How to use the art history brush tool in Photoshop tutorial

Learn how to use the art history brush tool in Photoshop CC 2018 2017 2015 CS6 etc - use to create sketches, etc in seconds

Art history tool in Photoshop

How to use the art history brush tool in Photoshop tutorial
  1. Open a document (for the Photoshop art history brush tool to modify) and apply effects etc

  2. Goto the history panel (window menu and history)

  3. Select a history state (left side icon) from one of the applied effects or a snapshot

  4. Select the art history brush tool in the toolbox (normally beneath the history tool)

  5. Select a style such as tight medium for the art history tool as well as tolerance and area

  6. Select a stroke preset and size for the tool and apply

Video tutorial on the subject by (youtube)


Settings for the tool : You can also modify a number of the settings for the art history brush tool such as




blending mode


preset etc


Buy Price :$6.49 US Dollars 10,000 Strokes, all can be used with the AH tool in ABR format gallery


Brush and size : sizeThe actual dab / tip used (such as thin line or circular design or star etc). Changing the size can make a massive difference. Large sizes can fill the screen with 100s of rapidly changing dabs / tips.


If you use a small size, often the result is more like a lovely thin sketchy line across the image


AH style : looseYou can set it to as tight short, tight medium, loose curl, loose long etc (they all have their uses and can be used to create amazing designs)


My favorite has to be the loose long but dab is OK.


Blending mode for the tool : blendsYou can set the blending mode to









Opacity for the tool (great for more painterly effects). It should be noted that many of the blending modes are not available for use with the tool but to get around that you can always create the artwork on layers and use the blends for the layers


The one on the right is using the luminosity blending mode - the result black and white and grays


Painting features : toleranceArea to be used with the painting - increase this to the max to make far more complex strokes (though it does slow things down)


Painting tolerance (they can be used to produce interesting variant effects) - adds some resistance to the application of the strokes so the higher it goes the less paint is applied and areas of no paint will appear


Brush settings : textureGo to the window menu and brush settings to change the color dynamics, shape dynamics, opacity, spacing, noise, texture etc (sadly some of the other settings are not available and you will see them disabled such as the scattering).


The color dynamics in particular are very useful. Texture also adds some variance to the strokes and is more useful considering that the dual option is not available (oddly)


The image on the right uses the texture from a pattern to break up the lines


Sources for the tool : placeYou can use any history state as a source for the tool

Create gradients and use those as a source


Other images


Apply blurs to an image and use those

Use patterns etc

Use other brush strokes

Use other effects

Use adjustments and then capture that state as a source for the tool

and many more


As you can see, you can generate a lot of designs with this tool


Select state in panel : The key thing is to select a state in the history panel. You can select that or a snapshot via the panel.


The ultimate snapshot being the initial open document so you can use that snapshot as the required state (place the little icon on the left side of the entry) and create all kinds of abstract / impressionistic from any image in seconds by selecting a stroke from the presets panel as well as a style for the tool (my favorite being loose long)


Example use of the tool : tangleA favorite of mine to use the tool applied to a solid black background or white background. You can use the original image as the state.


You can set the tool to loose long style and set the size to quite small. Apply the tool multiple times to fill the artwork with thin long lines of color based on the original image.


If you change the color dynamics of the tool via the settings to a large hue and saturation jitter than you can fill the image with some intense colorful long lines loosely showing the image.


Dab style : dabThe easiest to use style is probably the dab. You can simply apply the dab to the image and the result is fairly localized. If you use the other tools such as loose long style, you will probably find the paint generated extends across the image in very random ways (depending on the settings of size and the brush used and spacing etc)


The dab style is like using a spray gun as it scattershots particles of paint across the image and adds whatever source it is currently using (it is a pity the tool has not multiple levels of sources feature)


Explore different brush tips : sketchedThe AH works well with the default strokes but I would definitely recommend that you explore other strokes / tips etc (such as the ones on the graphicxtras site) as the AH results from a thin tangled stroke is very different from that of a standard general stroke.


All kinds of tips for the AH can be created and will result in totally different impressionistic effects. Changing the size as well as the squeeze for a tip will also result in a very different AH stroke with loose long style etc


Saving the work as a new preset : presetsYou can bundle all the settings (the tip, the style, area, blending mode, opacity, spacing, color dynamics, etc) into preset and save it as a TPL file via the far left side presets for the tools.


The TPL means that as soon as you select that preset, the AH will be selected in the toolbox and the settings will be restored as before and you can apply your AH in seconds (it does not record the state etc so you will still have to select a snapshot or state from the panel).


With the latest version of PS, the same can be done via the standard ABR presets.


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