Love drawing in Procreate or Photoshop? Curious about custom Photoshop brushes or custom brushes for Procreate? There can be a lot to learn and explore there, especially in regards to your options. Should you download custom brushes? Create your own?
In this article, we'll tackle a whole lot of brush content. Whether you're looking for tutorials to help you dig into custom brushes, insights from creators who use and distribute custom brush sets for others, or if you're just not sure why custom brushes might be for you—look no further.
Photoshop or Procreate?
Brushes, Compatibility, and Choices
Today, we're going to talk about Photoshop and Procreate brushes—the two are more friendly than ever before, with Procreate 5's added ability to use Photoshop brushes now. Even though Photoshop and Procreate might be better described as competitors more than pals, they both work with PSD files, and I often find myself using the two of them in my own illustrative process.
However, it's not unusual to hear the question of which is better—Procreate or Photoshop? As someone who uses both, I honestly think that the two both have their pros and their cons. Note, these are my opinions here, and I'm a normal, paying customer.
For example, Procreate is quite powerful and cost-effective. I love mobile creation tools; I can easily draw on the couch, on the go, anywhere. On the other hand, Photoshop has valuable extras and plays a major role in other aspects of my creative life—but also has quite the price tag. In my opinion, Photoshop often requires a larger time investment to get the results you want, particularly from an illustrative perspective. Personally, I find Procreate to be far more user-friendly.
Again, this often feels like apples and oranges—the answer is largely subjective and ultimately requires the user to make an informed decision. What's best for me might not be best for you.
There are plenty of other options out there too—like Clip Studio Paint or Corel Painter, both strong options that plenty of illustrators enjoy! I had the pleasure of speaking with several content creators for this article, and it was interesting to see how many of them create brushes for more than one platform. It seems that a lot of us actively use more than one illustrative tool.
I'd argue that this diversity is a benefit; if you can create in and for more than one platform, it gives your skillset added diversity. In addition, if you can create brushes for more than one platform, you potentially reach more users when it comes to distributing your brushes commercially!
Why Work With Custom Brushes?
Working With More Than the Basics
Why bother with custom brushes in either case? Both Photoshop and Procreate have a lot of brushes and features that make them versatile tools right out the box. However, working with custom brushes—both importing user-made content and having the ability to create and customize your own—can open a wonderful world of additional possibilities.
Honestly, I can't imagine drawing and painting digitally without custom brushes; in particular, if I didn't know how to customize them, I wouldn't have the same flexibility and depth of options. While I do use the default brushes sometimes, my favorite, go-to brushes tend to be custom ones that I either created myself or imported.
How to Create Your Own Brushes
Want to Learn How to Make Photoshop Brushes or Procreate Brushes?
All right, so you've decided you'd like to give custom brushes a spin, all from scratch. Where do you start?
Check out these tutorials from Envato Tuts+—they're a great place to begin!
- How to Install and Use Procreate BrushesDaisy Ein26 Dec 2020
- How to Install Brushes in PhotoshopMelody Nieves13 Nov 2019
- How to Create and Customize Procreate BrushesDaisy Ein24 Jun 2021
- New Course: 10 Tips to Master Adobe Photoshop BrushesAndrew Blackman07 May 2018
But What Makes a Great Brush?
Taking the Basics Further
It's not particularly hard to create a custom brush in either Photoshop or Procreate. However, it's arguably a lot harder to create a great brush—the kind of custom brush that adds something new, advanced, or purposeful to an artist's arsenal.
I'd argue that this makes for a great starting point, once we understand the basics of brush creation and customization. What do you hope to achieve with this brush? For example, are you looking to add texture? Maybe you're looking to draw or paint something specific, like clouds or foliage. Maybe you're looking for something suited to a particular part of your process, like sketching or blending. Or perhaps you'd like to create something whimsical or decorative, like a spatter or confetti brush. The sky's the limit.
However, like a lot of art and design, even when the sky is the limit, we still benefit from a roadmap. Unless free exploration is your goal (which can be a great way to learn!), consider your end result.
That said, I had the pleasure of speaking with several content creators who create custom brushes—Photoshop brushes, Procreate brushes, and brushes for other software too! Check out some of the awesome brushes that they've created, as well as their thoughts and insights on custom brush creation.
I’m a self-taught font designer. Started with design back in 2009, First I started with Photoshop and photo manipulations, that was something I was intrigued by and that was a trigger for the learning of other design techniques in graphic design.
After this, I began watching tutorials, learning, and experimenting. I needed 4 years to come to learning font design, so in 2013, I created my first font. As I didn't stop on fonts, I started to work on developing brushes for Illustrator, Photoshop and Procreate.
When you work on illustrations or designs, you always want to incorporate something unique into the project, when you approach to your project like that, it will be hard to find something what is not used before.
Sometimes a little dot changes the point of view on the design, brushes are all unique, you won’t find any duplicates, you can’t recreate them and that is what makes custom brushes awesome. They simply give you your own uniqueness.
That uniqueness was the reason why I started to create brushes for my own projects and after releasing them to other designers. They are also great way to express your creativity and give your imagination fresh ideas.
Some of my favorite brushes are:
Comics & Halftone: Procreate Brushes, they have so much ways to be used. Not just for comic illustrations as it is in the title, but for grunge style illustrations, texturing, regular modern digital art and they fit for many other styles. Also, there are unlimited possibilities to play with them and create unique illustrations.
