Free Photoshop Brushes: Impressionist Set by Creators Couture
This set of free color-blending brushes, by Jessica Johnson of Creators Couture, takes advantage of Adobe Photoshop’s Pattern Stamp tool and allows Photoshop users of any skill level to turn a photographic image into creative and unique digital artwork. You simply grab a brush, start painting, and watch the magic unfold.
Download the brushes here, and then watch the brief video below to see how they work (steps are written out below the video). (We tested the brushes for compatibility with Photoshop CC versions; Creators Couture has tested back as far as CS6. For more information about brush compatibility, check out the Creators Couture website.)
Step 1: Install the Brushes
Double-click on the .abr file you downloaded to install the brushes (first make sure Photoshop is open). Alternatively, you can open the Brushes window, click on the menu in the top right corner, and select Import Brushes.
Step 2: Choose an Image as a Pattern
Once the brushes are installed, open the photo or image you want to transform into a digital illustration. You can create artwork at any size you wish—simply open your image and size it according to your wishes.
Once the image is sized, go to Edit > Define Pattern. This sets your entire image as the pattern.
Select the Pattern Stamp Tool from the toolbar menu. Make sure Aligned and Impressionist are selected in the top bar, and choose the pattern you just defined from the drop-down menu.
Step 3: Start Painting
Now you’re ready to start painting.
These brushes were made for experimentation; here is how Johnson recommends proceeding when you start out:
Usually, I start by duplicating my background layer; I keep that layer on top of my other layers for reference. I can quickly turn that layer on and see how my result looks in comparison to my original photo.
I prefer to start a base “underpainting” layer using one of the artistic brushes such as #62, which is included in your free download pack. This will paint out a rough version of the image. Then I like to fill in the main part with an aligned brush like #1. This is a good brush to use to get an aligned image that will start to look like the original, except more painterly and impressionistic. Then I take brush #52 to paint in areas I want to include more detail. Artistic brush #62 will have a looser image alignment, but it’s great for adding textured, directional strokes to areas in your painting. The same is true for texture brush #78. It adds a bit of canvas texture and artistic feel to your work.
A great feature of this technique is the fact that the brush strokes are directional, and you can essentially trace along the shapes in your image as you would naturally, making your final image look more organic and artistic. This will prevent your digital painting from feeling like a computer-generated filter or effect.
To create more detail in areas of your digital painting (such as a face for example), simply take any brush and reduce the size. This will result in sharper details emerging as you paint. If you are blocking your image in first, paint the strokes in a single direction to create a more “aligned” and detailed base. Then you can follow the curves or shapes of your detailed area to create a more realistic and detailed area. Conversely, to create a more abstract or loose area in your work, simply increase your brush size—this will give you larger, looser strokes that are slightly less aligned to the original picture, creating a more abstract effect.
About the Artist
Jessica Johnson comes from what she describes as a pretty traditional design background—and she says she moved into creating digital products out of “pure desperation.”
“It was during an incredibly tough time in my life, when my steady freelance work was also drying up,” she says. “On top of living in an extremely expensive place like Miami Beach, my dog was suffering from end-stage heart failure, and I was on the verge of a breakdown. I ended up staying with friends and family in Missouri for a short time while I regrouped. During this time, I had an idea for InstaGlam—I wanted to create a kit with some versatile, easy gold leaf and gold foil effects. At the time, there wasn't anything like it on the market. It was my breakthrough product, and it absolutely exploded! After that, I just continued to explore Photoshop and Illustrator more and more, continuing to create digital products as I grew creatively…. I’m always digging around in Photoshop, experimenting,and tinkering—to leverage the power of the product and to cut down on boring, repetitive work. Bless the original Impressionists: they had to sit there and make every single dot of color. I’m a busy girl, and I want to do things in the quickest way possible, so I look to my software to see how I can make it happen faster and easier.”
These days, Johnson, who recently settled in the south of France, is creating her digital tools full time—she enjoys the work not only because it allows her to live and work anywhere, but also because the tools she’s creating are helping her develop as an illustrator: one of her goals for the near future is start doing more feelance illustration work.