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Illustrating with Photoshop Brushes

By Terri Stone

Names aren’t everything. Yes, Adobe makes an application called “Illustrator,” but you can also draw in Adobe Photoshop CC. Unless you’re a Pencil tool purist, you’ll probably use brushes for that drawing. With the following tips on making your own Photoshop brushes and finding existing ones, you’ll have a wealth of drawing tools at your fingertips.

MAKING AND USING BRUSHES

Paul Trani’s video “How To Make and Use Custom Photoshop Brushes” introduces you to the basics. For read-the-manual types, there’s “Create and modify brushes.”

The mobile app Adobe Capture CC (available for iOS and Android) gives you a fun and easy way to make brushes out of objects in real life. Open the app, choose Brushes, point the device’s camera at something around you, and blam! Whatever you photograph becomes a vector brush.

Watch this video to get a feel for the Capture mobile app.

FREE AND FOR SALE

Do an Internet search for “free Photoshop brushes” and you’ll get a zillion results. If you’re more comfortable with a proven source, you can still enjoy something for nothing. For example, designer and educator Chris Spooner gives away brushes (among other assets) on his SpoonGraphics blog. His most recent freebie was a set of 20 spray paint brushes.

Photoshop brushes also come with your Creative Cloud membership. To access them, click on the Creative Cloud icon on your desktop, then navigate to Assets > Market and browse the brush selection. Here are tips on using files from the Market.

Kyle T. Webster is probably the best-known creator of Photoshop brushes. Most of his products are for sale (and well worth their reasonable prices), but he does distribute some brushes for a price you set yourself. Look for the selections with “$0” by their names on his Gumroad page; examples include the Wet and Wild watercolor brush, the Mr. Natural inking brush, the intriguingly named Weird brush, and the Claude brush. (The image at the top of this page is the sample art from the Claude brush download.) Webster’s full brush collection is at KyleBrush.com.

A brief demo video of the Mr. Natural brush.

If you appreciate Webster's work, you may want to register for the free live session he'll lead on August 10. You'll walk away with ideas and inspiration for mixing media styles and effects in your illustrations. Register for the free session here.