Free Photoshop brushes: Quick links
Photoshop brushes are a fantastic time-saver as they enable you to quickly create rich artwork without having to draw all the individual design elements.
So where to start? There's a huge spectrum of brushes available, ranging from leaf designs to fabric textures, and cloud patterns to typography. And while Photoshop CC does ship with a set of brushes pre-installed, they only scratch the surface of what's possible with the brush engine.
So whether you're using an older version of Photoshop or have joined Creative Cloud, grab the free Photoshop brush downloads below and start adding amazing design flourishes to your work.
If you're looking to create a soft, hazy aesthetic in your work, try this free Photoshop brush from Heygrey. It is described as a 'furry watercolour brush', and the creator suggests using it to create hazy backgrounds. We're especially impressed with the realistic watercolour effect that has been achieved here.
02. Real markers
Perfect for fashion illustrations, industrial design and storyboarding, this set of 12 free brushes by Eilert Janßen enables you to create lively imagery that looks like it's been sketched out with marker pens. If you like what you see, Eilert sells a set of 300 marker brushes for just $9.
03. Pencil brush
Create the effect of a soft pencil sketch, but without the grubby hands and smudged paper. This pencil-effect Photoshop brush is one of the most realistic we've seen, and you can download it for free on DeviantArt, courtesy of professional digital artist Jon Neimeister.
If you're going for a watercolour feel in your work then these shapes and splatters will help you get the look just right; just don't overdo them.
Limitations: free for personal use; contact for commercial use
05. Dry brushes
Artist Kirk Wallace created these brushes at home using ink and paper, and offers them to all for free. Perfect for rough, harsh textures, Wallace uses them in his own fruit prints.
Add realistic dribbles of paint to your digital designs with these free Photoshop brushes. They're the work of DeviantArt user LilithDemoness and there are 14 in the set to choose from.
Limitations: Free for commercial use
These watercolour splatters were created with the help of professional-quality watercolour paint on cold press watercolour paper. There are 32 hi-res bushes in the pack, and you can download the lot for free and use them without attribution in your work.
08. Artist brushes
Aaron Griffin is a self-taught illustrator and concept artist known especially for his figure paintings (his work even graced the cover of the Anatomy special of our very own ImagineFX magazine). He's generously offering up the Photoshop brushes he uses to create his digital paintings, free of charge.
A set of 12 excellent brushes from Chris Spooner. These high-resolution dry brushes are fantastically detailed, bristly and texture-rich.
A beautiful set of 10 illustrative brushes in a technical-drawing theme, including wonderfully detailed cross-sectional designs.
11. Paint lines
These 24 very hi-res brushes will provide a real-media feel to your design work. Some brushes look like paint tin marks, while others are thicker, providing lots of options within the pack.
Charcoal's an essential part of any artist's toolkit, but it's undoubtedly the messiest as well. Get those soft charcoal lines - without getting charcoal all over your hands and everything else - with these excellent brushes.
Add a chill to your designs with a flurry of snow. This pack of free Photoshop brushes contains 15 effects, which you can mix up to create realistic variation in your scene.
Electrify your work with this collection of stunning lightning strikes. Tileable and available not only as Photoshop brushes but also as patterns and JPEG images, there are 18 to choose from in this set.
This is a really useful set of 19 different silhouettes, each featuring a different plant, ranging from trees to grasses.
16. Hair brush set
Create realistic hair effects with this set of free Photoshop brushes. Mix them together for extra variety and to create different effects. This set comes courtesy of digital artist Lee Alex Pearce.
17. Blood stains
Add a splash of gore to your digital paintings with this free Photoshop brush set. It includes a range of different large-scale brushes you can use to incorporate realistic blood stains into your designs.
Limitations: Requires a social interaction (tweet, Facebook Like) to download. Cannot be redistributed.
A really useful set of dust particle brushes from WeGraphics. These can be used to add instant dirt and richness to your designs, and are ideal for creating a vintage effect.
Limitations: Cannot be redistributed
This set of 10 brushes is ideal for adding grassy details to your Photoshop paintings. There's a variety of styles to choose from, so you can create everything from scrubby dry patches of grass to lush meadows. A bonus tip from the creator is that if you switch up the colours, they also make great fur.
Limitations: Do not redistribute.
Great for providing touch-ups on model photography, this set of free brushes includes detailed textured hair in a variety of falling styles. As well as straight styles, there are brushes for creating wavy hair and tight ringlets.
Limitations: Credit required.
A nice set of brushes that allow you to introduce tree and bush silhouettes to the edges of your composition.
Limitations: non-commercial use only
Four green-themed brushes that are mainly worth the download for the excellent tree illustration that's included!
12 large brushes that include splashes, ripples and water drops. An excellent set for backgrounds as well as foreground design elements.
Straightforward fabric textures, great for backgrounds in both print and web designs as they're high resolution.
26. Floral swirls
Useful set of floral swirl brushes ideal for building up rich borders and textures in both print and web designs.
27. Fabric Textures
A useful selection of nine different fabrics that show off the weave and pattern of the material with a scratchy realism.
28. Hi-res clouds
This is a really useful set of 17 brushes, each of which features a different cloud design that can easily be used to add interest to your images
29. Cloud brushes
Here are 24 cloud brushes, at quite impressive sizes, all from artist by Mila Vasileva. "Mushroom cloud included."
30. Moon brushes
This excellent set provides 10 different phases of the moon in brush format!
31. Leaf brushes
Great for creating organic textured background, this set features seven isolated leaf images with intricate details and textures.
32. Fractal brushes
An excellent selection of fractal-based brushes that look futuristic – great for web design.
A total of 12 individual brushes, each of which includes a stand-alone piece of artwork ranging from detailed feather illustrations, to whimsical birds-on-a-branch.
Limitations: attribution under some circumstances
Next page: Grunge, sci-fi and fantasy brushes