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How to Use the Art History Brush Tool in Photoshop CS6

The Art History Brush tool in Adobe Photoshop Creative Suite 6 is an interesting variation on the plain old History Brush tool. Both tools paint over an image by using information from a previous state. The Art History Brush tool, however, includes several choices on the Options bar that let you apply brush-stroke effects to your image when you paint:

  • Style: The Style menu contains various-shaped brush stroke styles, such as Tight Short, Loose Medium, Dab, or Loose Curl.

  • Area: This option controls the area that the paint stroke covers, independent of the brush size you select. The larger the brush size, the more area it covers.

  • Tolerance: This option adjusts the amount of the change applied to your image. A low tolerance value lets you apply strokes anywhere in the image, regardless of color values. A high tolerance value limits Art History strokes to areas that are very different from the source state or snapshot, making your image less dramatically different from the original.

You can use these options to create an interesting hand-painted effect, which you can control quite easily after you have some practice.

The Art History Brush tool often works best when you use a state that’s quite different from the state you’re painting over. For example, you can apply a heavy filter that makes the image almost unrecognizable and then use that filtered image to paint with the Art History Brush tool. You can even completely fill an image with color or texture and then work with that.

To paint with the Art History Brush tool, follow these steps:

  1. Apply any effects and filters that you want to use to a chosen state.

    The Rough Pastels filter was applied to the beach scene.

  2. Click in the far-left column in the History panel to select the state that you want to use as the source for the Art History Brush tool.

  3. Select the Art History Brush tool from the Tools panel.

    You can also press Y to select it.

  4. Select from the choices on the Options bar.

    Several of the options, such as Brush, Mode, and Opacity, are similar to the options available with the ordinary Brush tool. The new options are Style, Area, and Tolerance, explained earlier.

  5. Paint with the brush to get the effect you want.

Don’t forget that you can use the History panel to reverse Art History strokes if you change your mind about them!

[Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/ MaszaS Image #3602042]
Credit: ©iStockphoto.com/ MaszaS Image #3602042
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