Anything Photoshop or Photography

Posts tagged “Photoshop brushes


Image of a digitally painted Tri-colored HeronThis week Adobe Photoshop released CC2018, a long awaited update, which finally addresses some of the issue we painterly people have wanted for a long, long time. Adobe claims to have increased the speed of brushes for just painting. Since a lot of us have used Corel Painter for years and it has one of the easiest systems to set up brush palettes, it was always a wonder why Photoshop did not do a similar thing. Well they finally have. It may not be quite as easy to use as Painter’s, but it goes a long way towards correcting some of the digital artist problems with organizing their brushes. Above is a tri-colored heron taken at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm that was painted using the new Brushes Panel set-up. It took a while to get my brushes converted over, but it is overall a much faster workflow.

Photoshop Brushes Panel

To clean up some initial confusion, the old Brush Panel is now called the Brush Settings Panel and is where the settings for each brush are located. The old Brush Presets Panel is not called the Brushes Panel and is where all the brushes are listed.

  • Photoshop now allows New Groups (or folders) for saved brushes and sub-groups can be added into the new group. So for example, if you want to put all your Texture brushes into one group, the group can be added and sub-groups created for brushes used for backgrounds and those used in drawing. Also Mixers or Erasers or any different types of brushes can be grouped with Regular brushes so you can easily switch between the different types without having to select the new Tool.
  • Within the Brushes Panel, the brushes can be moved between the groups by just clicking and dragging. No need to go to the Preset Manager to organize the brush order. Some people like to keep brushes together for a current project so the top Group might be named Flower, and the sub-groups Background and Retouching. If you want the same brush in two places, a new copy of the brush needs to be made by highlighting the group to add it to and clicking on the New Brush icon at the bottom of the Brushes Panel – name it the same and the new preset brush will pop into the highlighted group.
  • The brush presets now store all the Options Bar information with them as if it was a Brush Tool Preset. So if you wanted to have one brush set to 100% opacity and the same brush set to 50% opacity, they could be created and saved in the same group for quick switching. This means no more Brush Tool Presets, but will still need to create Tool Presets for the Gradient Tool and Paint Bucket since they are not brushes.
  • Both the Brush Tip and the Brush Strokes can be seen in the display. To load the Brush Tip, click on the upper right pop-out in Brushes Panel, and check Brush Tip along with the Brush Stroke and Brush Name. The brush view can be made bigger or smaller by moving the slider at the bottom of the Brushes Panel. And the panel can be dragged out horizontally to display several columns of brushes if several are listed in a group. If a color is saved with the brush, a little square shows up in the list showing the color.
  • Brush Tool Presets can be easily converted to regular Brush presets. If just converting one or two Tool Preset brushes, just select the brush in your Tool Preset and click the Create New Brush icon at the bottom of the Brushes Panel. A New Brush dialog box appears with check boxes for Capture Brush Size in Preset, Include Tool Settings, and Include Color. A note of caution here – PS might name the brush some really weird title if that the brush creator used so make sure the brush has the desired name. The brush will be placed either at the bottom of the Brushes list or in a Group that was highlighted before saving the preset. If you accidentally try to save the brush as a Tool Preset, a long dialog appears asking if you want to actually change it to a Brush Preset instead. By saying yes, the brush will then be placed into a new Converted Tool Presets group. For converting all the Brush Tool Presets, go to the pop-out in the upper right corner of the Tool Preset panel and select Convert All to Brush Presets – they will all be placed in a new group called the Converted Tool Presets group. In this case, all the brushes will retain the same names from the Tool preset. Really weird. By converting the Tool Preset brushes to regular brushes, the brush file extensions in PS will change from a .tpl to .abr files.

Here is a link to a short video by of my favorite Adobe people, Julieanne Kost, called New Brush Preset Management in Photoshop CC for more information on the Brushes Panel.

Smoothing Slider

This new little feature has been added to the Options Bar in Photoshop whenever the Regular Brush Tool, the Pencil Tool, the Mixer Tool or the Eraser Tool is selected. This Smoothing Slider filters out jittering in your paint strokes. The default setting is 10% and it goes from 0 to 100. There are a couple drawbacks to setting this slider too high. 1) It can really slow your computer down depending on the brush selected. 2) And there can be a big lag – by clicking on the little gear next to the Slider field, there are some options that can be chosen which controls this.

