Brush lag photoshop

Brush lag photoshop DEFAULT


As a Graphic Designer and Website Designer, I use Adobe Photoshop a lot. I just figured a problem out so I wanted to share this fix I found for brush lag. Do you have a lag in your Photoshop brushes? It could be the Smoothing setting – set your Smoothing setting to 10% or less and the brush behaves like it should. For some reason, Adobe has it set at 100% by default in my version of Photoshop 20.0.6 on my Mac. What a simple fix, wish I had known this 6 months ago!!

I had contacted Adobe and they said to reinstall my software, which, of course, did NOT fix the issue. I was avoiding using brushes because of the delay! Someone just commented on my other YouTube video about this problem, with this tip about turning down the Smoothing, which instantly cured the brush delay. Finally! P.S. The image in this video shows graphics for artist Dennis Pendleton's Watercolor Tutorials. Check out his beautiful work and learn about his watercolor classes at:


Why Are My Photoshop Brushes Delayed and How Can I Fix it?

Photoshop issues that slow down your workflow can be super annoying. We’ve all been there. What’s even more irritating is the amount of time that you have to spend afterward in search of potential solutions.

But, if your problem is that your brushes are lagging, causing a delayed painting effect, then you’re in luck, since we’ve compiled a list of possible solutions to save you hours of searching!

There are many reasons why your brush might be delayed. In most situations, you can solve the issue by turning off the Smoothing setting for your brush, turning off the rulers, or heading to the PreferencesWindow, where you can try other solutions such as deselecting Use Graphics Processor or selecting Advanced Drawing Mode.

In this article, we’re going to walk you through the top methods for reducing brush delay to ensure that you can get back to efficiently working on your masterpiece within a matter of minutes!

Table of Contents

If you’re looking for more ways to enhance your experience using brushes in Photoshop, then feel free to take a look at these articles about how to install extra brushes and how to restore brushes that aren’t showing up in your library.

1 – Turn off Smoothing for Your Brush

The solution that works in most cases is turning off the Smoothing setting for your brush. The function’s effect of evening out any wobbles in your lines can often make it look like there is a lag when you use your mouse or stylus to create a brush stroke. Especially with a high smoothing setting, this function can slow down your workflow considerably.

So, how can we combat this? Head over to Window > Brush Settings to open a window in which you can edit the properties of your brush.

Here, you should notice an option labelled ‘Smoothing’ down the list on the left side of the window. Make sure that the checkbox next to the title is empty, indicating that the setting has been deselected, as shown below.

2 – Turn Off the Rulers

Aside from turning down the smoothing setting of your brush, the trick that appeared to be effective in the highest number of cases was simply turning off the rulers in Photoshop.

You can do this in seconds, either by using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl + R [Win] / Cmd + R [Mac] or selecting View > Rulers from the bar along the top of the screen.

3 – Opt Not to Use Your Graphics Processor

Another solution that we found to be successful in some situations was asking Photoshop not to use your graphics processor to facilitate the editing process. Begin by selecting from the bar along the top of the screen Edit > Preferences > Performance.

In this section, you’ll notice an option entitled ‘Use Graphics Processor’. Make sure this is deselected, as shown below.

Then, go ahead and click OK to apply the changes. For a result to be seen, you may want to close Photoshop and relaunch the program, then try using the Brush Tool again to check if the solution worked. If not, then don’t worry: we have plenty more options coming!

4 – Edit the Advanced Settings of Your Graphics Processor

If opting not to use your graphics processor didn’t work, then we can try letting Photoshop use the processor but editing the settings it follows.

The graphics processor settings can again be edited in the Preferences Window. So, head along the top of the screen to Edit > Preferences > Performance

Within the window, this time we’ll select the option entitled Use Graphics Processor, then head into Advanced Settings.

Here, ensure that all the advanced settings are turned on. In addition, set the Drawing Mode to Advanced rather than Basic or Normal.

Again, you can apply the changes to your settings by hitting the OK button in the bottom-left corner of the window, before relaunching the program to check if the solution was successful.

