The main functions of the brushes panel in Photoshop

If you are new to digital painting, this article is for you. Today we will go through the main functions of the brush panel in Adobe Photoshop to demonstrate the power of this tool. This article will help you learn the basics that will help in the future, or simply refresh your memory.

Meet the brushes panel

Let’s call her “Jack.” Jack is needed for the work of every digital artist. In fact, digital painting without Jack would be completely different. Just imagine – there is only one kind of brush for drawing. No soft regulation or textures. Just a simple, boring brush.

It doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?

Do you like to draw?

So do I. But have you ever wondered about the limitations of traditional painting? For many years, I constantly didn’t like something in my finished drawings, nothing worked exactly as intended. This lasted until I switched to digital painting.

You see that Jack is very important, but when people first meet him, they often get scared, especially when it comes to traditional artists. They think that they can never understand how to work with the panel of brushes.

And that frustrates Jack a lot …

Digital painting from A to Z

AT Digital painting from A to Z we will deal with all the difficulties of a novice artist. After all, if you are really interested in digital painting, half of the problems are solved after mastering the software with which you work.

Before you start …

Meet Jack’s best friend, Bob – Graphics tablet.

These two can not be without each other. Their combined capabilities are used to create the best drawings I have seen. Although digital artists can do fine without Jack and Bob, additional help will not be superfluous.

We get acquainted with the panel of brushes

If you want to become a successful digital artist, you definitely need to understand the panel of brushes.

Here are some basic features you should know:

The basics


  1. Clicking on F5 shows Panel brushes (Brush panel).
  2. Clicking on english B picks a tool Brush (Brush Tool).
  3. Click D, to install Main color (Foreground colors) on the black, but Background color (Background Color) on white.
  4. [ and ] accordingly reduce and increase the size of the brush.
  5. { and } (or Shift-[ and Shift-]) reduce and increase stiffness.
  6. While holding the key Alt and active tool Brush (Brush Tool) is activated Pipette (Eyedropper Tool).
  7. Right-click while tool is active. Brush The Brush Tool opens a mini panel with presets and size / stiffness settings.

Standard round brush

In general, the main brushes that you use are just a variation. Standard round brush (Standard Round Brush). Unlike the boring, static brush that I mentioned at the beginning, Standard round brush can be customized according to specific requirements.

By changing the settings, you can create an infinite number of possibilities with just one brush.


Presets (Brush Presets) – home to all your brushes. Besides Standard round brush, Photoshop also includes a wide variety of shapes and textures for any purpose.

Brush Print Form

Brush Print Form (Brush Tip Shape) is a menu that contains the main settings of the brush, namely The size (Size), Rigidity (Hardness), Angle (Angle), Intervals (Spacing). Familiarize yourself with these settings and experiment with a variety of brushes.

Such a parameter as the size of the brush is quite simple, right? It seems to be clear that you need to use a larger or smaller brush depending on the need, but we all need a reminder, especially for novice artists who have not yet fully understood the functions of the brush panel. Also, large brushes are great for accepting block in color and creating an atmosphere, while small brushes are necessary for drawing details.

0% Stiffness (Hardness) makes the edges of the brush blurred. 100% Stiffness (Hardness), on the contrary, creates a clear edge that is great for small parts. Tip: there are no two identical brush effects. Constantly change the stiffness as required.

1% Spacing (Spacing) creates a sleek touch that is perfect for most occasions. Increase the spacing to create a continuous row of brush prints.

Rotate the brush is very simple. Enough to adjust Angle (Angle). The main thing – do not forget to set the standard angle after finishing work with a brush.

Form Dynamics

Remember the best friend of Jack – Bob’s graphic tablet? The beauty of using a drawing tablet is not only that it gives you better control over drawing than a mouse, but also the ability to adjust Pen pressure (Pen Pressure) on the brushes panel. Tick ​​the box Form Dynamics (Shape Dynamics), and in the drop-down menu opposite the field Control (Control) select item Pen pressure (Pen Pressure).

This setting allows you to simulate the constricted end of the brush and is great for the traditional effect of a pencil sketch. Personally, I try to use this option only for sketches and final details, as it can slow down the computer a little.

What is not included in the brushes panel

The brushes panel does not include such important tools: Drawing mode (Painting Mode), Opacity (Opacity) and Pressure (Flow). These settings automatically appear at the top of the program window when the tool is activated. Brush (Brush Tool).

Drawing mode

If you are already familiar with Layer blending modes (Layer Blend Modes), you will understand how to use Drawing mode (Painting Mode) for creating interesting color effects. However, as a rule, changing the drawing mode is not required.

Opacity and pressure

Opacity (Opacity) controls the thickness of your brush, and Pressure (Flow) is responsible for how much paint the brush leaves at a time. Beginners better concentrate on regulation Opacity, setting at this Pressure on 100%. Opacity (Opacity) and Rigidity (Hardness) are used together to create effects such as lush clouds or smoke. Constantly experiment with these two settings, asking yourself the question: “What type of parts will I be painting at the moment?”

Other settings panel brushes

Without knowing the many functions of the brush panel, you can only work for a while. Although, the need to use additional tools appears only in certain types of work.


Let’s say you want to create a bokeh effect. Of course, you will need to draw each circle yourself, but after a while it starts to bother. Changing parameters Scattering (Scatter) and Counter (Count) on the brushes panel, you can get a scattering effect without any hassle.


Paintbrushes with textures come in a variety of styles, from dirt or grunge brushes to paint spatters or various shapes. Once you are comfortable with the basic settings of the brush, working with textures will not be a problem.

Create your brushes

In Photoshop there is no limit on the number of brushes used. You can find a wide variety of brushes on the Photoshop Master site, as well as create your own.

See, Jack is not so bad …

Believe me, the panel of brushes is not as scary as it seems. And for the most part you will adjust the same basic parameters throughout the work. Easy knowledge of parameters The size (Size), Rigidity (Hardness) and Opacity (Opacity) is already enough to do quite a lot.

stay in touch

Stay tuned for a series of lessons. Digital painting from A to Z. In the next lesson we will talk about mixing colors with a brush! Good luck!

Author: Melody Nieves

Translator: Shapoval Alexey

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