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Adobe Photoshop CS5 : The Fastest Way to Resize Brushes Ever (Plus, You Can Change Their Hardness, Too)

12/6/2011 5:11:32 PM
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In CS4, Adobe added one of those seemingly little things that is actually a really big thing—the ability to resize your brush visually onscreen. I’ve been using the Left and Right Bracket keys to change brush sizes for years, and that works pretty well, but you never get exactly the size you want (because they jump between preset increments), and you never get there fast enough. But now, not only do you finally get the exact size you want really fast—the first time—you can use a slight variation of the technique to change the hardness of your brush, as well. Ahhh, it’s always the little things, isn’t it?


Step One.
When you have a Brush tool selected, just press-and-hold Option-Control (PC: Ctrl-Alt) and then click-and-drag (PC: Right-click-and-drag) to the right or left onscreen. A red brush preview will appear inside your cursor (as seen here)—drag right to increase the brush size preview or left to shrink the size. When you’re done, just release those keys and you’re set. Not only is this the fastest way to resize, it shows you more than just the round brush-size cursor—it includes the feathered edges of the brush, so you see the real size of what you’ll be painting with (see how the feathered edge extends beyond the usual round brush size cursor)?


Tip: Change Your Preview Color

If you want to change the color of your brush preview, go to Photoshop’s Preferences (Command-K [PC: Ctrl-K]), click on Cursors on the left, and in the Brush Preview section, click on the red Color swatch, which brings up a Color Picker where you can choose a new color.


Step Two.
To change the Hardness setting, you do almost the same thing—press-and-hold Option-Control (PC: Ctrl-Alt), but this time, click-and-drag (PC: Right-click-and-drag) down to harden the edges, and up to make them softer (here I dragged down so far that it’s perfectly hard-edged now).


Tip: Turn on Open GL Drawing

If you don’t see the red brush preview, you’ll need check your preferences first. So, go to Photoshop’s preferences (Command-K [PC: Ctrl-K]), and click on Performance on the left side. In the GPU Settings section near the bottom right, turn on the Enable OpenGL Drawing checkbox, then restart Photoshop.


 
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