The Digital Darkroom
Making Custom Brushes In Photoshop Version 7.0

The Darkroom

Knowing how to use a "brush" in Photoshop is critical to being able to do very much of anything in this great digital application. Photoshop ships with hundreds of different, ready-made, brushes. Each one of them can then be further customized to meet your exact needs.

But, what some of you may not know is that you can make your own, special, brushes from scratch. Think of a brush as a rubber stamp. It has shape and you can make it bigger or smaller. But, it does not have color. Like using a rubber stamp, you can choose the color of "ink" that you are going to dip your brush into before you use it on your picture.

A Photoshop brush can be used by several different tools in Photoshop. For example, you can use a brush with the Clone Stamp tool to perform cloning activity. Or, you can use a brush with the Erasure tool to perform erasing activities. In this article I am going to be talking about making a custom brush that will be used mostly by the Brush tool which can be thought of as a regular "paintbrush" that an artist might use when painting an oil canvas. Of course you can also use the Brush tool with any of the standard brushes that come with Photoshop.

Sometimes, when I prepare a picture in Photoshop, I'd like to affix to it some company identification to advertise our company. There are lots of ways that I could do that. Making a custom brush is just one way. There are lots of other things that you could do with a custom brush. Here's how to make a custom brush.

I first went to New and opened a new blank canvas. In this example, I set the size to 7x5" and the resolution to 300 ppi. Be sure to set the Contents to Transparent.

Next, I selected the Text tool and the color Black and then went to the top tool bar and selected Arial Black and 36 pt. type size.

Then, I went to the new blank canvas and typed in ColorBAT Photography so that it would appear on two different lines and so that it would be center justified. In order to give the rather plain text a little distinction, I wanted to shape it into a curve. I went to Layer to Type to Warp Text and set the slider bars as shown.

That gave me the curve effect that I wanted, but I also thought it would be nice to give the text a little 3D effect. So, in order to add a drop shadow, I then went to Layer to Layer Style to Drop Shadow and set the slider bars as shown. Notice that since I am creating a sort of rubber stamp, I selected to add about 20 units of Noise with the slider bar near the bottom of the Layer Style window. This would break up the smooth drop shadow and make it a bit grainy, which would work a lot better than if I had left the drop shadow a smooth tone value.

Now that I had created what I wanted in my custom brush it was time to perform the last step and transform it all into a real brush. I went to Edit to Define Brush and named it ColorBAT Photography.

Since I had a brand-new brush, I wanted to use it. I opened a picture that had been taken in our back yard last summer of our koi pond. Then, I went to the tool Palette and selected the Brush tool. Then, to select the special brush I had just made, I went to the Brush tool selection area and scrolled down to the bottom of the long list of ready-made brushes until I found the custom brush that I had just made at the bottom of the list.

I moved the slider bar until I had selected 13 pixels as the Master Diameter that I would want for my custom brush.

I selected the color Yellow on the Swatches Palette and placed my custom brush in the upper right-hand corner of my photo and gave it one left click on the mouse.

This shows what the finished picture looked like. Of course, the final image will only print out well on your ink jet printer if you have your computer system well calibrated, so that what you see on your monitor screen is what your printer will produce.

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