How to Design Unique Photoshop Brushes

in Graphic Design, How To

By LaurenMarie

Jacob Cass

Jacob Cass started his blog, Just Creative Design, in January of 2008 and it has grown at an incredible rate thanks to his quality articles on design and creativity. Currently he is hosting a $5000 prize giveaway graphic design group writing project that is sure to be worth bookmarking when all the contributions are compiled! You can enter to win one of the fabulous prizes yourself by writing an article on graphic design related advice, tips, resources list or tutorial. Hurry because the deadline to write the article is Tuesday, March 4th. I invited Jacob to expand on an idea he mentioned in the comments on Creative Curio recently about creating your own Photoshop brushes. He turned it into an informative, easy to follow tutorial (below). Enjoy!

by Jacob Cass

Ever wondered how people create those lovely Photoshop brushes you always download? This tutorial will teach you how to create those unique Photoshop brushes without a computer (well nearly).

For this example, I am going to use a ‘paint splatter’ as they seem all the rage at the moment, but you can practically use anything; creativity is the limit! You can use a tire wheel, things lying around the house, sticks, stones, twigs—just about anything from nature—well, anything at all to be honest, to make a Photoshop brush. Check out some free Photoshop brushes for inspiration.

But anyway, let’s say you want to create your own unique paint splatter that no one else has ever seen…

Step 1: Get The Materials Needed


Now we actually need to make a real paint splatter. To create a paint splatter, of course, you are going to need paint and a largish piece of paper. You are also going to need a lot of newspaper to protect the floor and possibly a ladder to drop the paint onto the paper. You might need clothing protection, too, to be safe.  You will need a scanner AND/OR a camera but I’ll get to that.

Step 2: Create Your Masterpiece

This is the fun part, where creativity comes into play and you can go crazy! Although different coloured paints can work, in the end Photoshop brushes can only be greyscale, so the best colour to choose is black paint on white paper.


Lay out your newspaper on the ground for protection, get your large piece of paper and place it in the middle of the newspapers. Then climb up the ladder (that you placed next to the newspaper area already, right?) with your paint and drop splats of the paint on the piece of paper. Of course you don’t have to get a ladder you could just flick paint at the paper, as this also works but for bigger, natural splats a taller drop is perfect. Experimentation is the key 

If you were not doing a paint splatter this is where you would get whatever brush you were wishing to make and layout it out in front of a white background (a large piece of white cardboard works best). For example, if you wanted to create a leaf brush, you would place a leaf on a piece of large white paper. Or you could paint watercolours onto a piece of paper and scan that into Photoshop.

Step 3: Scan (or Photograph) and Import into Photoshop

After you have created your masterpiece it is time to scan or photograph it. If you have a large enough scanner (and ample time to allow the paint to dry) you could scan in your artwork, but for the rest of us the best way to import our creation is by using a digital camera.

Take a photo from straight above the splatter (or leaf, or whatever your “brush” is). You may need a ladder to do this, depending on your height and the strength of your flash.

After taking the photo, download it onto the computer and take it into Photoshop.

Step 4: Create your Photoshop Brush

There have been numerous tutorials regarding actually making a Photoshop brush and this is the easiest one I could find. For a more advanced step by step, check out BittBox’s tutorial on how to create Photoshop brushes.

Tip: Once you have created some Photoshop brushes or if you have some old ones, a great way to get your name out there and get free traffic to your site is to upload them to various ‘free Photoshop brush’ sites such as Brusheezy or DeviantArt.

Thanks Lauren for the opportunity to write on Creative Curio.

P.S. From Lauren: Chris from Blog.SpoonGraphics just posted a new spray paint brush set he made, if you’d like to see more examples of images turned into brushes. Veerle also had a tutorial a while ago. Using this technique that Jacob has shown us will allow you to make these kinds of hi-res brush sets, which work very well for print. Thanks, Jacob!

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