If you’ve ever wanted to relive your Mario Paint days, scatter stars all over a picture, or draw with cats, today you’re in luck. Here’s a simple how-to and video that will show you how to make custom Photoshop brushes.

Even if this isn’t the most useful method for most readers, we can definitely use it in a fun way. Keep reading to see how easy it is to make custom Photoshop brushes, and decipher the onerous Brush Panel to create fun effects.

The Simplest of Simple Methods


This technique is Photoshop only. Begin with any image you want to use as a brush, as well as a blank page or image you want to doodle on.


Regardless of the colors in your image, Photoshop will treat it as if it was a grayscale image. Your light colors are going to be lightest, while your darkest colors are going to be the most opaque. (This will make more sense momentarily.)


With your chosen image open, navigate to Edit > Define Brush Preset. If you only want to use part of the image, you can use the lasso or rectangular marquee tool to select the most important parts.


Photoshop turns the image into a brush in one step.


Press b to get the brush too. By right clicking in your blank document, you can open the contextual brush menu and find your new brush.


You can now draw with your brush. The cursor is now shaped like your image, as shown right, and as shown middle and left, it takes on the color of whatever you’ve put in the foreground color.


Alright, That’s Cool… Now What Can I Do With It?


It doesn’t end with simply transforming an image into a nearly useless brush. With some clever thinking, you can turn any picture or symbol into a scatterbrush that you might enjoy using.

Author’s Note: If you’re not following along, or haven’t used the brush tool much, this part may be a little confusing. If you prefer, you can jump straight to the end and watch the video, which will clear a lot of things up for you.


Use the marquee tool, then navigate to Edit > Define Brush Preset to create a brush out of a segment of your image. Let’s see if we can make this heart brush more exciting.


By itself, the brush is not terribly great. But let’s take a look through the monsterous Brush panel and see how we can improve on our new tool.

Figuring Out The Mighty Brush Panel


Shape Dynamics allows you to adjust the size of the individual hearts (Size Jitter), change their angle (Angle Jitter), and make them more irregularly shaped (Roundness Jitter).


Brush Tip Shape allows you to change the Spacing and create a brush that isn’t as jumbled up.


And finally, Scattering will allow you to make the hearts move around more erratically in the vertical and horizonal axes.


The result is a much more useful tool; these hearts, complete with the angling, were created with a single brush stroke. Watch the video below to better understand the process.


Video Tutorial: Make A Brush, See It In Action


This video should make it more obvious what these complicated scatterbrushes are for. We walk through the same options we discussed above, and paint with them, to illustrate how they work. As a bonus, watch it through to the end to see how easily images are made into brushes.

Bonus: Download and Install (More Useful) Shared Brushes


In addition to the brushes you create yourself, a simple Google search for Photoshop Brushes will bring up dozens of websites, all begging you to download their custom brushes. The Nagel Series, in particular, is an old Photoshop favorite, and there are dozens of them available for download, compatible as far back as the original Creative Suite version of Photoshop. Enjoy!

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