Start your free trial now, and begin learning software, business and creative skills—anytime, anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts.

Start Your Free Trial Now

Using the Brushes panel


Photoshop CS4 Essential Training

with Jan Kabili

Video: Using the Brushes panel

Photoshop isn't just a photo editing application. It also offers sophisticated brush features for digital artists. The Brushes panel alone offers a countless number of possible combinations of brushes. Before you open the Brushes panel, you have to select a Brush Type tool, or else the entire Brushes panel will be grayed out. Its options won't be available to you. A Brush Type tool includes not only the painting tools like the Brush tool and the Pencil tool, but any tool that uses a brush tip like the Toning tools, the Healing Brushes and the History Brushes.
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 2m 31s
    1. Welcome
      1m 27s
    2. Using the example files
      1m 4s
  2. 25m 14s
    1. Touring the interface
      4m 25s
    2. Working with tabbed documents
      5m 15s
    3. Using tools efficiently
      3m 51s
    4. Arranging panels
      3m 53s
    5. Customizing keyboard shortcuts
      2m 50s
    6. Saving a custom workspace
      3m 0s
    7. Changing screen modes
      2m 0s
  3. 19m 3s
    1. Touring the Bridge interface
      6m 31s
    2. Opening images from Bridge
      1m 20s
    3. Reviewing images
      4m 42s
    4. Finding images
      6m 30s
  4. 44m 53s
    1. Setting preferences
      4m 23s
    2. Choosing color settings
      8m 11s
    3. Zooming and panning
      5m 27s
    4. Resizing and image resolution
      3m 17s
    5. Adding to the canvas
      2m 2s
    6. Rotating the canvas
      1m 44s
    7. Choosing color
      4m 49s
    8. Sizing a brush tip
      3m 4s
    9. Undoing and the History panel
      5m 0s
    10. Saving and file formats
      3m 29s
    11. Creating a file from scratch
      3m 27s
  5. 37m 58s
    1. Making geometric selections
      6m 14s
    2. Modifying selections
      4m 43s
    3. Combining selections
      3m 16s
    4. Using the Quick Selection tool
      5m 34s
    5. Refining selection edges
      4m 12s
    6. Using Quick Mask mode
      2m 18s
    7. Selecting with the improved Color Range command
      4m 32s
    8. Selecting with the Magnetic Lasso tool
      2m 28s
    9. Using the Background Eraser tool
      3m 7s
    10. Saving selections
      1m 34s
  6. 39m 56s
    1. Understanding layers
      5m 43s
    2. Creating layers
      5m 12s
    3. Working in the Layers panel
      2m 19s
    4. Locking layers
      4m 17s
    5. Working with multiple layers
      4m 6s
    6. Merging and flattening layers
      3m 55s
    7. Adding a shape layer
      4m 43s
    8. Basic layer masking
      4m 23s
    9. Using layer blend modes and opacity
      5m 18s
  7. 23m 19s
    1. Cropping
      3m 26s
    2. Straightening
      3m 17s
    3. Transforming
      4m 42s
    4. Working with Smart Objects
      6m 48s
    5. Using Content-Aware Scaling
      5m 6s
  8. 1h 10m
    1. Reading histograms
      4m 21s
    2. Using adjustment layers and the Adjustment panel
      6m 4s
    3. Adjusting tones with Levels
      7m 49s
    4. Limiting adjustments with layer masks
      5m 40s
    5. Using masks in the new Masks panel
      6m 9s
    6. Limiting adjustments by clipping
      3m 6s
    7. Adjusting with Shadow/Highlight
      5m 7s
    8. Adjusting with Curves
      7m 37s
    9. Adjusting with Hue/Saturation
      3m 42s
    10. Adjusting with Vibrance
      2m 16s
    11. Removing a color cast
      4m 26s
    12. Using the Black & White adjustment layer
      2m 39s
    13. Using the Dodge Burn and Sponge tools
      4m 11s
    14. Reducing noise
      2m 39s
    15. Sharpening
      4m 42s
  9. 38m 0s
    1. Using the Spot Healing Brush tool
      5m 17s
    2. Using the Healing Brush tool
      5m 51s
    3. Using the Patch tool
      4m 52s
    4. Using the Clone Stamp tool
      4m 8s
    5. Enhancing eyes
      9m 29s
    6. Changing facial structure
      5m 0s
    7. Softening skin
      3m 23s
  10. 44m 38s
    1. What's a raw image?
      4m 25s
    2. Touring the Camera Raw interface
      7m 35s
    3. Working in the Basic panel
      7m 54s
    4. Working in the Tone Curve panel
      2m 21s
    5. Working in the HSL/Grayscale and Split Toning panels
      3m 46s
    6. Looking at the other Camera Raw panels
      3m 45s
    7. Using the Adjustment Brush tool
      4m 2s
    8. Using the Graduated Filter tool
      3m 56s
    9. Working with multiple files
      6m 54s
  11. 21m 6s
    1. Using the Brushes panel
      8m 30s
    2. Filling with color
      3m 49s
    3. Replacing color
      4m 14s
    4. Using gradients
      4m 33s
  12. 16m 55s
    1. Working with point type
      9m 59s
    2. Working with paragraph type
      3m 17s
    3. Warping text
      3m 39s
  13. 25m 23s
    1. Adding a layer style
      4m 6s
    2. Customizing a layer style
      3m 35s
    3. Copying a layer style
      3m 5s
    4. Creating a new style
      3m 32s
    5. Using Smart Filters
      5m 22s
    6. Working in the Filter Gallery
      5m 43s
  14. 13m 14s
    1. Auto-blending focus
      4m 47s
    2. Creating Photomerge panoramas
      4m 2s
    3. Combining group photos
      4m 25s
  15. 23m 27s
    1. Creating an action
      7m 16s
    2. Batch processing with an action
      6m 36s
    3. Using the Image Processor
      9m 35s
  16. 29m 20s
    1. Printing
      11m 32s
    2. Making a contact sheet from Bridge
      6m 12s
    3. Creating a web gallery from Bridge
      7m 17s
    4. Preparing photos for the web
      4m 19s
  17. 30s
    1. Goodbye

