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Introducing the new airbrush: part one

From: Photoshop CS6 New Features: Brushes

Video: Introducing the new airbrush: part one

In this video I'm going to introduce you to the new airbrushes. These take advantage of the new airbrush tip type and its design to simulate the atomization of dye or paint into very fine droplets. It gives a different kind of airbrush than you're used to, with the normal Photoshop brush that's been in Photoshop forever. I have a set of tool presets and you'll find them in the Tool Presets panel's fly-out menu, and if you go down you'll see airbrushes; those are the brushes.

Introducing the new airbrush: part one

In this video I'm going to introduce you to the new airbrushes. These take advantage of the new airbrush tip type and its design to simulate the atomization of dye or paint into very fine droplets. It gives a different kind of airbrush than you're used to, with the normal Photoshop brush that's been in Photoshop forever. I have a set of tool presets and you'll find them in the Tool Presets panel's fly-out menu, and if you go down you'll see airbrushes; those are the brushes.

I am also going to include as I did earlier with the Artists' brushes, a sorted version of this list. Rather than be sorted by tip type, which I've found over time is a little difficult to quickly get to a behavior you want, by organizing them by behavior you get what I feel is a better way to get to the brushes. They start out as Opaque brushes, which lay down color, then next it goes to Blenders, which do not lay down color; it only moves color it finds underneath of it, and finally you get to the Cloner category, which I'll be going into more depth later on in some movies about cloning and the Cloner brushes.

We'll start off with the Opaque brush, and you see it starts out as a smooth version, then it will go to a grainy, after that. We'll work through this. But if you try this out, this is what you're going to see at first. It's a good way to see how changing your angle of your brush--if you watch the flotilla up in the upper left--you can see how my changing angles gives a lot of variation to the way that this brush looks. However, when I did these, we were still working with a version of Photoshop where performance had not really been screwed down tight yet.

It's unfortunate that it's so opaque here, although it does let you see how the brushes look in terms of movement of the stylus. I find that this is really a much better brush somewhere down under 10%-- probably more like 5% or so--I am not going to be perfect about it here, but just roughly. And you can see this gives you a brush that is much more subtle in its ability. Now maybe that's a bit light, so I'll turn it up a bit closer to 10% and there we go. And you can also see this is not a massively fast brush either.

But I find that's actually kind of good, because you are going to be using this primarily for subtle work and a lot of times you want things to happen rather slowly rather than quickly. So I don't mind the fact that this does somewhat act slow, especially high resolutions, because we are working twice the screen resolution, I've been spraying at here. While that's a little slow at full size, you can always reduce the brush size and get a better performance. Also, people with multi-core systems that have more computing power than my laptop does here, may find that they can get their brushes faster.

Next we'll look at the grainy airbrush. What this does is it applies small speckles as part of the airbrush pattern; let's make this larger so you can see this. You can see there are individual speckles, and if we enlarge it to 100%, you'll see that the speckles apply and there's actually some size variation in these. In the next video I am going to get in to all the controls for these, but for this video I just want to introduce you to what they look like; grab a dark color here, so you can see it in contrast.

Now next let's go up to the Low Density Smooth airbrush. So this is going to intentionally work at a very low amount of flow and you can see just like I showed you in the default Smooth airbrush which was turned all the way up, this is set down to 5%, which is a much more subtle starting point. You can always turn it up if you want and adjust this so that you get darker stroke. But that's all up to you. It's just basically flow is where you control it and you have it available to you up here in the Mixer brush controls, which this is based on.

Next let's go to the Grainy Low Pressure airbrush, and you can see this brush is designed to intentionally do a small amount of speckle as it's applying. So you can build it up with repeated passes, and the nice thing about this is you start to get some really interesting random noise patterns working with these based on the overlapping and aggregation of these random elements as they build up. Next there is the Variable Grainy airbrush. This has different sizes associated with it, and I am going to go back out to 50% view.

Here you can see that this intentionally has a much more dirty approach to it. As I tilt this in various directions, you are going to get almost like a flashlight. As I point this, it's going to project in a direction that I'm pointing this at. Next we get into the blenders, the Smooth airbrush, and let's zoom back up to see this. This does a very nice blending; you can see how it pulls whatever it finds underneath of it. You get a very nice kind of scrubby blending that is difficult to get any other way, so that was kind of a nice serendipitous side effect of using this not to apply color, but to mix it.

Then we get into the Grainy airbrush and this even is a little bit more interesting because it now has some variation in the speckle that it's applying and using to move any underlying color that it finds. So you get some interesting noise within these blends that you produce. And we get into the Blender Low Density airbrush, and this is just a very light pressure. You can see I can over time use it as a kind of blender, but it's intentionally very, very smooth.

One side effect of this airbrush, and I am going to temporarily go back to the Smooth Opaque airbrush is--let's also make this a bit larger to see this--is when you exert very light pressure; that's when you are laying down color. As you increase pressure, the airbrush is always going to get smaller, as if, as in a real airbrush, as you move closer and closer to the surface, you're spraying; you're going to get a smaller and smaller result in area.

I find this to be a bit awkward and it takes a while to use this and not want to use pressure to think that you are increasing the amount of material coming out of the airbrush. It may not quite sound clear to you, but I think once you start working with it, you'll see that you generally have to keep your hand off of the gas a bit, and want to do this very lightly and not press down unless you intentionally want these small strokes in your airbrush strokes. But I find them a little bit annoying at times actually.

So I'll get into talking about the Cloner airbrushes, as I said, later. I am not trying to hide these from you. In fact you can try these out, these will produce some interesting blends, but they are actually useful for another function that we'll find out in depth later on. But certainly you can try all of these out and even these act and behave a little bit better as blenders, than do the actual Blender brushes themselves. So you may want to play around with these. And I find too it actually works better to work at larger scales, because these airbrushes due easily cover large areas and because of that I just find it to be easier to work with on very large canvases, rather than smaller ones.

You do pay for it a bit by reduced functionality and these brushes aren't necessary real-time, but I find that for the kind of stroking I do, I don't mind that little bit of molasses feel that you get, the little bit of hysteresis by the brushes being a bit behind your movements. You can very quickly get used to that. So in the next video I'll be talking more about how you can control these and get a lot of various kinds of expression out of them.

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Photoshop CS6 New Features: Brushes

18 video lessons · 12104 viewers

John Derry
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