HUD Brush Controls in Photoshop


Today’s Question: [As a follow-up to the question about the brush settings popup] On Windows when I hold down the Alt key and right mouse button simultaneously, I can change the size of the brush by moving the mouse left or right, and I can change the hardness by moving the mouse up or down. Is that not available on Macintosh?

Tim’s Quick Answer: The interface you’re referring to is the HUD (head-up display) control for brush settings. It can be accessed on Macintosh by holding the Control and Option keys while clicking with the left mouse button. On Windows you hold the Ctrl and Alt keys while clicking with the right mouse button.

More Detail: The HUD interface for adjusting brush settings in Photoshop can be very convenient. When you activate this display, you’ll see a preview of the brush overlayed on the image. You can then drag right or left to increase or decrease the size of the brush and drag up to decrease the hardness of the brush and down to increase brush hardness.

The color overlay that is the key part of this HUD option will indicate the size and hardness of the brush. You can change the color for this overlay on the Cursors tab of the Preferences dialog. To adjust the setting for the overlay color start by choosing Photoshop > Settings > Cursors on Macintosh or Edit > Preferences > Cursors on Windows. In the Brush Preview section click the color swatch and choose the color you’d like to use. I generally recommend using a highly saturated color that doesn’t typically appear in photos, such as a very saturated magenta.