How to Fine-Tune Your Brush-Tip Shape in Photoshop CS6 - dummies

How to Fine-Tune Your Brush-Tip Shape in Photoshop CS6

By Barbara Obermeier

The Brush Panel in Photoshop CS6 has options to help you fine-tune your chosen brush-tip shape. Using these tools will enhance your ability to create the perfect brush-tip for every job.

  • Color Dynamics: Uses your foreground and background colors to adjust how the color varies during a stroke, allowing you to create a multicolored brush. Slight variations give the stroke a more natural, organic look.

    You can introduce slight (or major) jitter to the hue, saturation, brightness, and purity of the colors, as well as some randomness between the foreground and background colors when you draw a stroke. Without color dynamics, the stroke color remains constant.

  • Transfer: Controls the buildup of color; that is, how much color transfers onto the brush tip. Options include introducing randomness into the opacity and flow factors of a brush, again making the brush stroke look more natural and less machine-generated.

    The Wetness and Mix options are available when you select the Mixer Brush tool. Experiment with all the dynamics to see exactly how they can affect your image. The Flow and Opacity settings in the Brush panel don’t override those settings on the Options bar.

  • Brush Pose: This new addition for pressure-sensitive tablet users with tilt-sensitive stylus pens enables you to set defaults for the X and Y tilts as well as rotation and pressure values of your brushes. You can then choose to have your stylus override those values as you use it.

Here’s a list of brush-tip characteristics, which you can find on the left side of the Brush panel:

  • Noise: Adds random pixels to brush tips, giving them texture and an organic quality. This option is more apparent in feathered brushes.

  • Wet Edges: The brush tip leaves a stroke that looks more like watercolor, with paint building up along the edges.

  • Build Up: Gives the brush tip a soft, airbrushed look.

  • Smoothing: Smoothes curves when you draw arcs with the brush. This option is more noticeable when you use a pressure-sensitive drawing tablet.

  • Protect Texture: Ensures that all brush tips that use a texture use the same texture. Therefore, you can switch back and forth between brush tips while painting and still achieve a consistent texture.


You can lock any of the brush characteristics by clicking the small lock icon to the right of the characteristic. Locking a characteristic ensures that the settings don’t change after you have your brush just so.

This works especially well if you want the size of your brush to correlate with the amount of pressure you apply to a stylus when using a drawing tablet. By locking settings, you override any specifications set by preset brushes.

You can select the Reset All Locked Settings option from the Brush panel menu to bring back the default settings of the brush. To clear all brush options, select Clear Brush Controls from the Brush panel menu.

If you really like a brush you’ve created, feel free to save it as a preset that you can access again and again. Simply select New Brush Preset from the menu on the Brush Presets panel, Brush panel, or from the Brush drop-down panel menu on the Options bar.