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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.
Okay, let's talk about changing the brush size. There's an old school method and it's a good chance to review that. But if I press B for my Brush tool, to switch to there, there's my brush. The old method is to use the Right and Left Bracket keys on your keyboard. So Right Bracket makes it bigger, Left Bracket makes it smaller, and if you want to change the Hardness you add Shift to that. So Shift+Right Bracket makes the brush harder, Shift+Left Bracket makes the brush softer. So that's been there for a very long time in all the versions of Photoshop. Photoshop CS4 has a brand-new way to interactively change your brush size and get a better accurate preview of what that brush actually looks like. It does require the OpenGL graphics card. So similar to the panning and zooming that's new in CS4, this feature takes advantage of the OpenGL drawing to do this.
There's kind of some funky keyboard shortcuts to invoke this, but here we go. For the Mac, to change the brush size, pay attention to this one. It's Ctrl and Option, not Command. But the Mac actually has an extra key, the Ctrl key. So they're right next to each other, Ctrl and Option. If I click and start dragging, left and right, you can change the brush size and you see that little red overlay gives you a more accurate view of how big your brush is actually getting. So again, that's Ctrl and Option, hold those down and then click-and-drag. On the PC, you would hold down the Alt key and the right mouse button. So the Alt key and the right mouse button will give you the same functionality.
In terms of changing the hardness, you just add one more key to this. So you start with Ctrl and Option on the Mac, add the Command key, so all three. Now when you click-and-drag left and right, you're not changing the brush size. You're changing the hardness. You can see there I've dragged all the way to the right kind of maps to the old Right Bracket key. Drag right to make it harder; drag left to make the brush softer. On Windows, you would just add the Shift key to that, so it would be Alt+Shift+Right-click to change the hardness. So it takes a little while to memorize those. You might want to write those down and put them on a Post-It and just practice for a while until you get the hang of it.
It's really a nice, interactive way to do it though. It's much more accurate, and there you go, different ways to change the brush size. If it's just too much to remember, then you can use the old school method, just using the Bracket keys and Shift+Bracket keys, but give the new flavor a chance as well.
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