By default, the Stroke Catch Up (Enables paint to catch up when brush cursor movement is paused) and Adjust for Zoom (Automatically adjust smoothing amount to avoid jitter in low zoom percentages) are checked. Disable Stroke Catch Up and the paint application stops as soon as the cursor movement stops. In Adjustment for Zoom, if the Smoothing amount will be decreased if zoomed in, and increased if zoomed out. The Pulled String Mode (Enable paint application beyond the radius set by smoothing values. Use when sharp corners are desired.) creates a really large lag if Smoothing is set high. It paints only when the string is taut and outside the radius. Definitely experiment with this slider and drop-down settings to see what works best for you. To change the setting on the fly, press ALT and numerical number like 3 for 30%. To completely turn off Smoothing in the selected brush, go into the Brush Settings Panel and uncheck the Smoothing box. For you Painter folks, it is still not near as sophisticated as the Smoothing Panel in Painter (the slider appears to be very similar to the Damping slider), but it is definitely a step in the right direction. I personally think the default settings are fine for most brushes as it seems there is not much of a lag in most brushes. But when using your favorite painting brushes where a lag can occur as you stroke, definitely adjust the Smoothing setting and try the different Smoothing options. In the above image a Smoothing setting of 35 was used and the default options.

Once again here is a short video by Julieanne Kost called Brush Stroke Smoothing and Paint Symmetry in Photoshop CC that goes into a really good explanation on these settings and shows some great examples.

Adding the new Kyle T Webster Default Brushes

Also, there is another little thing Photoshop added to the Brushes Panel – Kyle T Websters brushes are now most of the Default Brushes except for the round brushes. Many new brushes that can be explored here. To get to them, need to go to the pop-out in the Brushes panel and select Restore Default Brushes – they will not override the ones already in the list, but will add 4 new groups of brushes (General Brushes, Dry Media Brushes, Wet Media Brushes and Special Effects Brushes) – only the General Brushes are ones from before. If you want all brushes from CC2017, in the pop-out select Legacy Brushes – all of them will be appended and put in original category types groups. There is also a set called Convert Legacy Tool Preset brushes (some of you may not have known the Tool Preset Brushes were there – many of them are very nice brushes so check them out.) that can be appended to your brushes.

It appears to me that Adobe is beginning to phase out the Tool Presets and the Preset Manager. If you are interested to learn more on Photoshop CC2018, check out Adobes Information Page or a longer video by Jesus Ramirez at the Adobe Training Channel called Photoshop CC 2018 Tutorials – What’s NEW in Adobe Photoshop CC 2018. Well I think I am about talked out here. Lots of other new things to explore in Photoshop. Have a nice busy weekend catching up!…..Digital Lady Syd



Digitally painted image of flower on a purple backgroundJust doing a quick post this week. Thought I would pass on just a couple thoughts on doing a digital painting. I find that when I am painting that either the Color Panel (set to Hue Cube – click the pop out in upper right corner to see other options) or Coolorus is open on the left side of my screen so colors in the same color palette can be selected very quickly by just clicking in the color areas. Coolorus is an inexpensive add-on for Photoshop CS6 and up. The Color Wheel  and the Mixer section Swatches, Color History, and Shades & Tones strips are all kept open so all you do is choose a color you want by clicking in it with your brush. For painting with the mixer brushes, the Current Brush Load needs to be set to Load Solid Color Only in the drop-down toggle menu. Then colors can be sampled using the ALT+click in the Mixer brushes also.

These are some of my favorite painting brushes I am using right now for most of my Photoshop painting. For this image the purple color was used as the major color and the rest of colors were mainly complementary greens. First started out with a purple background color – used a new Paint Bucket Tool preset by Grut (for website see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) called FI Paper Deeds. On a layer above just drew a rough sketch of the leaves using Grut’s I Qwillo brush (one of my favorite drawing brushes!). Then painted in the leaves underneath using Gruts NM Pans Attic and OI Shiff Din brushes – made the brushes much smaller and just kept blending the colors using both brushes. The white flowers were painted in using my SJ 3 Pastel Van Gogh TI1 brush (see below for settings) and turned off the Color Dynamics sections to paint in centers. My sharp line texture png was added underneath and some green grass with flower were added that I had painted previously. Then a stamped layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) and Topaz (for website see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Impression 2 where Rembrandt Portrait II preset was applied a little. Then on a New Layer the fence was drawn, Jai Johnson’s flying birds png was added and set to 23% layer opacity. Two text layers were created – one used Castile Inline Grunge font and the other a font called Chiller. Used one of my painted borders created a long time ago. Some little spatter marks were created using Grut’s FX Flick Tub brush. A purple light leak I created a while back was added to the right side of the image and one of Sebastian Michaels borders was added on top. Finished up the photo with Nik Viveza 2, and a Red Channel Luminosity Adjustment Curve. See my Related Blogs for more info on some of the techniques used above.


Digitally painted Purple-Pink FlowersThis digitally painted image above is using the same basic workflow as above. I used a couple different brushes on the flowers and leaves, but overall pretty much the same results. The major trick is to find a brush to remove some of the sketch work without losing the definition of the petal. I used a mixer on this one to soften those lines. The mixer brush layer was lowered to add back in some of the texture in the leaves and blossoms. And definitely a lot of brush size variations to add detail versus smoothing. Underneath all the painting and sketch layers, Kim Klassen’s Dream texture (not sure it is still available) was added and set to 46% layer opacity (on top of a white background layer). The frame is from one of my Double Edged Frames layer styles that can be downloaded on DeviantArt.  Lots of fun but it does take some time to get a nice overall effect. My sketches were so rough looking it is amazing to me that it all pulls together.

