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How to Use the History Brush Tool in Photoshop?

  • Last Updated : 17 Aug, 2021

Adobe Photoshop is a raster-based image editing software. It is developed by Adobe.Inc and available for both macOS and Windows operating systems. You can use Photoshop to create or edit images, posters, banners, logos, invitation cards, and various types of graphic designing work. While working in Photoshop, in many situations we have faced that we have done some miserable and our whole work is damaged or turned awkward. So, we just want to undo that change but not at the full image but at some parts of the image where things are not according to our will. This cannot be done through simple undo because undo will undo all the changes and also undo cannot be done more than 1 time in Photoshop(it may be done up to 10 times if we change the settings). Here comes the use of the History brush tool.

History Brush tool helps us to multiple states of an image. It gives us the option of doing multiple undo’s all at once. It allows us to do undo on specific parts of the image according to our needs and requirement. It is useful to create many effects. This tool is specially used by professional photographers for doing advanced editing where they need to go back in history in some parts of the image. But before understanding the history brush tool, let’s first understand the History panel in Photoshop.

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What is the history panel in Photoshop?

History Panel in Photoshop is a panel showing the history or log of all the operations done in the current Photoshop file from the starting. You can open the history panel from the Window menu => History or from the right side of the documents as shown below:



As you can see from the above image, the history panel shows all the changes and works that we have done in the current Photoshop file. Now, there is a small icon marked in red in the above image is the snapshot button. This button helps us to take a snapshot at a particular point in the entire session of a Photoshop document. It can be understood as a point from which the user can start its work if anything goes wrong or damages instead of starting from the first. 

How to use the history brush tool?

So we understand what is history panel is. Now we will learn how to use the History brush tool. Here we have used the sample image as shown below:

Step 1: Open the image Photoshop document.

Step 2: Here first of all I have done many changes in the images like changing the hue/saturation, color balance, contrast, and so on. The image has now turned to one shown below and we can see the changes done in the history panel:

Step 3: Now suppose we want the outer part of the image to be back to the default mode, so we will do this using the history brush tool.



Step 4: Now select the history brush tool from the toolbar as shown below:  

Step 5: You will see the cursor is changed to a brush and now brush over the parts that you want to go back in history to the default image in the beginning.

Step 6: Here is the result:

From the above image, we can see the parts where I have painted with the brush have gone back in history. Now, suppose we want to save this state i.e now if we apply any other changes and apply the History Brush tool then it will return back to this state. This can be done through the snapshot button in the History Panel. Let’s see how to do it.

Step 1: Open the history panel

Step 2: At the bottom of the history panel, we can see a small camera icon. When we click on the icon a snapshot is shown below:

Step 3: Now, when we apply any change and apply the history brush tool to undo the changes, we can get back to this state by keeping this snapshot active. ( By default, Photoshop creates a snapshot that remains active).



Now having understood the basic usage of the History brush tool, let’s understand the properties of the History Brush Tool

Properties of the History brush tool

When we use the history brush tool, we see a properties bar below the menu bar as shown below:

Here, we can see numerous properties. Now let us understand these properties one by one.

Note: The properties of the History Brush tool are the same as the properties of the Normal Brush tool in Adobe Photoshop.

1. Mode: This determines the mode of the brush, we can select different modes by clicking on the mode option as shown below:

By default, the mode is set to Normal. You can select modes according to your requirement. 

2. Opacity: The opacity determines the opacity of the brush. It has a value in the range from 0-100%. By default, the opacity of the brush is set to 100%.

3.  Flow: The flow determines the flow of the brush effect (color in the case of the normal brush).

4. Pressure Control Size: This option is only valid when you are using a graphics tablet where you can change the pressure accordingly. If you are using a graphics tablet and this option is on. Then, the size of your brush will change according to the pressure you apply to the tablet. 

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