Create grunge brushes in Photoshop

The real world is full of dirt. Real dirt. If you look closely enough at almost any surface that surrounds us, you will find dirt or stubborn dirt in varying degrees, as well as faded or crumbling surfaces. This is all part of the natural chaos of this world.

Thus, in order to create believable and realistic effects in digital pictures, it is necessary to combine some forms of dirt and all sorts of chaotic dirt. The problem is that it is rather difficult to create natural and arbitrary mud textures using digital tools based on mathematical equations. Instead, it is much easier to create textures using practical materials, and then digitize them for later use in Adobe Photoshop.

In this short lesson, I will show you the whole process of creating grunge brushes using a technique that is easy to repeat, without creating too much dirt that would have to be cleaned! Results are also very easy to digitize and use.

Download brushes author

1. Create effect in practice

Step 1

The materials recommended for this practical exercise are easy to find, but you may need to visit an art salon or workshop:

  1. A small piece of thick cardboard that does not wrinkle with a little moisture
  2. A cup of used coffee grounds (I recommend you drink coffee first. A cup of fine coffee!)
  3. Water soluble black paint
  4. Thick brush
  5. Several ordinary sponges

Step 2

First, let’s prepare the paint to create the effect. Add some water to the coffee grounds cup, mix with a brush, and then set the cup aside. Next, squeeze out a little paint on a small plate or on a colorful palette.

Step 3

Take one of the sponges. Dip it in paint. I chose the usual sea sponge, because its texture is arbitrary and it can be seen that the texture is natural, not industrial. Printing ink is also ideal for creating this effect, since it is too thick to absorb the sponge, which makes it easy to create prints that can be easily scanned or photographed.

Step four

Now apply the absorbed paint with a sponge onto a piece of cardboard. Quickly touch the sponge, but without creating strokes to create the look of dirt, absorbed dirt – covering the texture.

Step five

Next, with a brush, add some coffee liquid and thick to the texture. Be careful not to add too much liquid to the cardboard — just add enough to dissolve the ink.

Step 6

Now, choose a clean sponge to soak up the excess liquid. The amount of coffee used should vary depending on the print being created; this will help create a wide range of different grunge effects.

Step 7

Experiment using different paint application methods for a wide range of effects. One of my favorite ways that I used was to lightly dip the sponge soaked in paint in the coffee liquid before putting a stamp on the cardboard.

2. Digitization

So, we got our hands dirty, but we created the right texture on paper, it’s time to turn our dirty spots into pixels!

Step one

At first, wait a bit, let the paper dry completely. If you have created a texture with a spread of coffee grounds, then I recommend that you take a picture of the texture instead of scanning. Just make sure the camera is pointing straight down on the texture, and a good and even light is exposed.

Step 2

Open the photo in Photoshop. Next, go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Curves (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Curves). In the curve settings window, select the tool white pipette (white eyedropper), click on the background of the paper to determine the point of white.

Step 3

Align the curves so that they merge on the outer edge of the histogram, while enhancing the overall texture contrast.

Step four

Photoshop ignores color information when creating brushes, so it will be helpful to first evaluate the texture, just to be sure that a color change will not produce unexpected results. Let’s go Layer – New Adjustment Layer – Black and White (Layer> New Adjustment Layer> Black White).

Step five

When creating your brush in Photoshop, there is nothing worse if an abstract brush has a hard border. This is due to the fact that the texture goes beyond the boundaries of the working paper.

As a hint to avoid this, create a new layer on top of the layer with the original photo, and then using a soft white brush, paint along the edges. In parallel, you can paint over any distracting spots or elements.

Step 6

Now, either click on the photo layer or on the white background layer to make them active. Next, go Editing – Identify brush(Edit> Define Brush Preset). Give the brush a recognizable name and press the ‘OK’ button. Photoshop will now add the created brushes to your standard set of brushes.

3. You can use My Brushes

I strongly recommend that you complete this lesson and create your own brushes. This is not a very difficult task, and it will be incredibly useful for you. Enhancing your skills in creating visual effects, from practical classes to subsequent digitization, will open up new opportunities for your digital work. But if you do not have the time or opportunity to create your own brushes, then you can use my brushes in your works!

Download the grunge brush brushes Dirt from the link at the beginning of this tutorial. Next, go Editing – Manage Sets (Edit> Presets> Preset Manager), in the drop-down box Type of set (Preset Type), select the option Brushes (Brushes). Next, click Download (Load) and in the window that appears, select the installation file DirtGrimeBrushes.abr.

So you add 13 brushes to your standard brush set.

Thank you for being with me. Hope you enjoyed this tutorial.

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