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The basic tools for painting
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Eddie Russell


Eddie Russell
In this lesson, we'll learn about the two most basic tools when painting digitally inside Photoshop. All right, so I've got my panels arranged in one solid stack here. I'm just going to drag that over to the right-hand portion of my screen. And when that highlights in blue, I'll release it and dock them into the panel dock location. Now, I'm also going to hit this little double wide arrow to collapse that down so we have all of our screen real estate available to us here. Now, if you're a traditional artist, and you're using Photoshop, and maybe you've browsed through some of these tools, you're probably wondering where is the colored pencils tool, or where is the fountain pen tool, or even the marker tool. Well, Photoshop isn't set up like that. If we wanted to create art work here, then we're going to be using the brush tool to imitate any of our traditional media. So the brush tool is right over here in the tool panel. You can actually click on that, or you can hit the B keyboard shortcut. If I click and hold down, we can actually see that there's actually several tools nested underneath that here. But we could go ahead and stick with the brush tool. Now, the reason I know that is because there's this little bitty black arrow in the bottom right corner of that button. So with our brush tool selected, let's jump up here to the options bar, or the control panel, and look at some of these options that are available to us. So the first thing I want to bring your attention to is this little preview right here. What this is showing us is a sample or a preview of the brush tip and the size of the brush, which is currently 50 pixels. Notice there's a little down arrow next to that. If I click on that, we're going to access the brush preset selection dialog. So you can see here that there's a lot of different default brushes that come loaded into Photoshop. And we can select any of those here. We also have a couple sliders up here. We have a size slider, where we can change the size of our brush. And we have the hardness slider. Now, hardness refers to the edge of the brush tip shape. You can see here based on the preview that I'm using, the brush tip shape has a very soft sort of blurry edge to it. Now, the brush below that would be the exact opposite. It has a very crisp, a very hard edge. So we can adjust the hardness of our brush right here in the brush preset dialog. Now, if your preset preview doesn't look like this, you can actually come to this little menu right here and change that. You can change it to text only, one of the thumbnail previews, or even the list previews. I prefer the stroke thumbnail. It's completely up to you. So let's go ahead and click away from that here. We're going to skip this button right now. We're going to come back to this in a later lesson. That will open up our brushes panel. But the blend mode is going to control the way your brush paints and how it reacts, say, to the things that you're painting on top of. So right now, it's set to normal. But you can see here, there's a lot of different options here. And we're not going to get into what these all do. If you want to experiment with some of these once we get into color, feel free. Now, the opacity and the flow on the other hand are very, very important when it comes to painting. Now, the opacity is going to control the transparency of the color you're painting with. So I'm just going to click and drag here on my canvas. And I'll just paint with this brush. You can see here that we're painting at 100% opacity. Now, if we come in and input a value of 50% right there and paint again, I'm painting with 50% transparent pigment of the black color. You can see here if I paint like that, we've got kind of a 50% gray color. If I go ahead and paint over that again, that transparent pigment is going to build up. And you can see here where I'm overlapping that first stroke, it's actually coming to a much darker color. We can continue to build that up until we reach the color that is set right over here in our tool panel. You can see there's two color swatches. Our foreground is the one in front, and our background color is the one behind that. So we're painting with the foreground color. Now, continuing to move to the right here, let's ignore this button right here, and we'll go over this last button. These buttons are related to the pressure sensitive tablet that I'm currently using. And I want to show you the difference between painting with that and painting with a mouse here in just a moment. As someone aspiring to be a digital painter, I would highly recommend considering investing in a pressure sensitive tablet of some sort. It's really going to let you take advantage of a lot of features here inside Photoshop that you just wouldn't be able to take advantage of if you were using only a mouse. So the flow setting right here is actually going to control the rate at which the pigment comes out of our brush tip. So let me just zoom in here. And we'll paint some more. This is 50% opacity. Let me just go ahead and drag on the word opacity here. You can see we can click on that word opacity and drag up or down, dragging it-- excuse me, right to left here. Drag that up to 100%, and I'll just come in and click on the little right, or that little arrow button, and adjust my flow to about 50% here. There we go. So a flow of 50% is only going to let half of the pigment come out. So it's going to limit how fast the pigment comes out of my brush. So if I click and drag here, you can see that I'm actually able to drag back over that and make it a bit darker. So applying more pigment if I overlap the same stroke. I'm painting that same stroke in at 100% flow. We're not going to see any difference in the color if we drag back over it here. So that is the flow setting. Now, these two options can be set via a keyboard shortcut. Now, the keyboard shortcuts are simply the number keys on the top of your keyboard. So right now, if I actually hit the 5 key, it's