Have a nice week and try a little illustration even if you are not that great at it. It is a lot of fun to try different Photoshop brushes and see what turns out……Digital Lady Syd

Brush Settings for SJ 3 Pastel Van Gogh TI1 brush: To make your own, follow my How to Create my Favorite Brush blog but with a couple important changes. First a small square was selected using the Marquee Tool showing a part of the plant Impression layer that showed some nice contrast and brush strokes in it. It was turned into a Pattern by going to Edit -> Define Pattern and name it. (I named mine TI Van Gogh). Next the Brush Panel Texture section was opened. Select the Pattern drop-down (little arrow on right side of pattern swatch) and go to the very bottom where the new Pattern is located. The setting for the pattern I created are: Scale 46%, Brightness -46, Contrast 34, check Texture Each Tip, Mode Color Dodge, Depth 38% and Depth Jitter 12%. Try adjusting all these settings to fit your particular pattern. This brush gives a nice stroke effect at both larger and smaller sizes. Then open the Color Dynamics section and check Apply per Tip, set the Hue Jitter to 2%, and Brightness Jitter to 11%.

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Create My Favorite Brush
How to Create Scanned Photoshop Brushes
How to Create Light Leaks to use Over Again
How To Make Frames or Borders
How to Use a Red Channel to Create a Nice Blended Image Effect


Image of a young lady daydreamingAs you know, I am a major Photoshop brush fanatic. This week I am doing a quick blog on creating brushes from scanned marks  and then turning them into brushes. I am finding it so handy to have these brushes for detail or grunge effects for areas that need just a little more subtle texture. So here are the steps I am finding useful for creating this type of brush.

Creating the Brushes

  1. Need to create some square marks on paper – in my case an inexpensive Sketch Pad from WalMart that is good for Pen, Pencil, Pastel and Oil Pastel was used. 10 different marks were created on the page as shown below. All but the Pencil Brush mark were created using an inexpensive set of Faber Castell Black India Ink artists pens sized to S (0.3 mm), F (o.5 mm), M (0.7 mm), and B (1.8 mm) – any of their sets look pretty nice. Any type of media could be used here.
  2. Scan the whole document as a JPG at 600 dpi. Below is the scanned document with some explanatory text added for blog.
  3. Bring scanned document into PS and increase the brightness with Levels Adjustment (CTRL+L) or Curves Adjustment (CTRL+M) to make sure the background is white – the scanner tends to darken the whites as seen below.
  4. Select each mark with the Marquee Tool and put on its own layer (CTRL+J). More contrast can be added here if the mark is still not as dark as needed by using the same Levels or Curves Adjustments.
  5. One by one, toggle each layer on with the others off and create brush by going to Edit -> Define Brush Preset and name it.
  6. Once created, add different settings in the Brush Panel to make different effects. I experimented with all the marks, but only kept the labeled brushes shown below. Some just do not work out well.

Scanned Ink and Pencil marks for PS BrushesMy favorite brush in this group turned out to be the Pencil Brush which was just a basic pencil scribble. In Image 1 above the green soft vertical lines that seem to stretch the columns out is from this brush effect. Image 2 below is another example of using this brush. (For both image details see end of blog.) By making a few changes in the Brush Panel, a new brush called Pencil Thin Vert Lines brush was created. Using this I was able to create a very nice vertical effect for use below extracted objects. (Here are the settings used if you would like to create a similar brush: Brush Tip – used Pencil Brush mark, Size was huge – usually have to reduce it as it came in as 2955 px, Angle set to 90 degrees (makes strong vertical lines), Roundness 12%, and Spacing 10%; Shape Dynamics Size Jitter Control set to Pen Pressure and both the Flip X Jitter and Flip Y Jitter boxes are checked; and Smoothing section checked.) 

Here are steps to create a handy PNG file from a layer in a document that would be nice to use in other images.

Turn a Layer with a Brush Effect into a PNG File

  1. Highlight the layer in the Layer Panel.
  2. Right click and choose Duplicate the Layer.
  3. In dialog in Destination Document drop-down, select New to create a new document.
  4. Just this layer appears in the New Document that can be saved as a PNG file. For the Vertical Pencil effect, I saved it in my Library Panel for quick use.

Sketch of a New Zealand Flower The Duplicate Layer command also my favorite way to move layers between files with lots of layers – none of this dragging with the Move Tool. In the Destination Document drop-down, select the document to move layer(s) into instead of New and of course do not save as a PNG. Hope this will give you some ideas on creating your own unique brushes – I am going to try scanning in some crayon marks and also some watercolor marks. By making changes in the Brush Panel, lots of subtle texture effects can be created. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
How to Enjoy the Doodle!

