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Brush dynamics and custom brush presets
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Eddie Russell


Eddie Russell
In this lesson, we'll learn how to customize the dynamics for a brush preset, as well as how to create and save our own custom brush preset. All right, so at this point, if we look here in the brush preset picker, you can see we've been dealing with primarily symmetrical round brush tips and a variety of different treatments here as far as soft, hard, pressure sensitive, and whatnot. Now, let me just come in here and select this particular brush here. Before I do that though, let's go ahead and scroll down. Now, if you've played with any of these other brushes, let's go ahead and choose maybe one of these near the bottom, maybe this star brush here. And I'll just set a fairly small size. Hopefully you've played with some of these and you've seen how they react differently. This one actually appears to be scattering. Now, these are all varying brush presets that we can actually control for our brushes. Now, let me undo that here. I want to go back and select that very basic brush, because I'm going to show you what these brush presets look like with a very basic brush here. As a matter of fact, let's just choose this one right here. And with that brush chosen, I'm going to come up and hit this little folder icon. Now, that's going to open up our Brush panel. Now, in this panel there are a lot of settings. Don't worry, we're not try and go through everything in here. I want to touch on a few areas that are areas that I frequently use when digital painting. So the first thing we want to look at up here is the brush tip shape. And again, you see we have our list of brush presets over here. Now, in this particular tab, we can control the size, how it flips on the x and y-axes, we can rotate our brush tip, we can actually squeeze that down-- you can see there how that stroke preview is reacting underneath-- and we can adjust the hardness here as well as the spacing. I want to bump that size up just a little bit because we've talked about spacing before. Spacing is how frequently the brush tip shape is going to strike the canvas. So if we increase the spacing, you can see how this brush tip is made out of an ellipse. And if we space it out, you can see here we would basically be making a dotted line as we paint. Now if we space that down to a very small percentage of spacing, you can see that dotted line gets closer together and becomes a stroke. That's essentially how brushes work here inside Photoshop. So let's come down here and look at shape dynamics next. So I'm going to go ahead and select it here. Notice a check mark appears. Now, there's a lot of different settings here. Let me come in and just talk to you first about what jitter is, because that jitter is a word you're going to see in a number of different places in this dialog. Jitter is just Photoshop's way of saying it's randomizing something. So, let me just turn my control here off instead of pen pressure. If we were to randomize our size of our brush tip shape by taking this size jitter slider up, you can see here what happens to my stroke. We get this undulating size with the actual circles that compose that stroke. Now, we can control that based on a number of properties here. We can control that fade. pen pressure, pen tilt, and even stylus wheel if your tablet has a wheel on it. So I usually will say pen pressure when I'm using this, and I'll take that size jitter down just so I get that nice, thin, small stroke as I release my stroke. Now, the minimum diameter will actually control how small that stroke can get at its smallest point. But some other areas here that are important I think are the angle jitter and even maybe the roundness jitter. Angle jitter is something I would use if I have a brush tip shape that is not symmetrical, and that will allow me to randomize the angle of that brush tip shape. With a symmetrical brush tip shape, it's really not going to matter much being that I'm working with an ellipse, but let's come down here and take a look at something else. Let's take a look at scattering for just a moment. Now, let me turn off my size jitter here. Now, scattering. You can see here actually our preview bounced out of the box. It's because the scatter percentage is turned up so high. Now, the scatter percentage is actually controlling how far these brush tip shapes are allowed to scatter away from one another. And again, we can control that based on pen pressure, a number of different variables here. We can increase the count and even jitter the count. Scattering is pretty neat. I'm going to turn that off though. There's other things here like texture. We can choose to add a texture to our brush tip shape. And you can see here that, very similar to the different libraries we have for our brush presets, we also have libraries for our textures here. A number of different texture libraries come included here in Photoshop. So, feel free to experiment with some of those. I'm not going to play with those at this point. Dual brush will combine the brush tip shape that you currently have selected with another brush tip shape. Let me come in here and select this one right here and increase the spacing just a bit. You can see that one didn't do a whole lot. But if I come in and select different brush tip shapes, you can see how they react using this dual brush feature. Again, a pretty neat feature. I'm not going to spend a lot of time on that, but let's talk about color dynamics. Here we have a number different jitter settings. We can generate a hue, the saturation, or the brightness of the color being painted. That's actually a pretty useful feature. You'll