advanced photoshop

Create custom brushes in Photoshop

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Tips & Tutorials, by The Advanced Photoshop Team

Create your own brushes from photo sources

Photoshop has loads of built-in brushes and these can be easily customised to suit your needs, but sometimes, you need something that just isn’t there. You can find plenty of brushes online, and many of these are free, but it is really easy to create your own brushes, which saves you having to find just the right one online.

If you have a photograph with a texture that you particularly like, then define it as a Brush Preset and you can save it to use again and again in your digital projects. You can use any photo, or even part of a photo, but there are limitations. The brush can only be a maximum size, for example, and brushes are rendered in greyscale. With our brush, we didn’t need to convert the colour image before turning it into a brush, but with other images, you may benefit from greyscale conversion, so that you can check the brush’s levels to ensure all the details that you want to be able to see are visible.

Step 1: Set up a new document

Step 1

Create a new document that is 2,500 x 2,500 pixels. This is the largest size a brush can be in version of Photoshop pre-CS6, so it’s worth going for it. If you are using CS6, then you can go up to 5,000 pixels, but you may find this too large for many purposes.

Step 2: Photo source

Create custom brushes in Photoshop

Next, open the photo you want to use and make a selection of the area that you want for a brush, in our case, we are just choosing the one leaf. Copy and paste this into the new file. Brushes are greyscale, so if you can convert it now if you want to check the levels or leave it as a colour image.

Step 3: Define the brush

Create custom brushes in Photoshop

Create custom brushes in Photoshop

Fill the document with the photo sample and then select the whole document. Go to Edit>Define Brush Preset and name your brush. You will see your new brush in the Brush Presets, ready to use. You need to save it from here (using the menu from the drop-down arrow).

Create custom brushes in Photoshop