5 – Let Photoshop Use Enough Memory

Within the Preferences Window, you can also find an option that lets you specify how much of the memory on your device you would like Photoshop to use. Often, people’s brushes start lagging when they limit the amount of memory that Photoshop can use. So, by increasing the percentage, you might be able to get rid of the delay altogether.

Once again, let’s head over to the top of the screen and select Edit > Preferences > Performance.

In the top-left corner, you can use the slider under the heading Memory Usage to determine how much memory you want to let Photoshop use. A value of around 70% or more tends to work well, but it all depends on how often you use Photoshop, and how much of your computer’s memory you therefore want to dedicate to it. Try experimenting with a variety of percentages here until you are satisfied.

6 – Reset Your Preferences

Our final technique is often a last resort for people dealing with any Photoshop issue. Resetting your preferences lets you revert to Photoshop’s original state, ensuring that any changes you may have made to the settings of the program, either accidentally or intentionally, are made ineffective.

Don’t worry- it won’t cause you to lose any of your work or documents. However, it will reset your color settings and any custom workspaces or keyboard shortcuts, so keep that in mind.

To reset your preferences, you can head across the top of the screen to Edit > Preferences > General, then click on the option entitled Reset Preferences On Quit.

Then quit the program by selecting File > Exit [Win] / Photoshop > Quit Photoshop CC [Mac]. When you open Photoshop again, your preferences will have been reset.

And that’s it! Hopefully one of the methods detailed above was effective at solving your issue, and you can get back to designing as soon as possible. Want to find out more about reducing the delay of your brush? Then check out this video by Robert Marzullo which walks you through some of the solutions.

About the Author Betchphoto

Captivated by the digital world and particularly attracted by everything related to creativity, Martin is an amateur photographer and digital marketer who has more than 10 years of experience with Adobe Photoshop. Check his about page here


This post may contain affiliate links.

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If you find your brush lags as you draw with your stylus, there are (unfortunately) many possible reasons but here are some things to try

The very first thing to do is to turn off smoothing on your brush, if it’s on. This can make it appear as if your brush is lagging but that is just the effect of the smoothing function, slowing your line down to even it out any jitters you may have as you draw. High smoothing will slow down your strokes considerably

Reduce Smoothing to Reduce brush lag in Photoshop

If that doesn’t help, let’s explore some more settings in the preferences (Edit > Preferences >Performance)  that may help…

how to fix wacom tablet brush lag

Here are some things to try that help on some setups
You can find these settings in the menu under Edit > Preferences >Performance

IMPORTANT: I highly recommend writing down or taking a screenshot of your current settings so you can get back to where you were before trying any of this
It’s best to try changing just one of these settings at a time. See if it makes a difference. If not, set it back to what it was and try changing another setting.

Settings to try:

1. Advanced Settings (change Drawing Mode) Try Basic first. Then Normal and then Advanced
2. Change graphics processor switch. Try turning the graphics processor off and on
3. Try turning on and off the other settings in there, one at a time…OpenCL, Antialias, etc
4. Change the amount of RAM (this one is the least likely to help with lag but it can help a lot with other functions)

You should also check to make sure your tablet drivers are up to date. You can find Wacom drivers here

Keep in mind that all brushes will eventually lag if you make them big enough. The slower your CPU, the more trouble you will have
If you want to see how my brushes perform for me, you can look at any of the video popups that you see when you hit the ‘preview’ button as you hover over any single brushes in the Shop.
My computer is a 5 year old PC running Windows. Most modern computers should be as fast or faster than that

More discussions and possible solutions online:
Adobe Forum discussion contunued
Adobe Forum brush lag discussion
Reddit – brush Lag Surface Book lag

Let me know in the comments below if you have a solution that I missed!


Categories: Digital Painting Tip, Quick Tip, Tutorial

How to FIX LAG with Photoshop 2021

One of the most frustrating things that can happen while editing photos is lag. Especially photoshop brush lag. Imagine, you’re right in the middle of doing some intricate touch-up edits to finalise an amazing photo for your portfolio or for a client and you cannot get the photoshop brush to do the edits in the exact place that you want it to because it keeps lagging. I know there is only so long before I would want to throw my computer out the window through sheer frustration!


