How to create your own brushes in Photoshop

In this lesson, we will learn how to easily create your own brushes for Photoshop. Initially, the program contains many good brushes that can be used in your work, but it is much more interesting to create your own brushes, especially after Adobe completely changed the properties of the Brush tool in the version of Photoshop 7, adding unprecedented visual capabilities to the already powerful graphic editor. Since the number of brushes that can be created in Photoshop is limited only by your imagination, we will create a simple enough brush to show the simplicity and speed of the process itself. We will also look at several dynamic parameters in the Brush panel in order to understand how you can control the brush after it has been created.

Let’s start!

Step 1: Create a new document in Photoshop

Let’s start by creating a new document that we will use when developing our brush. And again I want to remind you that the purpose of this lesson is not to learn how to create a particular brush, but to study the process of creating a brush from beginning to end. I’m going to create a new document with a size of 200×200 pixels. To do this, I need to go to the File section of the menu at the top of the screen and select the New option. A faster way to create a new document is to press the key combination Ctrl + N (Win) / Command + N (Mac):

Choose “File“>” New

This action will open the New Document dialog box. Enter the value “200” for the “Width” and “Height” parameters and make sure that the unit of measurement of the document size is pixels. Also, make sure that the Background Contents option is set to White, because we need the background color for our brush to be white:

Create a new document with a size of 200×200 pixels with a white background.

Click OK when you are done in the dialog box to confirm the settings and close the window. After that, a new document will appear on the screen, filled with white 200×200 pixels

Choose the initial size for our brush

Photoshop allows us to create brushes up to 2500 pixels by 2500 pixels, but maybe this is not necessary. With this brush size, drawing in Photoshop is equivalent to drawing with a floor mop. Also, drawing with large brushes, as a rule, involves a lot of RAM and computer power, which can significantly slow down the operation of the operating system. Therefore, most often you will want to create a much smaller brush.

The size that you initially set when creating a brush will be its default size. It is important to note that the brushes that we create ourselves are based on pixel graphics, and are inherently images, so when changing their brush size, they behave just like ordinary images. As a rule, if you reduce the size of the brushes, they will remain clear and sharp, but if you significantly increase the size of the brushes compared to the original, they will lose their sharpness, becoming vague and fuzzy. Thus, to create a brush that will perfectly fit your needs, you will have to resort to the trial and error method. The size of 200×200 pixels, which I will use in this lesson, is most often suitable for work.

Step 2: Choose the “Brush” tool

Let’s create a new brush using one of the brushes originally installed in Photoshop. First of all, on the toolbar, select the Brush Tool (Brush Tool) or simply press the B key to quickly select a tool:

Choose tool “Brush

Step 3: Choose a small round brush

Having selected the Brush tool, right-click inside the document window to display the Brush Preset picker window, which is a miniature version of the full Brush panel. We will look at the panel a little later (and in another lesson we will study it in more detail). The preset brush window allows us to select a brush from a set of preset brush shapes (which explains the name of the window). To select a brush, click on its image. In my case, I’m going to click on a hard round brush with a size of 5 pixels (Hard Round 5 Pixels). If in the “Preferences” section you have chosen the option “Show tooltips” (Tool Tips), then as you hover the cursor over the brush image, its name will appear on the screen. Press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) as soon as you select a brush to close the window of the specified brush settings:

Select a small round brush in the preset brush window, then press Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) to close the window

Step 4: Make sure the foreground color (foreground color) is black

When we created a new document in step 1, we set the color to white as the background color. The reason for this is that all the brushes in Photoshop are halftone, i.e. they can only contain black, white and various shades of gray. White areas become transparent, so you won’t see them when you paint with a brush. Areas that are filled with black become 100% visible, and if your brush contains different shades of gray, then depending on which color is closer to black or white, the areas will be either more visible or less noticeable.
If at the moment we turned our document into a brush, it would all become transparent, because nothing but white is contained in the document. Drawing an invisible brush from an artistic point of view is perhaps an interesting undertaking, but for practical purposes (including for the purposes of our lesson), we would like to draw with a brush that can be seen. Therefore, we need to add areas with black color to the document, which will become the visible part of the brush (known as the “brush tip”).