going to set my opacity to 50%. Now, to set the flow to 50%, I would need to hit Shift, 5. So using those two keys, you could see I've set that to 50%. Now, we can also hit two buttons very quickly, one right after the other. Let me just go ahead and hit 35, 3, 5. You can see we can input values in between as well. So I'm going to go ahead and set those back to 100% here. And let's talk about how those keyboard shortcuts change if our airbrush is turned on. Now, the airbrush button here is actually going to simulate the effect of an airbrush here as we paint. So I'll just make my brush size a little bit larger here. But we don't have to change this here in the brush preset. We can actually use a keyboard shortcut to do that. These keyboard shortcuts are the bracket keys above and to the left of the Enter key. So the open bracket key is going to make it smaller. Closed bracket makes it larger. So the airbrush, let me just go ahead and paint here. You can see here that it's laying down pigment, but if I let it sit in one spot, it will continue to build up, sort of like we were spraying that through an airbrush. Let me just change my opacity to about 50%. So we'll paint that again. And we can see that keeping it in one spot here is going to allow the paint to continue to build up until we hit 50% opacity. Now, we're not going to be able to layer paint on top of that unless we release our mouse button, or release our stylus, and paint it again. All right. So with the airbrush turned on, let's say I wanted to reduce my flow to 50%. Now remember, we had to hit Shift, 5 to do that before. With airbrush turned on, all I need to do is hit the 5 on my keyboard. So these two keyboard shortcuts are going to swap places depending on if you have this airbrush enabled or not. So let me go ahead and turn that off here. I'll set those back to 100%. Now let me bounce back over here to my brush presets dialog, and let's look at some of these different presets here. You can see some of these have a consistent stroke width here, but some of them seem to taper at either end. Now, tapering at either end, that indicates that it's a brush that is actually set to take advantage of the pressure sensitive nature of my tablet. I'll just select this one right here. And I'm going to shrink my brush down a little bit. Let me draw with a very light touch and then get gradually harder here. So just dragging very lightly, starting to get harder, all the way up to the full diameter of that brush. Now, that is one of the options that if we paint with a mouse, we're not going to have available to us. Let me just grab my mouse here and click and paint. You can see here a mouse is only on or off. So we can't take advantage of that pressure sensitive feature. Move that mouse out of the way really quickly here. Now, the other tool that's going to be essential to your painting success is going to be the eraser tool. The eraser tool just looks like a little rubber eraser here in the tool panel. The keyboard shortcut for that is E. And this tool is going to work very, very similar to the brush tool. You can see here we have a lot of the same options up here. And we do have the addition of this mode right here. I would go ahead and leave that on brush because this is going to tell it to act like a pencil, or the pencil tool, and this will tell it to erase with a block. So let's go ahead and leave that on brush. And you can see here that we can again adjust the opacity and the flow as well as enable airbrush for the eraser tool. The keyboard shortcuts for setting those two are going to work just like the brush tool, as well as are the keyboard shortcuts for enlarging and shrinking the eraser here. So if I go ahead and come over here and erase, you can see here that I'm erasing. I've got this currently set to a brush preset that's probably pressure sensitive. So let me just right click here. And you can see here that we have access to all the same brush presets through the eraser tool as we did with the brush tool. Now, one thing about these brush presets. You probably have the same ones listed here that I do, if this is your first time to open Photoshop. Now, this is only what's called a library of brush presets, and it's the default library. We can actually come in here and load a number of different libraries. Let me just kind of click over here, see if we can't get this to open a little lower down. I want this to be as much in the screen as possible. So you can see here by coming to this menu, there's a large number of default brush libraries that are actually included with Photoshop. So feel free to explore any of these that you want to and play with any of the brushes inside these brush preset libraries that you'd like to. When you want to come back to the default brushes, all you need to do is actually select reset brushes here. Now, in this menu is also where we would load brushes that were created by maybe another individual, or maybe that you've saved as a separate file. Or we can actually save the brushes that we've currently got in our brush preset panel out here as a separate file. So we could pass them onto maybe somebody else. So let me come in here and just click away from that just for a moment. All right, so I'll just kind of clean this document up, erase it a little bit. And let's go ahead and move on. In the next lesson, we'll continue our discussion on digital painting. And we're going to look at ways that we can actually choose and then even mix color here inside Photoshop.
In this collection of lessons we will learn basic terms, definitions and workflows for digital painting in Photoshop CS5. We’ll start off by covering how to create and save new documents as well as how we can navigate around inside them. We'll then take a look at two of the most basic tools for digital painting being the brush tool and eraser tool so you begin creating artwork right away. After that, you’ll learn about several other features such as layers, selections and masks that will add a new dimension to your digital painting experience. And to wrap up this project, we'll go over one possible workflow for painting a digital image.