see that a number of the brushes that are built into some of the default libraries for brushes is in Photoshop actually utilize color dynamics. And then we have transfer. Transfer used to be called other dynamics in previous versions of Photoshop, but here we have some really useful stuff. Let me just drop that spacing back down here. Under Transfer, I think that the two most useful settings are the opacity jitter and the flow jitter here. You can see that this brush has hidden pressure applied to flow jitter right now. If I apply that same setting to opacity jitter, you can see how we get this nice, gradiated beginning and end to our stroke here. So, pretty neat. Now, these options down here don't have their own settings. We can either turn them on or turn them off. Noise for the brush, wet edges for the brush, airbrush, which is the same as this button up here. You can see here if we check that, it actually presses that button. We have smoothing, and then protect texture. Now, let me come in here and let's just load in a different brush preset library here. I'm going to jump in here, and let's choose this dp brushes. And we want to just replace the current brushes here. We can always reset our brushes if we need to. So now we've got in our brush preset panel, a completely different set of brushes here. And if you want to play with some of these, feel free. I'm going to choose this one right here, and I'm just going to paint around and make an interesting pattern or an interesting design here. So you can see here that, as I paint this, it looks like that. A fuzzy, textured type look. So I'm basically just painting around on our canvas here. And I'm going to just switch to white real quick and feather that back some. So we get our own interesting shape here. I think that, when you're looking at creating your own custom brushes, some of the most interesting brushes can be made just based on an abstract shape of some kind. Let's see here. That's looking pretty good. Just feather that back just a little bit more. All right. So we've got this nice interesting shape that we've created here, and we want to create a custom brush based on this shape. Well, in previous lessons, we learned how to actually select pixels. So let's grab our Rectangular Marquee tool, and I'm just going to draw a selection around that area. Now, Photoshop does have the ability to create custom brush presets up to 2500 x 2500 pixels in size. So let's come up here to the Edit drops down now, and we're going to choose Define Brush Preset. And I'm just going to name this one Brush Test. You can see a little preview. And we'll go ahead and deselect that. And, I'll tell you what, let's come up here to Edit and choose Fill, and we'll just fill our canvas with white here. There we go. Now, at this point, if I come back to my brush tool, right click, we're going to see a new brush down here at the bottom. This is the brush that we just created based on that custom shape we painted. And it's very, very large right now. Let me turn the size down on that. And we can see what that looks like. If I zoom in and paint, you can see that shape. Now, these are the default settings for that brush. Remember, we looked at the brush dynamics over here, and we can come in and configure this however we want to. Like under Shape dynamics, maybe we want to go ahead and turn the angle jitter all the way up. You can see how that works there. Maybe we want to vary that based on pen pressure. Maybe we want to actually turn the size jitter to pen pressure as well, but turn the minimum diameter up quite a bit and be around 35% or so. And then maybe we want to turn on our transfer settings here. And maybe even scatter that just a little bit here. So, with those settings applied, let me come in here and increase the size of that brush. And we'll just paint some with it. You can see how we're getting this really interesting, abstract pattern based on that custom brush we've created. Now again, that was just a really quick example of a brush we could create here in Photoshop. And one thing you do need to know when you're creating custom brush presets is that, once you have created a new brush-- now, remember I have just applied custom dynamics to this brush. If I select any other brush here in my brush preset picker, I'm going to lose those custom settings unless I create a new preset based on those settings. Now, the way to do that is to just come up here to the panel fly out menu and choose New Brush Preset. So we'll just create a new brush preset, we'll call that Brush Test 02 and hit Enter. And now I've actually created a second brush right under here in my brush presets. And you can see the stroke preview. Now, if at this point we wanted to, we could come in and delete our original, if we really wanted to. But let's go ahead and fill this with white again. And if we actually want to save this brush again for use on another computer, or maybe we want to back it up to a file, all we need to do is come over here and choose the Save Brushes option here. Let me just bring this up, see if I can't get it to come up in screen. Shrink that down a bit. There we go. Save Brushes. And once we bring that up, Photoshop will prompt us to save a .abr file. So we'll go ahead and just cancel that for right now. So in this lesson, we've learned how to modify the dynamics of our brushes here in Photoshop. We've also learned how to quickly and easily create our own custom brush preset. Now, in the next lesson, I want to just take this a step further. We've learned a lot of basics when it comes to digital painting. I just want to wrap this course up by showing you an example workflow of how an image was put together.
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.