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!
Editing photos is a process of trial and error. Settings that work well for some photos may look terrible on other photos so you won’t always be able to rely on presets. Most functions in Photoshop are considered “destructive” which means that they make permanent changes to the data of the original image. The undo function can only fix a few stages of these edits. The solution is to use Non-Destructive editing. By converting your image objects to “Smart Objects,” you can apply filters and make edits without any data loss/corruption. This tutorial will show you how to access and use that function:
Open the image file you plan to edit.
Go to Filter > “Convert for Smart Filters.”
This changes your image into a “Smart Object” that can be edited without losing or damaging the internal image data.
Notice that the image tab in your Layer Panel now has a “Smart Object” icon to indicate the conversion.
Let’s try adding a filter that would normally be considered a destructive edit.
Go to Filter>Sharpen>Unsharp Mask
Since the image is a little muted, we will add a fair amount of the effect. I set the Amount to “50″ and the Radius to “5.”
With the preview option enabled, we can see that the limbs on the tree look much more vivid!
When you are satisfied with your changes, click “OK”
After applying the filter, look in the Layer Panel again. You will notice that a Smart Filters sub menu has been added to your image tab. The specific filter you use will be listed below as well.
To illustrate the flexibility of non-destructive editing, lets say that the effect we added was too harsh and we want to alter the settings of the filter.
To do this, double click on the name of the filter in your Layer Panel (in this case, it’s the Unsharp Mask).
After double-clicking on the name of your filter, the filter menu will re-open and allow you to change the settings. I backed off the Amount to “30″ and the Radius to “3.”
The tree limbs still look more vivid than the original image but the effect is more subtle.
Click “Ok” when you’re satisfied with the changes.
Another benefit of the Smart Filters is that you can click the eye icon next to the tab in the Layer Panel to toggle them on or off.
This allows you to make an A/B comparison between filters or between the edited and original image.
Non-Destructive editing is an essential technique for designers to learn. It can help you improve your workflow, save time, avoid frustration, and give you the ability to quickly respond to change requests for clients.
Using flat text in design work is easy and works well for conveying details. However, you can add significant motion and energy to an image by giving your text depth. This Photoshop tutorial will show you how to orient your text to match lines in an image and create a depth-of-field focus effect to help blend the text into the environment.
Place your background image in Photoshop. For this project, it’s best to choose a photo with strong direction and lines that can help to create a sense of depth.
We will be working with re-sizing text so it’s important to work with a large font. In this step, we will create a larger canvas to give ourselves more room to work with the oversized font. Go to Image > Canvas Size.
Make the canvas fairly large (the larger the font, the less pixelation when we get into the later steps). When you’ve typed your sizes, Click “Ok.”
Select a legible font. We will be turning and reshaping this font later and complex fonts can tend to become difficult to read at an angle. Increase the font size to as large as you can without running off the sides of the canvas.
When you’ve typed a phrase you’d like to work with, go to Layer > Rasterize > Type. This will allow us to access more in depth transformation features.
Select your text layer and go to Edit >Transform >Distort
Use the nodes (small squares around the edge of your selected object) to drag your text into a shape that fits your image. In this image, I narrowed the end of the phrase to make it look like it was fading into the distance with the road. Click the check mark at the top of the page to finalize your changes.
When you’re happy with the placement of your text, go to Layer > Flatten Image. You may notice that there are extra layers in the layer panel – I was adding a shadow to the ground near the letters. This isn’t a necessary step but it helps the text look more natural in the setting.
Duplicate your layer by going to Layer > Duplicate. Click “Ok” in the dialogue box that appears.
With your copied layer selected, go to Filter > Blur > Lens Blur
The Lens Blur filter simulates the way a camera lens focuses. Increase the radius control to determine the amount of blur you add to your image. Don’t add too much blur that you can’t read your text. When you’re happy with the results, click “Ok.”
Go to Layer > Layer Mask > Reveal All. This will add a layer mask to your image. A layer mask allows you to select which parts of an image are effected by a filter like Lens Blur.
Select the paintbrush tool and select black as your foreground color. Set your brush for a low opacity, large size, and low hardness (Hold Alt+Right click and drag your mouse left/right/up/down to quickly make changes to your brush size and hardness. The red circle in the image below shows the brush as it’s being resized using this process). When you’ve set up your brush, select the white box next to your blurred layer (this is the layer mask) begin painting over the areas that you want to remove the blur effect. Go slowly and check your progress as you continue to paint over the image. You want to create a subtle fade from the clear areas to the blurred areas. Extreme changes make the effect look less authentic.
Take a look at your progress. As you’ve been painting over the image, you probably noticed the small white box for the layer mask has been indicating where you have been painting.
After you’re happy with your depth-of-field effect, you can finish editing your image to taste.
When it’s done right, the effect can help lead the viewer’s eyes through the image by determining where the key focus areas are. It also creates a charming effect similar to Tilt-Shift Photography.