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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.
I have opened this fairly intense file called Brush settings diagram.psd. It contains all sorts of layers and layer comps that I have created to help you understand the underlying mechanics of Bristle Brushes. So you may notice, I haven't had you start using the tools yet, because I want you first to have a larger sense of how they work. And the reason is this, I might be overcompensating but so far Bristle Brushes have been presented by Adobe and a bunch of other folks, as if they are somehow the equivalent of traditional painting brushes, and that is just not the case.
Like everything in Photoshop, Bristle Brushes are digital tools that have been engineered to behave in a certain manner. So here is my point. As long as they seem magical, you'll be amazed by Bristle Brushes upfront, but over time you'll grow frustrated by them when they don't behave the way you want them to. That's why I am spending these first few exercises analyzing how the engineering works and then we'll experiment with the brushes themselves. In this exercise, we are going to start with the basic controls. So as you may recall when you have a Bristle Brush selected, as I do, and I have got the Brush tool selected as well.
I'll bring up the Brushes panel, we are going to take a look at all these numerical options over the course of the next two exercises. In this exercise, we are going to start off with the familiar stuff; Size, Spacing and then Angle, and then in the next exercise, we will visit Bristles, Length, Thickness, and Stiffness. Now another thing I should say about Bristle Brushes, they work with most of these painting and editing tools. They obviously work with the Brush tool, they even work with the Pencil tool, believe it or not, and they work with the Mixer Brush tool. They do not work with the Color Replacement tool, which I have to say is no skin off your neck because this is not a good tool.
It's not a tool that I recommend you use. Other tools that the Bristle Brushes work with, are the Stamp tools, so if you're cloning one area of an image onto another area, you can use the Bristle Brushes with the History Brush tool, you can use them with the Eraser tool, and by the way, if you have a Wacom stylus that has an eraser on the other end, they work with that eraser. The Gradient tool is not a painting tool, so you don't have to worry about that. The Bristle Brushes work with all these guys; the Blur tool, the Sharpen tool, and the Smudge tool and they even work with the Dodge, Burn, and Sponge tool.
The odd man out is this guy right here, the Healing Brush. So the Healing Brush if you select it, you don't have access to any brush options inside of Photoshop. Kind of a downside, you can change the size of your brush, you can change the hardnes, that's it. All right, anyway, I am going to switch back to the Brush tool because it's the best way to demonstrate these functions. Now Size, you already know how Size works. You increase the Size to make the brush bigger, you decrease the Size to make the brush smaller. It affects the overall diameter. Angle, as I was saying in the previous exercise, doesn't really have that much effect on the round brushes, it's mostly useful for your flat brushes so the second group of five Bristle Brushes, and you can experiment with this Angle value in order to come up with whatever desired calligraphic effect.
I will tell you some thing else about Angle. You can link it to the stylus pressure or to other behavior by going over to Shape Dynamics. So if you switch over to Shape Dynamics, you'll see that you cannot link the size of your brush to the pressure, to the stylus pressure, nor can you turn on this option up here in the Options Bar which overrides the Brush panel setting and automatically links pressure to size. That's just not an option where the Bristle Brushes are concerned, and that leads to a lot of frustration for people. I will give you a sense of what pressure does where Bristle Brushes are concerned in the next exercise, but for now, note that you can't link it to Size. What you can do, however, you can link it if you want to, to angle.
So as you press hard, the brush will actually appear to rotate around. Again, that could be useful along with the flat brushes. If your stylus supports rotation, most don't, but there are some specialty styluses out there that do. Then you can rotate the stylus in order to rotate the brush. I'll leave it at that, I am not going to modify my Angle Jitter, I am going to leave it alone, and then I am going to switch back here to Brush Tip Shape, so that we can discuss this final option, Spacing. Now I will say, just for the sake of demonstration here, I've created a custom variation on the Round Blunt Brush, and just so as you know, that's this second guy in right there, and it's also the second brush that we learned about in the previous exercise.
So it's this guy right there, as represented by the second column. I am going to switch back to the image at hand here, and these are the values that I have modified. We'll come back to these in the next exercise, they are all listed at the bottom of this first page of the diagram. What I really want you to note, is the Spacing value down at the bottom. Now you may recall way back in Chapter 9 of the Fundamentals portion of this series, I was telling you that Spacing first of all is measured as a percentage of the brush size, and it controls how often the individual dollops of paint are laid down.
So once again, Photoshop does not paint continuous brush strokes, it basically machine-gun fires these little dollops of paint. Now in the case of a Bristle Brush, the dollops work a little differently, and you can see the Spacing value is extremely tight at 2%, with the other brushes it's 25%, so it's much larger. But notice as soon as we start peeling apart the Spacing values, I raise it, you can see the individual dollops break apart, and you can see how each one of the dollops is different. So the dollops actually change when you bear down lightly on the stylus and then when you bear down very hard on the stylus as represented by this little preview.
So the preview shows the pressure being light, and then hard, and then letting up again. So the dollops transform depending on the pressure and that's what's going on with the Bristle Brush. You are actually transforming the brush itself, as you press harder on your Stylus. So you are not necessarily increasing the size, although to a certain extent you do. You're more actually folding the brush that is pressing it into the canvas and thereby changing the nature of that brush footprint, and you can see that as you increase the Spacing value.
If you want continuous brush strokes, you want to keep the Spacing value extremely tight, except when your brush starts slowing down. So if you basically increase the heck out of your settings here, and then you try painting a big brush stroke inside of a high resolution image and Photoshop cannot keep up with your changes, it can't keep up with that brush stroke, that's when you go ahead and ease up on the Spacing value. You don't take it very high, but you might take it as high as 6% possibly, or maybe even up to 8% or 10%, and it's all about trying to get Photoshop to keep up with you.
In my case, I am going to leave this value set to 2%. So those are what I am calling the familiar options. Once again Size, Angle, and Spacing. In the next exercise, we'll take a look at the more powerful Bristle Brush only options, which include Bristles, Length, Thickness, and Stiffness.
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