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History brush quick tip

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Old 05-17-2002, 08:37 AM
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winwintoo winwintoo is offline
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History brush quick tip

I have a feeling that everyone else knew about this, but the lights just came on for me so I'm bursting to share :smile:

I'm attaching an image you can try this on. Open the image and then do a levels adjustment. By the time the people are bright enough, the sky is way over-exposed. Don't worry.

In the history pallet, you now have two items: Open and Levels. Click on the little box beside Levels so the history brush icon appears. Now click on the Open item (your levels changes disappear - don't worry we'll get them back)

Now select the History Brush tool and make sure that black is the forground color and start painting with the history brush over the people.

What's happening: when you paint with the history brush, you're "scrapping away" the Open layer and revealing the levels changes underneath.

Neat eh!


P.S. this seems to work with any adjustment or filter
Attached Images
File Type: jpg aunts&uncles.jpg (87.9 KB, 246 views)
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Old 05-17-2002, 11:40 AM
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DJ Dubovsky DJ Dubovsky is offline
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That's an excellent tip Margaret. Even if many know of it there are still many more who wouldn't and it is certainly a benefit to them. As for those who may know of it, it's good to remind them. When you don't use a technique regularly you tend to forget about it.
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Old 05-17-2002, 08:29 PM
Stephen M Stephen M is offline
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In addition, you could make a selection or load a contrast mask off a image channel or whatever of the area that needed the history change - and use the fill/history command (if you have problems painting in the mask).

Stephen Marsh.
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Old 05-17-2002, 08:35 PM
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winwintoo winwintoo is offline
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Sorry Stephen you lost tip doesn't use a mask...could you explain what you're suggesting.

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Old 05-17-2002, 08:47 PM
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Ed_L Ed_L is offline
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Good tip. I need to use the history brush more often, if for no other reason than to remember it's there if needed. I fell in love with layer masks and adjustment layers, and tend to forget about other options. Thanks for waking me up!

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Old 05-19-2002, 04:51 AM
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DannyRaphael DannyRaphael is offline
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I believe what Stephen was suggesting was an alternative to using the history brush to physically brush on the effect of the Levels adjustment.

Once you've created the Levels adjustment and (in the history palette) clicked on Open and next to the Levels adjustment (to set the history source), instead of selecting the History brush and painting away, create a selection by whatever method is appropriate (lasso, quick mask, pen tool, creating a mask from one of the color channels, whatever) of the area(s) on the image on which the Levels effect is to be applied. Then use the Fill command (Option - Use: History) in order to fill the selection from the history state.

This alternative may or may not yield better results than the history brush. Once instance where it might save some time is if you've got a huge area to restore from history. Fill could be faster than manually brushing. Then again if it takes 30 minutes to make a good mask, then maybe using the history brush would be better. In any event this is just another tidbit to toss into your growing bag of tricks.

Regarding "...make sure that black is the forground color and start painting with the history brush over the people."

I don't believe FG/BG colors are applicable to the history brush. It's my understanding that the history brush gets its "colors" from the history state selected in the history palette. Where painting with black is applicable is if you're painting (usually with the airbrush) on the adjustment layer itself.

Black will "disable" (or mask) the effect of the adjustment on layer(s) below. In general painting on the adjustment layer in this type of situation is usually a safer and more flexible technique than using the history brush on the BG layer.

The history brush paints on the destination layer. In some cases that may be OK. Painting on the adjustment layer, however, leaves layers below in tact. You can modify the adjustment layer by adding black (to suppress more) or white (over black areas) to restore the adjustment effect -or- deleting the adjustment layer altogether and add a new one and start over.

Don't get me wrong. Knowing how (and when) to use the history brush and the history palette are powerful techniques. Like you, I was tickled when I finally connected the dots on using them. I'd like to add my appreciation for posting your discovery. As DJ and Ed noted, everybody benefits from tips like these.

May many more "lightbulbs coming on" be in your near future!


Last edited by DannyRaphael; 05-19-2002 at 03:26 PM.
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Old 05-19-2002, 03:23 PM
john_opitz john_opitz is offline
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Yes, better to use layers. If you don't like to use layers and want to only use History. Make sure you save those snapshots before closing.
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Old 05-19-2002, 04:41 PM
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winwintoo winwintoo is offline
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Thanks for the added info Danny and John.

I usually paint on layers too, but I thought this history brush idea might save time in certain instances.

I'll keep my eyes open for more lights to come on,

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Old 12-31-2004, 04:34 PM
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MrChevy MrChevy is offline
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History brush use

I would like to say thank you too for a neat tip with the history brush. I bumbled around with your instructions a bit before I figured out the Levels was done with the CTRL L and not as a separate Layer

Danny caught that right away. Thanks everyone for contributing to the thread. (yes, why didn't I read the whole thread first, right?? , then I would have known about the B&W etc. )

Isn't learning fun!! (sometimes )
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