Square Brush in Elements

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Today’s Question: One of the articles in your most recent issue of Pixology details the procedure for changing the shape of a brush when used with certain tools such as the healing brush tool, etc. I often have use for a square rather than round shape brush when editing an image. My question is this: Can this adjustment be made in Photoshop Elements, on is it available only in Photoshop. And, if so, what is the appropriate procedure?

Tim’s Quick Answer: Yes, you can access a crisp square brush shape in Photoshop Elements by using the Pencil tool in conjunction with one of the selections among the Square Brushes option within the brush settings.

More Detail: The Pencil tool (rather than the Brush tool) is the key if you need a consistently crisp edge for the brush. You can think of the Pencil tool as essentially being the Brush tool with a Hardness setting that is always at 100%.

Once you’ve selected the Pencil tool in Photoshop Elements, make sure the Tool Options panel is displayed. You can simply click the “Tool Options” button along the bottom toolbar to bring that panel up. Then click the popup below the “Pencil” label at the left side of the Tool Options panel. At the top of the popup menu that appears, you can click the Brush popup to display a list of brush shape options. Select “Square Brushes” from that list, and you can then choose from the square brush shapes at various sizes.

You can, of course, then adjust the Size slider as needed. With one of the Square Brushes options for the Pencil tool the result will always be a square shape with a crisp (non-feathered) edge.