Image Info:

Image 1: This image turned out to be very complicated and several iterations were created before I settled on this look. I first began with the beautiful model image called peach2 by faestock and extracted her from her background using the Select and Refine command. She was duplicated and put in the background at 35 % layer opacity and at a smaller size to get the two face look. The hair was thickened by using my basic SJ Pastel 3 brush (see How to Create My Favorite Brush blog.) The floral headband is from Carousellerie Creative Pinkish Blooms Arrangement Wreath 04 – Free Transform (CTRL+T) was used to adjust it to her head. The background was added – starting with 2 Lil’ Owls (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Making Waves 2 texture. Then the column was extracted from the Ancient Ruins IV by Pelleron at DeviantArt and taken into Topaz Impression2 using my Colored Pencil preset. (Started with Colored Pencil II preset and ended up with these settings:  Stroke Brush Type 07, Brush Size 0.90, Paint Volume 0.77, Paint Opacity 0.20, Stroke Width -0.82, Stroke Length -0.25, Spill 0.26, Smudge 0.16, and Coverage 1.00; Color Overall Sat 0.37, and Red Hue 0.78, Red Sat 0.32 and Red Lightness 0.28; Lighting Brightness 0.21 and Contrast -0.40, Light Direction X: 1.00 and y: 1.00; and Texture Strength 0.33, Size 0, Paper I texture and white background.). Next the Pencil Brush was turned into a PNG object to add the effect on a layer underneath to add a very vertical grunge look. On top of the model an Orange vertical light leak was added on the right side and some Gold Dust Glitter by Alaina Jensen added on top of her head. A Watercolor Wedding Collection flower bunch by Lisa Glanz was added down the right side of the image. French Kiss (see my Tidbits Blog for website link) Tableaux Fresco texture was applied and set t0 54% layer opacity – a layer mask was added and the model and some more center areas were painted out. Kim Klassen’s Downtown II Collection Isobel (could not find link) was added at 48% layer opacity and set to Soft Light Blend Mode. On top 2 Lil’ Owls Comos 11 texture was desaturated and set to Overlay blend mode for the star effect. The Bumble Bee brush his from fartoolate at DeviantArt. The text is from Robert Louis Stevenson. There were lots of adjustment layers in this file also.

Image 2: I actually had posted this image a few weeks ago using a different color palette. Here is some of the blog post from my Tidbits Blog. This pretty flower is from an old album called Illustrations of the New Zealand Flora (Plate 139) published in 1914. It was just a black and white line drawing and I added the color and texture. The image was removed from a page in the downloaded PDF file using the steps in my How to Create Vintage Text for Images Fun Photoshop Blog -just go towards the end for steps to pull images. I am afraid I took a little color liberty here as the volume says the flowers are actually white, but I liked the pink color. The flowers pink color was created by using a Curves Adjustment Layer’s individual Red channel with the layer mask filled with black (CTRL+I in the mask) – just painted in the pink on the petals – layer was set to Color blend mode. On a separate blank layer under the outline, painted in the green textures using Grut’s I Qwillo (I love this brush for drawing and painting!) and a Mixer blender to paint in the leaves and stem. Below that but above a white background layer a texture layer was painted – just experimented with a couple of my brushes (the Pencil Brush from above for the vertical lines and the squares are a brush that was created from Subtle Grunge Texture 10 – Cement texture 10 by Spoongraphics).  Took just the texture layer into Topaz Studio (see my Introducing the Free Topaz Studio blog) and sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for free download. The Radiance filter was applied so the fine lines showed up – I thought it matched the line drawing effect of the flower. The font is Viner Hand ITC and an Outer Glow layer style with a Contour change was used to make the text stand out. Used a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer to set the background texture color. The original flower outline was set to 15% layer opacity at the top of the layer stack. That was it.


Painted Image of some Spring FlowersKnow I am taking a little time off from blogging, but wanted to share a new inexpensive painting program called Paintstorm Studio recently purchased (currently $19) that is so much fun. (Can also download to try out for 15 days.) I created a few different brushes created from viewing a few of their videos. The Help tab on the website has several at the bottom – no audio but if you watch closely, some really nice brushes can be created from them to use along with some great ones provided. Check out this 3 minute video if you are interested in what it does – Paintstorm Studio – Overview. Since I love to do flowers, it fits my painting expression very well. Used lots of layers in Paintstorm and then saved as a PSD files so they could be manipulated more in PS – they actually come in with no background layer unless you add one. Created my own background  in PS using a brush made from Grut’s OI Shore Cap (check out Grut’s other wonderful brushes – look under the Resources tab for a free Brush Sampler and free Brush of the Week) and in the Brush Engine, changed the brush texture to Gauze with various texture slider changes and layer opacity of 68%. Now the strokes match the ones created in Paintstorm Studio brushes. With this brush a background layer in white was painted on a layer at 55% layer opacity with a Layer Style called Kyle’s Impasto – Just Right with the Gauze texture used to get the nice canvas effect. On a stamped layer, John Derry’s Layer Style Varnish Gloss Light was applied also with the texture changed to Gauze at 69% layer opacity.

