"get your brush on" tutorial, part one!

>> Tuesday, July 5, 2011




Happy (now belated) Independence Day to my fellow Americans!  To my neighbors in beautiful Canada, Happy belated Canada Day!  (July 1st)  And, to my friends outside of the USA and Canada, Happy Everyday!  *big smile*

I had it already in mind to show you how to create your own background papers from an image while I was making the *Monkeying Around* brushes, however, stretching my thinking power just a wee bit further (ouch!), I thought why not show y'all how to create brushes in Photoshop first!  *illuminated light bulb above head*

Before I start today's tutorial, I would like to answer Gem's question about whether the *Monkeying Around* brushes will work in PSE (Photoshop Elements).  The answer is yes!  While I am not a PSE user (I design in PSCS 4), I do have a copy of PSE 4 that I installed on Robert's computer to give them a test and voila, they work!  The only thing I was not able to accomplish is dragging and dropping the ABR file from where I have it stored and right onto the Photoshop work space.  However, you are still able to load the ABR file to your brush palette from any location.  Yay!

Okay, let's get rolling with Part One of my Get Your Brush On tutorials!  This tutorial will work in both Photoshop and PSE.  I will make a notation of any major differences I find when using the steps for PS in PSE.  I will post screen captures first, followed by instructions (PS only).

Note:  Each screen capture may be enlarged for sharper details by clicking on it directly.

Get Your Brush On, Part One
How to Create a Brush in Photoshop


 Bigger is better!  Yup, when it comes to creating a brush (or a custom shape), starting with a larger canvas is definitely better.  As most of us have come to learn in our digital scrapbooking and/or designing experience, it is much easier to start big and reduce if the need be rather than trying to enlarge an image.  Why?  Well, we can reduce without losing quality from stretching pixels that will ultimately cause for a distorted image upon enlarging to 100%, which is a no-no in Industry Standards in Graphic Design.  Shrinking down an image is much easier (wouldn't it be lovely is this were true with a real, live physical image as well? *sigh*) and it allows you to use your brush over and over again without having to recreate it!  Think of reduce, reuse and recycle!

The largest size we are able to create a brush in Photoshop is 2500 px X 2500 px.  So, unless you are wishing to do nothing more with your images than, let's say, create scatters, it will always be best to start with your canvas at 2500 px X 2500 px!  You can select a smaller brush size once your new brush is installed and ready to use.  I will give you an example once we've created our brush.

Note:  I do not use keyboard shortcuts, however, you will see them as I use the drop-down menus in the event you wish to do so.  Why don't I?  Hmm, I guess I take after my kitties.  I'm a pretty good mouser!  LOL!



Click on File > New


Give your new canvas a name.  Preset = Custom, Width = 2500 pixels, Height = 2500 pixels, Resolution = 300 pixels/inch, Color Mode = RGB Color (8 bit) and Background Contents = White

Note:  When creating brushes, the background must always be white.  This will become transparent when loaded into your brush palette :)

I am inserting an extra step here as we are creating a custom setting for a canvas size of 2500 px X 2500 px so that we will not have to type it in each time we wish to create a new brush.  Now this is my kind of shortcut!

Click on Save Preset


In the New Document Preset window, give your preset a name.  Keep all boxes ticked under Include In Saved Settings.  Click OK.

Note:  The next time you wish to create a new brush, Click on File > New and then click the drop-down arrow next to Preset (Clipboard), find your 2500 px X 2500 px Custom Preset, click on it and then on OK to open your new canvas.


Click Layer > New > Layer

Note:  We are going to create a custom shape from which we will then create our new brush!


Give your new layer a name if you wish to.  Click OK. 


 Find your Custom Shape Tool in your Tools Palette and click on it to open.


On the Custom Shape Menu, click on the Drop-down Arrow beside Shape and choose a shape you wish to use for your new brush and click on it so that it shows as the image next to Shape.  I have chosen an airplane in hopes that I can fly y'all right on through this tutorial!


Note:  I was unable to capture the cross-hair for this step, so the arrow is taking it's place.

Make sure that your New Custom Shape Layer (mine is Plane-1) is active (mine shows blue) on your Layers Palette.  Set your Foreground color to black or a dark shade of gray.

Place the cross-hair in the upper left-hand corner of your canvas.


While holding down the Shift Key, drag your shape as far down as you are able to without going off the canvas.  Make sure you keep the Shift Key depressed to assure your image is drawn out proportionately.


You may notice that your Custom Shape is a little rough around the edges and this is nothing a little Rasterizing or Simplifying won't take care of!  

Right-click on your Custom Shape Layer (again, mine is Plane-1) in your Layers Palette.  In the Drop-down Menu, click on Rasterize Layer.  (Simplify Layer in PSE)


Ready to start getting your brush on? 

Click on Edit > Define Brush Preset


Give your new brush a name.  This is important for identifying your brushes once loaded into your Brush Palette.

Click OK


Note:  I missed a screen shot!  Argh!  I know I may be overly detailed for most of you, but there are always newbies that might not yet know where all the tools are.  

Find your Brush Tool in your Tools Palette and click on it to open the Brush Menu at the top of your Photoshop Desktop.  Locate the Drop-down Arrow to the right of Brush and click to open the Brush Preset picker.

Your newly created brush will the very last one in your Brushes Palette as shown above with the arrow pointing to the airplane.  Note the size is just a bit shy of 2500 px X 2500 px and that is okay.  It is still a large brush and will serve us well!

Voila, now you can really get your brush on ... your canvas!


Use the Master Diameter Slider to choose a size for your brush.  (In PSE, click the arrow to the right of Size to use the Slider)  I have reduced my original 2496 pixel brush to 360 pixels for my dabbling below.  You can also play with the Hardness with 100% giving you nice crisp, hard defined edges.  As you decrease the Hardness, your image's edges will soften and lessen in opacity. (PSE does not have the Hardness option)


In the image above, I have simply chosen my brush, reduced it's size and clicked on my canvas several times to check out it's appearance.

Get creative!  Play ... play ... and then play some more!  Create a new layer for each brush stroke, add effects, colors, etc.

In Part Two of my *Get Your Brush On* tutorials, I will show y'all how to add Shape Dynamics and Scattering settings (these are different in PSE and I will do my best to duplicate what I've done in PS) to your brushes which, for me, make brushes so much more fun to work with!  You can really let your imagination soar as your brush flows across your canvas!  We will also save a set of brushes, creating an ABR file.

Computer time has been scarce the past 10 days.  Robert and I have been nursing our Golden Girl, Chloe, who turned 13 on June 9th, back to health.  She had us very concerned for several days and I am happy to report that she is doing better and better with each passing day!

Happy July everyone and have an amazing week!  I will catch up on your comments this week and if you have any questions regarding today's tutorial, please ask in the comment section and I will reply to you as quickly as I am able to.  Also, if any of you have anything to add, please do!  As I've mentioned in the past, I'm pretty much self-taught and I have no doubt that I may take the long way around often, so I welcome your tips and tricks too!

See you soon. *smile*


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