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Custom Basic Brushes in Photoshop Rate Topic: -----

#1 modi123_1   User is online

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Posted 22 April 2015 - 07:30 PM

Custom Brushes in Photoshop

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One of the benefits of working in the digital medium is the limitless tools you can create to bring new effects, elements, and options into your work. One of the often over looked by folks starting out is the ability to make your own brushes in Photoshop. I am not talking about another variation of a round hard brush, but a brush that is a replication of pattern to bring to life your work or give the illusion of a texture not easily created. Leaves, trees, scales, rocks, dust, birds, bloody hand prints, buildings, and star bursts can be made into brushes and applied to quicken your work flow and make an illustration pop.

Certainly some folk will balk and exclaim - "but, modi123_1! That is cheating and cutting corners! I want to draw every single leaf on a tree, or spend a week trying to make clouds!". That's fine if that is your flow, but these are tools available to you and I am a fan of not hamstringing my creative processes with self imposed red tape. Very simliar how I have a set of code snippets I use to speed up my development I have a set of my brushes. Brushes are a key part to many graphic designers, concept artists, and artists.

Let us get familiar with examples of how to create a brush and utilize it for the best results.

Photoshop cs2 or higher
Wacom tablet (it helps but is not crucial)

When creating a brush, and like most artistic pursuits, you need to be thinking about why you would want to make one and how you will apply it. Not everything can be solved with a new brush, but it can help enhance your set.

Getting the Lay of the Land

Fire up Photoshop and open up your brush menu. (Default is F5, or windows->brushes.

There are a plethora of options here and you should spend sometime tinkering with what they do and how they can alter a brush. Take the standard hard round brush. If I flip to scattering you see it is turned off to provide a smooth and consistent line.

If I turn on scattering look how the pattern changes! Now I can move from a striaght line to a smattering of dots.

Another great option to test out is your 'color dynamics'. With this turned on you can alter the color of the line you are drawing by the pressure of your pen to go between your primary and secondary colors!

You'll notice if you take off scattering that the hard round brush is just repeating circles to make the line - so is not a new addition to photoshop!

Please explore your tools and see how they may work for your flow and art, but remember - no amount of fancy brush lipstick will make up a pig design!

Making a Brush

To make a brush we need a blank canvas of small-ish size, an idea, and a smidge of skill.

Open up a new canvas, set it to a 100x100 pixel square, and about 300 resolution.

-> Side note - I typically do my drawings at 300 or better resolution. This makes for more refined edges and helps keeping the jagged edges to a minimum if I need to print off my work for a poster or magazine.

My goal is to make a leaf-ish shaped brush to start out.

Make a simple maple leaf drawing. I tend to stay towards black and grays, and make sure to have a transparent background. If you do not then any drawn pixel with be part of your brush and you'll have leaves embedded in blocky white squares!

In the Edit menu click 'define brush preset'.

Give it a name.

The brush is automatically added to our brush list. (You may need to scroll down to find it as they are typically sorted alphabetically.) You can hover your mouse over the brushes for names.

The current brush is a little rough to use, right? A single click stamps the brush, but to draw a line is not really helpful.

That's a little rough, but tweak the shape tip, shape, and scattering and we can achieve a better look!

!! IMPORTANT!! When you dial into a settings you like make sure to save them into their own brush presets. If you do not then your work has been for naught!

Example applications on a quick and dirty tree.

Not too bad, not too bad. Certainly there could be room for improvement, but the point is clear. To draw all of those leaves would have taken an exceedingly long time, but with a brush we can iron out the flow much faster.

Alternatively you can use an image as a brush preset. Grabbing this canadian maple leaf image I paste the image into a new canvas, convert it to gray scale, and define my brush preset.

The output is more natural looking and less hard edges. Both routes (self created vs existing image) have their time and place.

I would like to stress again - play with the brush options and !SAVE! your presets. I have lost many a solid preset for forgetting to save.

A few more examples - a semi circle line can be used for many purposes..

Ribbing the hose on some mech sketch to add texture.

Seeing how scale texturing can work work on the lizard man sketch?

Using a single pine tree brush you can knock out a rough concept of a forest in more of a stamp format


In the end these examples are just the tip of the iceberg for rough sketches done in a tutorial, but can be complex tools to assist you in mock ups, design, texturing, and polish.

Hopefully you have been inspired to take time and explore your tool-set. If you create an interesting brush, texture, or effect please let me know! I always enjoy seeing the creative output of others.

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