Photoshop brushes can actually be brought into this program and many features are similar to both Photoshop and Painter. There is an application for iPads besides the stand-alone program on regular computer. Check out my Purple Flowers Tidbits Blog with another image example.

Also, if you have not heard, Google Nik Collection Photoshop plug-ins are now available for free – this is probably the death toll for these wonderful plugin – they have always been a wonderful supporter of my blog! I love the Nik Viveza plug-in – my all-time favorite. Definitely worth downloading just for this plug-in and the price is right!

Another quick link – Perfectly Clear Photoshop plug-in is offering its Perfect Exposure module for free – I tried it out this week and really like it – lots of sliders to experiment using. So check it out – again, can’t beat the price.

I will try and do some blogs on both Paintstorm Studio and Perfect Exposure as time permits. That was it for this week! Have a nice week trying out all these new things!…..Digital Lady Syd


Image of a Valentine Garden
Happy Valentines Day! Hope all are celebrating with some wonderful treats! How often do you lose those favorite brushes or ones you created? This has always been one of my biggest frustrations when using Photoshop because I either forget to save my created brushes, they get lost in the long list of other brushes in the Brush Preset Panel , or I did not give it a name that will remind me why I made it and how I used it. It has taken me a while to get a total grip on this, but I think I have finally figured out how to keep my brushes a lot more organized and easy to find. This week I am going to go give you the info on how to save your new brushes as an .abr file and next week on how to save your brushes as Tool Presets using a .tpl file extension and when to use both file types. With a little bit of effort, your brushes can be organized so you can find them quickly when needed. UPDATE: As of Photoshop CC2018, the information in this blog is now out-dated. Check out my newer blog to see what has changed at What Is New in the Photoshop Brushes Panel and Using the Smoothing Slider blog. For all versions older than CC2018, this blog is still relevant.


How do you save a brush? After making a change to a brush in the Brush Panel (see first Quick Tip below to locate) where the PS brush engine resides and changes are made to a brush, the new brush now must be saved in the Brush Presets Panel (Windows -> Brush Presets or click Brush Presets button at top middle of Brush Panel) so it can be used again with your new settings. Both of these brush panels have at the bottom a little Create a new brush icon that looks like a square with the right corner folded up. Just name the brush and check the size box if you want it set (I always check this). Now it is listed at the bottom of the Brush Presets list – see my SJ Heart Leaf Brush at the bottom of screenshot below (this brush was used as the heart background brush in the above image). This brush was created using a basic Heart shape and adding settings from the Brush Panel’s Dual Brush, Scattering, Color Dynamics, and Texture sections. As you can see the PS default name for the brush was Heart 1 – that name did not mean much to me. Instead it was named to something indicating it was my brush using SJ at the beginning, and changing the name to how the brush was used as shown in the top image .

Screenshot of Brush Presets Panel


This would seem like enough, but if you decide to append other brushes into the Preset Panel list , it is very easy to lose your new brush or accidentally delete it when replacing brushes. Therefore, if you like the brush, it should be saved as a set by itself, or with a number of your favorite or created brushes in a set – only the Preset Manager will let you select specific brushes to save as a Set. To do this, the Preset Manager must be opened – it is easiest to just click on the icon where the blue arrow is pointed in the screenshot above in either the Brush Panel or Brush Preset Panel or use the Brush Preset Panel pop-out menu item.  All the currently loaded brushes are listed in the Preset Manager.

Image of Preset ManagerThis screenshot shows what the Preset Manager will look like with the PS default brushes loaded and my one created brush. My brush is highlighted in the list for saving. After pressing the Save Set button, the brush file (with just one brush inside it) is saved. Many different brushes can be saved and the file can be named anything. On the top line of my explorer list, the brushes loaded in my Brush Preset Panel (file name SJ CC2016 brushes as of 021216) is listed so they can be reloaded back into PS after writing this blog. This set obviously contains lots of brushes as can be seen by the large file size versus the 20 KB file that only holds the SJ Heart Leaf Brush, where the set and the brush file have the same name. Just press CTRL+highlight each brush that you want to save in the current set. The brushes can be removed by CTRL+highlighting the brushes and brushes can be moved around to place in a different order.

The biggest tip I can give is to occasionally save all your brushes. If you have to reload PS due to a software problem, having those brushes backed up is very helpful. There are two ways to save all the currently load brushes. Can go to the pop-out in the Brush Preset Picker and select Save Brushes. Or you can go into the Preset Manager and just click on the first brush in the Preset Manager, press CTRL+A to Select All the brushes, then save down as a set like I did with my large file. If you decide to Reset or Replace brushes to the PS Default as shown here, it will ask you if you would like to save the current list of brushes. Say Yes and name, and the set will be listed underneath the PS brushes in the pop-out menus – note it does not show up on list until Photoshop is exited and reopened. This has saved me a few times!


