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Photoshop Brush Smoothing | The Mystery Of The Purple Line, Explained

By Holly Roa on October 24th 2017

With Adobe’s newest updates, there has been much chatter about Lightroom CC vs ‘Lightroom Classic’ and what it may mean for photographers in the future, but there is another, smaller thing that has also caught eyes and piqued curiosity. What IS that purple line in the middle of your brush in the updated version of Photoshop CC?

High-end retoucher and educator Pratik Naik of Solstice Retouch has made a video for all of those Photoshop users who updated and immediately found themselves looking at a follow-line as they worked but didn’t know what it was, or how to get rid of it.

If Photoshop wants users to notice a new feature, making it switched ‘on’ by default and highly visible has proven to be a very effective method. Like it or hate it, the purple line, officially called a ‘brush leash,’ is a byproduct of a new brush feature – smoothing.

Experienced users likely noticed right away a new area where a percentage for an effect can be chosen in the brush toolbar next to the old standbys, ‘opacity’ and ‘flow.’ ‘Smoothing’ is set to 10% automatically, and what it does is algorithmically reduces choppiness in your brush strokes for a smoother appearance. The purple line is a display of where the center of your brush stroke is going as Photoshop works around that to create smooth edges.

[Rewind:]Adobe Lightroom Is All New | The Good, The Bad, The Perplexing

If you find the line distracting, the simple solution is to turn off smoothing by reducing its percentage to ‘0%.’ You can also disable it entirely in the Photoshop Preferences and Tools Menu under the ‘cursors’ tab by unchecking ‘show brush leash,’ but if you play with the smoothing settings you may start to find the line useful. If you simply dislike the color shown, you can alter that in the same area of the Preferences and Tools menu.

For a more in-depth walkthrough of the new features, we recommend watching Pratik’s video at the end of this post! He walks viewers through the settings and their uses while offering useful insight on how and when smoothing can be your friend.

What’s your take on the brush ‘stroke smoothing’ feature? Let us know in the comments!

About

Seattle based photographer with a side of videography, specializing in work involving animals, but basically a Jill of all trades.
Instagram: @HJRphotos

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