The Digital Darkroom
Developed and Instructed by James Gordley 2004 - 2008


Paint Brush Options bar

Photoshop Elements provides an ample set of brush presets.  Pictured on the left is the Default Brush preset. Pictured below is the list of presets that come with Photoshop Elements 3. Take a few minutes and look at all of the brushes in the brush library.  Once you have seen all of the presets you might think that there couldn't possibly be more, but there are many more. Most of these brushes can be customized in Size, Spacing, Fade, Hue Jitter, Hardness, Scatter, Angle and, Roundness. Adjustments are made using the "More Options" dialog box pictured on the right.



  1. Start a New Document use "White as the background. Use a preset size of 800px by 600px
  2. Create a new layer.
  3. Choose a round brush from the Default Brush set.
  4. Use any color except for white and drag a stroke across the document.
  5. Change the Spacing to 150% and repeat the stroke just below the previous stroke.
  6. Note the difference in the two strokes.
  7. Make adjustments in the other parameters and note the different looks you can create by changing these options.

Default Brush Preset

More Options

Tablet Options

Options for using a graphics tablet increase the flexibility of the brushes. Using the pen pressure of the graphics tablet the Size, Opacity, Hue Jitter, Scatter, and Roundness of the brush can be adjusted during the stroke.

Medion 9 x 12 Graphics Tablet with Pen and Mouse


Creating a Custom Brush

Even though Photoshop Elements is loaded with brushes and the tools you need to change the way those brushes work. You may want to make your own custom brush.

You can create a custom brush out of any selection. By carefully making a selection of a wasp in a photograph I was able to create a brush which I can now use anytime that I want to. The image on the left was done using gradient fill on one layer and a single brush stroke on another (the wasp). Notice that the brush has areas of opacity that are not solid. When creating a brush keep in mind that darker areas will appear solid in your brush, lighter areas will appear opaque.

After selecting the Define Brush from Selection option the dialog box seen on the left will appear on your screen. Type in a name for your new brush and that is it. Your brush is added to all of the other brush presets and will be available for you to use at any time and with any tool that can use a brush shape.