PHOTOSHOP Features: Drag Brush Resizing

By Gary Small a.k.a. Photoshopman

Have you ever stopped to think how many ways you can resize your brushes when you use the painting tools (Paintbrush, Healing Brush, Clone Stamp, Eraser, and History Brush) in Adobe Photoshop?

  • You can go to the Options bar and click on the little drop down arrow and move the slider to resize.
  • Or you could go to the Brushes Panel, where there are many options for modifying your brushes.

Up through Photoshop CS3, my favorite trick for brush resizing had been the keyboard shortcut using the left and right bracket keys, [ and ]…where the left bracket key makes the brush smaller and the right bracket key makes the brush bigger. In addition to that, you could also change the brush hardness (or softness) by holding the Shift key with the bracket keys… Shift + left bracket key to make the brush softer and Shift + right bracket key to make the brush harder.

Then along comes Photoshop CS4, and with it, a whole new and comprehensive method for quickly and easily resizing your brushes.

  • Give this a try: On the Mac, hold down the Control and Option keys, then drag the mouse to the right to increase the diameter of the brush or to the left to decrease the diameter of the brush. In Windows, hold the Alt key and the right mouse button down and drag left to decrease and right to increase diameter of the brush.

You can also use drag resizing to change the hardness or softness of your brushes. On the Mac, hold the Control, Option and Command keys down and drag the mouse to the right to get a harder edge and to the left for a softer edged brush. In Windows, hold down the Alt and Shift keys while holding the right mouse button down and drag the mouse as above.

As someone who does a lot of retouching, this has just become my favorite shortcut in Photoshop.

  • Now let’s take this idea a step further. If you use a tablet, like the Wacom Intuous 4, you’ll really appreciate this method of brush resizing. I don’t know about you, but when I’m using a tablet and I have the stylus positioned over the area I want to retouch, the last thing I want to do is lift my pen up and move away to go over to a menu or keyboard to resize the brush to fit what I’m doing. What I did with my pen and tablet is as follows: The Wacom Intuous pens have 2 side buttons. I programmed one of them to be a right mouse click (yes I use Windows!). So now while I’m retouching, I just hover my pen over the area I’m working at, hold down the Alt key on my keyboard, and at the same time, hold the programmed side button on my pen and, while hovering (not pressing the pen onto the tablet) I move the pen to the right to make the brush bigger or to the left to make it smaller, same as rolling the mouse. It works great and is very convenient. You would be amazed at how this one simple shortcut has sped up my retouching and increased my productivity.

Look for regular contributions by Gary Small a.k.a. Photoshopman to the PictureSoup blog. Gary is a Professional Photographer, Photoshop Guru and master of color management.


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Comments

  1. JimmyBean says:

    I don’t know If I said it already but …This blog rocks! I gotta say, that I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks, :)

    A definite great read..Jim Bean

  2. BloggerDude says:

    I don’t know If I said it already but …Hey good stuff…keep up the good work! :) I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks,)

    A definite great read….

  3. Anna says:

    Wow! So glad I found this blog!! I had an argument with an instructor the other day on Painter’s ability to resize brushes with this drag option (so much more convenient than the bracket keys in photoshop) so I had to set out to see if CS4 didn’t also have such an option. Not only did your blog completely prove me *right* (haha), but it is very informative and a solid read-through! Love it, thanks again for the info!!

  4. Discoking says:

    Great Blog!……There’s always something here to make me laugh…Keep doing what ya do :)

  5. emt training says:

    What a great resource!

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