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How to use the Photoshop brush tools in Toolbar tutorial

how to use photoshop brush tools in toolbar

How to use Photoshop brushes and the brush tools found in the toolbar such as brush tool etc tutorial

  1. Goto the Photoshop toolbar

  2. Select a brush tool such as mixer brush tool

  3. Go to the brush panel found via the window menu in Photoshop

The strokes supplied on this site (as well as ones available on the web as well as supplied with Photoshop) can be used in most of the tools in Adobe ® Photoshop ® and Photoshop ® Elements toolbar, such as with the dodge tool / blur tool / smear tool / clone tool / Photoshop brush tool / art history tool and more. You can use them straight out of the tin by selecting the size as well as color (in some cases). The presets also can be modified in many additional ways via the brushes panel which gives a fairly huge range of different settings such as tip shape, shape dynamics, scattering, texture, dual, color dynamics etc.


Many of the tools will have some of the settings disabled though it is often baffling to why, the color dynamics for the brushes really could be of use to the blur as well as the paint tools (perhaps they will be changed at some point ?)


The range of brush settings in Adobe Photoshop is decent but some applications such as Affinity Photo / Painter have many additional features (with Painter, it has become very complex of later with many new features such as Audio being added to the strokes).

Dabs and Photoshop brush tools and options such as size and hardness and blending mode and opacity etc

photoshop brush tool options

Some of the Photoshop brush tools work better than others with the supplied artworks / images / dabs. I have struggled with some of the tools such as the blur tool which hardly registers much of a blur effect without a lot of re-applies. The brush tools are still useful for localized applications of a particular effect though (always surprised no one has added an effect brush such as applying filters - but I guess the art history and history is the closest to that).


You can modify the size quickly via the option section as well as changing the color of the stroke via the toolbar foreground. You can add them using opacity at 100% or 50% etc and you can use the main panel to set the opacity to a random setting via the transfer section which can be just random or modified to fade or be modified by pen pressure as well as tilt and stylus wheel.


You can also modify the added strokes by using different blending modes such as dissolve, behind, clear, darken, multiply, color burn, overlay, difference, exclusion etc and these all depend on the underlying image as well as the current color of the stroke.


There are many other types of stroke such as the mixer tool but these do not use the dabs supplied by this site. If you select the blur tool then the dab selected will be different from the dab used by the brush tool, though you can quickly re-select the same dab by going to the panel and selecting the same one, this has been made a little easier with the latest version as you can see the last used dab along the top line (along with 10 or so other dabs). It would be great if there was a link option to link the tools to the same selected item but that is not available.

Color splatter tool effect using the tool preset picker and the brush tools and brush strokes

color and photoshop brush tools

To the right side you can see the presets list such as different splatter drops and brush stroke. You can create a whole range of instant tools to be used in seconds (though to be fair to some applications such as PaintStorm Studio and Clip Studio Paint has an even more amazing selection. The list (on the right) also includes only the current tool (if not set, the list perhaps becomes a little less manageable). You can still, of course, modify the brush tools even more


You can see a color splatter tool saved as a preset using color dynamics and opacity etc. such as an example on the left. Create the tool

  1. Select the brush

  2. Use one of the default brushes and set size 194px

  3. Hardness 0%

  4. Set blending mode to normal (or threshold if available)

  5. Set color to pink and background to orange

  6. Go to the brushes panel - spacing 25% and shape dynamics with size jitter 62% and minimum diameter 5% and scattering 430% and color dynamics set to apply per tip and foreground / background 35% and hue jitter 50% and purity 0% and transfer opacity jitter 80% and build up and smoothing ON.

Go to the presets for the brushes in the corner and current tool only ON and settings and new tool preset and set include color ON and the preset is then stored for use in Photoshop. To reselect it, go to the brush tool in Photoshop


All the presets are quickly available and can be selected and applied. The brush strokes can then be further manipulated using other effects such as oil paint.


Or create a preset using the blending mode of 'difference' and then combined with oil paint filter effect. Great for creating weird and wonderful abstract backgrounds. See an example on the right

Hidden tools

tools and toolbar in Photoshop with all the tools

If you are using an earlier version of Photoshop then many of the tools are hidden beneath others so the mixer tool is not instantly displayed unless you expand out the tool set.


With the latest version of Photoshop, you can re-arrange the toolbar (or toolbox) in many different ways to have to paint tools more visible or perhaps the clone tool available all the time or perhaps the pattern stamp tool etc.


You can change the toolbar via the edit menu and toolbar

Photoshop Toolbar

blur and smudge tool for the brushes

The tools in the toolbar are


Spot healing tool *

Healing tool *

Patch tool *

Content aware move tool *

Red eye tool *

Brush tool

Pencil tool

Color replacement tool

Mixer tool

Clone stamp tool

Pattern stamp tool

History brush tool

Art history brush tool

Eraser tool

Background eraser tool *

Magic eraser tool *

Blur tool

Sharpen tool

Smudge tool

Dodge tool

Burn tool

Sponge tool


Note that some of the dabs cannot be used with the brush tools - they are marked with a *

Other tutorials

1. how to use the brushes as a layer in Photoshop tutorial

2. how to export the brushes to other apps such as for use in PaintShop Pro

Other resources

1. star brushes and starry brush strokes

Video tutorial

Creating a tool preset for the brushes [Youtube]