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Making Photoshop Brushes

For that home-made touch...

Once you get familiar with Photoshop brushes, you'll quite quickly want to start making your own. Find out all you need to know about making Photoshop brushes right here, and then get started!

The Source Image

There's not much to it all really. Unless it's just a basic shape like a square or a circle, every brush needs a source image, so let's start there. You can use any image, no matter how simple or complex, but obviously different types of image will give different eventual results. Experiment with different levels of detail to try out the different effects.

Once you've got your image, decide whether you want to use all of it, or just a part of it. If you want to use all of it, then you needn't do anything more. If you just want a part of it, then use the selection tools to select the parts you want to use. This doesn't have to be a regular shape either, non-standard selections work too.

Define the Brush

Here's where we actually start to create Photoshop brushes. Go to the Edit menu, and select the 'Define Brush' option. If you made a selection, it will instead read 'Define Brush from Selection'. Once you click that, a preview of the brush will appear, along with a text box. Give the brush a name, and then click ok.

Placing the Brush

"Where'd it go?" you might say. The brush you defined got added to the end of whatever brush set you already had open. So if you were using a default brush before, you should now find that the last brush in the 'Default Brushes' set is the one you just made!

It won't be there for long though. The next time you change brush sets, the brush will disappear from the brush set it got added to. It's only there temporarily. So the next job is to save it to it's own brush set.

Define a New Brush Set

Click on the brush palette, and then click the circled arrow on the right to display the drop down menu. From here select the 'Preset Manager' option. You can also access this screen by selecting 'Preset Manager' from the Edit menu.

Scroll down until you find your brush, and then click it to select it. You can select more than one brush at a time by clicking and dragging, or using the control and shift keys while clicking.

Select the 'Save Set' button to save your selected brushes to a set of their own. It won't appear until the next time you load Photoshop, but now you can add brushes to that set as you please. Select the set from the brush palette and define new brushes like you already have to add other brushes to the set, but always remember to return to the preset manager to save the set, or otherwise your changes will be lost.

You can also mix and match brushes from many different sets in the preset manager to make any collection or combination you like. It can be worth categorising and organising your brushes, especially if you have a lot of them.

Additional Settings

Once you have a brush set, you can also add some special features to the brushes. Select a brush from the set in the brush palette as usual, and then click the button reading 'More Options' at the very end of the brush toolbar.

Brush Options

This tutorial is not focused on explaining all these options, but I will give a quick summary.

Spacing - How often the brush is repeated when dragged, expressed as a percentage of the brushes shortest side length.

Fade - How many times the brush will be printed before it fades out completely. A value of 0 indicates no fade.

Hue Jitter - A random variation in the color of the brush, as it is dragged.

Scatter - A random variation in the placement of the brush, as it is dragged.

The other options are not important when defining brushes from pictures. If you alter these options for a brush, you can achieve some nice effects. To retain those settings you must re-save the brush with them however. To do this, go to the brush palette, and again click the circled arrow. Click the top option 'Save Brush' and then enter a name to save the brush with it's extra options. You can always delete the original if you only wish to keep the new version.

Endless Possibilities

Making Photoshop brushes really does open up endless possibilities. Once you can create your own custom brushes, you can easily reprint aspects of art between several pictures, incorporate echoes and shadows of older artwork in newer material, experiment with endless overlaying, arranging and layering.

There is no way one tutorial could cover all these avenues, but I hope I have given you the start you need to begin to experiment and explore the new directions these brush techniques could take your artwork in. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to let me know using my Contact Form.

I create some brush sets to give away free on the site at various intervals, so feel free to look at those for inspiration. To find out when I've added new ones, sign up to my Free Monthly Newsletter to get all the latest information delivered straight to your inbox!

Kind Regards

Robert Redwood Robert Redwood - Bio
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