please wait ...
Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop CS4 Essential Training
7h 55m Beginner Oct 13, 2008

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

Photoshop has become an indispensible tool for photographers, designers, and all other creative professionals, as well as students. Photoshop CS4 Essential Training teaches a broad spectrum of core skills that are common to many creative fields: working with layers and selections; adjusting, manipulating, and retouching photos; painting; adding text; automating; preparing files for output; and more. Instructor Jan Kabili demonstrates established techniques as well as those made possible by some of the new features unique to Photoshop CS4. This course is indispensable to those who are new to the application, just learning this version, or expanding their skills. Example files accompany the course.

Topics include:
  • Learning and customizing the interface and workspace
  • Utilizing various manual and guided selection techniques
  • Working with Adobe Camera Raw
  • Adding special effects with layer styles and Smart Filters
  • Creating Photomerge panoramas
  • Optimizing photos for the web and creating web galleries
Jan Kabili

Using the Brushes panel

Photoshop isn't just a photo editing application. It also offers sophisticated brush features for digital artists. The Brushes panel alone offers a countless number of possible combinations of brushes. Before you open the Brushes panel, you have to select a Brush Type tool, or else the entire Brushes panel will be grayed out. Its options won't be available to you. A Brush Type tool includes not only the painting tools like the Brush tool and the Pencil tool, but any tool that uses a brush tip like the Toning tools, the Healing Brushes and the History Brushes.

I am going to select the regular Brush tool here in the toolbox. Now I can select a specific brush either from the Brushes panel or from up here in the Options bar, where there is a Brush Picker. I'll click on this arrow to open the Brush Picker. This isn't a bad place to go, if all you want is a plain, round, soft or hard edge brush. You can just select it here, and you can vary the diameter and hardness here or by using the bracket keys on your keyboard as I have taught you in other movies. I am going to click on the Options bar to close the Brush Picker though, because it really isn't the best option when you want to take advantage of all that Photoshop has to offer in the way of brushes.

Instead, I'm going to open my Brushes panel. You can do that from the Window menu or if you have the painting workspace selected as I do here, the Brushes panel will open right in that workspace. This is the way the Brushes panel looks when it first opens. The Brush Presets option is selected on the left and that displays in the box on the right, a preview of every one of the brushes in the default brush set. If you select one of those brushes here, you'll see a preview of the kind of stroke that it makes down here.

So let's say, for example, that I just select a regular round brush. I see the stroke change down here, and then I can go to the Brush Tip Shape option in the left-hand column to bring up some controls for changing the shape of this brush tip. So, for example, I could change the Roundness of the brush tip by typing another number in here. I have just made an oval brush and I see the stroke representation change. I put that back to a 100% to show you another setting here, the Spacing setting.

This controls the amount of space between each brush mark. If I drag that slider to the right, with a plain round brush, you get this interesting effect, which is basically a brush that draws a dotted line. So if I come into the image and drag, I can get a dotted line like that. I am going to undo that with Command+Z on a Mac or Ctrl+Z on a PC. So no matter which brush tip you select up here, you'll be able to customize that brush tip with these options in this area. But there are lots more options in the Brushes panel.

