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Many photographers are surprised to learn just how many interesting options exist for the brush tool. In this lesson, we're going to explore a method for adding a creative edge to a photo, utilizing some of the more dramatic options for the brush tool. I'm going to start by adding a new layer and filling that layer with white, because ultimately I'll be adding a white border around the edge of my image. So, I'll click on the create new layer button, the blank sheet of paper icon at the bottom of the Layers panel. I can rename this layer by double clicking the title and typing a new name.
We'll call this edge effect for example. And then I can fill this layer with white by choosing Edit > Fill and choosing white from the Use popup and setting the blending to normal and 100%. I'll go ahead and click OK and as you can see, I now have a white layer. But I only want this white layer to be visible around the edge and I'm going to determine where specifically it will be available. Using the Brush tool. So initially, I want to completely hide this layer, and I'm going to use a layer mask for that purpose.
I can add a layer mask to an image layer by clicking on the Add Layer Mask button, the circle inside of a square icon at the bottom of the Layers panel, but in this case I want an inverted layer mask. So instead of simply clicking on that button, I'm going to hold the Alt key on Windows, or the Option key on Macintosh while clicking. And the layer mask that is added will be filled with black rather than white. That completely hides my edge effect. And I can then paint on this layer mask, in order to reveal it in particular areas. To get started, I'll go ahead and choose the Brush tool from the toolbox, but I want to adjust my overall settings. First, I'm going to choose a particularly interesting brush shape, so I'll click my popup here and maybe this brush looks to be pretty interesting. I can then check to make sure that my mode is set to normal. I'll bring my opacity back up to 100% at the moment. And everything else looks good here, so I can change the behavior of the brush itself.
I'll then adjust the properties for the brush, by clicking the Brush panel button on the options bar. And adjusting the various attributes for my brush. Now, you'll notice, that the preview brush stroke here shows that the brush will paint a simple streak. The edges look a little bit interesting. But the brush stroke itself, looks like it was painted with a round brush. Rather than one with a fairly random shape. We can change the behavior of the brush, though, so that we'll get a very random shape when we're painting with this brush. I'm going to start by going to my shape dynamics section.
And here, we can adjust some jitter settings, that will change the behavior of the brush. For example, size jitter will cause the size of the brush to randomly alternate between a larger and a smaller size. The angle jitter, will cause the brush strokes to rotate randomly. Notice that as I increase angle jitter setting, we get a more random texture to the edges of the brush. And I can also adjust the roundness jitter. You can think of this as having the brush strokes turned on a 3 dimensional plane.
So that you could potentially see the brush stroke on edge, for example. All of these settings combined help us to get a more random textured shape along the edge. I can also adjust the scattering settings. So for example, increasing how much scattering there is, the brush strokes will then spread out a little bit, I'd like to scatter just a little bit but not too much in this case. And I can also adjust the count jitter, if I increase the count for the brush. That will effectively adjust the density of the brush, but in this case I think that's going to produce too dense a result so I'm going to leave the count down at 1.
I'll go ahead and fine tune the settings. To produce an edge effect that I think will be good for this image. Maybe not adjust the size quite so much with that jitter setting. Maybe decrease the minimum roundness setting. So that my roundness jitter can have a stronger effect. And that's looking pretty good. I think the brush stroke looks to be quite random. I'll go ahead and close my Brush panel at this point. And now I'm ready to apply the effect. I'm actually in this case going to apply the effect in two stages. I'm going to start by working at a 50% opacity.
So I'll reduce my opacity setting on the Options bar to 50%. And then I'm going to adjust the size of the brush, I'll use my right square bracket key to increase the size of the brush, I can also reduce the size with the left square bracket key. And then painting with white, making sure my foreground color is set to white on the tool box, you can press D to set the default and then X as needed to swap the foreground and background colors. I'll make sure I'm painting on my layer mask itself, and then I can simply paint around the edge of the image. Notice that I'm getting a random texture along that edge as I paint. But that I'm only revealing the white layer, at a 50% opacity. That's just causing the image to fade a little bit. I'll go ahead and paint all the way around the outer edge of the image, and that looks to be pretty good.
Now, I'm going to increase my opacity up to 100%, so now I will be completely revealing that white layer. And I'm going to reduce the size of my brush. And then I'll go ahead and paint around the image a second time. You can see that now, because I'm painting with white, I am completely revealing the white layer, my edge effect layer, utilizing that layer mask. And so I get a pure white outer edge, but the effect is sort of like a deckled edge with multiple layers of this artistic edge effect.
I'll go ahead and finish painting all the way around the image, and that looks to be pretty good. So I have a sort of two layered edge effect going on, utilizing this random brush shape. At this point, hopefully you can appreciate just how powerful the brush tool really is. And how it can be used, to apply a very unique edge effect to an image in fact you could even take things a step further and create your own brush tip shape, to enable even more possibilities using this technique.
- Safely experimenting with creativity
- Creating a black-and-white effect
- Using Curves presets for creative effects
- Applying a vignette
- Using the Filter Gallery
- Applying a Gradient Map adjustment
- Creating a multiple exposure effect
- Hand-painting an image
- Creative projects