Photoshop can drive you a little crazy with some of the redundancy in the program. The Brush Preset Picker is just another way to view the loaded brushes, but it is not exactly the same as the Brush Preset Panel. Brushes can also be saved from this panel. To open right click on a mouse or Wacom pen, or press on the second icon over in the Options Bar. The size, hardness or angle can be quickly adjusted on the fly in this drop-down panel. I keep it set to the Large Thumbnail view so I can the brush more clearly when just looking for a type of stamped or static brush to add to a painting. I do not use it all the time but many artists find it very handy. The wheel cog pop-out panel in the upper right corner is almost exactly the same as the one shown in the screenshot image of the Brush Preset Panel.

Image of my Brush Preset Picker


  • A quick way to open the Brush Panel which contains the brush engine – with any Brush Tool selected (including Clone Stamp, History, Smudge, etc), just click on the third icon over in the Options Bar that looks like a folder with paintbrushes in a can on it – hover over it and it says Toggle the Brush Panel. The panel will turn on and off as needed.
  • Some handy Shortcut keys for Brush Preset Panel:

Select Previous brush:  , (comma)
Select Next brush:  . (period)
Select First brush in Brush Presets list:  SHIFT + , (comma)
Select Last brush in Brush Presets List:  SHIFT + . (period)

  • As you can see, there are several sets of brushes PS provides that can be used as starters for your own creations. Just click on the pop-out menu in the Brush Preset Panel or Picker to see the list, along with any sets of brushes you saved in the default PS brush folder.
  • Stack the Brush Presets Panel on top of the Brush Panel and when the toggle button is used in the Options Bar, they will both open and close together. Very handy to tweak a brush quickly when painting. Just drag the top of the Brush Panel underneath the Brush Presets Panel until you see a blue line appear – they will now be connected.
  • To see same choices in pop-out menu as Brush Preset Panel or Picker in the Preset Manager, press the little wheel cog in upper right where the  way you view the brushes and names for each loaded brush can be changed. I prefer showing mine as a Large List, but that is just my preference.
  • With the latest version of PS, in the Brush Preset Panel and Picker, the latest 7 brushes used will be shown at the top of the panel. See in the Brush Preset Picker screenshot above to see my last 7 brushes and size that was used. By clicking on them, the brush is instantly loaded with the and brush settings changes that you had used. It does not save the brush changes, but for simple size changes, it is very handy!
  • Be sure to save your favorite brushes frequently!

I hope you found this information helpful – it can be very confusing if you are just learning about PS. Now at least you can be comfortable that any brushes you created can be loaded back onto your computer easily. Next week I will cover the Tool Presets and how they differ from the brush presets and when to use them. Until then, have a very fun holiday!…..Digital Lady Syd

Image Info This is actually an image of some colorful leaves taken at the entrance to the Jacksonville Zoo. I actually painted them using Photoshop’s Default Action called Mixer Brush Cloning Paint Setup.  Two of my textures were added underneath – my Pastel Watercolor texture and on I painted in Painter I call SJ Fireworks set to 86% layer opacity. It created the nice blue and golden tones I wanted behind the cut out painted leaves. Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Lens Effects’ Toy Camera Yellow Green Low Contrast with Camera Shake turned off. This helped blend in the painted leaves into the painted texture. Two layers of valentines were used – one just a little valentine shape with the default Bevel and Emboss applied, and one using the brush loaded above to give a painterly valentine feel. The text used the Selima Regular font with an light yellow outer glow to help it stand out. That was it!

Digital Lady Syd Related Blogs:
Why Use the Tool Preset Panel? Photoshop Painters Listen Up!


Painted image of Early Morning in the SwampSince I am still on my blogging break, I thought I would share a little painting done completely in Photoshop. And I might add, no Mixer Brushes! A few months ago my photo club took a trip to the Viera Wetlands in Brevard County, Florida. This inspired me to create what I imagine how the wetlands would appear in the early morning of a summer day.

