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Learn Painting in Photoshop

Using the painting tools (Photoshop)


    Painting
    involves changing the colors of pixels using a painting tool. You can apply colors gradually, with soft edges and transitions, and manipulate individual pixels using powerful filter effects.

    Photoshop provides the Brush tool and the Pencil tool to let you paint with the current foreground color. By default, the Brush tool creates soft strokes of color and the Pencil tool creates hard-edged, freehand lines. However, you can change these default characteristics by resetting the tool's brush options. You can also use the Brush tool as an airbrush to apply sprays of color to an image.

To use the Brush tool or Pencil tool:

  1. Specify a foreground color. 
  2. Select the Brush tool Brush tool or Pencil tool Pencil tool .
  3. Do the following in the options bar:
    • Choose a brush and set brush options.
    • Choose a bending mode from the Mode menu.
    • Specify an opacity by dragging the Opacity slider.
    • For the Brush tool, specify a flow rate by dragging the Flow slider.
    • (Photoshop) Click the Airbrush button Airbrush button to use the brush as an airbrush.
    • For the Pencil tool, select Auto Erase to paint the background color over areas containing the foreground color.
  4. Do one or more of the following:
    • Drag in the image to paint.
    • To draw a straight line, click a starting point in the image. Then hold down Shift, and click an ending point.
    • When using the Brush tool as an airbrush, hold down the mouse button without dragging to build up color.
Using the painting tools


    The Paintbrush tool and the Pencil tool let you paint the current foreground color on an image. The tools create different effects:

    • The Paintbrush tool creates soft strokes of color.
    • The Pencil tool creates hard-edged freehand lines.

To use the Paintbrush tool, Pencil tool:

  1. Specify a foreground color.
  2. Select the Paintbrush tool Brush tool or Pencil tool Pencil tool .
  3. Do the following in the options bar:
    • Choose a preset brush.
    • Specify a blending mode.
    • Specify an opacity.
    • For the Pencil tool, select Auto Erase to paint the background color over areas containing the foreground color.
  4. Do one or more of the following:
    • Drag in the image to paint.
    • To draw a straight line, click a starting point in the image. Then hold down Shift, and click an ending point.
Using the Art History Brush tool (Photoshop)

The Art History Brush tool lets you paint with stylized strokes, using the source data from a specified history state or snapshot. By experimenting with different paint style, size, and tolerance options, you can simulate the texture of painting with different colors and artistic styles.

Like the History Brush tool, the Art History Brush tool uses a specified history state or snapshot as the source data. The History Brush tool, however, paints by recreating the specified source data, while the Art History Brush tool uses that data along with the options you set to create different colors and artistic styles.

Tip iconFor a variety of visual effects, experiment with applying filters or filling an image with a solid color before painting with the Art History Brush tool. Also try increasing the size of the image by a factor of 4 to soften the details.

      Illustration of Example of using the Art History Brush tool with these callouts: A. Original B. Using a small brush C. Using a large brush
      Example of using the Art History Brush tool A. Original B. Using a small brush C. Using a large brush

    To use the Art History Brush tool:

    1. In the History palette, click the left column of the state or snapshot to use as the source for the Art History Brush tool. A brush icon appears next to the source history state.
    2. Select the Art History Brush tool Art History Brush tool .
    3. Do the following in the options bar:
      • Choose a brush and set brush options. (See Working with brushes.)
      • Specify a blending mode and opacity for the paint. (See Setting options for painting and editing tools.)
      • Choose an option from the Style menu to control the shape of the paint stroke.
      • For Area, enter a value to specify the area covered by the paint strokes. The greater the size, the larger the covered area and the more numerous the strokes.
      • For Tolerance, enter a value or drag the slider to limit the regions where paint strokes can be applied. A low tolerance lets you paint unlimited strokes anywhere in the image. A high tolerance limits paint strokes to areas that differ considerably from the color in the source state or snapshot.
    4. Drag in the image to paint.
       
