How to create custom brushes in Photoshop

October 21, 2010

Knowing how to create custom brushes in Photoshop is a vital tool for every designer. It is a pretty easy technique that really only takes a few minutes to learn. Today, I am going to teach you just that. First,  you will learn how to create a standard custom brush in Photoshop and then, I am going to show you how to apply this technique to create your very own custom smoke brush in Photoshop. Follow the steps below and watch the helpful video tutorials as well. Good luck!

Step 1: Creating a Custom Brush in Photoshop

Open a new blank Photoshop document. It doesn't matter what size you use for your document. For this tutorial, I have set my document size to 600px X 600px. Go to Edit -> Fill -> Contents. Use: Black and fill the background with black.

Create a new layer. Create a design on this layer that you want to use as your new Photoshop brush. You can create any design that you want in this step. Here is the design that I created:

Custom brush design in Photoshop

When you are finished designing your brush, select it by holding down the Control key (Command key on a Mac) and clicking on the layer where you have created your brush design.

Go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset... and name your brush.

That's pretty much it. Now, you just need to test out your new brush. To do this, open a new document and fill the background with black again. Select the Brush Tool from your toolbox to the left of your screen. Scroll down to the bottom of the brushes until you have selected your newly created custom brush. Paint on the stage with your custom brush et voila! If you want to add some other cool effects to your new brush, you can go to Window -> Brushes and play with the settings there.

Here is a short video tutorial covering the steps above. In this video, I skip the step where you need to create a unique brush design and instead, I simply use a custom brush design that I have already created.

Step 2: How to Create a Custom Smoke Brush in Photoshop

For this part of the tutorial, you need to open a smoke image in Photoshop. You can use any free smoke texture that you can find on the internet or you can use the smoke texture that I have provided below. I found this smoke texture on Bittbox and I included it in one of my earlier post: 29 Fabulous Free Textures. You can download it here by simply clicking on the image below:

Free Smoke Texture

Open the smoke image in Photoshop and go to Image -> Adjustment -> Desaturate. Next, go to Image -> Adjustments -> Invert. Go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset... and name your new custom smoke brush. That is it! It's that easy. Now, all you need to do is open up a new document, test your new custom smoke brush and have fun!

Here is a short video to guide you through creating your very own custom smoke brush:

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