Making your own brushes and patterns

Making your own brushes and patterns

To add a really individual touch to a picture, try painting on it using one of Photoshop's textured brushes. This is one way to simulate a distinctive brushstroke style such as Van Gogh's. Alternatively, you may wish to prepare an image area before applying filters or making other changes.

Patterns are equally flexible. You can fill an image area with them, or you can use them in Layer Styles that remain fully editable.


Photoshop comes with many built-in brush shapes. If you open the Brushes palette, you can load other presetsgroups of similar brushes. The Dry Media set is my favorite for painting interesting textures onto a picture.


Whatever your experience of real-world painting, in the digital realm you should always paint onto a separate layer. Even when you are confident, you can still make mistakes.

You may want to try out a variation on your painting. Simply duplicate the painting layer and hide your initial attempt. You can always toggle the layers' visibility and decide which works best, or maintain many variations for different purposes.


To make your own brush style, create a new file and paint pixels with shades of black, white, and gray. Black pixels will be like the brush hairs, where your Photoshop brush will apply paint; white is like the gaps between the hairs; and gray will apply paint with varying opacity. Here I used the Marquee to select blocks of pixels and Edit > Fill to color them. Save your brush definition with Edit > Define Brush.

Once you have defined your custom brush, it's no different from any other and can be used to apply any color you choose.

Now and then, it's a good idea to save your brushes. The Brushes palette has a Save command that exports the palette's contents to an external file. You can back up this file, or use it on other computers.


Defining a pattern is as easy as saving a brush definition. Here I selected a picture and saved it as a pattern.


One way to use your pattern is to select an area, then select Edit > Fill and choose Pattern from the Use drop-down box. As usual, use a new layer.


A more flexible way to apply your pattern is to click the "Add a layer style" icon in the Layers palette and select Pattern Overlay.

You can also apply your pattern in the Layer Style dialog boxand here, unlike Edit > Fill, you can vary its size. You can save your file, return to it later, and change the pattern's settings.

In this picture, I created a fog pattern and applied it to the whole layer as a Pattern Overlay, greatly increasing its size.

 Python   SQL   Java   php   Perl 
 game development   web development   internet   *nix   graphics   hardware 
 telecommunications   C++ 
 Flash   Active Directory   Windows