Video: Photoshop CS4 Drag-Resize Brush Keyboard Shortcut

Another brief video in my series introducing some great new features in Photoshop CS4 for artists, cartoonists, illustrators and anyone else who sketches or draws using Photoshop.

This video features the excellent new keyoard shortcuts that allow you to drag-resize the size of the brushes using the mouse pointer.

The drag-resize brush cursor feature was one of the top three features that enticed me to upgrade to the Adobe Creative Suite CS4 (Design Premium). While I primarily work with vector art in Adobe Illustrator (at least for my final artwork), I do a lot of sketching within Photoshop using my Wacom Intuos3 graphics tablet.

As any Photoshop user will know, resizing the brushes can interrupt your workflow, especially when you are drawing or sketching. Not having to think about your tools is a big deal to me — I like to have the computer and the software get out of my way as much as possible.

With the new drag-resize brush cursor keyboard shortcuts, my productivity is very much increased now that I can — on the fly and exactly where I am working — change my brush size (as well as the hardness) of the brush. As a keyboard shortcut junkie, I am already used to having my left hand by the modifier keys on the Mac keyboard, so learning these required very little muscle memory.

I love being able resize the brushes with a gesture as opposed to having to stop what I am doing and size the brush up or down, then move the cursor back to where I was working (and repeat if necessary). As I mentioned, the hardness of the brush can also be controlled with keyboard shortcuts (the brush hardness is how soft the edges of the brush are).

Between the Spacebar for the Hand tool and these new shortcuts, for the most part I can almost work without needing to think about what I am doing at all. I also have the eraser tool mapped to one of the Wacom stylus buttons so I can quickly erase without switching tools.

If you work like I do, you’ll want to seriously consider an upgrade for this feature. It’s that great, honestly.

Oh — the other features in Photoshop CS4 that I upgraded for? The Rotate View tool and the Spring-Loaded Keys.

9 thoughts on “Video: Photoshop CS4 Drag-Resize Brush Keyboard Shortcut

  1. Hey George,
    Thanks for posting this tutorial. I opened photoshop cs4 to do something really quick and I somehow forgot the new drag/resizing brush tool shortcut. It irritated me that I forgot so I googled the topic and found this post. Thanks again…just what I needed. On an unrelated note and a coincidence…I went to school with a guy named George Coghill who later played in the NFL for the 49ers.

  2. One other thing. When I tried the shortcuts (PC) they worked ok but I didn’t get the red visual indicator of my brush size and hardness. I’m assuming that I would need some graphic card acceleration to power that. I currently don’t have access to any of the gpu acceleration technologies that Adobe threw in like canvas rotation and such.

  3. @Toby:

    Glad the post helped out. And yeah I never played for the NFL, but I did hear of a George Coghill from (I believe) Australia who played Australian football, then eventually played in the U.S. for some NFL teams. Maybe the same guy? How many pro footballer George Coghill’s could there be out there? Maybe I have my story wrong about that guy being from Australia.

    And on the visual indicators, yeah I believe you need a newer machine that handles OpenGL graphics (or equivalent Windows GPU accelerators). Kind of a bummer, as the Free Rotate Tool is pretty handy.

  4. Try not to be so ignorant of the fact that the PC version is the most sold version by far (according to Adobe) by posting only the Mac shortcut.

    The PC shortcut: Alt + right mouse button

    1. Since I’m a Mac guy, I think in Mac shortcuts. I figure most power users know which keys to swap, and since I don’t have a PC it’s tough for me to confirm which shortcuts they are on a PC.

    2. Thank you, Jdonner, for saving me the trouble of sifting through another interminable tutorial video just to find the right keyboard shortcut. Two minutes to watch versus two seconds to read.

      1. Really? Interminable? If you just want keyboard shortcuts read the online user manual. This video was to show people how the feature works as many artists I know are unaware of it.

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