Detail Smart Brush Tool in Photoshop Elements 10 - dummies

Detail Smart Brush Tool in Photoshop Elements 10

By Barbara Obermeier, Ted Padova

The Detail Smart Brush tool enables you to selectively apply an image adjustment or special effects that appear on all or part of your image. What’s even more exciting is that these adjustments and effects are applied via an adjustment layer, meaning that they hover over your layers and don’t permanently alter the pixels in your image.

It also means that the adjustments can be flexibly edited and deleted, if so desired.

Follow these steps to work with the Detail Smart Brush tool:

  1. In Full Photo Edit mode, select the Detail Smart Brush tool in the toolbar.

    This tool shares the flyout menu with the Smart Brush tool. The tool icon looks like an art paint brush with an adjacent gear. You can also press F, or Shift+F, if the Smart Brush tool is visible.

  2. Choose a brush tip preset and brush size, and attributes from the Brushes drop-down panel.

    Feel free to change your brush tip and size as needed for your desired effect. For better accessibility, you can tear off this panel (and the Smart Paint panel in Step 3) by grabbing the grip area in the upper-left corner of the panel and dragging it anywhere in your application window.

  3. Select your desired adjustment category and then your particular preset adjustment from the Smart Paint drop-down menu in the Options bar.

    Several of the Special Effect adjustments are shown here.


  4. Paint an adjustment on the desired layer in your image.

    A new adjustment layer is automatically created with your first paint stroke, along with an accompanying layer mask.

  5. Using the Add and Subtract Smart Brush modes, fine-tune your adjusted area by adding and subtracting from it.

    When you add and subtract from your adjusted area, you’re essentially modifying your layer mask. Adding to your adjusted area adds white to your layer mask, and subtracting from your adjusted area adds black to your layer mask.

  6. Select a different preset adjustment for your selected area, if you want.

    In fact, try them all out before you settle on your final choice.

  7. If you feel you need to refine your selected area, select the Refine Edge option on the Options bar.

    If you’d rather apply the adjustment to your unselected area, select the Inverse option on the Options bar.

    If you want to modify your adjustment, double-click the Adjustment Layer pin on your image. The pin is annotated by a small, square, black-and-red gear icon. After you double-click the pin, the dialog box corresponding to your particular adjustment appears. For example, if you double-click the Shoebox photo adjustment (under Photographic), you access the Hue/Saturation dialog box.

  8. Make your necessary adjustments in the dialog box and click OK.