Photoshop 7: Understanding the Brushes Palette


The key to using Photoshop 7’s new painting engine is the new, high-powered Brushes palette. Let’s take a look at the basic workings of the palette.

When the Expanded view is selected in the palette menu, you see the Brushes palette in all its glory. (If the palette is grayed out, press B on the keyboard to activate the Brush tool. The palette is available when any brush-using tool is active.)

Without the Expanded View, the Brushes palette is similar to the older Brushes palette, where you simply chose a brush. (This, by the way, is also the view you’ll see when accessing the palette from the left end of the Options Bar.)

The Brushes palette is similar to the Layer Style dialog box — you can check a box on the far left to apply the current values of an option without seeing them, or you can click on the name in the left column to open the particular pane of the brushes palette.

The top entry in the left column, Brush Presets, shows you the available brushes. Once you have selected a brush, you can adjust its size using the Master Diameter slider in the Brush Presets pane. You can also move to other panes of the Brushes palette to modify the brush’s appearance and behavior.

To change the content of the Brush Presets, use the palette menu commands Reset Brushes (restore the default set as specified in Preset Manager), Load Brushes (add to or replace the content of the palette), Save Brushes (create a set that can be loaded at another time), and Replace Brushes (delete the current content and add a different set of brushes). The Brush Presets pane is the only one in which these menu commands are active. You can delete and rename individual brushes using the palette menu.

While most of the menu commands are straightforward, a few require additional clarification.

Expanded View: The default Expanded View mode for the Brushes palette, seen earlier in this section, enables you to customize brushes using all of the brush options. If you have already created all the brushes you’ll need and selected their options, you can simplify the palette by deselecting this option from the menu. You select a preset brush by clicking on it. Double-clicking enables you to change the brush’s name. The content of the palette can be changed using the palette’s menu, but in the simplified view, the brushes themselves cannot be edited.

Clear Brush Controls: This command deselects all of the user-definable settings for the selected brush. The brush reverts to the basic brush tip shape, using the Angle, Roundness, Hardness, and Spacing settings with which it was originally defined.

Note: Clearing the controls does not permanently change the brush, but you can clear the controls and then use the New Brush command to save the changes.

Copy Texture to Other Tools: When you painstakingly prepare a texture for a specific brush, you can use the New Brush command to save your work. However, if you quickly whip up a texture for a little touch-up to an image, you may want to simply use the Copy Texture to Other Tools command to make that texture available for the editing job at hand. For example, if you match the grain of an image for the Burn tool, rather than going through the process again for the Dodge tool, you can use this command. The tools to which the texture will be matched are Brush, Pencil, Eraser, Clone Stamp, Pattern Stamp, History Brush, Art History Brush, Dodge, Burn, and Sponge.

Note: Copying a custom texture doesn’t apply it to the other tools, but rather makes it available to the tools. If you change tools, you might still need to open the Brushes palette and check the Texture box to activate your custom texture.

Preset Manager: This command opens the Preset Manager, which enables you to customize the content of the Brushes palette. You can also open the Preset Manager through the Edit menu. Customizing the Brushes palette can streamline the search for the appropriate brush. Remember, too, that you can save sets of brushes that can be loaded through the Brushes palette menu or selected as the default in the Preset Manager.

Posted on: June 18, 2002

CreativePro Staff

2 Comments on Photoshop 7: Understanding the Brushes Palette

  1. For those of us that have been working with PhotoShop for a while, this is nothing new just a rehash of the basics. The new brush styles are an added improvement, but creating them has not changed.

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