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How to Make Photoshop Brushes

Posted on: July 6, 2006

I wrote this for somone who asked about Photoshop Brushes.

OK, for starters, I presume you have Photoshop?

I’ll do two little lists that will hopefully explain this: (explained for PC, though Apple mac isn’t that different)

The ‘Where Brushes live’ list:

  1. Photoshop keeps its Brushes here, C:\Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop\Presets\Brushes\Adobe Photoshop Only. (can be photoshop 5,6,7,CS,CS2)
  2. If you click on the Brush tool in the Tools Pallet you get some options, and the little fly-out menu lets you load and save brushes.
  3. You can put brush files, marked with the .abr extension, in the above folder and they will be shown in Photoshop’s Brushes list so you can easily load them.
  4. using the [square] brackets you can change the brush size up and down without having to open a menu or click on anything else.

OK, here’s the ‘How to make a Brush and save it’ list:

  1. Find an image or part of an image that you think might make a cool brush, change the Image to greyscale or desaturate your image. Remember that the Black parts of your image will be the bristles on your brush, and the White parts are the paper or blank canvas beneath. Its a bit like a Rubber stamp, the ink only touches the raised ‘Black’ parts of the stamp. πŸ™‚
  2. Select the part of the image you wish to use, and if nessesary make it 2500x2500Pixels or less in size, this is the maximum size that Photoshop can handle.
  3. *I usually just draw a Marquee or a Lasso selection around the part of the image I want, copy it, create a new document, and paste it in, merging everything down to 1 layer*
  4. Play around with Levels untill you are happy with the dark to light ballence of your new brush, remembering that its the Black-to-all-the-subtle-shades-of-grey are what carries your paint to your canvas. You can vary the levels so that you get different effects.
  5. Be carefull with the edges of your brush, if you cut through a strong dark part of the image at its edge this might not work well as a brush (though thats dependant on how you envisage it will be used).
  6. The analogy of a fluffy Black dot in a big white background is a pretty safe bet, but don’t have loads of wasted white space around the part that will be the brush.
  7. You ‘Define Brush’ in the Edit menu of Photoshop, remembering to give your Brush a sensible name or a name and number for a set of similar brushes.
  8. Its best to start Defining Brushes with an empty brushes Pallet, so Hold down ALT+’Click’ on the Brushes to remove them one at a time, you should see the little ‘Scissors’ symbol as you are doing it.
  9. Once you have Defined your set of Brushes all nicely named its time to save the Set, this saves a number of Brushes into one file so you can easily load them up later, then you go to the little triangle Button to get the Fly-out menu and go to ‘Save Brushes’…. easy eh!! πŸ˜‰
  10. You’ll find that Photoshop saves them as default in the Folder I mentioned at the beginning, you can copy the file from there if you need to back it up for safe keeping or maybe zip it up for people to download off your website πŸ™‚
  11. Experiment πŸ˜‰
  12. Oh, if you have the option of making your brushes in an older version of Photoshop 7, 6 or 5, go for it… as not everyone has CS and CS2 and making your brushes in one of these newer versions stops older versions from using them…. Thanks for that Adobe! :p

And here’s some pictures:

This is the Place Photoshop Keeps its brushes.brushes_location.jpg

This is the Brushes Pallet and Fly-out menu where you save your Brushes and sets of Brushes:


1 Response to "How to Make Photoshop Brushes"

nice tutorial mr pdtnc. πŸ™‚

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