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Learn Photoshop The Sweetest Way:- Getting Started With The Brush Tool

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Learn Photoshop CC With Pictures

“Getting Started With The Brush Tool” is part of my Photoshop book “Learn Photoshop CC With Pictures”, which is more revised and covers more concepts than the online tutorials, feel free to check out the book by visiting my Learn Photoshop CC With Pictures Book Page.

The brush tool is the ultimate tool of Photoshop. If you mastered this tool on its own, you will be able to do tons of things with it alone. And getting to understand many of the other Photoshop tools, like the eraser or the stamp tool. As they all work the same way. Which is why I am going to start with it. And that the first few tutorials are going to be focusing on it

You can use the Brush Tool to:-

  • Imitate many real life brushes easily, like wet brushes and pastels.
  • Create patterns and textures like sand or snow with a little skill.
  • Change the colors of all or parts of a picture.
  • Create pictures from scratch using graphics tablet (Or using the mouse, but I don’t recommend that, for many health concerns).

Of course more that could be created with brush tool. Actually, one of the things that make the brush tool really powerful is the amount of customizability it provides. You can download additional brushes online, or even create your own. Which allows you to do unlimited number of things, and that’s using only one tool. Isn’t that great? :D

The basics of the brush tool:-

There are seven things you could adjust to get immediate results from the brush tools. Master these and you have made your first step into creating great designs.

Soft vs Hard brush tip


Brushes in Photoshop can be either soft or hard, soft brush fades away and blends better with its surrounding, while hard brush is the opposite of that

Adjusting the brush hardness or softness is easy, right click anywhere on your canvas and adjust the hardness slider (the less hard a brush is, the softer it is).

Changing the brush tool size & hardness

Brush size

Changing the brush tool size & hardness

Brush stoke size can varies from one pixel diameter to 2500 Pixel, to change the pixel size, right click anywhere in the canvas, and adjust the brush size using the size slider

 Candy Tip:- You can change the brush size using the “[” & “]” keys on your keyboard

Bush flow and opacity

Changing the brush tool flow & opacity

Now come the most important features of the brush tool, the flow and the opacity. Both are ways to create transparent or partial strokes. Flow & Transparency are technically the same thing, but they work differently. Understanding and exploiting the differences between the two is one of the things many Photoshop users often miss. And they don’t know how much they are missing.

To get the difference between the two, do the following:-

~I used a brush with %100 hardness for the sake of clarity here, but a soft brush can work as well~
  • Create a new photoshop image (Chose File > New. Then click ok in the dialog that appears before you)
  • Select the brush tool Brush-Icon
  • Set the flow to %25


  • Click and drag your brush to the right, you see the overlapping brush strokes get created in front of you. Don’t release the mouse button yet Drag-1


  • Now, drag the brush to the opposite direction. You will notice how the stroke became more opaque
  • Set the Flow back to %100


  • Now it is time to examine opacity. Set the opacity %25, as seen in the picture:-


  • Drag the same way from the left to the right, without releasing the mouse button. You see a soft & transparent line get created.


  • Now, without releasing the mouse button from the last step, drag on the opposite direction of the stroke we started in the last step. What do you notice?
  • As you have seen, going after the same area over and over won’t make the stroke any darker
  • Now release the mouse button. And drag the mouse over the same stroke we started. What do you see now?


  • Seeing how the stroke is becoming darker and more opaque with the second stroke. You now know the main difference between flow & opacity.

What can you achieve using what you have learned so far?

To give you an idea on how much you have learned. I will show you a good number of things you could do using your new knowledge.
  • This is a simple logo I created using the brush tool, using a hard brush. With the flow & opacity all set at %100, I painted few circles beside each other. I tried to make them look as much parallel to each other.
You could also create a 3D ball as well, created a circle with a soft brush, then with the flow set to low. I added the highlight at the corner to give the 3D look.
Changing the colour of pictures is easy if you know how to set the settings I taught you here. Again, using a soft brush with low flow, I made this grey cat turn into blue. While there are many other methods to change the colours of picture, this method is very effective due to its simplicity.
My favourite example so far, with very low flow(and low opacity, if you wish). You could add blushes to Anime girls (And real-life girls too). You drag the mouse where to want to have the blush once. Then you make few “dabs” at the middle of the blush to make it look more gradual.

How to choose the values of the brush settings:-

Now you have looked at the examples, I am sure you are wondering how I choose the values of the settings in this tutorial. The simple and quick answer is:- by experiment. Choosing the brush size is straight forward. Deciding if you need a soft or hard brush is the easiest decision you will learn. It can be a bit tricky to choose between opacity and flow at the beginning. But since you already know the difference between the two, you have an advantage over many artists who spent a lot of time to learn that.


~If you liked these tutorials, please share it with friends and link to it, this will help me create more tutorial like that~

I hope you have learned a few things from this tutorial, but we are not done with the brush tool yet. In the next lesson. I will teach you more things to add to what you know. Which will allow you do much more things in Photoshop, so stay tuned :)

Would you like to learn Photoshop?

Check my Photoshop book Learn Photoshop CC With Pictures which contains a full course on how to use Photoshop in the simplest way possible.

See Also

I am an anime artist, and huge fan of digital art. I love drawing with pencils too. But I rarely do that anymore nowadays. Since some aspects of digital art can be tricky, I try my best to explain the concepts as easily as possible.

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