One of the first things I learned to do in Photoshop, besides basic photo editing, was how to make custom brushes. At first, I used brushes made by other designers to add that extra something to my projects. Then I realized that I could turn almost anything into a Photoshop brush.
In this tutorial, I want to show you how to make a watercolor brush in Photoshop.
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How to make custom brushes in Photoshop
I chose this watercolor patch because it has many interesting details that I want in my stamp brush.
Before you turn your illustrations into brushes, you should clean and remove the background.
Contrast is very important when you turn illustrations into brushes. If you don’t have enough contrast, you will only make a faded brush that doesn’t have all the details of the original illustration.
Before I can turn this watercolor into a brush, I will change its colors to black and white. The original colors will not be saved, so it doesn’t matter if we change them.
To change the colors, just go to Image > Adjustments > Black & White (Alt + Shift + Ctrl + B). A menu will pop up. Just press OK to change the colors.
My image is still a little faded, so I will change the Levels to make the details more visible.
Go to Image > Adjustments > Levels. In the Levels panel, move the black slider that’s on the left to the right to increase the level of black. This will make the details stand out. You can also play will the other sliders.
When you are happy with the way your illustration looks, press OK to save.
You can also play with the Brightness/Contrast sliders.
To make a custom brush in Photoshop, just go to Edit > Define Brush Preset.
Note: if the option is gray, select the layer you want to turn into a brush. You should also merge all the layers if you have more than one.
Give you brush a new name and press OK to save it.
How to use custom brushes in Photoshop
Using custom brushes in Photoshop is just as easy as making them.
Just press B on your keyboard to open the Brush tool. Your new brush will be automatically loaded.
To change the size, use the bracket keys (the open bracket key [ to make it smaller and the close bracket key ] to make it larger) or use the Size sliders from the Brush menu.
Then click on the area where you want to apply it.
This type of watercolor brush works well as a stamp.
To change the color, just choose a different foreground color. You don’t need to use clipping masks or blending modes with the Brush tool.
How to save and load custom brushes in Photoshop
When you save a new brush, it will be automatically added to the default brushes or the custom brushes you are currently using.
To save them to a different brush set, you will have to use the Brush Preset Manager.
Go to Windows > Brushes to open the Brushes panel. Then click on the menu icon on the top right corner, and select Preset Manager from the drop-down list.
In the Preset Manager, you will see all the brush you have. Most of them will be in groups.
To add your brush to a new group, just click the New Group button, give it a new name, and press OK to save it. Then drag and drop the brushes you want to save into the new group.
To save it on your computer, just select the group you want to save and click on Save Set.
From this menu you can also load new brushes, rename or delete them.
Do you use custom brushes in Photoshop? What are your favorite brushes?