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How to Make Brushes in Photoshop

Learn how to make brushes in Photoshop from certified trainer Scott Strong of The Training Farm in NYC in this Howcast Photoshop tutorial.


Hey, my name is Scott Strong and I'm a certified trainer from The Training Farm. And today, I'm going to show you how to make brushes in Photoshop. We start with this image here which is a fairly simple image, a splotch on a white background. You want to try to stick with black and white images, just because it gives you contrast. And Photoshop, the way that it works, is it understands the white areas as being transparent and the black areas as being the actual brush stroke.

What I'm going to do is I'm going to start by selecting the area around the image. And I'm just going to push the blacks to make them a little blacker and the whites to make them a little whiter. So, I'm going to go up "Image, Adjustments, Levels" and what that does is it brings up a new window. You have three sets of triangles here. On the right are the highlights and the middle are the mid-tones. And on the left are the blacks. So, I'm just going to slide the blacks over a little bit. And you can already see in the image that the blacks are getting a little darker. I don't want to go too far, but I just want to make them a little darker. I'll hit "OK."

And now what I'm going to do is I'm going to go to "Edit, define brush, preset." Title my brush and I'll hit "OK." Now, if I go and I open up my brush palate and I select the brush tool. If I scroll down, I can select the brush and I'm going to mess around with the shape dynamic. So, you can see right here it gives you a little bit of a preview of what that brushstroke is going to look like if I actually brush on a canvas.

So, by selecting "Brush Tip Shape," you can start by seeing that preview. And then, I'm going to go to "Shape Dynamics." We have some size jitter going on. Right now it's set up for "Pen Pressure." If you have a Wacom tablet attached to your computer, it's going to be sensitive to the pressure of the pen against the tablet. I'm just going to turn that off for now, so you can see what it looks like without that. And you can see already that you have the little tail image, which is very similar to the image over here. Turn that back on.

There's some other controls that you can use in here. We have scattering, which means that you can scatter that brush preset out a little bit. I actually used this on a show one time, that I worked on. I had a leaf and I scattered that around so I could paint trees pretty quickly and easily. Turn off the scattering.

Texture is pretty cool. You can add a texture to the brushstroke so it looks like it's being brushed against a piece of paper. We can make the depth on this different. We can expand it or we can change the size. We can also throw a dual brush in there, so that way, it's being affected by another brush, in addition to the one that we're using. So, you have a lot of options to choose from with your brushes.

I like to change the angle jitter a lot. That way, you don't have the same image in the same way. There's a lot of randomness when you use an actual brush in real life. So, I like to replicate that a little bit with the angle jitter. Next, what I'll do is I'll just create a new image just to brush this across the screen.

Okay, so I created a new image. What I'm going to do is I'm just going to reduce the brush size by hitting the left bracket on my keyboard. It's a quick way to do that. And I'm just going to brush across and you can see exactly how that brush works.

We can still go back in and change it if we like to by going to our brush presets. And I'm just going to add a little bit more texture. Change the scaling of it. And maybe throw in a little bit to the dual brush. We'll see what happens here. Change the size of it. And now you see you can have a little bit more of a natural-looking brushstroke. And that's how you create brushes in Photoshop.

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