Monday, June 3, 2013

Photoshop CS6 Brushes: Part 1

Part 1: the Brush Library
Understanding Brushes is a vital part of using Photoshop for digital illustration. I'm going to cover Brushes in three main parts: the Brush Library, the Brush Panel, and customizing Brushes (creating your own, saving them, organizing them, and setting up your Tool Presets).

The Brush Library is a permanent collection of Brushes. They stay the same between Photoshop sessions. Photoshop CS5 added some great new Brushes to the arsenal, including the Bristle Brushes and the Mixer Brush, which I plan to cover in a subsequent post. CS6 includes those types of Brushes and adds some useful new ones that have a more natural feel.

To get started, choose the Brush (hit the "B" key), then right-click or button-click with the stylus if you're using a pressure-sensitive tablet (which you should). That will bring up the Brush Library. Or you can go all the way up to the Menu and click on the Brush Presets drop-down. Power-Users use the button-click method, by the way.

Here's the Brush Presets Panel:
A: Menu drop-down
B: Brush fly-Out
C: Different views for the Brush Presets
D: Different collections that you can (and should) explore
(Click any of these images to enlarge)

You should take some time to explore the default set of Brushes. You can use several different views for the Brush Presets (see C above). I use the Small List view for the most part. The Stroke Thumbnail view (shown above) will give you an idea about what the Brush looks like when you use it, but it won't give you the name.

The images below show the Default Brushes in List view, and I have made some sample strokes (starting after the utilitarian and boring soft and hard varieties) to give you an example of what they do.

First section of the Brush Presets. The Bristle Brushes,
Charcoal, and Watercolor varieties start to get very interesting!

Lots of interesting ones here, too. I like to use the
"Airbrush/Grainy" Brushes for texture. You can get a
lot of variety with a stylus and these Airbrush variants.

I implore you, please avoid the Grass and Leaf Brushes. 
Stay away from those Star Brushes while you're at it.
But look at those wonderful Brushes at the bottom of
this section! You could use the "Chalk 36 Pixel"
Brush by itself and create a rich, interesting illustration.

So get started exploring the default Brush collection. And remember that you can get a wide range of effects by layering, adjusting Opacity and Flow, and using a stylus and tablet with Pen Pressure enabled.

I'll do another post (Part 1A) about the additional libraries, like "Dry Media" and "Natural."

Go to Part 1A


Unknown said...

Love some of those new brushes, like the watercolor spatter. Dang it, may have to upgrade! Actually need to do it anyway to let me stay out of the "cloud" as long as possible.

David Opie said...

Loreen, there are some really cool, textured Brushes, and I haven't even gotten into the other libraries that aren't part of the default set. I'll post to the List when I cover those (should be next week). And I'm with you on resisting the "cloud." Ugh.