Gentian brushes

Frank digs deeper into the use of Brushes in Photoshop  – a follow-up to his article on Gentian Watercolour

My attempts to reproduce my Gentian “artwork” in Elements 8 reminded me of how little I knew about brushes. David Cole’s “Practical Photoshop” video gave me a recipe which I followed but did not understand the technical consequences of the brush settings he gave e.g. with Wet Brush 60 reducing the spacing to 2% and activating the Wet Edges setting. Remember I was using the pattern stamp with the gentian image loaded as the pattern.

Pattern Stamp Options

Loading the natural settings 2 preset brushes gives access to the Wet Brush 60.

Selecting the Wet Brush 60

With a Google,  I found a detailed set of tutorials by Photoshopessentials  at

The first thing I learned was that a brush does not draw a line, it stamps a series of images closely spaced.

Drawing on a white background with the pattern stamp set to the Gentian image, I tried clicking the brush at various places in the on the white layer.

Click on four separate spots on the white layer

With the brush left at its default settings, I tried drawing a continuous line.

This shows that the Spacing default of 25% is preventing a smooth stroke by stamping every time the brush moves 25% of the width of the brush.

Brush stroke at default settings

Brush stroke at default settings – spacing =25%

Brush stroke with spacing at 150%

Setting the spacing to 150%  and drawing a straight line shows an automatic series of stamps.

Spacing set to 2%

The solution is to reduce the spacing to 2%

Brush stroke at 2%

Click on Wet Edges in the Brush Panel

Clicking on Wet edges reduces the opacity of the main area, leaving the edges dark, looking as though water colour was being painted.

Brush stroke with wet edges

If you have a graphics tablet, changing the Shape Dynamics control to Pen Pressure allows the pen to vary the size of the brush depending on how hard you press the pen on the tablet.

Click on Shape Dynamics to show controls

Stroke varying the pen pressure on the tablet

That leaves jitter and scatter etc to think about in another project.


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