The Brush Tool in Photoshop is one of the most versatile and it can be used for many applications. It already comes with many useful brushes preloaded into the program and you can find even more online. But sometimes you just need to be more creative and have full control. Don’t you think?
Not to worry, another great thing about Photoshop is that you can create your own custom brushes. Let me show you how.
What is a Brush?
First things first, what exactly is a brush? It’s a tool used to draw strokes. You can find it in the toolbox or you can activate it by using its hotkey: B.
This tool is very flexible because you can adjust its shape, size, opacity and lots of other specs from the Presets panel. That multiplies the options far beyond the first array of choices that you see on the first menu.
None the less, there are times that you need something you just can’t find pre-installed. For example, you can turn your signature or your logo into a brush, it doesn’t get more personal than that right? In just a few steps you can achieve this.
Make a Signature Brush
Open the image that contains your signature or logo, this can come from a scanned paper, for example, or the JPG version of a logo designed in a different program. Now that you have that opened, activate the Marquee tool to select the image. Just click and drag the selection around it and make sure you’re not grabbing anything else from the image.
Then go to Menu > Edit > Define Brush Preset and a new window will pop up where you can name your brush. Type any name you want, preferably something that will help you identify it later, and click OK.
Note: In the Brush Name window you’ll see a thumbnail with the preview of your brush, you’ll notice that the color (if it had any) is lost, that’s because brushes are grayscale, so it won’t register the colors of the original. You can, of course, apply any color when you use it though.
Now you have your new signature brush. Whenever you want to use it, just select the brush tool then open the drop-down menu from the options bar. You can also pick it from the Brush Presets panel which you can reach from the Window menu in case it’s not already opened.
Using the Custom Brush
You may be wondering why you need to turn it into a brush instead of just placing it as an image. This is because it gives you access to all the settings and controls of the brush tool. Just open the Brush panel and you’ll be able to change from color to size to spacing – anything you need for you to create patterns, watermarks and more!
That’s just how easy you can turn any image into a custom brush. But how about creating one from scratch?
Create a New Custom Brush
First, open a white canvas and draw the shape you want to turn into a brush. To do this you can use any of the Shape tools or even other Brushes. For example, I’ll make a simple sparkle. For that, I just need four lines using the Line tool and a round brush with very soft edges in the center so that it has a glow effect.
Remember that color is not registered so it doesn’t matter which colors are you using to draw your shape. Just know that anything in white won’t be part of the brush as it will translate as transparent. Now to turn it into a brush just follow the steps that you did before. Menu> Edit > Define Brush Preset. Click name it.
Now your custom brush is done, grab it from the menu like any other brush. It’s very easy to create but its use can be as elaborate as you need since it has a lot of possibilities. Let me give you some tips to make the most of it.
Tips and Tricks
You can quickly access some of your brush’s most used properties like size, hardness and opacity from the Options Bar or get a lot more control if you open the brush panel. Regardless of whether you created the brush or it came with Photoshop, you can adjust its presets in the brush panel.
A quick overview of the presets I find more useful:
Brush tip: Apart from the size and hardness that you can also find in the Options Bar, here you can also adjust the roundness and angle of the brush.
Scattering: this is as straightforward as the name suggests. With this option, you can place the brush more randomly, thus, scattering it.
You can also change the blending mode of the brush in the drop-down menu. This changes the way the brush stroke interacts with the object directly below, which could be an image or a previous brush stroke. However, I prefer to leave it as Normal and put the new brush strokes on their own layer and then alter the layer’s blending mode, that way I can always come back and change it later if need be.
Opacity and Flow: Both of these refer to the amount of paint that you are applying. However, with opacity, it won’t add more paint if you pass over the same area many times unless you release the click and start again. While flow will keep adding paint regardless.
Over to You
I hope you found the tutorial useful and give your creativity a go with some custom brushes of your own!