The best Photoshop shortcut for sketching that no one talks about!

Alright, so I’ve noticed that a lot of people, including professional digital artists don’t really use these extremely helpful shortcuts, not sure why and it’s not really my place to ask. I’m writing this post to make artists aware of its existence and hopefully improve their workflows.

Let me start off by apologizing if the title is a bit click-baity, but I hope that by the time you’re done reading, you will have learned something this useful in Photoshop.

When sketching or doing line art, artists are often changing the brush size. Most of us use the bracket keys – [ and ], but the trouble is that those keys are located on the other side of the keyboard. Call me lazy but I rather keep my hand on the left side where the trusty Ctrl + Z shortcut is located and not move from there. Additionally not moving your hand and having the brush size change at your fingertips, doesn’t disrupt your workflow. I’m convinced that most of the digital artists and other people can’t really find the bracket keys with their LEFT hand without looking at the keyboard. Some can but probably they still need to feel around for them. When we’re typing, typically our RIGHT hand is the one handling the brackets. Some may argue that they’ve added the brush size increase and decrease on the stylus buttons. That’s pretty cool, however I do believe you would agree that the right-click button is a bit more helpful to have around.

What you need to do is:

To increase/decrease the brush size:
- On Windows: Press and hold the ALT key and click the right mouse button.
Then what you need to do is drag the mouse from right to left to increase the size
- On Mac: Press and hold the Fn + Control + Option keys and click the right mouse button. Then drag from left to righ or vice versa.
(Note: discovered this recently, not sure since which version of Photoshop. Used to be Control + Option + Drag but Adobe changed that. If you're using that shortcut and nothing happens, then try without the Fn key.)

To harden or soften the brush:
Press and hold the ALT key, click the right mouse button and drag from down to up to increase hardness. The opposite direction will soften the brush.
- On Mac: Press and hold the Fn + Control + Option keys and click the right mouse button and drag from up to down or vice versa.

Brush size increase and decrease, also softness and hardness.

If you implement these shortcuts in to your workflow, I guarantee you that will have a much smoother experience when sketching, doing line art and overall painting in Photoshop.

Here’s a bonus keyboard shortcut that allows you to change the color of your brush without having to point to the color picker and then picking a color. Turns out that Photoshop has had a pop-up picker for quite a while now. It's pretty handy if you need to adjust your already picked color's saturation or brightness. The downside is that it has a bit of a weird Hue strip, which is kinda awkward if you'd like to change the color.

Simply press Ctrl + ALT + Right mouse button. This will pull up a color picker in the place where your cursor is located. Again, it is a bit weird to use though, however if you just need to darken or lighten a color then it’s awesome!
PaintStorm Studio have a quick HUD color picker that's a bit more friendly to use.

The pop-up color picker

I hope you find this little tutorial useful. If you liked this article, you might find the ones I did about Procreate shortcuts and PaintStorm Studio shortcuts.

Cheers!

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