Join Justin Seeley for an in-depth discussion in this video Changing brush size, flow, and opacity, part of Photoshop: Shortcuts.
- Being versatile with the brushes that you use in Photoshop is extremely important, especially when you're on a tight deadline. So in this movie I want to give you a couple of brush short cuts that make it easy for you to change the different settings of your brushes when you're using them. So, first things first. Let's go ahead and activate the brush tool by pressing the letter B on the keyboard. When you press B it gives you the brush tool. The brush tool is going to automatically have all the settings that it had the last time you were using it. It's sticky that way. And so what we're going to do here is we're going to take a look at our cursor. It should be somewhere out in the document. I'll put mine right here on her cheek.
That way you can kind of see exactly what I'm doing. And in order to increase the size of the brush, what we're going to do is we're going to press the right bracket key on the keyboard. You can see there that increases the size of the brush. i can go from 125 all the way up into like 500, 600. Gets it bigger or smaller and that's the left bracket key to shrink, the right bracket key to grow. And those are the square brackets. Those are the ones that are directly out to the side of the P key on most keyboards. So you can kind of look and see where those are on your keyboard and commit that to memory. If you want to change the hardness of the brush, you can do that by holding down the shift key and then changing with the left or right bracket.
So if you want to make this a softer brush, you would hold down the shift key and press the left bracket key. That's basically removing hardness. Or if you want to add hardness to it, shift and the right bracket key. You will also notice as you do this that the brush will either increase or decrease in size. As you soften the brush, it will most likely decrease in size because the affected area that the brush will have an impact on, will be smaller with a softer edge brush. Whereas a harder edge is going to have a much bigger area that it affects, so the brush is going to grow.
You will also see up here in the Options bar, that the preview of the brush will actually show you a harder edge or a softer edge based on what you have selected. So here it's a pretty hard edge. If I want to soften that up, I'll hold down shift and press the left bracket key and you can see it kind of fades out, that little brush preview. Making it very easy for you to see exactly what you're doing. Now, in addition to both of those, you can also change the Opacity and the Flow setting for the brush, which is something people who do a lot of airbrushing or painting inside of Photoshop will find useful.
So, let's try that for just a second. Let's go ahead and change the opacity of the brush. To change the Opacity of the brush, it's just like changing the Opacity of a layer. You press the number on your keyboard that you want to correspond to the opacity value. So if we wanted this brush to have 50% opacity, I'll press 5. And you'll notice the Opacity of the brush is set to 50%. And so let's just go ahead and make a change. Let's create a new layer and we'll just call this "Edits". And then what I'm going to do is temporarily hold down the letter I to sample in some colors from her face here, and then we'll change the blend mode of this to "Multiply".
And that way I'm going to be basically adding a little bit of contour to her face right here. And then we'll shrink the size of the brush, left bracket key. Make sure we decrease the hardness of the brush completely. So shift and left bracket key. We've got that Opacity turned down to 50%, but let's do 100% first so you can see exactly what it looks like. At 100%, it's going to look something kind of like that. Not exactly what we're looking for. It looks like we just put a big smidge of dirt on her face. So lets undo that and let's reduce the Opacity to something like 30% by pressing the number 3. I'll do the same brush stroke right across her face and as you can see, that's much more subtle.
And then as I increase the Opacity of the brush, we can get a little bit intense with that. Command or Control Z will undo. Now, you can also set this back to 100% by pressing zero on the keyboard. That will reset it. And then you can control the Flow of the brush by holding down the shift key and pressing a number. So if we want the Flow to be at 50%, shift and the number 5, and then I can come in here and just kind of contour around inside. Something kind of like that. Maybe add a little bit of shadowing over here on the shoulder.
Command or Control Z undoes all of that, of course. And then we get the idea of basically what I'm going for here. So take these shortcuts and sort of commit those to memory. If you're somebody who uses brushes all the time, this is going to be invaluable information. Changing the Opacity and Flow settings, the hardness and size of the brush, is something you probably do all of the time, so having it at your fingertips rather than having to go look for it up here at the top, is much more useful, I think, in the long run.