Luckily for you there are 5 easy steps that you can follow to help you optimise your photoshop working environment and get rid of that annoying photoshop brush lag.

  1. Turn off brush smoothing
  2. Alter Brush Spacing
  3. Reduce the file size
  4. Optimise Photoshops performance
  5. Optimise your devices performance

Whether you are brand new to photoshop or have been using it for years, sometimes as the software updates over time it can start to do weird, annoying things like the brush lagging.

Now normally you would be all over the internet on the many blogs and forums finding a multitude of different ways to fix the brush lag. You do not have to do that though because I thought I would save you the effort and compile them all into this article.

1. Turn off Photoshop brush smoothing

The introduction of the brush smoothing algorithm to Photoshop CC 2018 and later allowed users to get a more polished look, with cleaner lines when using the brush tool. However, since then many users found that their photoshop brush appeared to slow down and lag.

If this is the case, you can usually get rid of the slow photoshop brush by turning the smoothing down to 0%. If you’re photoshop brush is still being slow even at 0% smoothing then it also may be worth unticking all the smoothing options which can be found in the drop-down menu when you click on the gear icon next to the smoothing percentage.


2. Alter Photoshop Brush Spacing

Brush spacing refers to the space between each “dab” of the brush tool. It is automatically set at 25% which is generally ok for most cases.

The lower the spacing the smoother the line you draw with the brush will look. However, the lower the spacing the more chance that the brush will lag. To alter the brush tool spacing click on the brush tool settings in the panel on the right-hand side.

Note, if you are using a 3rd party brush lagging may be caused by the default spacing setting being lower than Photoshop’s 25% or the brush may just be created using complex code.

Here’s what Unrighteous suggests To Do About Slow Photoshop Brush

3. Reduce File Size to Reduce Photoshop Brush Lag

If you find that your brush is still lagging, then the next step is to reduce the file size. It’s so easy when working in photoshop to suddenly have an image with several different layers, all of which take up memory space and can cause the brush tool (or any photoshop tool) to lag.

There are a few different ways that you can reduce the overall size of the file you are working on.

  • Reduce the Image resolution. If you’re image is only going to be presented on screen, then it probably doesn’t need to be 5000 pixels wide. Reducing size and resolution will help free up memory. You can easily change this by choosing Image > Image size.  You also will only need 72 dpi for screen showing, not 600 or 1200.
  • Reduce the number of working layers. Each new layer you use on an image takes up a bit more memory so by regularly merging layers or flattening the image this can help free up space. However, this should only be done with layers that you have finished editing. To merge layers or flatten image choose Layer > merge down/visible or flatten image.
  • Convert layers to smart objects. If you aren’t frequently changing a layer or set of layers you can convert them into smart objects thereby saving space and reducing lag. Smart objects preserve an image’s source content but allow you to make non-destructive editing to that layer.
  • Save image over multiple PSD files. For images that may have many, complicated layers it may be beneficial to break the image down into sections and save each section as its own file. That way you can still easily edit each section but when you add it into the final image it appears simply as 1 layer.

4. Optimise Photoshop’s Performance to Speed Up Photoshop Brush

The next thing to check is that photoshop itself isn’t the problem. You may be experiencing a slow brush tool simply because photoshop hasn’t been optimised on your device for its best performance.

Optimise How Much Memory Is Allocated to Photoshop

One simple way to improve the performance of photoshop and speed up your brush tool is to allow photoshop to use more of your devices memory/RAM. By default, photoshop is allocated 70% of your devices available RAM but you can increase/decrease this yourself in the memory usage area of the performance preferences screen. Simply choose Edit > Preferences > Performance and edit the memory usage.


Adjust the Cache Levels

To speed up the redrawing of images as you edit, photoshop uses image caching. You are able to determine the cache levels and cache tile sizes that you would like. The higher the cache level that you pick the better the responsiveness of photoshop, but your images will take longer to load. The bigger the cache tile size the quicker the complex operations will be. However, if you are going to just be making smaller changes such with your brush tool then a smaller cache tile size will be more responsive.