Some of the brushes used in this image were purchased, but all of them are very inexpensive or free brushes and links have been provided below, along with a few of tips. The final image included 34 layers so it took some time to create. It represents a lot of experimentation and trying different effects to see what looked good. To me, this is what I love about Photoshop – all the possibilities and ways to do things is just incredible. This is probably why this program has remained the image editing standard for other programs to try and emulate. I hope everyone will have a chance to paint and play in Photoshop this week. Try out some new strokes with these resources…..Digital Lady Syd

Image Info including Resources and a Few Tips:

The basic scene of the tree, grass, and water was created on 8 individual layers. I tend to put each type of brush stroke on its own layer so the strokes can be erased, opacity changed, blend modes used, or just redone easily without redoing all the painting, – then group all the layers together to create just one line in the Layers Panel so it appears as a single layer. The brushes used to create the grass were from one of my very favorite natural brush sets and are available for free at DeviantArt called Grass Set2 Frostbo Grass 009. (Frostbo has many brush sets that can be downloaded and all the brushes are really easy to tweak in the Brush Panel to create different strokes. See my How To Create a Magical Feel in Photoshop blog on how to do this. Also, be sure to read his usage rules.) The tree was created using a brush from Aaron Blaise’s Foliage Set – SB 46-4. Water ripples from Aaron Blaise’s Water Set was used for the water effect (Brush SB 51-15-1436). Aaron has some great inexpensive brushes with videos explaining how to use them. He is a former Disney animator and all his brushes are wonderful. Light shoreline sketches were made using a very simple sketch brush  (Settings if you need one: Brush Tip Shape – 2 pixels, Hardness o, and Spacing 9%; Shape Dynamics – Size Jitter Control set to Pen Pressure; Transfer – Flow Jitter Control set to Pen Pressure; and Smoothing on. This makes a really nice sketch stroke and I use it all the time in my paintings. These layers were all put into a group by highlighting them all and pressing CTRL+G.

Underneath the group a New Layer was placed and Grut brush NM Wool Meander was used to add a little soft yellow accent in the sky and water, showing some behind the reeds and tree. Check out his site each week for a new free brush – these are totally great brushes. A stamped layer was placed on top. Topaz  (see the sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for website link) Impressions was opened and the supplied Ethereal Background by Blake Rudis preset was applied. A layer mask was added to the layer and the tree and reeds were painted back. On another stamped layer converted to a Smart Object, Nik Viveza 2 was added and 7 controls points were used to add blue into the image. The resulting layer opacity was set to 79%.

A New Layer was added on top and a free DeviantArt Midnighttouch’s rEgrets I’ve Had a Few set Egret Sample Brush #51 was used to create the bird in the image. A Bevel and Emboss layer style was added to the layer and set to Style Emboss, Tech Smooth, Depth 93, Direction Up, Size 2, Soften 5, Highlight Mode Linear Dodge (Add) at 5% opacity, and Shadow Mode Multiply at 38% opacity. This gave the bird just a touch of edge to it. On a New Layer the Beak and Eye were painted in with light orange and black. It was set to a 50% layer opacity. The layers were all highlighted and put into another group called Egret. On a New Layer above the group, Midnightstouch Sample Brush #4 was used to add the bird grouping. This layer was set to 36% layer opacity. She also has lots of other beautiful unique brushes – and do check out her use requirements before using.

Now to me the focal point was all off center, so the Crop Tool was selected to line up my objects, and then Content Aware Scale was used to add to the canvas. Content Aware Move was used to readjust the flying birds in the sky. On a stamped layer Topaz Lens Effects Reflector Gold filter was selected (Strength 0.17, Transition 0.40, Position 0.20, and Angle 90). You could do the same thing with Nik Color Efex Pro – I learned this trick from Jai Johnson. The Gold reflector filter adds a nice subtle warming effect to nature images.

So another cool trick for adding some localized blurring is to use the Blur Tool set to Strength of 72. I have never used this tool much, but it worked really great in this image. Since I did not want the white egret so emphasized, the blur tool just softened those edges a bit on the emboss layer style created on the bird. It was also used to soften the rather sharp edges of the leaves in the trees to give a more painterly look without removing the actual shape too  much. The flying birds were also blurred slightly.

I really did not like the reflection of the tree and some of the grass in the water and was having trouble getting it softened the way I liked it. Finally the Smudge Brush was selected and using Aaron Blaise’s Grass SB 48-3-236 smudge brush, the area was smoothed. This brush comes with his Foliage brushes but probably any smudge brush would work fine. Just keep it subtle – it was set to 35% Strength. This layer was then set down to 65% layer opacity as the smudge effect was a bit too much. (See my How To Use the Brush Modes and Smudge Brush on Objects blog.) A Levels Adjustment Layer was added. Since this image was supposed to have a dreamy soft early morning look, but still needed a contrast boost, the middle tab was set to 0.70 but the black and white tabs were left alone. The trick to the dreamy effect is to adjust the Output Level strip. The black tab was set to 23 and white tab to 239 to maintain the soft look. Lots of other clean up layers were sprinkled throughout this document, but I hope you can see how to get some pretty nice effects with these brushes.


Image of a painted Rooftop at Harry Potter Land - Universal Studios OrlandoThis week I only have this one example using an image taken at Harry Potter Land in Universal Studios Orlando, but it works well for this very useful technique. Since I have been learning more about the brush engine in Photoshop, I discovered a rather useful way to link a part of the texture of the background to the brush being used to paint over the image.

