How to Paint with the Brush Tool in Photoshop CS6 - dummies

How to Paint with the Brush Tool in Photoshop CS6

By Barbara Obermeier

The Brush tool in Adobe Photoshop CS6 is a basic tool used throughout Photoshop in various incarnations, so master its use as quickly as possible.

The Brush tool produces soft-edged lines that Photoshop renders smoother by a process known as anti-aliasing. This technique substitutes partially filled pixels along the edges of lines to produce the illusion of gradual fading. Our eyes merge the transparent pixels together, so the line looks smooth rather than hard-edged.

Although jagged edges are most apparent in diagonal lines, Photoshop applies anti-aliasing to brush stroke edges, even in horizontal and vertical lines. The fuzzier the brush, the more semi-filled pixels used to produce the effect.


Why are the callouts deleted? Just want to make sure they are on the figure. BOThe Brush tool shares most of the basic features found in the Pencil tool, except the Auto Erase feature isn’t available:

  • Select the Brush tool from the Tools panel or press B or Shift+B until you get the Brush.

  • Select a brush tip from the Brush Preset Picker on the Options bar.

  • Select a mode and opacity from the options on the Options bar.

  • Drag to paint, click and Shift-click to paint straight lines, and hold down the Shift key while dragging to constrain the Brush tool to horizontal or vertical lines.

  • Press the Alt key (the Option key on the Mac) and click an area of color to switch the foreground color to that color.

The Brush tool has several other options to select from:

  • Flow: Flow determines how quickly the Brush tool applies the paint. You can set a flow rate from 1 to 100 percent by using the Flow slider or by typing a percentage directly into the text box. You might think of it as controlling how liquid the paint is.

    At low flow rates, Photoshop applies the paint slowly so the color is less intense; at higher flow rates, the paint quickly reaches its full strength while you drag.

  • Airbrush: Click the Airbrush button on the Options bar to switch the Brush tool (as well as many of the other tools that use brush tips) to Airbrush mode. This mode produces the spray effect you get with a traditional airbrush. The longer you hold down the mouse button, the more paint pumps out of the tool, and the wider the airbrush effect spreads.

    [Credit: © Image #13699329]
    Credit: © Image #13699329
  • Toggle the Brush Panel: On the left side of the Options bar is a button (a panel icon) that shows or hides the Brush panel. This button is a quick way to access this valuable panel, and it’s available with the Pencil tool and other tools that use brush tips, too.