Painting with Adobe Photoshop


Paint and manage color from any image is an important task when using graphic design tools such as Adobe Photoshop. Considering this, Adobe Photoshop provides several tools for painting and editing image color. The BRUSH TOOL (B) and the PENCIL TOOL (B) work like a traditional drawing tool applying color with brush strokes. Tools like the ERASER TOOL (E), BLUR TOOL, and SMUDGE TOOL modify the existing colors in the image. In the options bar for each of these painting tools, you can set how color is applied to an image and choose from preset brush tips.

Painting tools change the color of pixels in an image. The BRUSH TOOL (B) and the PENCIL TOOL (B) work like traditional drawing tools by applying color with brush strokes. The Gradient tool, Fill command, and Paint Bucket tool apply color to large areas. Tools like the Eraser tool, Blur tool, and Smudge tool modify the existing colors in an image.

The key of painting in Adobe Photoshop lays in the options that you can set to specify how a tool applies or modifies color. You can apply color gradually, with soft edges, with large brush strokes, with various brush dynamics, with different blending properties, and with brushes of different shapes. You can even simulate spraying paint with an airbrush.

Brush and tool presets. You can save a set of brush options as a preset so you can quickly access brush characteristics you use frequently. Photoshop includes several sample brush presets. You can start with these presets and modify them to produce new effects. Many original brush presets are available for download on the Web.


You can quickly choose presets from the Brush Preset picker in the options bar, which lets you temporarily modify the size and hardness of a brush preset.



Save tool presets when you want to store customized brush tip characteristics along with settings from the options bar such as opacity, flow, and color.


Brush tip options. Along with settings in the options bar, brush tip options control how color is applied. You can apply color gradually, with soft edges, with large brush strokes, with various brush dynamics, with different blending properties, and with brushes of different shapes. Use the Brush panel to set brush tip options.



The EYEDROPPER TOOL (I) makes it easy to copy a color without having to select a swatch. It copies, or samples, the color of an area in your photo to set a new foreground or background color. You can sample from the active image, from another open image, or from your computer’s desktop.

If you want the color always to be available, you can add the sampled color to the Color Swatches panel. You can also specify the size of the area that the Eyedropper tool samples. For example, you can set the eyedropper to sample the average color values of a 5-by-5- or 3-by-3-pixel area under the pointer.

  1. Select the EYEDROPPER TOOL (I) in the toolbox.


  1. (Optional) To change the sample size of the eyedropper, choose an option from the Sample Size menu in the Tool Options bar:
    • Point Sample to get the precise value of the pixel you click.
    • 3 By 3 Average or 5 By 5 Average to get the average value of the specified number of pixels within the area you click.


  1. In the Tool Options bar, select where the color picker tool must sample from. Choose from All Layers or Current Layer.
  2. Do one of the following to choose a color:
  • To select a new foreground color from an image, click the desired color in your image. To select a color that  appears else where on your computer screen, click inside your image and drag away from it.
    • To select a new background color from an image, Alt-click (Option-click in Mac OS) the color you want.



As you click and drag the EYEDROPPER TOOL (I), the foreground color box changes.

  1. Release the mouse button to pick the new color.

You can switch between the colors chosen by pressing the X key.


The BRUSH TOOL (B) and the PENCIL TOOL (B) paint the current foreground color on an image. The BRUSH TOOL (B) creates soft strokes of color. The Pencil tool creates hard-edged lines.

The Rotation tool rotates the canvas, which can facilitate easier painting.

  1. Choose a foreground color.
  2. Select the BRUSH TOOL (B) or PENCIL TOOL (B) .
  3. Choose a brush from the Brush Presets panel. See Select a preset brush.
  4. Set tool options for mode, opacity, and so on, in the options bar.
  5. Do one or more of the following:

Click and drag in the image to paint.



To draw a straight line, click a starting point in the image. Then hold down Shift, and click an ending point.

When using the Brush tool as an airbrush, hold down the mouse button without dragging to build up color.


Blending modes control how pixels in an image are affected bya painting or editing tool. It’s helpful to think in terms of the following colors when visualizing a blending mode’s effect:


  • The base color is the original color in the image.
  • The blend color is the color applied by the painting or editing tool.
  • The result color is the color resulting from the blend.





Test BRUSH TOOL (B) and the PENCIL TOOL (B) on a draft image to view and assimilate its potential uses.

Test each blending modes in different light and dark images, figures and photographs considering, to see and assimilate their potential use when painting with Adobe Photoshop.


  1. ADOBE (2013), ADOBE PHOTOSHOP Help and tutorials, link [] visited as of 2015-06-09.
  2. ADOBE (2014), Adobe® Photoshop® CC Help, link [] visited as of 2015-06-09.

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