Tools for retouching: The Brush Tool

Painting with the Brush ToolBrush ToolThe Brush Tool works in a similar way to a conventional paint brush or air brush. You select a colour, opacity, brush size and paint. It’s uses are varied; from painting and bleaching out through to using along side the myriad of masking techniques within Adobe Photoshop.

I quite often use this tool in photo-restoration. That may surprise some as it is not considered a valuable retouching tool. This is mostly due to the way in which it flattens photographic grain. I get around this by painting on separate layers and then add my grain, using a mixture of filtration techniques.

How to use the Brush Tool

Even if you have no intention of ever using this tool, there are plenty of interchangeable methods to glean from the following:

  1. Click on the Brush Tool on the Tool Palette, or press ‘B’ on your keyboard.
  2. Select a color from:
    • Swatches or Color palettes.
    • Mix one directly by clicking on the top-left color swatch at the bottom of the tool palette.
  3. Change your brush size (paint radius):
    • Right-click (WINDOWS), ALT-click (MAC) anywhere on screen and change Master Diametre.
    • Use squared brackets keys ‘[]’ to increase or decrease brush size.
  4. Change paint opacity:
    • Slide ‘Opacity’ slider on the Options Bar.
    • Type in a number on the numeric page on your keyboard – 0=100%, 1=10%, 2=20%, etc.

Additional resources

Adobe Photoshop Brushes – Introduction

Using the Brush Tool in image retouching

Using Layer Mask – Effective layer blends

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