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Chapter Fifteen. Painting > Painting Tools

Painting Tools

Q1:Why can't I find the Airbrush? Okay, so I am blind. My old version of Photoshop had an Airbrush—where did it go?

A1: The Airbrush is no longer a separate tool, but is a toggle option for the Brush tool (formerly known as the Paintbrush). With the Brush tool (B) as your active tool, go to the Options Bar and click on the Airbrush button to “enable Airbrush capabilities.” The even better news is that these Airbrush capabilities can be added to a variety of tools, such as the Blur, Dodge, and Burn tools and more.
Q2:Why can't I see anything other than a crosshair with my painting tools?
A2: Check your Caps Lock key—if it's on, all cursors switch to the crosshairs (known as the “precise cursor”). Also, it could simply be a matter of using too small of a brush for the resolution of your image; that is, on a high-res file, a small brush will be “too small” to display, so all you'll see is the precise cursor.
Q3:Is there a quick way to change the Opacity of the Brush tool?
A3: With the Brush tool (B) selected, simply press the first number of the Opacity setting you want—1 for 10%, 2 for 20%, etc. Or, type the number—25 for 25%, 77 for 77%, etc. You do not have to click in the Options Bar first. (Press 0 to reset to 100%.)
Q4:I always press a number to change the Opacity of my Brush tool, but it suddenly doesn't work. Why is that?
A4: It's probably not working because the Airbrush capabilities are enabled. In other words, the Airbrush button in the Options Bar is gray, indicating that it is “on.” So, you have to either turn off the Airbrush option or change your shortcut slightly. If you decide to keep the Airbrush option on, you'll have to add the Shift key into your usual Opacity shortcut. For example, press Shift-5 for 50%. Pressing 5 will change the Flow percentage. Once the Airbrush option is off, the shortcuts reverse—use the Shift key and a number to change the Flow amount.
Q5:Why can't I find Wet Edges? I used to use the Wet Edges option for the Paintbrush (now the Brush tool), but it seems to have disappeared. Is it no longer an option?
A5: It is still an option, but is part of the Brushes palette as opposed to the Options Bar. Click on the Brushes palette in the Palette Well and you'll see many options for brushes (including Wet Edges and many more).
Q6:Is it possible to paint a straight line with the Brush tool (even with Airbrush turned on)?
A6: Yes. Rather than clicking-and-dragging, click once where you'd like the line to start, then hold down Shift, and click where you want the line to end. Keep clicking with the Shift key to paint straight lines.
Q7:Why can't I get my Brush tool to work on the Background? I have chosen a color, but when I try to paint on my Background layer, nothing happens. What am I missing?
A7: If you were on another layer, there could be a number of issues (like you can't see paint because you have the wrong layer selected). Of course, first make sure that you have clicked on the Background layer (and that other layers are not “covering” the area on the Background layer where you're trying to paint). Because you are working on the Background layer, you'll need to check two things:
  1. Do you have a small selection somewhere? If anything is selected, you cannot paint anywhere else except in that selection. Press Command-D (PC: Control-D) to be sure.

  2. Check the Options Bar for the Brush tool (B). If the blending mode is something other than Normal, it is possible that you won't see any effect. This is due to the combination of the color you've chosen and the color on which you are trying to paint— occasionally there is no visible effect with some blending modes.

Q8:Why can't I paint on a layer? It seems like my Brush tool isn't working. What gives?
A8: If you're getting the “no” symbol for your cursor, it indicates that: you're trying to paint on a Type layer (you can't); the targeted layer is hidden (turn on the Eye icon); or you have more than one layer selected (make sure you only have one layer targeted in the Layers palette). If you're not seeing the “no” symbol but still aren't getting results from the Brush tool (B), check to see if the Fill is at 0% in the Options Bar (it needs to be a higher percentage to be visible); if you have a selection somewhere; or if you're painting on a layer that's “covered” by another layer.
Q9:Is it possible to fade a brush stroke after it's painted?

A9: Use the Fade command from the Edit menu (it'll show Fade Brush Tool as its option). You can only use this option immediately after using the Brush tool. If you've painted on a separate layer, you can change the Opacity of that layer (this method is better for long-term flexibility).
Q10:How do I add a thin line around an entire photo? I'd like to add a thin stroke of color around the edges of my photo. What's the easiest way?
A10: Well, there's an easy way and a slightly more flexible way. The quick and easy way is to go to Select>All, choose your color in the Foreground color swatch, and then from the Edit menu choose Stroke. One extra step for more flexibility would be to click on the Create a New Layer icon in the Layers palette before using the Stroke command. That puts the outline on a new separate layer, should you want to edit the stroke later.
Q11:How do I add a thin line around an object on a layer? I have placed a small photo on a layer and would like to paint a line around the photo. What are my options?
A11: Your best bet is probably to add a layer style called Stroke. Click on the Add a Layer Style pop-up menu at the bottom of the Layers palette, and then choose the color and thickness of the stroke in the Layer Style dialog. This method offers a great advantage—if you change the size (or shape) of the item on the layer, the stroke will automatically change too.
Q12:Why doesn't the Paint Bucket fill an entire selection? I am trying to use the Bucket to fill a selection, but it doesn't fill the entire area. Why not?
A12: The Paint Bucket tool (nested with the Gradient tool in the Toolbox) relies on a setting called Tolerance to determine what areas it fills. In other words, it does not simply fill a selection, but looks at the pixels within the selection (much like the Magic Wand). A low Tolerance setting means only colors that are very similar in shade will be filled, while a higher Tolerance means a wider range of colors will be filled. As a result of this Tolerance setting, sometimes it is easier to fill a selected area using the Fill command (Edit>Fill).



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