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How to set the size / diameter of Photoshop brushes tutorial

how to set size of Photoshop brush

How to set the size / diameter of brushes in Photoshop CC 2017 2015 etc tutorial. The brush size / diameter can be reduced to 1px and up to 5000px. The brush diameter can be set via the brush preset picker. You can set the brush diameter / size by the size slider as well as via the edit field (more accurate). You can set the size / diameter of the Photoshop brushes via the brush panel and also the brushes panel. You can also re-size the brush size / diameter by holding down the ctrl + alt / option keys. Go left to decrease the size of the brush. Go right to increase the size of brush. You can increase the size of the brush stroke beyond the original size, though the quality will deteriorate (you can always add some effects to help such as adding grain etc)

  1. Select a brush tool / clone / art history etc in the Photoshop toolbar

  2. Go to the top bar and open / expand the brushes panel

  3. Select brush

  4. Use the slider to change the size / diameter of the brush

  5. OR go to the brush size field and enter a value

  6. Click the little button on the right to save as a new brush preset

Brush size / diameter

You can use the brush tool and presets in many different ways. The tools in the toolbar such as the brush tool or clone tool etc can be set to 50 x 50 for very subtle artwork or fine lines but you can also use any of the presets to 1000 x 1000 and beyond to create all kinds of textured effects / big sale changes to any image. You can extend the strokes well beyond their defined size but there are limits and the results will become fairly coarse the greater you go.


For Some of the tools, it probably hardly matters, but with some you will notice the coarseness of the results.


Setting the Photoshop brush size

brush size for Photoshop tutorial setting

You can set the size via the preset picker.


  1. Select a brush tool / clone tool / dodge tool etc in toolbar

  2. Go to the top toolbar

  3. Open / expand the brush preset picker / dropdown

  4. Go to the edit field marked "size"

  5. Edit the value by entering 200px or 500px etc into the edit field.


I always find that the easiest and the most accurate way of entering the size.


If you use the slider then the value jumps quite a lot from 201px to 220px etc and it is even worse with the larger sizes of stroke (it jumps from 1760px to 2120px etc). If you are focused on the edit field then you can also use the up and down arrows on the keyboard to go up and down to set the size of the diameter of the primary stroke / dab.


There is a little restore button at the side of the edit field so you can restore the size to the original setting in a second if it goes too high. It is the same value as the value displayed in the panel beside the dab preset thumbnail. You can set the size of the thumbnail to be large etc but this does not modify the actual size of the original defined stroke.


If you try and set the size to greater than 5000px then the app will display an error message (one thing PS does love, showing endless error messages !)

Set size of brush via brush panel

brush panel and size
  1. Go to the window menu

  2. Brush

  3. Go to the brush panel

  4. Go to the size / diameter field

You can also use the brushes panel to change the size / diameter of the brush



Drag to size Photoshop brushes

brush size for Photoshop tutorial setting

You can also set the size in other ways such as holding down the option and ctrl key and drag on your mac (different on the pc with ctrl and alt) and drag left to right etc to increase and decrease the size.


You can also use the [ and ] keys to do the re-size but it jumps 100px to 200px etc which in many cases is not very useful and it would be good if there was a preference for the brush incremental size say 10px or 20px and not 100px etc


  1. Go to a brush tool

  2. Hold down the alt / option key and ctrl

  3. Drag left to decrease the diameter / size of the brush

  4. Drag right to increase the diameter / size of the brush

  5. Go up and down to change the hardness of the brush stroke (or opacity depending on the brush)

Brush Size limits for Photoshop

brush size small in Photoshop setting

The latest brushes size limit for CC is 5000 x 5000. If you try and create a stroke larger than that, you will see the define brush command disabled.


The size depends on the version for Photoshop and with the earlier versions, the limit was a lot lower.


Not sure why it has been set to 5000 as I am certain many users would love to use strokes of 10000 and beyond now (not sure how well that would go on my machine though).


The size limit the other way, well when you get down to 1px then you would think that most of the strokes would be the same but a 1px stroke with a long thin preset is very different to the a very singular square preset.


Photoshop brushes greater than the defined size

large brush stroke scaling size photoshop

You can generally set the size of the Photoshop brush to the maximum 5000 x 5000 even if the original is 500 x 500. Some dabs work better than others in Adobe ® Photoshop ® when you scale them. If I decide to use a small brush stroke at a much larger size then I generally take the original source stroke and scale that up and add an effect (such as blur or poster edge effect or add noise or clumped grain - I am certain everyone has their own favourite ways of scaling though there are also many third party plugin tools that can be used to scale an image) and then re-define the stroke and use that instead of the original.


The brush on the right was originally 400px and scaled to five times the original and then grain was added via the filter gallery (clumped option) to make the cow look a little more pleasing as a stroke.


Some brushes work better with different techniques. Actually the best technique is probably to keep the original source material as a vector and then you can import the vector EPS files as 5000 x 5000 and then define those as a stroke.


Or you can always add the powerful oil filter to result to smear the result so any imperfections can hardly be seen.


You don't have to use it just once, you can use it multiple times and perhaps combine with the fade to add the oil effect using blending modes as well

Other resources

1. bee and insect brushes for Photoshop and psp etc

2. binary code and number brushes

3. border / corner / edge brushes

4. checks / checkerboard brushes for Illustrator, PSP, Pages, Photoshop etc

Other tutorials

1. how to use Photoshop brushes to make cool custom shapes tutorial

2. how to use Adobe Photoshop brushes on layers

3. how to load / install Photoshop brushes into the application via a variety of methods tutorial

Sources and references

1. Brush presets for Photoshop on

Youtube Video tutorial

You can find more about this via our video tutorial on the subject of the strokes and the sizing via the square brackets / up and down arrows etc as well as ctrl and option [Youtube] PS tool sizing video