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Learn how to make / define a Photoshop brush tutorial

how to make Photoshop brushes tutorial
  1. Select brush image in Photoshop

  2. Edit menu

  3. Define brush

  4. Give brush preset a name

  5. Brush is added to the current brushes panel in Photoshop

  6. Use the brush with the brush tools in toolbar

Learn how to define a Photoshop brush / make / create a Photoshop brush for use, a quick tutorial on how to add new strokes to Photoshop. Photoshop brushes are a powerful preset resource. You can use them throughout Photoshop. The defined Photoshop brushes can be made to any size (within reason). You can use anything as a source for a Photoshop brush such as custom shapes and patterns as well as images and sketches and type are a great source for Photoshop brushes. How to define them as a Photoshop brush is fairly easy by going to the edit menu and define them as a brush. Photoshop brushes can also be manipulated further by adding effects to the artwork and then making a new Photoshop brush. You can also add additional paths to the Photoshop brush and then make that a new brush stroke via the edit menu brush command. You can make one or thousands of Photoshop brushes and use them to create unique artworks. The Photoshop brushes can be used with most of the brush tools in the Photoshop toolbar such as the brush tool, art history tool, blur tool, clone tool and others. This article shows you how to make a Photoshop brush and how make them from a variety of sources such as scans and also custom shapes and how to save them as a new Photoshop ABR brush file.

You can use the custom shapes as a great source for all kinds of new and unique brushes

use a nice white background for the brush stroke in Photoshop and then define
  1. Select the custom shapes tool

  2. Set the color to black

  3. Apply custom shapes (such as type as a custom shape)

  4. select

  5. edit menu

  6. define brush in Photoshop

How to make Photoshop brushes (as well as elements) and save them?? The first thing I always do with any of my brushes: create the stroke in a file such as a PNG or TIFF image. That way, if you want to use them in something else you don't have to re-create the artwork (of course, now you can also simply add them to the CC library). It is there for any future projects.


Well, in my case, most of my generated strokes are generally based on custom shapes. Why custom shapes ?? Well, custom shapes are vectors and can be any size so they are just so useful in the creation of the strokes. If you want to have a brush of 100 x 100 then the shapes are fine, if you want a stroke of 2000 x 2000 then the vector shapes are also very, very useful.

You can use scans from old books as a great source for all kinds of brush strokes

public domain old books as a great source for Photoshop brush strokes
  1. Open an image such as a public domain page scan

  2. edit menu

  3. define brush

  4. give the brush stroke a name

Of course, you can always start from a scan or a scan of a sketch etc, that is another great start point for any number of strokes (I have used public domain images in the past, mainly stuff from the 18th century to make really certain that they are public domain).


Another key thing to remember with artworks - they are greyscale.


You can either start working with a greyscale or you can use the powerful black and white adjustment tool (image menu) to turn any color image into the perfect image to capture as a brush.


Of course, you could just keep the original image as a color image or use an adjustment layer to change the color of the stroke to greyscale.

Once you have your freshly minted brush stroke, you can also save it as a PSD document

make a stroke

Another option, and one I often use is to use a PSD document and create them on layers and then you can create many variants of the same brush which can then all be perserved in the PSD for future use and manipulation.


Saving them in PSD format also means you can use the live effects and live layer effects and save those with the brushes for future changes.


Remember to save the file otherwise you will have to re-create the brush at a later point.


Also if the work is saved as a PSD file you can always open the PSD file in other applications and re-work the brushes with other tools and also define the brushes in that application as well (such as Affinity Photo)


  1. Create a brush stroke on a layer

  2. Apply effects etc

  3. edit menu

  4. define brush

  5. file menu

  6. Save as PSD

The strokes can also be stored safely in the new CC libraries

libraries brushes photoshop store

With recent releases of PS, you can now save the artwork created in the libraries panel. This is useful as the libraries panel can be used as a massive store of any of the developed or part developed brushes. You can also be sure that the items are saved securely on the Adobe server.


You can then re-use them at any point in the future and continue to work on the items or perhaps add additional elements or remove parts of the stroke etc.


  1. create brush on a layer

  2. window menu

  3. libraries

  4. edit menu

  5. define brush

  6. drag layer into CC library to save work

The brushes can be defined via the edit menu in Photoshop

define brushes photoshop make

Once you have the artwork, simply go to the edit menu and go to the define brush preset command. You can, of course, repeat this for multiple brushes.


