Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Photoshop brush size shortcuts

A good shortcut to know for changing the brush size in Photoshop CS2-CS4 is to use the [ and ] (left and right square bracket) keys. Each time you press one of these keys, the current brush will decrease or increase in size. Add the shift key to change the hardness of the brush edge. This works with most other tools besides the Brush tool, such as the Magnetic Lasso, Erasor, History Brush, Blur, Dodge/Burn, etc.

If you have Photoshop CS4 running on a computer that supports OpenGL (choose Preferences > Performance to see if your computer supports this) there is an even better shortcut.

With any brush or painting tool active, use the shortcuts below to precisely change the brush size by dragging with the mouse. You will see immediate, interactive on-screen feedback as you drag.

Macintosh:
Change brush size: option-ctrl-drag
Change brush edge softness: command-option-ctrl-drag

Windows:
Change brush size: alt-right mouse button drag
Change brush edge softness: shift-alt-right mouse button drag

19 comments:

Adrian said...

Change Edge softness in Windows is actually Shift+Alt (like with brackets) and not Ctrl+Alt

Keith Gilbert said...

@Adrian: Thanks for pointing out the mistake! I've updated the original post accordingly.

Anonymous said...

I just got CS4 and can't get the brush to change softness with your collection of keys. Is there an error here too?

Keith Gilbert said...

Keep in mind that these new brush size and brush softness shortcuts require a compatible OpenGL video card. Choose Preferences > Performance, and make sure that Enable OpenGL Drawing is selected. If this option is greyed out, your video card doesn't support OpenGL, and these shortcuts will not work.

Anonymous said...

Hello,
somebody knows how to remove these brush control shortcuts and retrieve old ones to quickly change between layers in B or E modes?

Anonymous said...

Hi,
ctrl + option + drag is OK for resizing brushes under CS5
command + option + ctrl not OK to change edge softness in Mac !? This shortcut now open a color palette !?
So what's is the "new" shorcut to change Edge softness ? Can't find it by myself :-(
Thks.

Keith Gilbert said...

In CS5, the shortcut has changed. In CS5, hold down ctrl-option (Macintosh) or alt (Windows) and drag the mouse horizontally to change brush size, and vertically to change brush softness.

ErikW said...

Hi, I have CS5 on Windows and the shortcuts work but I don't get the red preview of the brush when editing the size or softness, it only shows an outline of the brush shape. I have enabled OpenGL drawing and set it to advanced mode and the cursor is set to Full Size Brush Tip with the color set to red. Is there another setting I am missing? Thanks.

ErikW said...

Figured it out. Once you enable OpenGL it will only take effect on subsequent documents and will not have any effect on the currently open document.

Anonymous said...

is there a keyboard shortcut like this for opacity?

Erik said...

Yeah, just hit the number keys on the keyboard (not the number pad). 1=10%, 2=20%, 3=30% an so on. To get 100% hit 0, and for in-between numbers like 55 just hit the two numbers quickly in succession. You have to have the brush tool selected. This also works with layer opacity when you have the selection tool active and a layer selected, and with the eraser tool and several others that I can't think of right now.

Niels said...

Hey Keith,
The "change brush edge softnes" by holding ctrl + option + cmd and drag has changed in CS5. If been searching all over but cant find the 'shortcut' to do this. Do you maybe know what the new shortcut is in CS5?
Regards Niels

Keith Gilbert said...

@Niels: In CS5, the shortcut has changed. In CS5, hold down ctrl-option (Macintosh) or alt (Windows) and drag the mouse horizontally to change brush size, and vertically to change brush softness.

Anonymous said...

Hi Keith i have Cs5 and i was wondering if its possible to change the Ctrl+Alt+Drag command to a different command?

Keith Gilbert said...

@Anonymous: I don't know of any way to change the CS5 Ctrl-Alt-Drag shortcut, sorry.

Anonymous said...

Thank you

Tutsnow said...

Thanks for such a handy tip... But its not working for me :(
Everytime i try it my photoshop crashes :( :( Any Suggestions?

Anonymous said...

Tahnks !!!! Looking for this since a lot of time !!! Very usefull !

shuefner said...

I think the shortcut only requires that you hold the alt key during right click and drag: dragging left/right changes the size while dragging up/down changes the softness. Check it out, it totally works! The shift key probably just restricts the mouse movement to a purely horizontal or vertical axis as with several other shortcuts in Photoshop.