Working with brushes


    Working with brushes is an important part of using the painting and editing tools. The brush you select determines many characteristics of the resulting stroke. Photoshop and ImageReady provide a variety of preset brushes to fill a wide range of uses. In Photoshop, you can also create custom brushes using the Brushes palette.

Setting options for painting and editing tools


    You set options for a painting or editing tool in the options bar.

Erasing


    The Eraser and Magic Eraser tools let you erase areas of an image to transparency or to the background color. The Background Eraser tool (Photoshop) lets you erase to transparency on a layer. You can also use the Auto Erase option with the Pencil tool to erase the foreground color to the background color as you paint.

    Tip iconIf you want to erase the background of an object with intricate or wispy edges, use the Extract command.

Using the Paint Bucket tool


    The Paint Bucket tool fills adjacent pixels that are similar in color value to the pixels you click.

    Note: The Paint Bucket tool cannot be used with images in Bitmap mode.

    Using the Paint Bucket tool to fill pixels similar in color value with the foreground color
    Using the Paint Bucket tool to fill pixels similar in color value with the foreground color

To use the Paint Bucket tool:

  1. Specify a foreground color.
  2. Select the Paint Bucket tool Paint Bucket tool .
  3. (Photoshop) Specify whether to fill the selection with the foreground color or with a pattern.
  4. Specify a blending mode and opacity for the paint.
  5. Enter the tolerance for the fill.

    The tolerance defines how similar in color a pixel must be to be filled. Values can range from 0 to 255. A low tolerance fills pixels within a range of color values very similar to the pixel you click. A high tolerance fills pixels within a broader range.

  6. To smooth the edges of the filled selection, select Anti-aliased.
  7. To fill only pixels contiguous to the one you click, select Contiguous; leave unselected to fill all similar pixels in the image.
  8. To fill pixels based on the merged color data from all visible layers, select All Layers.
  9. Click the part of the image you want to fill. All specified pixels within the specified tolerance are filled with the foreground color or pattern.

    If you're working on a layer and don't want to fill transparent areas, make sure that the layer's transparency is locked in the Layers palette.

Filling and stroking selections and layers


    Photoshop and ImageReady provide a variety of ways to fill a selection or a layer with colors and patterns. You can also paint a border around a selection or a layer. Layer styles allow you to fill or stroke a selection or layer to create a live editable effect, while you can also paint a fill or border to create a softer effect.

    To increase the contrast between your image and the surrounding work canvas, you can fill the canvas with a color.

Creating and managing patterns


    A pattern is an image that is repeated, or tiled, during application. Photoshop and ImageReady come with a variety of preset patterns. In Photoshop, you can create new patterns and save them in libraries for use with different tools and commands. In ImageReady, you can define a single pattern, called the User Defined Pattern, which you can use to fill selections and layers.

Using the Pattern Maker


    The Pattern Maker lets you create an infinite variety of patterns based on a selection or the contents of the Clipboard. Because the pattern is based on the pixels in a sample, it shares visual characteristics with the sample. For example, if you sample an image of grass, the Pattern Maker generates a tileable pattern that is different from the sample but still appears to be grass.You can generate multiple patterns from the same sample, and save pattern tiles as Photoshop, Illustrator, or GIF files for future use as presets in Photoshop.

    Note: The Pattern Maker command is available only for 8-bit images in RGB Color, CMYK Color, Lab Color, and Grayscale image modes.
     

Choosing foreground and background colors


    Photoshop uses the foreground color to paint, fill, and stroke selections and the background color to make gradient fills and fill in the erased areas of an image. The foreground and background colors are also used by some special effects filters.

    You can designate a new foreground or background color using the Eyedropper tool, the Color palette, the Swatches palette, or the Adobe Color Picker

    The default foreground color is black, and the default background color is white. (In an alpha channel, the default foreground is white, and the background is black.)

    Illustration of Foreground and background color boxes in toolbox with these callouts: A. Foreground color box B. Default colors icon C. Switch colors icon D. Background color box
    Foreground and background color boxes in toolbox A. Foreground color box B. Default colors icon C. Switch colors icon D. Background color bo
     

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