Create a customised graphic brush in Photoshop

Jonathan Standing explains the basic principles of custom brush creation

This tutorial covers the basics of creating custom Photoshop brushes. Once you have these basics mastered, it’s easy (and quite a lot of fun) to experiment with what the different brush tools can do for you – they’re an incredibly powerful part of the software.

I’ll discuss the dos and don’ts of initially creating a brush, and show you how to manipulate the brush controls to achieve different effects.

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01 Firstly, think about resolution. Create your brushes in at least the same screen resolution at which you plan to use them. Use black to define your brush’s shape – if you use a grey tone, then you won’t be able to achieve 100% opacity with your brush when you use it later.

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02 To create the brush, you must first create a shape. Create a new layer, so that you can select your shape cleanly. You can only define the brush shape when you have an active selection.

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03 Select the Define Brush Preset in the Edit drop-down menu to create your brush. Make sure you name your brush for future reference, then select it from the Brush panel. In the Custom Brush panel you can move around the Spacing slider under Brush Tip Shape to change the effect of the brush.

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04 Using the Shape Dynamics submenu, change the angle jitter to Direction and manipulate the roundness jitter to introduce some variety to your brush. Finally, use the controls in the Scattering sub-menu to make the brush effect more random.

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05 Once you’re happy with your custom brush, it’s vital to save it – Photoshop doesn’t do this automatically. In the main Brush panel, open the sub-menu and select New Brush Preset. Once you’ve saved your brush, Photoshop will then add it to your Brush panel with all your settings intact.