Photoshop has several useful tools that allow you to paint lines and color areas of the images and layers in a Photoshop file. You can use the Brush Tool and the Pencil Tool to paint and draw pixels in an image. These two tools share the same button in the Toolbox. You can access the Pencil Tool by right-clicking the Brush Tool button and selecting the Pencil Tool from the side menu, and vice versa.
You tend to use the Brush Tool to create softer color strokes in an image. The Pencil Tool creates hard-edged lines. You can alter these settings by changing the tool’s options in the 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.
Using 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. Make sure that you have selected the appropriate layer to which you want to add the brush strokes 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 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, click the “Brush Presets” button to view the preset tool settings in a drop-down menu. Click the “Create new tool preset” button, or click the panel option button and select “New Tool Preset…” from the drop-down menu that appears. In the “New Tool Preset” dialog box, enter a new name of the tool with its current settings or leave the default name, if desired. You can also check or uncheck the “Include Color” checkbox to include or exclude the current color choice with the tool’s settings. Then click “OK” to save the tool into the drop-down list. Now in the future when you wish to use the brush with the current settings, just click the “Brush Presets” button and select its name from the drop-down list of brush preset tools.
The options that you can save as a preset are to the right of the “Brush Presets” button. You can also set these options even if you only intend to use them for the current moment only. Clicking the “Brush Options” button displays a drop-down of brush options that you can set. You use the “Size” (or “Master Diameter”) 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 “Hardness” slider to set the rigidity of the edge of the brush tip you’ll use to paint. You can also type this in as a percentage in the box provided. You can use the list of brushes at the bottom of this drop-down to select a pre-created brush style to use to paint
In versions CS5 and later, you can click the “Brush Panel” toggle button to turn the Brush Panel (which we look at in the next chapter) on and off. 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. There are several color modes that we will examine in the next section. You use the “Opacity” drop-down to set the transparency level of the paint that you are using in the slider that appears.
If you want to use the current Brush Tool as an airbrush, click the “Airbrush” button at the right end of the Options Bar. This will allow you to apply gradual tones to an image, simulating an airbrush technique The “Flow” drop-down allows you to set the airbrush flow of color, and can be disregarded if the airbrush effect isn’t enabled. If you are using a pressure-sensitive digitizing tablet, you also have selections that allow you to control the opacity and brush size through the tablet, overriding the brush panel settings.