One specialized use for local adjustment layers and the Paint With Color’s Solid Paint option is to add overlays with custom brush shapes. You can paint in stamps, watermarks, and other shapes to create specialized creations or enhanced photos. For example, you could use a custom cloud brush to add interest to a lackluster sky, or you could create your own watermark and apply it precisely. Photo RAW comes with a collection of custom brushes of all kinds, and you can import any black-and-white TIF file or Photoshop- compatible brush for use in the app, via the Extras Manager.
Creating basic overlays with a custom brush is easy:
1. Create a new local adjustments layer by clicking on the Local tab.
2. If the Adjustment Brush isn’t selected in the Tool Options bar, select it, and choose a new brush from the Shape menu in the options bar.
3. Set the brush size and angle. In general, you’ll want to keep the Opacity and Flow high, and the Feather low (or 0), but that will depend upon the brush and the application.
4. From the gear menu, turn the Manual Spacing option on. Depending upon the brush type and the application, you’ll have to play with the Amount slider, but the general rule of thumb is, for stamped brushes, where you wish the shape to be applied singly, set the spacing low. If you wish to apply the brush multiple times with a stroke—and have clear definition between the brush shapes—set the spacing higher (see the spacing chart below for an illustration of the different settings).
5. Turn the Paint With Color option on and set to Solid Paint. Choose a color for brush, and paint as desired on the image.
Tips for using custom brushes
• The best way to begin working with brush overlays is to practice. Use some of the default brushes, and play with them by adding them to a photo or blank canvas.
• Use the Brush Styles option (in the Tool Options bar) to save your favorite brushes and their optimal settings.
• The maximum brush size in Photo RAW is 2500 pixels.
• If you’re applying a brush as a single stamp here and there on a photo, start with a feather of 0, and Opacity and Flow set to 100. Once you’ve set your brush size and angle, click once on the image.
• The Paint With Color option applies to all brush strokes made on that adjustment layer. You can easily change the color via the color patch in the panel. If you want to apply the same stamp with different colors, create a new adjustment layer for each color.
This chart shows the effect of the Manual Spacing on a brush stroke for a star custom brush. With a spacing of 100, as you stroke, the stroke will be applied with plenty of space between the brush shape. With a spacing of 0, the shape will meld together as you apply the stroke. Depending upon the brush type, this might be acceptable for your purposes.
How to Install Custom Brushes