There are all these various dynamic options. The dynamic options introduce variations of color, size and scattering in the way that a brush paints. In order to show you some of these options, I would like to choose a more interesting brush. I am right over to the right and scroll down and select this grass brush. As an example of the dynamic options, let's take a look at Scattering. If I click the checkbox next to Scattering, that means that Scattering will be active for this selected brush. If I want to customize the way that Scattering occurs, I have to do something else, which is to click on the word Scattering.

And when I do that, I get these special controls for Scattering on the right. I use the brush stroke preview down here to see what the various controls are going to do. So for example, I'll take the Scatter slider and I'll move it to the right, and I can see that this makes the individual brush marks move apart from one another. If I try varying the Count slider, I can see that there are now more pieces of grass in every brush mark. There's no way you could possibly remember what all of the variations on all these options do. So what I suggest that you do is select the options with the brush that you want and just try them out and experiment.

Let's see for example what Color Dynamics does. This one is really interesting. I am going to make Color Dynamics active for this brush and I'm going to click on the word Color Dynamics to see these controls. Notice that a lot of the controls include the word Jitter. Jitter means randomness. So for example, if I were to increase the Hue Jitter, I would get brush strokes of varying random hues. To show you how this works, I am going to change the background and foreground colors in my toolbox. I could choose colors from the color picker or the Color panel or the Swatches.

I am going to do it by using the Eyedropper tool here. You'll notice that if you look at the Options bar for the Eyedropper, there are a couple of new features here. In the Sample Size menu, you now have more choices than you had before about the number of pixels at this tool will take into account when you click with it in an image. There's another choice here in the Sample menu. In Photoshop CS4, you can choose between sampling from All Layers in a file or from the Current Layer. This particular file has only one layer, but I wanted to bring those new features to your attention.

So with the Eyedropper tool, I am going to sample a color. I'll click on one of these green colors and then I'm going to switch my foreground and background colors by pressing X on the keyboard and I'll sample another color. Sampling colors out of an image is a good way to get colors that work well together. And then, I'll go back and get my Brush tool again to bring my Brushes' options back. Now I am going to take some of these Color Dynamics sliders and drag them over to the right. So I am going to increase the randomness between foreground and background colors, and the randomness of the Hue, the Saturation, the Brightness and the Purity of my brush strokes.

The results are always a surprise, but they're often a pleasant surprise. So now I am going to come into the image and I am going to drag with this brush and I can paint in some graphic brush strokes. And if I change these sliders again, I'll get different colors. Now if I want to set the Dynamic options in the Brushes panel back to their defaults for use with another brush, then what I need to do is to click on each option I want to reset, like the Color Dynamics for example, and then go to the Brushes panel menu over here and choose Clear Brush Controls.

I can protect any one of these categories from changes by clicking its lock. I am going to go back and click on Brush Presets, and I am going to select another brush. Here's another grass brush and then I'll change something about its Color Dynamics for example. I'll increase the Hue, and the Saturation, and the Brightness Jitter and I'll change some of its Scattering features, perhaps I'll scatter those brush strokes a little bit and I'll move the Count slider to the left, and then I'm going to drag with my brush to see what it does. Now let's say I really like those changes and I want to save them as a special custom brush.

To do that I'll go to be Brushes panel menu and I'll choose New Brush Preset. I'll give this brush a name, maybe Dune Grass 2, and I'll click OK. And now if I go back to my Brush Presets, I'll find that new brush here at the bottom of the default set of brushes. So I can select it at anytime. However, this brush really isn't safe, because there are other sets of brushes that I can load here. If I go back to the Brushes panel and I look down here, you'll see that Photoshop ships with quite a few other sets of brushes.

So if I were to choose one of those and load it, I would lose my brand-new brush that's been placed in the default brushes. So if I want to keep that brush then what I have to do is go to the Edit menu, choose Preset Manager, choose Brushes as the Preset Type, and from there click on my new brush and then click Save Set and that saves that whole set of brushes with the new brush in it. So I might save this as defaults with dune brush, and this new brush set will be saved along with all the other brush sets in the proper place for Photoshop to find it.

So I'll just click save and I'll click Done. And then even if I change the current set of brushes, I can always go back and load my custom brushes from the Brushes panel menu. This is only a taste of the many combinations of brushes that you can create with the controls in the Brushes panel. You can imagine that the combinations are almost countless and that the many options they offer give digital artists an almost infinite number of possibilities for expressing themselves.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about Photoshop CS4 Essential Training .

Expand all | Collapse all
please wait ...
Q: How can artwork be transferred from Photoshop CS4 to Illustrator CS4 without the background?
A: Save the image in Photoshop’s native PSD format. The background in Photoshop must be transparent, meaning there should be no background layer. (To remove a background layer, move your artwork to a separate layer by selecting and copying the content, minus the background, to a new layer, and then delete the background layer. A checkboard pattern behind your image indicates transparent pixels.) 