Optimise Your Graphics Processor (GPU) Settings

One of the reasons why your brush tool may appear to have slowed down and be lagging is because the rate at which the screen redraws as you edit is also slow. Changing your GPU settings may help speed your brush tool up.

In the performance section of the preference settings you can fine tune your GPU by clicking on the advanced button and choosing between basic, normal, or advanced. Basic uses the least amount of GPU memory and is a great option if you are running other programs that use GPU or if you find that there are bad screen redraws.

Normal is the default setting and advanced uses the same amount of GPU as normal mode but enables more advanced featured which improves performance. The advanced setting is best when you are working in 3D.

Manage the Scratch Disks

Scratch disks are the disk drive or SSD which is used to store the temporary data while you are using photoshop. By default, photoshop will use your hard drive where you installed photoshop. So, for example if you installed photoshop onto your computer then it would use this hard drive as your scratch disk. However, if like me, you choose to install photoshop onto an external hard drive, the external hard drive would be the default scratch disk used.

You do have the option to change the scratch disk used which can be helpful especially if you are running low on storage space on your hard drive. Choose Edit > Preferences > scratch disks to change which hard drive you want to use.

5. Optimise Your Device’s Performance To Prevent Photoshop Brush Lag

If you are still having problems with you brush tool lagging the next thing to check is your device itself. As you can access photoshop on a range of different devices not all of these suggestions may be relevant.

Update Device Drivers

The first thing to check is that your devices drivers are up to date. This appears to be a common fix in those that use photoshop on a tablet. You can easily update the driver in the device manager. Alternatively, you can reinstall the device driver too.

Free Up CPU

Just like in the photoshop software itself, the reason why your brush tool is slow may be because your device has little free CPU left. This can happen when you have multiple different programs running at once or too many browser tabs open.

The easiest way to free up space is to close down any programs or browsers that you don’t need open. This may include ones running in the background, so it is worth opening up task manager to see which programs are using up all the space.

Another little trick I picked up to help improve performance is to turn off Bluetooth, disconnect from any wireless printers and even (if needed) turn off the Wi-Fi.


Change the Power Mode

If you’re anything like me, you are constantly battling between having a device with a charge that lasts more than a few hours or a device that works at its peak performance. Most devices give you the ability to alter this on a sliding scale from “save my battery life” to “perform like an Olympic Champion”.

If you’re having problems with your brush tool lagging it is probably worth checking that your device isn’t stuck in “save my battery” mode and instead push it more towards “performance mode”. Sure, you might need to put your device on charge sooner but you’re also likely to finish your project sooner because there’s less lag.

Want to learn more about using photoshop in your photography? Check out the 5 Must-Know Photoshop Tricks For Photographers


Lag photoshop brush

Your photoshop brush is lagging because the image size you are editing is large, you are using a high smoothing setting, the brush spacing is low, Photoshop is not fully optimized, or your device is not operating optimally.

If you are using a graphics tablet, your drivers may be causing the lag. However, this is a less common problem than the other possible causes listed in this article. Try out the solutions in this article before deciding to update your pen tablet drivers.

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Keep reading to find a solution that works for you.

Reasons for Photoshop Brush Lagging and How to Fix them

Your photoshop brush can lag due to the following reasons:

  1. Large file size
  2. The smoothing setting of the brush
  3. low photoshop brush spacing
  4. Un-optimized photoshop performance
  5. Low device performance

1.Large File size

You could be working on a large image with different layers, which can take up memory, causing the brush to lag during photo editing. Below are the fixes you can apply.

How to fix it

Lower the image resolution- Minimizing image resolution will free memory space, and it can be done by choosing Image>Image size and then choose a lower resolution.

Merge or flatten the number of working layers– When you finish editing, merge different layers or flatten them to free up some space. This you can do by choosing Layer>Merge down or flatten the image.

Converting the layers to smart objects– If you are not changing from different layers, converting them into smart objects can help free space and reduce lag.

Use multiple PSD files to save images– If you have images with several layers, you could break the image into smaller portions and save each piece into its distinct file, then add them up after the final edit.

