Custom Brushes

Brushes are a necessity for Photoshopping. Colouring, defining an area, erasing, there are countless uses for them. But did you know that you can create your very own custom brushes and that they can be anything you want? Even a super awesome flying squirrel! I used to have an uncle named Earl. People always called him "Squirrelly" cause he always was looking around for squirrels.

So for this tutorial, I’m going to refer to our flying squirrel as Earl. Earl the Flying Squirrel.

In this tutorial, I’m going to teach you how to take this photo of Earl the Flying Squirrel and turn it into Earl the Flying Squirrel paint brush.

Step 1 – Get That Squirrel Out!!

First thing you need to do is extract the background so that all that you have is Earl all alone. To do this, I’m going to be using a "Quick Mask". To enter the "Quick Mask" simply hit the letter "Q". Using brushes, paint just Earl red. You’ll want to zoom in close and use varying brush sizes.

After you complete the "Quick Mask", Earl the Squirrel should be looking like this
To exit the "Quick Mask" simply hit "Q" on your keyboard, making Earl a selection now.

Then a swift strike of the "Delete" key

Use CTRL+D (win) / COMMAND+D (mac) to deselect it all.

Step 2 – Brush the Squirrel
So now you have yourself a squirrel all alone on a transparent background. It’s now time to turn Earl into a brush. Hold the CTRL / COMMAND key and click on the layer containing Earl. Your cursor should turn into a hand with a square beside it. When you see this, click on the layer. This will load only Earl as the selection.

Now the area that is currently selected will be the area that becomes the brush. So make sure that your selection doesn’t have any of the background around the edges. If it does just deselect, clean up and reselect like you just did.

Now that you have Earl ready to be a brush, lets turn him into one.

Edit > Define Brush

Once you "Define the Brush" a dialog box will pop up where you can name your brush. You will also notice the number underneath the thumbnail of the brush. This is the default size of the brush. As you can tell, it is certainly a large brush, but this is a good thing. This gives the brush lots more detail. It also helps if you are going to make it much larger than it is now, helping preserve that detail. Earl also has been turned "Grayscale". Photoshop automatically does this for you. The reason that Earl is turned gray is so he can be any colour that you want him to be when you use him as a brush.

Now you’ve just made your very own Earl the Flying Squirrel brush. Open up a new document and play around. Hit "B" to select the brush tool and then right click on your new document. This your brushes palette & Earl will be all the way to the bottom.

Just use him as a regular brush now. You’ll see that whatever colour you have selected as your "Foreground" that is the colour the brush is. Also experiment with all the different brush settings. Depending on your verison of Photoshop, there will be an option for "Brush Settings". You can set fades, textures, different pressures, the options are limitless.

Brushes just don’t have to be pics. They can anything you want them to be. Try using your pen tool to create custom shapes and use the same process to turn those shapes to brushes. Or maybe you created some awesome looking special effect, select it, turn it into a brush. Scan your signature and make it into a brush. Whatever you want to do, you can. Happy Photoshopping.





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