What is a brush in Photoshop, and how does it really work? Essentially there are two types of brushes you can choose from in Photoshop. One is based on a simple circular shape, and we can distort the shape in a few ways. This is a simple circular brush, and you can see that what I can do, of course, is squeeze it down so it's no longer round but some sort of oval. And we can also change the angle of this brush. With these types of brushes, I can also increase or decrease the hardness of this brush. So with a hardness value set very low I get a very soft edge effect as you can see in the brush stroke preview at the bottom of my brushes palette. If I increase this value, I get a harder edged effect. I'll go ahead and choose a color here and make a few marks so you can see the difference. Another option I have with these types of brushes is controlling how often a brush dab is spaced. And I do that by changing the value for spacing. So at 25% I get a very solid looking line, but if I increase the spacing value you can begin to see space in between the brush tabs. This value is a % of my brush diameter size. So in this case, the spacing is now about 21 pixels apart from each brush dab. And we could of course increase that more so that there is a large space in between each brush dab. A lower spacing value will create a very solid looking mark. That's one kind of brush. We can apply these similar controls to a different type of brush, and that would be a captured brush. These other brushes such as this leaf here is actually a graphic image that was captured and turned into a brush. And if I turn my opacity slider down, you can see that effect. Well of course we can create our own custom brushes by capturing our own shapes. Now it's important to remember as I mentioned earlier that a brush is essentially a type of mask. So whatever area of your brush is black will get 100% of the effect, in this case 100% of the color going through. And whatever area has a gray value will get that % of the effect. So my soft circular area here is filled with 50% gray. So if I begin painting with my captured brush, the black area will transmit 100% of the effect, and the gray area will only transmit 50% of the effect. So I'm going to go ahead and capture this brush by using the rectangular marquee tool. I'm going to hold down my shift key and just drag over this area, and with that selected, go to edit menu>define brush. And that's fine, I'll just leave it at that name. Deselect and go back to my brush tool here, and scroll down till I find my captured brush, and here it is. And now notice if I begin painting, I'll go ahead and paint with a fairly dark color. I'm going to increase my opacity to a 100%. Notice how the brush stroke preview is being updated. So I can see that when I begin to use color certain areas will only get a lower % of the effect, in this case my paint dabs. So that's how you can create your own brush, and understand how this effect is going to work. Of course it's important to remember that wherever a brush shape is black gets 100% of the effect, and wherever it's some value of gray gets that % of gray effect.
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