2. The Smoothing Setting of The Brush

The new brush smoothing algorithm provides users with added polished look and cleaner lines. However, the upgrade comes with a photoshop brush that appears to lag or slow down.

How to fix it

If your photoshop brush is lagging due to the smoothing settings, you can reduce the smoothing using the slider or set a percentage in the Options bar at the top. You can also unmark all smoothing options found by clicking the icon next to smoothing.

photoshop brush smoothing

3. Lower Photoshop Brush Spacing

The brush spacing is often set at a default size of 25%; however, you may have lowered the spacing further to achieve a smoother line as you draw with the brush. A lower spacing increases the chances of the brush lagging.

How to fix it

You can alter the photoshop brush spacing on the brushes panel Window>brushes, then increase the spacing for better brush functions.

4. Un-optimized Photoshop Performance

Photoshop software itself can also cause problems, causing brush lagging.

How to optimize photoshop perfomance

You can optimize your photoshop performance in several ways.

Optimize the amount of memory allocated to the software– You could provide additional device memory/RAM to photoshop to improve its performance. While on photoshop, choose Edit>Preference>Performance and then edit your memory usage.

Reduce the cache levels– As you draw, photoshop often uses image caching. Higher cache tile sizes mean improved photos from photoshop; however, the images will take longer to load. Since using a brush tool requires only smaller changes, a smaller cache will be enough.

Adjust the Graphics Processor Setting– If the rate at which your photoshop screen redraws during an edit is slow, then your brush tool may also slow down or appear to be lagging. You could change the GPU settings to enhance the brush tool performance. Go to the Preference Settings>Performance>Advance> choose (basic, normal, or advanced). The basic mode uses the smallest amount of GPU memory, often used when running other programs competing for GPU memory. Normal is the default setting, while advanced has more features for enhanced performance.

Manage the Scratch Disks– You can choose to have your Photoshop scratch disks on an external hard drive, thus using it as a default scratch disk. This would provide more space for the software if your device is running low on space. To make an external drive photoshop scratch disk, go to Edit>Preferences>Scratch disks to change to a hard drive you intend to use.

photoshop changing scratch disks

5. Low Device Performance

Your device may also cause your photoshop to brush lagging due to slow drivers, high CPU usage and even your power mode.

How to fix it

The fix will depend on the device’s likely cause and the type of the device.

Update the device drivers– For those using Photoshop on a tablet, updating or reinstalling the drivers would correct the brush lagging problem.

Free up CPU– Limited CPU space can cause brush tool lagging. This often happens when you run several programs at once. You can free up CPU storage by closing any browsers or programs you do not use, including those running in the background.

Change the device power mode– If the device you are using is on power save mode, it can lag the performance of your brush tool. You can correct this by removing “save my battery” to “performance mode.”

If your computer has less than the recommended Photoshop specifications, this may be the cause of the lagging. If you want photoshop to run better you may need to dig into your pockets and get a faster computer.


You can correct a lagging photoshop brush by turning off the brush smoothing, changing the brush spacing, reducing the image size you are working on, enhancing the software performance, and optimizing the device’s performance.

Hopefully, you found this article helpful.

Is your pen tool not working?

WHY IS MY BRUSH LAGGING in Photoshop? [Wacom Tablet Slow Brush Fix]

Sudden Photoshop Brush Lag

Hello! I'm making a post because I have recently started to experience sudden brush lag in between some drawing projects. I've tried a lot of internet solutions such as:

- Purging history

- Increasing RAM usage

- Updating graphics and tablet drivers

- Changing the advanced graphic settings and switching between basic, normal and advanced drawing modes

- Restarting my computer

- Creating a new scratch disk on my external HDD


When I look at task manager, I don't see photoshop bottlenecking any of my computer's components, so I don't know what the issue is. I have also been working with the same dimensions of 26 x 26 inches at 300ppi for all my projects without any issues. If it is important, I am using the latest version of Photoshop CC 2020, I am on Windows 10, and I am using a the Kyle T. Webster brush set for my projects.


To anyone who answer,s, thanks for your help! 


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