How to Customize Brush Size in After Effects

Updated on: October 15, 2022

When it comes to animation in After Effects, brushes play an important role. With them, you can illustrate from scratch and later make, for example, frame-by-frame and even use them for creating effects.

Adobe's software has a panel that offers different default strokes; however, if you want to draw specific patterns, you must follow a simple path. Here's how you can customize the size of a brush in After Effects.

Working on a specific Layer to activate the Brush Tool

To draw custom strokes or create effect patterns with the Brush Tool, you first need to import a file or create a new layer. Otherwise, you won't even be able to activate that feature. 

If you want to work on a clean project, create a Solid background by clicking Ctrl + Y or Cmd Y; to work on a video instead, import the file by hitting Ctrl + I or Cmd + I and drag it to the layers area.

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Whether you created a new solid or imported footage, double-click on the layer the software made for it and place it on top. Once you notice that the Composition panel shows the screen linked to your layer, activate the Brush Tool by clicking Ctrl + B or Cmd + B.

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Getting to know the Brushes panel

Now that you are working on the corresponding layer of your solid background or video activate the Brushes panel by hitting Ctrl + 9 or Cmd + 9 if you use a Mac.

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Notice there are now several default stroke swatches, each in different sizes, shapes, and intensities. But, despite the variety, After Effects also allows you to set up custom brushes to suit your needs. To modify the tool's characteristics, try different values in the following options:

  • Diameter: raise the value to increase the size of your stroke and decrease it to reduce it.
  • Angle: before changing this value, make sure you choose a brush with a long stroke and not a round one, as this option allows you to modify the inclination of your tool.
  • Roundness: By changing the values of this feature, you can expand or tighten the shape of your figure, making it longer or rounder, according to your taste.
  • Hardness: you may find the default value of this feature at 0 %. If you do, it will make the paint strokes you apply to your composition not have so much pressure and look a little softer. On the other hand, if you decided to change this value to 100 %, you would see a hard, sharp point of paint without any blurring.
  • Spacing: This option determines the spacing between the dots that create a line of paint in a single stroke. The higher the number of this value, the more points you will see; the smaller, the sharper the line you will see.

To save a particular brush style you customized, click on the post-it icon next to the Spacing option and name your new setting.

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Andrea Mercado is a tech-focused journalist and copywriter with over 5 years of experience covering innovation, edtech, AI, and internet trends across media outlets. She is passionate about how technology can democratize access to education and is an avid learner when it comes to emerging tech like AI. Her articles and webinars help readers stay informed on the latest tech developments.
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