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Learn Photography

Photoshop Elements >

Brushes > 1- Basics

Select a Brush

1) Select the Brush tool.


2) Locate the Brush Picker on the left end of options bar/Tool Options.

3) Click the black arrow to the right of the Brush Picker, to open the Brush Picker window.

4) Click and hold on the bottom-right corner of the window, and drag it down and to the right.

5) You're looking at the Default Brushes.

In the first rows, you'll see the hard and soft brushes.

These are the brushes you'll use most of the time.

There are hundreds of other brushes.

6) Look for the Brushes menu in the upper-right corner of the Brush Picker window.

7) Click the black arrow to the right of the Brush box, to see the many brush libraries.

Brush libraries are also called brush sets or brush presets.

8) To close the Brush Picker window, click the tiny x in the upper-right corner.

Brush Picker Window Shortcut

With the cursor over your photograph, right click to open up the Brush Picker window.

Brush Cursor

The brush appears as a circle or a shape on your screen.

Can't See the Brush Cursor?

You may not be able to see the brush cursor for two reasons.

Reason #1 - Small Brush

The brush may be small.

To locate the cursor of a small brush, do the following.

1) Press and hold the space bar.

2) The cursor will change into a hand icon, which is easily seen.

3) Release the space bar.

Reason #2 - Caps Lock

You may have inadvertently pressed Caps Lock.

When Caps Lock is depressed, the brush cursor is a cross hairs.

More about Missing Brushes

Go to Brush Tool Is Missing.

How to Use a Brush

To use a brush, position it on the photograph, and click.

You can also click and hold, and drag the brush.

Change the Size of the Brush

You can change the size of the brush in the Size box in the option bar.

The disadvantage of the above method is that you can't see the brush change size.

A better way is to press the bracket keys.

As you do so, you can see what you're doing.

[ = Smaller

] = Bigger


Feathering, also know as hardness, is the softening of the edge of the brush.

Go to Feathered Brush.


The opacity setting, in options bar/Tool Options, changes how much will show through from under the brush.

A brush set at an opacity of 100% will cover all of the pixels below the brush with one pass.

A low setting is good when you're blending one area into another.

You can do one pass along the edge of the transition, two passes further back, and so forth.

Painting in Straight Paths

If you need to brush in a straight path, such as along an object, position the brush at the starting point, and click.

Move the brush to the endpoint, press and hold Shift, and click the brush.

The brush will trace a path between the two points.

Next, let's learn how to protect the Brushes folder.