Here are the beginning steps to making this image. First converted image to 8-bit (Image ->Mode->8-bit) so the brushes will paint faster. The sky was a very bland flat blue color so it just seemed to be begging for something to perk it up. Topaz (see sidebar at my Tidbits blog for website link) Detail 3 was applied for an overall image sharpening and then some basic spot cleaning was done since my camera sensor was a little dirty.

Owl Steps: Next an owl brush from a set called harry_potter_brushes_by_nyvelvet-d4qcowz was applied on a New Layer by clicking just once at 100% brush opacity to get a nice owl outline. On another New Layer underneath, some brown was painted in the owl wings and head, then on another New Layer white was painted in other parts of the owl to make it stand out and look painted – just used a regular soft brush at 100% opacity. These three layers were grouped (highlight the layers and press CTRL+G) and named Owl.

A stamped layer was created (CTRL+ALT+SHIFT+E) on top and this layer was opened up in Topaz Simplify where the BuzzSim III preset was applied to use as an underpainting. This broke up the image into a really nice color palette that can be used to sample colors for painting over the main objects. Note you do not have to use Simplify (or Detail above), these are just some ways I am experimenting. An underpainting could be created using different Photoshop filters or adjustments layers. I plan on covering this topic at a later date. Used Topaz ReMask to remove the sky and the selection was loaded as a layer mask from the plug-in (check ReMask settings at bottom to set this up) although Photoshop could easily have used for this as it was a very easy selection. Now a texture needed to  be added underneath to fill up the sky and various ones were tried. I settled on French Kiss Atelier Georgia texture (see sidebar at my Tidbits blog for website link) which gave the image a nice painterly feel. Obviously the Simplify BuzzSim edges in the towers looked bad, but it is now time to make a brush to smooth these out.

Creating Brush Steps: A brush was made right in this image by turning off all the layers except the texture layer. Next use the Rectangular (or Elliptical) Marque Tool and select a small portion of the texture that represents an area that might make a nice brush. Press CTRL+J and it copies the brush selection up onto its own layer. Turn off the full texture layer and on top of the sample layer, add a Threshold Adjustment Layer to get a strong nice black and white look – all brushes have to be in black and white tones or it will not pick up the texture. I think my Threshold Level was set to 162. Highlight the brush layer under the adjustment layer and go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset. Down at the bottom of your Brush Presets Panel is your new brush. The new Brush now needs to be turned into a pattern, so on a New Layer a one stroke click was done with the new 208 pixel brush at 100% opacity in a black color. With the Marque Tool again just the brush stroke was selected and then go to Edit -> Define Pattern and name it the same as your brush. Deselect and highlight all three layers to put into another group and name brush and pattern.

Now the rest of the Brush in the Brush Panel must be set up. The Brush Tip Shape size was set 30 pixels and Spacing 56% – keep the Size small but play around with the Spacing watching the Preview area. Next in Shape Dynamics the Control was set to Off and the Angle Jitter to 4% – just enough to give a bit of variation. The last step involved adding the new brush pattern that was just created. By clicking on the down arrow next to the current texture, the last entry should be the new brush pattern just created – select it. Set the Scale to 131% – needs to be set over 100% so no obvious patterning is observed. If you are using the CC or CC 2014 versions of Photoshop, adjust the Brightness and Contrast sliders – I used Brightness -19 and Contrast 11. Make sure the Texture Each Tip is checked and change Mode to Multiply. Depth was set to 100% and Depth Jitter to 59%. All these settings can be manipulated until you get a stroke you like, but these are settings I used on this image. A new Brush Preset was created with these new settings by clicking on the Create New Brush icon at the bottom of the panel. A video going over these brush and pattern steps is below in case you got lost in the description.

Finalizing the Image: Several New Layers were painted using just this Regular Brush to paint over the objects – no mixer involved – and by sampling in the different colors that Simplify supplied, the image could be painted fairly quickly. Basically I like to sample a darker similar color and paint over a light one and vice versa to get a nice blend effect. Since the texture adds enough empty space in the stroke the colors blend nicely and it also looks somewhat  like the added large sky texture. This does not have to be painted perfectly and it will give a totally painted look. It really was a lot of fun and did not take too long to complete. A Pattern Adjustment Layer with the new pattern set to 100% Scale was put on top. The layer opacity was set to Normal at just 3% layer opacity – just gave a little bit more of the overall texture. On a stamped layer, a Radial Filter was added in Camera Raw to help draw the focus to the top cupola.

Update: I just added a Tidbits Blogs called A Little More Painting with a Texture Brush where I finished up the image started in the video and got a very different result. Check it out for a couple more tips.

Hope you get a chance to try this – as you can see from the video, a different texture gives a very different brush – some are better and some are worse, but it is nice to be able to match the added texture to the paint brush strokes so the objects fit more smoothly into the texture. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd