Learn how to work with brushes and color in Adobe Photoshop.
In this video, we'll go over some basics about Photoshop's CC Brush Style tools. If you're following along, open this image from the downloadable practice files for this tutorial. There are a number of tools, other than just the Brush tool that use Brush Tips. For example, the Clone Stamp tool the Eraser tool the Dodge tool and more. So even if you don't do illustration in Photoshop this video is relevant for you. One thing those tools have in common, is they have a Brush Picker in their Options bar. Where you go to choose the Brush Tip and set its Size and Hardness for the tool. So, let's take a minute to go over what the Brush Pickers offer. Let's select the Brush tool and then let's go up to the Options bar and click on the icon that looks like a Brush Tip. That opens this window called the Brush Picker. In the Brush Picker, you can choose a shape of tool. And there are many to choose from. Everything from a leaf shape, to a grass shape, to a round shape. I'm going to click on one of the Round Shapes here. And - you can vary the Size and the Hardness of the brush. Let's see what a Hard Brush looks like. I'll move into the image and I happen to have a white color swatch selected. You can use any color you like if you're following along. I'm going to click and drag and as you can see, this brush stroke has a really hard edge. Now if I go back to the Brush Picker again and I drag the Hardness slider the other way, towards Soft - and I drag in the image - I get a very different looking effect. A soft-edged brush stroke. You can also change the Size of a brush here in the Brush Picker. In other videos, in this series we introduced the idea that you don't always have to come up to the Brush Picker to change Brush Size. It's often more efficient to change Brush Size as you're working in the image on the fly. If I move into the image and I press the left bracket key which is the key, just to the right of the P-key on most keyboards. Each time I press, my Brush Tip gets smaller, by a set percentage. And then I'll click and drag. And you can see that I have a narrow brush stroke. If I want a larger brush stroke, I'll press the right bracket key. Which is just to the right of the left bracket key on the keyboard. And each time I press, I get a larger brush stroke. So that when I click and drag, I have a very different looking effect. There are a couple other commonly used Brush options to take a look at. One - up here in the Options bar - is Opacity. If I click on the Opacity field and I drag the Opacity slider to the left and then I paint in the image you can see through the paint, to the image below. Next to the Opacity field in the Options bar, is the Blend Mode field. These various Blend Modes control how the colors of the paint that the brush applies interact with colors already in the image. This is similar to Layer Blend modes in the Layers panel. Which we'll cover later in this tutorial series. When you're painting with the Brush tool on a photograph like this there's one Blend Mode you'll find particularly useful and that's the Color blend mode down here. I'm going to select that from the menu. And then I'll go up and I'll change the Opacity back to 100%. And I'm going to select another color in the Swatches panel. But you can use any color you like. Now when I move into the image and I paint as you can see the brush isn't laying down flat paint. Instead - it's applying a color tint to the flower that lets the tonal values of the image show through. And this is very useful for changing the color of objects in photographs. To finish this off I'm going to go up to the File menu and I'm going to choose Revert, which takes the image all the way back to the way it looked at the beginning of this video. Let's select the Quick Selection tool in the Tools panel and then move over the flower and click and drag to quickly select it. Then, go back and get the Brush tool again. Move into the image and press the right bracket key a few times to make your Brush tip big. Then click and drag and you don't have to be careful about where you're painting, because the selection limits the area where the paint is laid down. Finally - press Command + D on the Mac, or Ctrl + D on Windows to deselect. So that's a quick and easy way to change the color of an image in a photograph using the Brush tool and the Color blend mode. So that's a look at some basics about Brush Style tools. Brushes and color, are topics that go hand-in-hand. Next, we'll take a deeper look at choosing and using colors.
What you learned: To use tools that have brush tips
- In the Tools panel, select the Brush tool.
- In the options bar, change the size and hardness of the brush. You can also select a different brush tip to change how the brush strokes look.
- An alternative way to increase brush size is to press the right bracket key several times.
- To decrease brush size, press the left bracket key several times.
Store colors in the Foreground and Background color boxes
There are a number of tools and features in Photoshop that apply color. Everything from the Brush tool, to the Type tool, to the Shape tool, to the Fill... command under the Edit menu and more. The primary color that most of those use is stored down here at the bottom of the Tools panel. In this box, the Foreground Color box. There are a number of different ways to set the foreground color. Which we'll be looking at later in this tutorial. For now, let's use a simple way - the Eyedropper tool. Which is located here in the Tools panel. I'll select that tool and then I'll move into the image and I'll click on a color, like this orange. And that sets the foreground color to orange. So now, if I go to the Brush tool or any other tool that applies color and I use that tool it makes use of that foreground color. There's a Background Color box too. Mine happens to be white, at the moment. That comes into play less often than the foreground color. For example, the background color is used as a secondary color for the Gradient tool. A tool that lets you draw a gradual blend of color from the foreground to the background color. Another use of the background color is just to have another color handy so you can quickly switch to another color when you're doing something like painting. To switch between the foreground and background colors, click the double pointed bent arrow just above the Color boxes. Now I'll go back to the Eyedropper tool and I'll click on another color in the image. And that sets the new foreground color. So now I have red as my foreground color and orange as my background color. As I said, I can quickly switch between these 2 colors either by pressing these double pointed arrows or using the keyboard shortcut X. Black and white are the default colors. If you ever need to get back to those colors quickly press D on your keyboard. And the foreground color is now black and the background color white. So, that's an introduction to where to store and access colors as you're working with the color tools. Stay tuned for the next video where we'll explore alternative ways to choose colors in Photoshop.
