is the active Comp. If it isn't for you, just go ahead and click in front of it in this little column in front, in order to make it active.
Then I'm going to take advantage of that dekeKeys shortcut, Ctrl+Shift+Alt+F12, Cmd+Shift+Option+F12 on a Mac in order to switch from one layer Comp to the other. So, I'm just going to advance one layer Comp here, so that we can see demonstrations of the Four Unique Bristle Brush Variables. That is, Bristles, Length, Thickness and Stiffness, all applied to that Round Blunt Style that we just got done saving and also just so that we have something of a scientific demonstration here, I've said, Unless Otherwise Stated, these are the settings.
So, in other words, in the case of the two Bristle strokes, those overwrite that one Bristles value down there, the two Length demonstrations are overwriting this Length value, the two Thickness demonstrations overwriting Thickness, and the two Stiffness demonstrations overwriting Stiffness; otherwise, these are the values that are in force. All right, we don't need to see those values overlapping the bottoms of the strokes however, so, I'm going to advance to the next layer Comp in order to get rid of those values so we can focus on the strokes themselves. Now, notice Bristles, notice all these values first of all are measured as percentages, for what that's worth because that doesn't necessarily help us understand a darn thing.
What are they percentages of? Interestingly, for the most part, Bristles is actually the number of hairs that you're painting. So, when you reduce the Bristles value down to one percent, you get a single hair that you are painting with across the entire length of the stroke. When you raise it up to 5, typically you have five hairs as in the case of this guy, you can actually count them one, two, three, four, five, right there. When we increase the Bristles value to 100%, we get 100 hairs, let's say, again this is typical behavior.
So, it's the difference between a sparsely populated brush and a densely populated brush when you're modifying those Bristles value. As I say, for my custom brush, I went with a value of 30%. All right, now let's switch over to Length. Now, the custom brush had a Length of 140% which makes for a very long brush actually, but you can change the Length of those hairs if you want to. This is the Length right here; this is demonstrating a Length of 25%, and if you'd like to see that in action, let's bring up the Brushes panel for a moment and I will toggle the display of the Bristle Brush preview so we can see it, and now watch the length of these hairs as I reduce the Length value.
So notice they get much, much shorter at 25%. So, that's the brush that I used to create this brushstroke right there, and then, if I raise this value, I'll just add 0 there to raise the value to 250%, that's the ultra-tall brush, notice it scales to fit inside of the Brush preview area, but that's the ultra-tall brush that's used to create this brushstroke. Now, what's the difference? Well, if you're painting with those short brushstroke, you're not going to have much give to that brush. So as a result, you're going to get a pretty sturdy stroke out of that brush.
However if you lengthen it, then you're going to have a lot more play, but at the same time you're going to have less control and your paint is going to be allowed to flop fairly freely inside of your image, which may be an effect you're looking for. So, if you're looking for a free form effect, a long Length value can do it; if you're looking for more control, go with a shorter Length value. Anyway, I'm going to restore that guy to 140%. Then we have Thickness and let's go ahead and hide the panel and the preview for a moment. Thickness is the Thickness of each one of the hairs.
So, because my Bristles value is set to 30%, we've got essentially 30 hairs inside each one of the strokes. However at a Thickness value of 1%, they're extremely thin hairs, and then in the Thickness value 50%, we get these big doughy gooey sort of hairs which I don't particularly care for. I don't like working with a high Thickness value but of course I encourage you to go your own way. Finally, we have a couple of demonstrations of Stiffness here, so all the other values are reset now to 30% for Bristles, 140% for Length, 4% for Thickness and then these two values for Stiffness.
At a very low Stiffness value that brush is going to be allowed to collapse, especially when you're pressing hard on the stylus and what that means is the brush can flop either direction on you as you're pressing hard. So, it can end up kind of spiraling around in circles as you are pressing down on your stylus and when you release of course, you end up getting more controlled results. But again, if you want that kind of free form behavior, then you want a low Stiffness value, especially if you're going for a kind of expressionist style, then a low Stiffness value with a high Length value is going to produce the most expressive results.
However, if you're looking for control, then you want a high Stiffness value. This is a Stiffness value of 100% right there, which is going to prohibit the brush from bending very much even when you're really bearing down on that stylus. So there you have it. Those are the kinds of results you can expect from modifying the Bristles, Length, Thickness, and Stiffness values all of which are unique to Bristle Brushes inside of Photoshop CS5.
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