In Illustrator, select File > Open, and select the PSD file. In Photoshop Import dialog box, select Convert Layers to Objects.

Q: How do I retouch an image I have of an old photograph I scanned?
A: There are a few courses that address image restoration. Check out the Photoshop CS4 Portrait Retouching Essential Training course, and for problems dealing specifically with old photographs, watch the Restoration movies in chapter 15 of the Enhancing Digital Photography with Photoshop CS2. Additionally, learn how to research and date photos with our Growing and Sharing Your Family Tree course.
Q: A client has asked for artwork to be delivered as JPEGs or BMP files in 16-bit format. In Photoshop CS4, there does not appear to be an option to save an image as a 16-bit JPEG. Is there a way to save JPEG files as 16-bit in Photoshop?
A: Unfortunately, JPEGs cannot be saved in 16 bit. JPEGs, by nature, are 8-bit. So if you open a high-bit image into Photoshop CS4, you will see no option in any of the save dialog boxes to save the file as a JPEG. You would first have to convert the image to 8 bit (by choosing Image > Mode > 8 bits/channel) and then save it as an 8-bit JPEG. If you open a high-bit image into Photoshop CS5, you will see the option to save it as a JPEG in the Save, Save As, and Save for Web dialog boxes.  But the JPEG will not be saved as 16-bit. Instead, Photoshop will downsample it to 8-bit for you  before saving it as JPEG.
Share a link to this course

What are exercise files?

Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course. Save time by downloading the author's files instead of setting up your own files, and learn by following along with the instructor.

Can I take this course without the exercise files?

Yes! If you decide you would like the exercise files later, you can upgrade to a premium account any time.

Become a member Download sample files See plans and pricing

Please wait... please wait ...
Upgrade to get access to exercise files.

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Learn by watching, listening, and doing, Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along Premium memberships include access to all exercise files in the library.

Exercise files

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

For additional information on downloading and using exercise files, watch our instructional video or read the instructions in the FAQ .

This course includes free exercise files, so you can practice while you watch the course. To access all the exercise files in our library, become a Premium Member.

Join now Already a member? Log in

* Estimated file size

Are you sure you want to mark all the videos in this course as unwatched?

This will not affect your course history, your reports, or your certificates of completion for this course.

Mark all as unwatched Cancel


You have completed Photoshop CS4 Essential Training.

Return to your organization's learning portal to continue training, or close this page.


Upgrade to View Courses Offline


With our new Desktop App, Annual Premium Members can download courses for Internet-free viewing.

Upgrade Now

After upgrading, download Desktop App Here.

Become a member to add this course to a playlist

Join today and get unlimited access to the entire library of video courses—and create as many playlists as you like.

Get started

Already a member ?

Exercise files

Learn by watching, listening, and doing! Exercise files are the same files the author uses in the course, so you can download them and follow along. Exercise files are available with all Premium memberships. Learn more

Get started

Already a Premium member?

Exercise files video

How to use exercise files.

Ask a question

Thanks for contacting us.
You’ll hear from our Customer Service team within 24 hours.

Please enter the text shown below:

Exercise files

Access exercise files from a button right under the course name.

Mark videos as unwatched

Remove icons showing you already watched videos if you want to start over.

Control your viewing experience

Make the video wide, narrow, full-screen, or pop the player out of the page into its own window.

Interactive transcripts

Click on text in the transcript to jump to that spot in the video. As the video plays, the relevant spot in the transcript will be highlighted.

Learn more, save more. Upgrade today!

Get our Annual Premium Membership at our best savings yet.

Upgrade to our Annual Premium Membership today and get even more value from your subscription:

“In a way, I feel like you are rooting for me. Like you are really invested in my experience, and want me to get as much out of these courses as possible this is the best place to start on your journey to learning new material.”— Nadine H.

Start your FREE 10-day trial

Begin learning software, business, and creative skills—anytime,
anywhere—with video instruction from recognized industry experts. provides
Unlimited access to over 4,000 courses—more than 100,000 video tutorials
Expert-led instruction
On-the-go learning. Watch from your computer, tablet, or mobile device. Switch back and forth as you choose.
Start Your FREE Trial Now

A trusted source for knowledge.


We provide training to more than 4 million people, and our members tell us that helps them stay ahead of software updates, pick up brand-new skills, switch careers, land promotions, and explore new hobbies. What can we help you do?

Thanks for signing up.

We’ll send you a confirmation email shortly.

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

Keep up with news, tips, and latest courses with emails from

Sign up and receive emails about and our online training library:

Here’s our privacy policy with more details about how we handle your information.

submit Lightbox submit clicked
Terms and conditions of use

We've updated our terms and conditions (now called terms of service).Go
Review and accept our updated terms of service.