The Photoshop brush will paint with the current foreground color, and since the default foreground color is black, you will most likely have black already set as the foreground color. You can determine the current foreground and foreground colors simply by looking at the color swatches at the bottom of the toolbar (the upper left swatch is responsible for the foreground color). If your foreground color is not black, press D to quickly reset the current color settings and return to the original default settings:

The color that the brush will draw in Photoshop is the foreground color

Step 5: Draw a series of horizontal brush strokes in the document window

Select a small round brush and set black as the foreground color, click in any area inside the document and draw a series of short horizontal brush strokes. For more variety, change the thickness of the strokes using some useful keyboard shortcuts. Press the key with the left opening bracket (left bracket key ([)) to make the brush smaller, and with the right closing bracket (right bracket key (])) to make the brush larger. The keys with brackets on most keyboards are to the right of the letter P. When you finish drawing strokes, you should have a similar column with brush strokes of different thickness:

Column with strokes of different thickness and direction

Step 6: Create a new brush from the document

To create a new brush from the document, go to the “Edit” menu at the top of the screen and select “Define Brush Preset” (depending on the version of the program (Define Brush)):

Select “Editing” > “Define Brush”

After this, the program will display a dialog box where you will be prompted to give the new brush a name. I’m going to name my brush “My New Brush”. You might want to give the brush a more informative title:

We give the name of the new brush

Click OK when you enter a name to exit the dialog box. And here we are done! We have successfully created a new brush, which is ready to embody our future plans in the program. Now you can close the document with a brush.

In order to select a new brush at the right time, first make sure that the Brush tool is activated, then right-click in any area of ​​your document to display the specified brush settings window. Start browsing through the list of brushes until you see an image of your brush (newly created brushes usually appear at the end of the list), then click on the brush image to select it. Click Enter (Win) / Return (Mac) after you select a brush to close the window of the specified brush settings:

Select your new brush in the brush settings window

After selecting a new brush, click the mouse button in the document window and, while holding the button pressed, drag the cursor to draw a brush stroke:

Our newly created brush in action

A start was made, but, to be honest, I believe that at this stage my brush will have limited use. Fortunately, we created a brush fingerprint shape that can be modified during the drawing process using the Brush Dynamics section of the Brush panel. We will look at this panel with you further!

Step 7: Open the “Brush” panel

We looked at how to select the standard ready-made brush shape in the preset brush settings window, but if we need to control the brush shape during the drawing process, we need to open the Brushes panel, which provides access to various, often surprising, parameters of brushes. In a separate lesson, we will examine in detail the contents of the Brush panel and all its settings, and now let’s quickly go over several parameters with which we can change the shape of our brush strokes.

To open the “Brush” panel, you need to go to the “Window” menu section (Window) and select “Brush” (Brushes), either press the F5 key on the keyboard (pressing the key again closes the panel), or click the toggle icon of the Brush panel on the option panel (pressing the icon again closes the panel):

Clicking on the corresponding toggle switch icon on the options panel opens and closes the Brush panel.

As a result of any of the above actions, the Brushes panel will appear on the screen, a kind of “elder brother” of the brush settings window that we studied earlier. By default, when you first open the Brush panel, the Brush Presets option will be selected in the upper left corner, which is responsible for displaying the same brush icons that we saw in the preset window on the right side of the panel. brushes. To select a brush, simply click on its image.

