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Posted by JATomlinson | 16 comments

Creating Brushes in Photoshop

Ever wonder how to create your own brushes in Photoshop? It's quite simple really. This tutorial will take you through the process of making two types of brushes (picture brushes, and brushes from scratch). It will also teach you how to export brushes to the internet so that others may use them. (See bottom of post for a video tutorial).

Time to complete this process: 5-15 minutes
Level of difficulty: Beginner

Brushes from Pictures:

Step 1 - First choose a picture that you want to take a piece of to make a brush, and open it up in Photoshop. (It can be a drawing, a photo, a face, whatever you want to use).

Step 2 - Make your image black and white. This can be done one of two ways. Go to Image -> Mode -> Grayscale, OR, Go to Image -> Adjustments -> Desaturate. Either way will work fine.

Step 3 - Go to Image -> Adjustments -> Brightness/Contrast, and mess with the scales until you like the way it looks.

Step 4 - Choose the lasso tool or the polygonal lasso tool and select an area of the picture you wish to be your new brush. Then go to Edit -> Define Brush. Enter a name and click "OK."

Step 5 - Your brush should now be with the other brushes in your brush set. If you wish to save the brush into a set, delete all other brushes from the brush set except the brush you just made (right click on a brush and click delete, ok). Then go into the Brush Pallette Menu (the little >> icon at the top right of the brushes menu) and click "Save Brushes". Choose a name and save the file in
C:\Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop CS\Presets\Brushes. You can now find your brush in the Brush Pallette Menu when you wish to use it in the future.

Brushes from Scratch:

Step 1 - This process is a little more creative. Really the brush can look like anything you want it to and can think of, and involves playing around with the image until you have something you like. Open up a new document and begin drawing the shape you want to be your new brush. (For this example, try drawing a stick figure). The Image should be black and white. Erase any unwanted parts. Repeat steps 4 and 5 from above. This process can be used to create some really awesome grunge brushes or brushes of any type really.

Exporting Brushes:

Step 1 -
The following is insanely easy.
Download the program called ABR Viewer here. Note: this is a .rar file and you will need to download WinAce or something of the sort to open it (you can always use the free trial version of WinAce instead of paying for the full version.

Step 2 - Once you've downloaded and opened the ABR viewer click File ->Open Brush Sets. Find the Brush Set you just created with your new custom brush (probably in C:\Program Files\Adobe\Photoshop CS\Presets\Brushes
if that's where you saved it from the above tutorial). In ABR Viewer, click Export -> Thumbnails. Save it where you can easily find it (probably your desktop).

Step 3 - If you want other people to be able to download your new brush, the Thumbnail you just exported will give you a preview to upload to the web so people can see what the brush looks like.

Step 4 - Join a website for free like and create a free account. Now you can upload your .abr file (the brush you created) and also a preview (the .png thumbnail you just created with ABR viewer). People will now be able to download your brush.

If you had trouble following the steps above, not to worry!  I've created a video detailing the process for you below.


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  2. your tutorials are really helping me!!
    thanks a lot

  3. wow your tutorials are really good and helping me a lot!!please do one tutorial on vector effects thing!!!

  4. Hmm I was wondering, how long on average does it take you from start to finish on a brush? thanks~

    1. It just depends on what you're doing. If you're just selecting an object and then turning it into a brush, it can take under 30 seconds. If you're making a texture brush from scratch however, it can take a few minutes. It all just depends on what you're doing.

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