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3.2 Pressure-Sensitive Brushes

The tablet can detect over 2,000 levels of pressure, but that is completely useless if Photoshop isn’t set to recognize them. In this lesson we talk about how to set the brushes in Photoshop to react to pressure, and what brush properties can be controlled this way.

3.2 Pressure-Sensitive Brushes

Hello everybody. Welcome back to using to using the Wacom Tablet with Photoshop. My name is Kirk Nelson, and this is Lesson 3.2 where we explore how to set up the brushes for pressure sensitivity. Before we begin, I wanna talk a little bit about why pressure sensitivity is important in Photoshop. Now, it's true even if Photoshop did not respond at all to the pressure sensitivity of the tablet,. It would be a little bit better than trying to draw with a mouse, simply because holding the stylus feels like a more natural drawing implement than the mouse does. But, even with that, it wouldn't really be that much of an advantage. It's the pressure sensitivity that provides the most benefit to a Photoshop user when using a graphics tablet and let me show you why. The regular brushes in Photoshop with no pressure sensitivity, just look like the smearing of almost a marker. So no matter how hard or light you press with the stylus, the mark is still the same. But if we set the brush properties to be sensitive to the pressure to control the size of the brush, things start looking a little bit different. The lighter we press, the smaller the brush becomes, within its set range. And the harder we press, the larger it becomes. Now that's already helpful, and feels a little bit more natural, more like an actual writing or drawing implement. We can also set up the brush to respond to the pressure sensitivity with opacity of the brush. Which means the lighter we press, the lighter the stroke. The harder, the more dense or opaque it is. And of course it not an either or situation. You can set it up for both. So Photoshop reads the pressure of the tablet. Interprets that for both the size, and opacity of the brush. So, light strokes create very small and faint paint strokes, where heavy strokes are larger and darker. So, let's begin with talking about how to get Photoshop to recognize the pressure sensitivity of the tablet. So if we start with just a regular brush, you may expect it to automatically figure it out, but it doesn't. As you start stroking, you can see that it's just a regular looking brush as if we'd done this with the mouse. Well the first and easiest method of getting it to change that, is with this icon up here in the options bar. It sets the pressure sensitivity to respond to the size. So that looks a little bit better and the one over here to the left sets the opacity. [BLANK_AUDIO] And of course with them both checked, you end up getting. That brush that we talked about before, where the harder you push, the larger and darker the brush stroke is. And then you can use whichever combination of them you wish to use. But now let's dig a little bit further into how to control those properties. To do that, we're going to need the brush preset panel, first of all. That's this brush icon here that these two brushes pointing in opposite directions. Or, you can find out through the window menu, brush presets. Now, all the way tat the top of your brush preset list, there will be a number of brushes that already have pressure sensitivity built into them. If you look under the first two presets, which is soft round and hard round, you'll see Soft Round Pressure Size, Hard Round Pressure Size. Essentially, selecting the Hard Round Pressure Size. [BLANK_AUDIO] Is the same as if we had just engaged both the top buttons in the Options bar. Now, directly underneath those presets are additional ones. Like the hard round pressure opacity. This should look familiar. It's just as if we engaged one of those top icons. Let's talk about how to get even more control and have Photoshop set this brush up to do exactly what we want it to do. To do that, we need the actual brush panel. Again, that's that little icon here that looks like a set of brushes sitting in a little tin. Or you can find it through the window menu for brush. You can see the keyboard shortcut for that is F5. So we'll begin with just a regular hard brush. Let's go to the, the preset of the standard hard round. And we'll start with everything turned off in our brush properties. All except for the smoothing, which is on by default. You don't really ever have to worry about unchecking that. It doesn't make that big of a difference. The first thing I want to talk about is the shape dynamics. If we engage that, our properties change over here. We get what's known as a size jitter slider bar. Now this setting controls how large the actual tip of the brush is. And on the control dropdown, we set that to pen pressure. And you can see in the little preview here. This is what gives it the ability to interpret the pressure into size. Now, when using a brush like this you may find that it's really annoying when you're trying to do very light strokes that you get some very tiny brush strokes. Or maybe the hardest pressure isn't quite large enough for what you're trying to do. So you have to use these settings to set those ranges. Now, the upper end range is actually set in the brush tip shape. So that's the size here. I have it set here to 30 pixels. As we increase that, let's say we put it all the way up to 90. Now this becomes the larger range of what the brush will be. Back in Shape Dynamics, minimum diameter is now a percentage of that larger size setting. So if we set that up to 30%, the smallest diameter will be roughly one-third of this size we set here, which would then be 30 pixels. So you see, that's the smallest one going into the largest. Now notice it doesn't look like a very smooth brush stroke here. That's because the spacing is set up pretty high. If we want to smooth that out some, we would have to reduce the spacing a little bit. So it actually puts those strokes closer together. [BLANK_AUDIO] So next let's discuss how to get the tablet pressure to control the opacity of the brush. The way that is done is actually through this transfer property. I know that's not the most intuitive way to find it, but that's exactly where it is built in. Now, as we move this to transfer, you can see we have two settings here, opacity and flow. Both of these are set to pen pressure, and that certainly will work exactly how we expect it to. Now, the difference between these. Are something that's somewhat difficult to understand. If we turn off the flow, and we just have it as an opacity setting, the pressure controls how opaque, or less transparent the brush is. But if we turn the flow setting to pen pressure, and not the opacity. Turn that off. It looks somewhat similar, but not really. Because what's happening is the flow's controlling how quickly the paint builds up from each stroke. And it does tend to build up quickly. Now, this flow setting has to work inside of the opacity setting. So the opacity of the paint that comes out of your brush will only go to whatever the opacity setting is and the flow setting controls how quickly it gets there. That seems like a very strange distinction and somewhat difficult to wrap your head around but that's fine, if you just keep this set to both of them. It pretty much works the way you would expect it to. And if you find the behaviors a little bit erratic or unexpected, and you want to disable one of them, choose the flow. Set the flow to off and just use the opacity setting. The last brush property that I want to show you that responds to pen pressure is the scattering. Now scattering talks about how the position of each tip of the brush stroke is randomized according to where the actual cursor is. So if you've never actually used this before, you increase the scatter amount, and you can check one or both axes. That just controls whether it's going to scatter it along the brush stroke, or perpendicular to it. As you try to stroke, you can see it scatters the brush tips. So, if we have that control,. Set the Pen Pressure, the harder you push, the more it scatters. It is really that simple. Okay, so let's say we have our brush set up exactly how we like it, that we have the Opacity, set the Pen Pressure. We can put our flow at pen pressure as well. We've got our shape dynamic set up, with the minimum diameter how we really like it. We've got the size exactly how we like it, and it just becomes this really nice brush that we like to draw with. As soon as you change to another brush, you're going to lose these settings and it's going to be infuriating. So what you're going to want to do is actually go over here to the tool presets, and select a new tool preset just for your brush. And then name this as a brush that's easy to remember. I'm just going to call it PressureBrush for now, and then going to let it include the color too. So that means even if I select a. Different brush later on. Let's say we switch to the chalk brush. Now we're doing wonderful things with the chalk brush and when I wanna go back to my drawing brush I can always get to it through the tool preset and there it is again. It's a very handy feature in Photoshop. [BLANK_AUDIO] So now that we know how to set up the Photoshop brushes to use the pressure sensitivity of our tablet, it's time to start drawing with them. And that's our next lesson. I'll go over some great tips and some application of how to use these brushes to the fullest potential.

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