Scroll through the list of brushes to our newly created brush and select it by clicking on the appropriate icon, if this brush has not yet been selected. At the very bottom of the panel, the current brush stroke view is displayed with the selected brush. Since I haven’t made any changes yet, the brush stroke looks exactly the same as our brush strokes that I painted on the screen before:

The main panel “Brush” with the selected option “sets of brushes”

Step 8: We select the desired value of the “Intervals” parameter for the brush print

Click on the Brush Tip Shape option, located directly below the Brush Sets option in the upper left corner of the Brush panel:

Click on the parameter “Form of the brush print”

In the real world, if you were painting with a real brush, a continuous layer of paint would remain on the paper. Photoshop program works differently. As you move the mouse cursor, fingerprints remain on the screen. If these prints are located close enough to each other, it gives the impression of a smooth, solid brush stroke. If the prints are placed at a considerable distance from each other, then they become noticeable, and the brush stroke turns out ribbed. Depending on what effect you want to get (for example, draw a dotted line), you can either leave a lot of space between brush prints, or, in most cases, make a brush stroke smooth and continuous.

By selecting the “Brush Print Shape” option in the “Brush” panel, we can control the distance between the prints using the “Spacing” option located at the very bottom of the panel. This option is responsible for the width of the brush print as a percentage, and the default value is 25%. This means that with a brush print width of 100 pixels, the program will draw a new print every 25 pixels as the mouse moves:

“Intervals” parameter is responsible for the frequency of brush strokes in the process of drawing.

The initial value of 25% is usually too large for a smooth brush stroke. I’m going to reduce the value of the Intervals parameter to 13%. To do this, move the parameter slider to the left or type the desired value directly into the data entry box. At the same time, you will see how the current type of brush stroke in the preview window changes in accordance with the new value of the Intervals parameter:

Reduce the value of the Intervals parameter to make the brush stroke look smoother.

Now, if I start painting with my brush, the brush stroke will be smoother, since the individual prints will be spaced from each other at close range:

With a close arrangement of the individual brush prints, the brush stroke will be smoother.

Step 9: Select the “Dynamics of Form”

Click on the “Form Dynamics” parameter (Shape Dynamics) located under the “Brush Print Shape” parameter that we worked with before. This parameter allows us to control the size, angle and roundness of the brush print during the drawing process. Make sure that you click on the very name of the “Dynamics of form” parameter, and not on the window to the left of the name. Clicking on the window allows us to enable / disable the parameter itself, but does not give access to its options:

Click on the name “Dynamics of the form”

Step 10: Change the “Control” parameter for the tilt angle to “Direction”

The main problem that I encountered when painting with my brush is that, regardless of the direction of movement of the cursor, the horizontal lines that form the basis of my stroke always remain horizontal. Let’s make changes and make it so that the shape of the imprint of the brush repeats the direction of movement of the mouse cursor. To do this, by selecting the “Dynamics of the form” option, change the “Control” parameter (Control) to tilt the print angle (Angle) to “Direction” (Direction). And again, you will see how the current brush stroke view in the preview window changes the shape according to the changes:

Change the parameter “Control” of the inclination of the print angle to “Direction”

I will draw another brush stroke, and this time it looks more natural, because the shape of the brush print repeats the direction of movement in the process of drawing:

Brush stroke looks more natural

Step 11: Change the “Control” parameter to fluctuate the brush size to “Pen Pressure” (when using a graphic tablet)

If you, like me, use a pressure-sensitive graphic tablet, then you can tell the program that you will adjust the size of the shape of the brush print with the pen. To do this, when the “Dynamics of form” parameter is selected, change the “Control” (Control) option for the size of the brush imprint (Size) to “Pen Pressure” (Pen Pressure):

Change the parameter “Management” of the print size to “Pen pressure” (in case you have a graphic tablet)

By selecting the Pen Pressure option, I can easily adjust the size of the brush print during the drawing process without stopping, making the brush stroke even more natural:

Brush print size can now be dynamically controlled using pen pressure

Obviously, we have considered only a few parameters on the “Brush” panel, which can affect the brush in the process of drawing. However, in a few short steps we managed to come up with and create a completely new brush from scratch, and we also got a visual idea of ​​how effective the various dynamic parameters of the Brush panel can be. In the next lesson, we will explore the Brush panel in more detail.

And here we are done!

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