The stock brushes that come with Adobe Photoshop are useful and well-designed but they don’t work for every application. Have no fear! It’s easy to create your own custom brushes that are perfect for your projects. Here is a quick 10 step Photoshop tutorial to show you how:
Open a new Photoshop document. For this project, create a page that’s 2000 x 2000 pixels at 100 pixels per inch. You will be creating a custom brush so you want to make sure you give yourself plenty of room for detail so that you have the option to use this brush for any size of project. Small brush sizes look blurry on large design projects so avoid starting small here. Click “Ok” when you’re done setting up the parameters.
Next, use the pen tool to draw a shape. It doesn’t have to be very complicated at all. In fact, the simpler the design, the better your brush will look down the line. In the example below, I activated the grid which helps if you want to make sure your design is symmetrical. To activate the grid, go to View>Show>Grid. Be sure to also click View>Snap To>Grid so that your lines magnetically “snap” to the grid marks. Don’t feel obligated to use this design either. Get creative and have fun with it!
When you’ve finished your line(s), you’re ready to turn it from a path into actual pixels (a path is just a map to tell the program where you want your designs to show up).
*A quick tip – go to your brush icon on the sidebar and make sure your current brush is the right size and color for your design. The next step will rely on these settings. For this project, I chose a round brush at 7pt size and 100% hardness.
Create a new layer by clicking Layer>New Layer or by pressing Shift+Ctrl+N. With the Pen Tool selected, right-click on the path you’ve created and click the “Stroke Path” option.
A dialog box will appear asking what tool you want to use. Select “Brush” and click “Ok.”
After the previous step, you’ll notice that your path has been traced using the brush settings that you selected earlier. We will no longer need the path so feel free to hide or delete it. With the Rectangular Marquee Tool selected, highlight the entire design you created.
With the Move Tool selected, either grab the line and move it slightly press one of your arrow keys to select only the pixels used in your design.
Now that your design has been isolated, click Edit>Define Brush Preset.
Another dialog box will appear with a thumbnail of your new custom brush design. Select a name for your design and click “Ok.”
To test out your new custom brush, select the Ellipse Tool and draw a large circle in the middle of your page. You can hide your previous layer and create a new one to avoid having a cluttered page.
Click the drop-down arrow next to your brush settings at the top-left side of the page. Scroll down to find your new custom brush design and select it.
Go to Window>Brush or click the Brush Menu icon highlighted below. In this menu, you can alter the visual details of your brush. Change the direction if necessary to make sure your brush flows cleanly. I would also recommend opening the Shape Dynamics tab and changing the Angle Jitter control field to “Direction.” This will make your design turn with your line for a much more cohesive appearance. Try adjusting all the settings to familiarize yourself with the menu. Make sure you choose a size appropriate for your page since we made a large brush size to begin with. I scaled mine back to 302 for the example at the end.
When you’re happy with the way your new custom brush appears in the preview display, select your Pen Tool once more, right click your path, and click “Stroke Path.” The dialog box will appear again asking what tool you want to use. Select “Brush Tool” and click “Ok.”
Depending on how you created and set up your brush, you may have wound up with an interesting design like this. There’s no wrong or right way to do this. Just keep trying until you find one that works for your design projects. Thanks to the incredibly diverse options in the Brush Menu, each custom brush design can be used for an infinite number of purposes.
Have fun and enjoy using this process on your next design project!