To get started, choose a Brush (hit the "B" key) and open up the Brush Panel (F5).
The top button ("Brush Presets") is yet another way to access the Photoshop Brush library.
Click "Brush Tip Shape." Here you can adjust size and angle, but also check out "Spacing."Move the slider to the right and you can see how Photoshop's Brush Engine works: It's taking a shape and repeating that shape to create the effect of a brush stroke. The Bristle Brushes, introduced in CS5, actually track individual bristles, which is why the Bristle Brushes are a great feature for us painters.
Open up the Spacing to see how the brush stroke
is generated. I usually leave the spacing all the
way to the left for actual painting.
(Click any image to enlarge).
Now click on "Shape Dynamics." If you're using a pressure-sensitive tablet (like a Wacom), make sure to select "Pen Pressure." I have to admit that I often paint with my Wacom Intuos4 and turn off the pressure sensitivity. However, if I'm drawing a line in Photoshop or touching up a pencil drawing, then I'll turn on the "Pen Pressure."
The "Scattering" option, the next one under "Shape Dynamics," breaks up the otherwise smooth flow of the shapes in the brush stroke. Adding a little Scattering can give the effect of drawing on a slightly textured surface. If you add in some pressure-sensitivity, then you have a line with some character!
Select "Pen Pressure" (under Shape Dynamics) to
take advantage of pressure sensitive tablets. Notice
the slightly bumpy line in the Brush Preview
(bottom of the Panel) that you can get by adding
a little Scattering.
|The Texture feature.|
There are some decent textures in the Photoshop library, but I tend to make my own (which I also covered in the "Adding Texture to a Brush" post). For one thing, I don't think that the Photoshop preset textures tile well; the swatches are too small. However, you should still load and try out some of them (see below):
The Texture Library. Check them out, and
remember to try different settings, especially
for Invert, Texture Each Tip, and Mode.
The "Dual Brush" option can be magical. It allows you to mix the effects of your current Brush with an additional Brush, which can give you interesting and unexpected results. Some of Photoshop's most interesting default Brushes use this feature. I've noticed that adding a Dual Brush effect can cause the texture in a Brush to scale up, which I like because it gives you another way to vary your texture.
As a footnote, I'd like to show the difference between Brush Opacity and Flow in the screen shot below. The top stroke is 50% Opacity, which is a solid stroke of 50% of the foreground color (which in this case is black). The bottom stroke is at 50% Flow. You can see that Flow affects the rate of this repeating shape. I talk about the Spacing (and that repeating shape) in the first part of this post. I usually leave Flow alone and just adjust Opacity.
|The top shows 50% Opacity, the bottom shows 50% Flow.|