A little history
The Brush tool is one of the oldest tools of Photoshop and throughout the history of this software we could say that it is one of the most useful, since it is used both by those who use the program to edit their photographs as well as by those illustrators who have chosen this software to color their images. In the image below you can see an evolution of the Photoshop tools panel up to the CS2 version. Notice how the brush has remained a constant tool.
Throughout this tutorial we will not focus so much on a specific project, but we will see some tips so you can get the most out of this tool. You will create your own brushes and you will learn to modify those brushes, to export them and even to import them to other computers. We start?
How to create your own brushes
Can not find the brush you were looking for? Are you tired of searching the Internet for packs of brushes that resemble what you need? In this chapter we will see how to create our own brushes from scratch, how to export them and even how to install them. For this step you can use any image, be it a photograph, some brushstrokes you make and scan or, for example, your watermark to later use that brush.
Open the image in Photoshop. We must bear in mind that the high and wide maximum that our image can have so that we define it as a brush value is 2500 px, so in this case we should reduce the width to that value, without forgetting to leave the link activated so that the height is adjusted in an equivalent way and the image is not deformed. For this, click on Image → Image size … or press Alt + Ctrl + I.
It is not always necessary that we make a selection and clean the background of the image to create a brush. The Create brush option works with gray values, so if our background is white (like the one in this image), it would not be necessary to clean it. But what if this paint stain had been on a green background, for example?
In that case, it is necessary that we make a selection of the part of the image that we want to turn into a brush. Since we have a single color background, what we will do is select the background and invert the selection. A very comfortable tool to select backgrounds according to the color is the selection by color range that we will find in the Selection menu → Color range …
With the eyedropper we select the background color and, once the selection is made, we invert it by pressing Control + Shift + I or going to Selection → Invert.
And now with the selection already made and following the philosophy that I usually apply in my tutorials, we will create a layer mask. We could have directly deleted the background layer and we would have saved the step of masking the selection of what we wanted, but we would be doing a destructive edition, something that, as you edit images, you will see that it is not very practical and that, how much the more we work with layer masks, our work will be easier, especially if we make an error.
To create the layer mask, click inside the toolbar of the Layers panel on the icon that corresponds to a rectangle with a circle inside it. With this and with our selection already invested, we will see that the white background disappears and we have a very clean background where only the paint stain is.
Now comes the important moment of this chapter, so do not miss a single detail, since you have to make many convoluted steps to turn this stain into a brush. To do this, the first step is to go to the Edit menu → Define brush value …
Now we will see a small window where we can see a preview of our brush and a field where we can name it. By default, the name of the Photoshop document will appear.
Press OK and we will see that the Brush tool is activated with the brush we have created. Maybe I’ve exaggerated a bit and it was not that difficult, but have you seen how easy it is to customize your own brush? You do not need a high level of Photoshop, and you can create as many as you want. A very interesting resource is to use this effect, for example, to create a double exposure of a girl’s photograph. The example that you see below I have done with this
Brushes do not always come with the optimal settings for what we want to make, so it will be necessary to make adjustments to these brushes to suit our needs. For this, it is not necessary to create even more brushes, but there is the possibility that we adjust and retouch them from the Brush Settings panel, through which we can adjust different variables, such as the distance between the spots generated by the brush, a change of tonality every time we click, rotate them …
The Brush Settings panel is usually opened by default, and corresponds to the icon you see activated in the next image.
But, if you do not find it, maybe it’s because you do not have it activated. Do not panic. You just have to go to the Window menu and activate the Brush Settings option or press F5.
Basic shape options
Without activating any of the advanced options that Photoshop gives us, we can edit different values of our brush, such as size, angle, roundness, spacing … However, in this panel we will find many more options that can be adjusted. For example, in the image you see below, I played with the spacing and smoothing the edges to achieve this effect.
In the dynamic form option we can adjust the same parameters as in the basic options, but making them variable so that the stroke we make with our brush is not always the same. In this way, the stroke of our brush will be more real.
These factors can also be configured so that the changes are made, for example, according to the pressure we perform with the brush, something that we can activate or deactivate from the Control option within the panel that appears when enabling this option.
In this option you can adjust the space that will cover the stroke of the brush, separating the spots and creating spots that, as the name of the effect itself says, are more dispersed. In this effect we will also find the control settings, which are the same as in the previous one. In the example below you can see how from a single stroke we get a more scattered spot that gives the impression of having been made in more than one pass.
The texture option allows us to use a motif predefined by Photoshop or already created by us to use it as ink in our brush.
This option enables a second tip for our brush. To select this new tip, we will activate again in this option the palette of brushes so that we can select the second and make for example that the typical round brush of Photoshop is joined with a brush of splashes to give the impression that our stroke He has sprinkled paint around him.
From this option we would control how the paint color of our brush changes along its stroke. In the example below we would see how this stroke has a different color in each of its points. Maybe this is a bit of a beast for you to understand but well used, you could get a stroke with some subtle color gradients that can enrich the color of your projects.
For example with the brush of inkblots and combining it with the options of the panel of Dynamics of forms, we could get a spot like this:
In this step I will summarize a little other options that we can configure of the brush, such as:
- Noise: This option is very useful if we want to give a slightly more dispersed texture to our brush, adding small points on the stroke. This option works best on brushes in which gray values abound.
- Wet edges : Causes paint to accumulate along the edges of the brush stroke, producing a watercolor effect.
- Airbrush / Concentration: With this option we can simulate the texture of an airbrush, as its name suggests.
- Smooth: Produces softer curves in the brush strokes, something that can be very useful if we use the Brush tool.
- Protect Texture: Applies the same pattern and scale to all preset brushes that have texture. Select this option to simulate a consistent canvas texture when you paint with several textured brush tips.
The new Brushes panel and how to import new brushes
One of the novelties included in Abobe Photoshop CC2018 is the Brushes panel, which comes to improve the Brush Settings panel experience, with which we will have at our disposal a new way to manage our brushes.
There is a very interesting option that will solve the work of more than one designer to whom the computer is not very friendly. From this version, you can drag any brush you want to import into Photoshop directly on this panel and, in doing so, you will see it installed. In addition, you will also have a preview of how the drawing of the brush will work without having to open the brush settings. But, if you do not have this version, do not worry. I will also teach you how to import your brushes.
In previous versions, we would have to go to the Brush Settings panel, open the drop-down menu and, from there, click on Load brushes … And that’s it, it’s not much more complex, but, honestly, it’s appreciated that they make it easier for us.
What do we do if we change computers or have had to reinstall Photoshop? Do we have to redesign our custom brushes? Will not our brushes be safe from any problem? Well the answer is very clear: do not worry. The Adobe guys have thought of us and, whether we have CC2018 or any previous version, we can export our brushes. To do this, we only have to open the drop-down menu of the brush settings or the new Brushes panel and look for the option called Save brushes … Or, if we are using the CC2018 version, we should look for the option Export selected brushes …
Well, I hope you enjoyed this tutorial, where I tried to learn everything you need so you can start working with the Brush tool (B) in Photoshop. As always, if you have any questions or problems in any of the options, I invite you to comment on the forum of this tutorial. Also, I encourage you to upload the projects you have made with your custom brushes. See you in upcoming Tutpad tutorials.