Photoshop Elements has several useful tools that allow you to paint lines and color areas of the images and layers in an Elements file. You can use the Brush Tools and the Pencil Tool to paint and draw pixels in an image.
You tend to use the Brush Tools to create softer color strokes in an image. The Pencil Tool creates hard-edged lines. You can alter these settings by changing the tools’ options in the Tool Options Bar. Also, you can apply the airbrush effect to your Brush Tool to apply color in a spray effect, if desired. There are also other tools that you can use to create pixel color changes in an image.
The Brush Tool
To use the Brush Tool, select it from the Toolbox and make sure that the color that you want to apply to the image is selected as the foreground color. The Brush Tool shares a spot in the Toolbox with the Impressionist Brush and the Color Replacement tools. The Toolbox will display the last tool you used. The button appears above the Paint Bucket tool, by default. Click the button and then make sure you have the Brush Tool selected in the Tool Options Bar.
Next, make sure that you have selected the appropriate layer to which you want to add the brush strokes selected in the “Layers” panel. The highlighted layer is the one to which the brush strokes will be applied. Oftentimes, if you are trying to apply an effect and it doesn’t appear in the image, you have the wrong layer selected in the image.
To use the Brush Tool, just click and drag with the circle that appears in the image to paint. The circle represents the width of your brush. If the lines aren’t appearing as you wish, remember that you can reverse your steps in the “History” panel and try again.
Look into the Tool Options Bar with the Brush Tool selected. Here you can set different options that affect how the Brush Tool will interact with the underlying layer of the image.
Once you have created a brush that you use frequently, you can save it as a preset tool that you can then access in the future with all of the brush options that you use already set. To do this, choose “Edit| Preset Manager” from the Menu Bar. Use the preset drop-down menu to select the brush preset. In the dialog box, you can select your brushes, rename, edit, save brushes you create and even load custom brush sets such as those in TeachUcomp, Inc.’s “Photoshop Brush Bonanza.” The “More” button allows you to change the display of the presets, changing the display to lists, thumbnails, etc.
You can also control the size of the brush you are using. You use the “Brush Size” slider to set the width of the brush tip you’ll use to paint. You can also type in an exact measurement in pixels in the box provided.
You can use the “Mode” drop-down to determine how the brush will apply the color and interact with the color of the pixels it is painting over. You can use the “Opacity” slider to set the transparency level of the paint that you are using by clicking and dragging on the slider to make the adjustments.
If you want to use the current Brush Tool as an airbrush, click the “Airbrush Mode” button in the Tool Options Bar. This will allow you to apply gradual tones to an image, simulating an airbrush technique.
Use the “Tablet Settings…” button to set preferences for what can be controlled with the pen of most pressure-sensitive digitizing tablets. These optional hardware devices allow you to paint with a pen tool in your hand, instead of using the mouse and keyboard.
You use the “Brush Settings…” button to imitate different brush strokes and effects by changing what is called the brush dynamics, which is discussed in more detail in the next chapter. Then, to paint, just click and drag in your image.
The Impressionist Brush
The Impressionist Brush Tool is designed to simulate the brush strokes of a fine art painting. The Impressionist Brush gives you the same options as the Brush Tool. However, by clicking the “Advanced” button you can change style, area and tolerance. “Style” provides brush styles related to an impressionist style of painting, including “Loose Curl” and “Dab.” “Area” determines the size of your brush stroke. “Tolerance” defines the range of colors similar to the one that you will select to remove. A low tolerance allows the brush to change pixels with a color very similar to the one that you select. A higher tolerance changes pixels with a broader range of color similar to the one that you click. After choosing your settings, just click and drag in your image to apply the effect.
The Color Replacement Tool
With the Color Replacement Tool, you can replace an original color in an image with the foreground color. The Color Replacement Tool provides an artistic advantage in that it preserves all the tones in the image. You can change the sampling methods, limits and tolerance settings to control the range of colors that Elements changes in your image.
To use this tool, select it from the Toolbox where it shares a spot with the Brush tools. You can set the size and tolerance for the brush using the sliders in the Tool Options Bar. The “Tolerance” setting is used to set how similar the pixels you select should be to the other colors in the image. A lower percentage changes colors very similar to the ones you select, a higher percentage changes a broader range of colors. Select a blending mode using the drop-down: “Color,” “Hue” (similar in colors), “Saturation” (used to convert to grayscale) or “Luminosity.” Set the “Limits” to either “Discontiguous,” which will replace the sampled color wherever it appears under the pointer, or “Contiguous,” which replaces colors that are adjacent to the color under the pointer. Choose the method of sampling by clicking the corresponding button: “Continuous,” to sample colors continuously as you drag the tool; “Once,” to sample colors only once when you start to drag; or “Background Swatch,” which replaces the area containing the background color. Finally, selecting the “Anti-Alias” checkbox gives a smoother edge to the areas you change.
Then select the color you want to change as the foreground color. Then click and drag over the image to replace the color. You can zoom in and out for more precision when replacing color, if needed.