What you learned
- The Brush tool, the Shape tools, the Type tool, and other features that apply color use the color in the Foreground Color box at the bottom of the Tools panel.
- There are multiple ways to set the foreground color. You can select the Eyedropper tool and sample a color from the image, or use the Color Picker, Color panel, or Swatches panel.
- Behind the Foreground Color box is a Background Color box, where you can store another color.
- To switch the Foreground and Background color boxes to quickly access either color, click the double-pointed arrow just above the two color boxes or press the X key.
Choose colors using the Color Picker, the Color panel, or the Swatches panel.
Photoshop has a number of different ways to select color. Which we'll take a look at in this video. If you're following along, you can use this image, from the practice files for this tutorial. Or you can use an image of your own. The most full-featured way to select a color is the Color Picker. To open the Color Picker, go down to the Foreground Color box at the bottom of the Tools panel and click there. And the Color Picker opens giving you choices for the foreground color. A good place to start in the Color Picker, is with this slider which by default shows you different hues of color. I'll click and drag this slider to get to the hue I'm interested in. This light blue hue. But hue isn't the only property of color. Saturation and brightness are 2 other properties. And they're represented here, in this large box. So, for example, if I want a dark de-saturated blue I'll come down to the dark area and over to the left for the de-saturated shades of blue. And then I'll click to select a color. Or, if I want a bright, very saturated shade of blue I'll come up here for bright and over to the right, for saturated. The color that I choose, appears in this square in the new area. The bottom of the square represents the last color that was selected. When I have a color I'm happy with I'll click OK. And that color appears in the Foreground Color box at the bottom of the Tools panel. And if I'm working with a tool like the Brush tool, that applies color that's the color that it will use. The Color Picker isn't the only place to go to choose color. We've already seen the Eyedropper tool which you can use to select a color by clicking on it in an image and this is very useful when you need to match a color to the colors already in an image. There are also 2 panels over on the right that you can use to choose color. The Swatches panel and the Color panel. If these aren't open, you can open them from the Window menu at the top of the screen. We've been using the Swatches panel throughout this series of tutorials because they're easy to access. The Swatches panel contains preset chips of color. To set a foreground color all you have to do, is click on one of these chips. And it appears down here, in the Foreground Color box. The color chips that you've used most recently appear here, at the top of the Swatches panel for easy access. I'm going to click on the Color tab to see the Color panel. The Color panel is a lot like the Color Picker. Over on the right, it has a Color slider that you can use to choose a hue. And then it has a large field where you can choose a shade of that hue according to its brightness from top to bottom and its saturation, from right to left. If I select a color here, it appears here in a replica of the Foreground Color box. And, if I go down to the bottom of the Tools panel, I'll find that same color there. And then I can use it, with any of my tools like the Brush tool. So that's an overview of the various places to select colors in Photoshop. You're welcome to use whichever of those methods is most convenient and most comfortable for you. By the way, if you don't want to save this image you're welcome to close it, without saving by going up to the File menu and choosing Close. Or, you can just click the X, here on the Document tab.
What you learned: To use the Color Picker
- Click the Foreground Color box at the bottom of the Tools panel to open the Color Picker.
Option 1: In the Color Picker, drag the vertical slider to choose a hue (color). Then click a spot in the large color box to choose the brightness and saturation of that color.
Option 2: Enter exact color values into the HSB, RGB, CMYK, or Hexadecimal color fields.
Option 3: With the Color Picker open, move your mouse over to your open image. Your cursor will turn into an eyedropper. Click anywhere on the image to sample the color under your cursor.
- Click OK to close the Color Picker. The color you chose appears in the Foreground Color box at the bottom of the Tools panel, ready for use.
To use the Color panel
- If you don’t see the Color panel on your screen, go to the menu bar and choose Window > Color.
- The Color panel acts like a mini Color Picker, in which you can choose a color hue from the slider, and then adjust brightness and saturation in the color box. The color you choose appears in the Foreground Color box in the Tools panel.
- The Color panel doesn’t offer as many options as the Color Picker, but the advantage of this panel is that you can leave it open on your screen for quick access.
To pick a color from preset color swatches in the Swatches panel
- If you don’t see the Swatches panel on your screen, go to the menu bar and choose Window > Swatches.
- Click on a swatch (colored square) in the Swatches panel to change the foreground color to the selected swatch color.