creating kick ass brushes title

Creating Kick-ass Brushes in Photoshop

Photoshop comes with a lot of pre-packaged brushed, but to any designer it isn’t complete until they have a full set of custom brushes as well. Brushes are a great tool to give that project a little extra texture or effect. To a lot of seasoned designers this tutorial will be old news, but to new designers read along to learn how to give yourself some great custom brushes.


Setting Up Your File

You can make brushes out of almost anything! You can draw your brushes, use photographs, and scan images. That’s what makes brushes so great. Setting up your file right is the important part.

First things first, you’ll want to open a new document. It’s important to try to make the brush “hi-res”. You may not need it large for some of your projects, but think of the future. You may need it large.

For custom brushes a size of 2500px X 2500px is ideal.

get your image you want to make into a brush

For this tutorial I am using this coffee stained image that I found on (formerly

Adjusting Your Future Brush

The best recommendation I have is to get your brush into Grayscale. Putting your image in grayscale will give you a more accurate idea of what your brush is going to look like. When you define your brush Photoshop will convert it to grayscale anyways. To get your image to be grayscale go to Image > Mode > Grayscale.

turn your image into a gray scale

Fun Tip: Any white pixels you have in your document will become transparent. So you wont have to erase everything around your future brush!

If you are seeing things that need some tweaking, like an unneeded background that isn’t 100% white or shades that aren’t quite up to par with your expectations now is the time to do it. All of your tweaking will be in Image > Adjustments.


adjust your brightness and contrast


adjust the exposure and media


adjust your levels to get your whites REALLY white


lastly adjust your curves

Again you don’t need to spend hours deleting white pixels, Photoshop will do that for you! This will save loads of time so you can do what you love best.


Define Your Brush

Once your potential brush is to your liking it’s time to define that bad boy! Click on the layer your “brush” is on and Select all. Go to Edit > Define Brush Preset.

Name your newly created brush, and BAM you’re done!

add it into your brush preset

Your new brush will now show up in the brushes palette. Start making that masterpiece!

there your repeating pattern goes!

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