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Photoshop CS4 offers an abundance of helpful shortcuts and hidden tricks that allow designers and photographers to get more done in less time. In Photoshop CS4 Power Shortcuts, Michael Ninness reveals hundreds of tips to boost productivity, including the top 20 power shortcuts every Photoshop user must know. He covers strategies for better document and panel management, and offers techniques for becoming quicker and more nimble when using layers, adjustment layers, and layer masks. Exercise files accompany the course.
Download the keyboard shortcut guide from the Exercise Files tab.
Another very common task that you have to do inside Photoshop is to change your brush size and your brush hardness as you're working with your paintbrushes. So for instance in this image, let's say we're going to mask back a black and white version to reveal some color underneath and I want to paint on my layer mask to do that. So I'm taking my brush cursor right now to a particular size. I want to make it a little bit bigger and I want to make it a little bit softer. The first tip I want to give you is to change the default brush cursor.
In Photoshop, the default is to give you just a very simple circle. I want you to go to your Preferences. So Command+K or Ctrl+K to open up your Preferences and under the Cursors category the default is set to show your cursor as a Normal Brush Tip. I am going to now recommend you change this to Full Size Brush Tip and then Show Crosshair in Brush Tip so you always see the center of your brush. If I put the mouse on the tool tip here for the Full Brush Size Tip, it says Use the full size of the brush for the cursor shape. Rather than Normal Brush Tip, which only shows you the area that's 50% transparent or opaque and higher.
So I get frustrated by the Normal Brush Tip because it's just not a very accurate cursor. So I recommend to change it to these new defaults. Full Brush Size Brush Tip and Show the Crosshair, click OK. You now see my brush appears larger than I did just a few seconds ago. The brush size hasn't actually changed. It's just Photoshop is showing you a more accurate representation of the area the brush is affecting. So to change your brush size with your keyboard, you want to use your right and left bracket keys. These are the square bracket keys. On an English keyboard, they are to the right of the letter P on your main keyboard. So the right bracket key makes the brush larger, the left bracket key makes the brush smaller.
You now see that this accurate, full size brush cursor also tries to give you some indication whether or not the brush is hard or soft. You see this little deckled edge on the edge of the brush cursor there. If you add Shift to your bracket keys that's how you can adjust the brush hardness. So if I do Shift+Right Bracket it makes the brush much harder. So less of a transition zone between paint and unpaint. Shift+Left Bracket makes the brush much softer. And it does this in 25% increments.
And again you're not actually changing the size of the brush. You're just changing the feathering on the size of that brush, which would in effect change the amount of area that gets dropped down. So now we've adjusted our brush using our right and left brackets and now if I paint with black here, you can see I'm painting in a mask on the layer mask. I'm not really caring about an accurate job here just to do the demo, but you can see what I'm talking about. If I want to make the brush much smaller, left bracket to bring in some finer detail there and anytime along the way I want to make it larger I just use the right bracket key and I get what I want.
Now there is a couple of different ways to do this. I'll cover those in a separate video. But for now this is your basic cross platform keyboard shortcut for changing brush size and brush hardness.
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