If I use PNG images or other file formats in a particular directory / folder (if I have 100 brushes to save) then I run an action command to define them for all 100 items in the set (though there could as easily be 200 or 300. It is a lot easier than just going to the edit menu over and over again.


You don't have to define all of of the image, you can also just use the selection / marquee tool and then make a new tool with only a part of the image.


  1. create design

  2. select area using marquee tool

  3. edit menu

  4. define brush

  5. give it a name

  6. OK

You can also use brush presets to add scattering, shape dynamics, texture, color dynamics etc

Photoshop brushes and setting the scattering and texture and dual brushes and color dynamics etc in Photoshop

With the define preset command you have not saved a complete tool, only really a dab. You can now go to the brush panel (found in the window menu) and set various shape dynamics, scattering, texture etc. Note: this is only accessible if you are selecting a tool found in the toolbox. Set different spacing, set various scattering settings and then go to the right side menu of the panel and select the new brush preset command.


The preset now has all the settings (marked by a checkbox) and can be recalled via the preset panel. I, personally, have always found it odd that there is no update preset command so any changes to the preset - such as adding texture - can be updated. The only option seems to be to add a new preset and then delete (if you wish) the old one

You can also store the ABR file via the brush panel's right side menu and save command

You still need to save them in a more permanently file (if you wish to use them later) and that can be achieved by going to the presets panel and using the save command on the right side menu. You can also save them via the preset manager found in the edit menu.


The ABR file can be saved with multiple items as well as just a single item. The ABR file then can be used in future projects and can be added to the presets folder or just stored in a central backup for potential future use. The ABR file can also be sold on to others or shared if you wish for free on a variety of sites such as the Adobe Exchange.

Not all versions of ABR are the same so make sure you save the ABR using the current Photoshop

flame renders as a source for brushes in Photoshop and define brush command

You should be aware that the latest format ABRs often cannot be read in the earlier applications or perhaps in versions of PS Elements or GIMP etc.


When you save the ABR you save it in the current preset version.


If you save it with the CC release 2015 it means the set can be used in the super powerful Affinity Photo (sadly it does not appear to use earlier versions of PS). You can also acces the set in a variety of other tools as well as preset browsers such as the Tumasoft tool 'Breeze'.

You can also make and define brush strokes in Photoshop Elements 15, 14, etc

Basically, the same approach but use the edit menu define command (that was the name in earlier versions of PS as well). There is a button for 'brush settings' in the presets panel and that does give a limited range of options such as fade and hue jitter. It is a whole lot easier to create the tools in PS than in PS Elements but it does not mean you can't. You don't have to be limited to the set of artworks supplied by Adobe with the application.


Of course, you can also find many fine already pre-made tools on this site as well as on many others around the web.


The brush on the right is based on the default brush stroke in Photoshop and it was then added in a circle around the default size in ever diminishing sized brush strokes. To use that as a new preset, simply use the define brush command (though it would be best to invert the image to avoid any seams)


How to make a great Photoshop brush

gradients as brush sources in Photoshop just use the define brush command

Well, that is a totally different thing.


You need to know what you are creating them for. If you want a star burst scatter effect or explosions or splatters, it is no use creating a tool made out of pandas. It might be a great panda preset but it is going to be no use for star effects. Good ideas and good source material and you should be able to make wonderful new painting tools. Personally the best tool for creating and making the tools is Illustrator as you can create a new infinite number of excellent vector artworks which can be then used with any size of preset. Illustrator also comes with some truly excellent tools to make them such as the VectorScribe plugin set from Astute as well as MirrorMe as well as the excellent ArtBlue plugin set from Amazon Canvas.

Other tutorials

1. How to make exciting Photoshop brush strokes from images / photo tutorial

2. brush tools in the Photoshop toolbar CC 2017 2015 etc tutorial

3. How to use the blending modes with the Photoshop brushes

4. Use patterns with the random fill script in the edit menu to create stunning backgrounds and layers in Photoshop

5. Scroll / switch quickly through Photoshop blending modes tutorial

6. Texturizer filter and using them with Photoshop displacements tutorial

Sources and references

Create and modify brushes in Photoshop / define on

Youtube video tutorials by graphicxtras

How to make a crescent brush (youtube)

How to create brush presets (youtube)

How to create brushes from brushes (youtube)

How to create brushes from patterns (youtube)

How to create a line brush (youtube)

How to create amazing brushes in Photoshop (youtube)