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There are lots of tools that use a brush tip in Photoshop. Not only the Paintbrush tool but all the tools in this area of the toolbox that are used to correct photographs, like the Healing Brush, the Clone Stamp tool, the Toning tools here. So you'll need to know how to change the size and hardness of a brush tip whether you are a painter or a photographer or a designer. I have the Brush tool selected here in the toolbox. One way that I can change the size and hardness of this brush is to come up to Brush Picker in the Options Bar, click on it, and then start sliding the Master Diameter slider here to change the brush size and the Hardness slider to change the hardness of the brush.
A hard brush has a well-defined edge. A soft brush has a kind of a blurry edge. You can see some diagrams here of marks made by soft brushes and here of marks made by a hard brush. The problem with using the controls here in the Brush Picker is that they don't give you a preview of how big or how soft a brush is going to be relative to your image. So I am going to close the Color Picker by clicking in a blank area of the Options Bar. Now I'll come into my image and here I'm going to show you how to size and change the hardness of a brush on the fly while you're using the brush.
The technique is to use the bracket keys on your keyboard. Pressing the Left Bracket key makes a brush tip smaller; pressing the Right Bracket key makes a brush bigger. And if you hold the Shift key as you press either of those bracket keys, you'll vary the softness or hardness of the brush. So Shift+Left Bracket makes a brush softer; Shift+Right Bracket makes a brush harder. I'll go ahead and draw with this relatively hard brush so you can see what I mean. There is my hard brush and now I'll make the brush softer by pressing the Shift key as I click the Left Bracket key and there is a soft brush.
Now the problem is particularly when I have a soft-edged brush like this one, I can't tell from the brush icon exactly where the pixels are going to be when they are laid down and how opaque or transparent they are going to be. So there is a new feature in Photoshop CS4 that helps with that and that's the Brush Preview. This feature is based on the new OpenGL Technology, so you'll only be able to use it if your video card and your operating system support OpenGL as I've discussed in other movies. So I am going to bring my brush over this circle here. Let's say that I want to draw right on top of that circle and I want to be able to estimate how big my brush tip is going to be.
I am going to hold down this key command. I'm pressing the Option key and at the same time I am holding down the Control key. That's on a Mac, on a PC I'm going to right-click, keep my finger on the mouse and press the Alt key, and then I'm going to drag. And as I do, I see this representation in red of exactly what this brush mark is going to look like. How it's going to be opaque in the middle and then fade out at the edges. When I release my mouse I haven't left any marks on the image. I've simply seen a preview.
And now I can come in and actually lay down some paint there, and I know where it will paint and how soft a mark it will make. So if your computer system supports the new OpenGL technology you can enjoy this useful new Brush Preview technique.
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