About brush options

You can simulate actual brush strokes by setting the rates at which the brush tool strokes fade out. You can specify which options dynamically change over the course of a brush stroke, including scattering, size, and color. The brush thumbnail in the Tool Options bar reflects the brush changes as you adjust the brush dynamics options.

You set brush dynamics options by selecting a brush tool and then clicking Brush Settings (or Advanced, for some tools) from the Tool Options bar.


Controls the distance between the brush marks in a stroke. To change the spacing, type a number, or use the slider to enter a value that is a percentage of the brush diameter. (The brush thumbnail in the Tool Options bar dynamically changes to reflect your spacing adjustments.)

Increasing brush spacing
Increasing the spacing makes the brush skip.


Sets the number of steps until the paint flow fades to nothing. A low value makes the paint stroke fade away very quickly, while a value of zero has no fading effect. Each step is equal to one mark of the brush tip. Possible values range from 0 to 9999. For example, entering 10 for Fade produces a fade in 10 increments. For smaller brushes, you may want to set a value of 25 or larger. If strokes fade too quickly, increase the values.

Fade setting
Fade showing setting of 40, 60, and 80 steps

Hue Jitter

Sets the rate at which the stroke color switches between the foreground and background colors. Higher values cause more frequent switches between the two colors than lower values. (To set the colors used by the color jitter option, see About foreground and background colors.)

Hue Jitter
Paint stroke without and with color jitter


Controls the size of the brush’s hard center. Type a number, or use the slider to enter a value that’s a percentage of the brush diameter.

Hardness settings
Brush strokes with different hardness values


Brush scattering determines how brush marks are distributed in a stroke. A low value produces a denser stroke with less paint scattering, and higher values increase the scattering area.

Scatter settings
Brush stroke with low and high scatter values


Specifies the angle by which an elliptical brush’s long axis is offset from horizontal. Type a value in degrees, or drag the arrowhead of the angle icon to mark the desired angle.

Angle settings
Angled brushes create a chiseled stroke


Specifies the ratio between the brush’s short and long axes. Enter a percentage value, or drag a dot in the angle icon away from or toward the arrow. A value of 100% indicates a circular brush, a value of 0% indicates a linear brush, and intermediate values indicate elliptical brushes.

Roundness settings
Adjusting roundness affects the shape of a brush tip.

Set this as a default

This option, available for certain tools that can have brush attributes, enable you to set the currently selected settings as your default settings.

Add a new brush to the brush library

  1. From the Draw section in the toolbox, select the Brush tool .
  2. In the Tools Options bar, click the arrow next to the Brush pop-up to display the pop‑up panel; choose a category from the Brush drop-down, and then select a brush to modify.
  3. Click Brush Settings, and use the sliders to modify the original brush.
  4. In the Brush pop-up, click the pop-up menu, and then choose Save Brush.
  5. Enter a name in the Brush Name dialog box and click OK.

The new brush is selected in the Tool Options bar, and is added to the bottom of the brushes pop‑up panel.

Delete a brush

  1. From the Draw section in the toolbox, select the Brush tool .
  2. Click the arrow next to the brush sample to display the brushes pop‑up panel in the Tool Options bar.
  3. Do one of the following:
    • Press the Alt key (Option key in Mac OS) to change the pointer to scissors, and then click the brush you want to delete.

    • Select the brush in the pop‑up panel, and choose Delete Brush from the panel menu.

    • Choose Preset Manager from the panel menu, select Brushes from the Preset Type list, select the brush from the list in the dialog box, and click Delete.

Create a custom brush shape from an image

You can create a custom brush by selecting an area in a photo. The brush uses a grayscale version of that selection to apply the foreground color to your image. For example, you could select a leaf and then paint using a fall color. You can also draw a new brush shape using the Brush tool. You can create a custom brush shape either from an entire layer or from a selection. A custom brush shape can be up to 2500 pixels by 2500 pixels in size.

Custom brush of a dog
Creating a custom brush of a dog. When you paint with this brush, you paint on dogs.

  1. Do one of the following:
    • To use part of the image as a custom brush, select part of an image.

    • To use the entire layer as a custom brush, deselect everything.

      Use the painting tools to draw the brush shape and select it. You can use hard-edged or soft-edged strokes, or vary the opacity of strokes to achieve soft-edge effects.

  2. Choose Edit > Brush From Selection.
  3. Name the brush and click OK.

Set up pressure-sensitive tablet support

Photoshop Elements is compatible with most pressure-sensitive digitizing tablets, such as Wacom® tablets. With the software control panel for your tablet installed, you can vary brush tool properties based on the chosen tablet options and the amount of pressure you apply with your stylus.

  1. Select the Brush tool in the toolbox and then set the tablet options in the Tool Options bar that you want to control with pen pressure.

Using Elements Organizer on Wacom tablets

You can now work with Elements Organizer on Wacom tablets.

The mouse mode in Wacom Tablets works seamlessly in the following Wacom tablets: Wacom Intuos3, Intuos 4, Bamboo Fun, and Bamboo Touch.

Switch between mouse and pen mode

  1. Select Start > Wacom Tablet Properties.

  2. Select the mode you want to switch to.

    Wacom tablet preferences
    Wacom tablet preference settings