Pastels Illustrator Brush-Kit is also one of my favorites since includes 43 REALISTIC pastels look vector brushes and 25 pastel colors in 5 swatches groups for authentic pastel colors. If you love retro designs or funny and children’s style illustrations; you will love them!
As I mentioned before, ‘’Sometimes a little dot changes the point of view on the design, brushes are all unique.’’ It gives you your style, your uniqueness, brings your imagination to the next level since you are creating the tool you will use for creating your projects.
What makes painters unique? Brushes which give them ability to create their strokes, their movements and their style. Also, the same is here, your brushes can give you your style and your uniqueness.
To everyone who is thinking about creating their own brushes I would suggest just try and see what changes will bring to your work. Now I know that that was great investment of time and it is super-easy when you learn it. There are no struggles with searching exactly ‘’that’’ brush you need, but you can’t find it. You just simply create it and it remains your unique brush. You are also learning to combine a lot of different materials, textures, you can use almost everything around you to transform it and use it in your design work.
Check out more of Leonard's work here!
Author's Note: Aleksandra's interview was paraphrased and adjusted for language/translation. Thank you so much for working with me on this, Aleksandra!
I began drawing when I was in my fourth year of school. I graduated from an art school, then from university. Then, I had a job where I drew prints and embroidery. I also worked an as illustrator for magazines.
I draw a lot with my iPad in Procreate. However, the built in brushes were not what I needed, so I started making my own business to fit those needs. I felt that my brushes looked really good and could benefit any professional work - so I thought it should be shared with everyone! I began releasing my brushes and offering them for sale.
I love brushes textures. They work well for both adding texture and shadow. For example, the texture of sand or jeans could work nicely.
I have a set of geometric brushes - these brushes will easily and simply create an aesthetic in a couple of minutes.
Sometimes, those who make brushes don't take into account the quality of the source material. This makes them less versatile, so it's something I like to take into account.
Creating a great brush is fun but challenging, and takes a lot of time.
If you want to make your own brushes, look for the highest quality material. Don't hesitate to experiment, and you won't be disappointed with the result. I would encourage those looking to develop brushes to also learn how to create patterns from elements to create continuous, professional brushes.
Thank you! Here's to creating wonderful things.
You can check out more of Aleksandra's work here!
Matej Ilčík (Guerillacraft)
I am illustrator based in Slovakia. Although I wasn’t trained as an illustrator, I have always been into art. I am almost completely self-taught. In 2014, I started making assets for designers and illustrators, while I was a part-time teacher of graphic design classes on local high-school. It started as side hustle and after few months, I started earning decent income.
From 2017 I did some illustration jobs too. Currently, I am working on my third natural science illustrated book for children.
I had been looking for some side hustle, so I discovered some marketplaces where people could sell their design assets. I was total newbie into this business, so first thing I made were Illustrator brushes. I was painting a lot at this time, so naturally I made tons of brush strokes, converted them to vector brushes and started offering them to people. And people started buying them.
I really like working with dry paint strokes and textures, so my favourite brushes for Adobe Illustrator are Mid-Century Dry Paint Brushes. Another favourite ones are Pencilcraft brushes. They are almost groundbreaking because they are nonstretched vector brushes, so you can draw without losing quality of real pencils.
Recently, I started making more brushes for Procreate and Photoshop. I really love Inkers for Photoshop and Auld Inks for Procreate. [I use] them a lot in my work. Although I have more brushes still not published that I currently working with.
It’s a great feeling to use your own brushes in your illustrations. It’s really helpful to know how to make your own brush. You can build your own library of brushes - refined and well tested. I use a lot of textured brushes in my work. Not to mention, you can always try to sell them :)
Definitely, try to use all painting techniques, make your hands dirty. Before I started making brushes, I painted a lot, so I have known materials and understood how they behave. It has helped me a lot! Try oils, acrylics, gouaches, watercolours, inks. Try paint with different tools - even with these unconventional ones. I love accident smudges, so I experiment a lot. You have to understand how it works in reality.
I watched a lot of tutorials how to made brushes digitally. It take some time to know all settings and how it works, so firstly you can start with customising existing brushes and play with settings.
Build your library of marks, shapes, seamless pattern textures (for Photoshop and Procreate brushes) and saved them to cloud. Generally, have a system of naming brushes. And always use 300 PPI textures or shapes to build brush. It’s my gold standard.
You can check out more of Matej's wonderful work right here:
- Behance | MatejIlc
- Instagram | @matej_ilcik_illustrations
- "All About the Egg" and "All About the Feather", Illustrated by Matej Ilčík
- Envato Elements | guerillacraft
Hi, I’m Amy Stoddard and I am a freelance illustrator and comic artist. I live in the United States where I enjoy nature, my pets and spending time with family and friends. Generally speaking I consider my work very female oriented. In December, I am wrapped up my nearly 6 year long webcomic project called Fine Sometimes Rain which is a slice of life tale that has a heroine who struggles with and eventually overcomes depression.
Webcomics take years to complete so anything that can help in speeding up the production of a page is good. Also when you make your own custom brushes to help speed your work it still has “your hand” in it so to speak. If I, for example, used the stock foliage brushes of my favorite program it would always look like that stock foliage and has less of me in it. So by making my own foliage it’s always showing my touch all the time.
The big inspiration for me making my own brushes was I realized that I was spending so much time drawing trees in all of my comic backgrounds. I love the outdoors, so my comics had a lot of outdoor elements and I wanted to speed up that process. I started by experimenting with the stock foliage brushes and got a feel for how to use them well, but they still weren’t quite enough and that’s when I made my first foliage brush set.
My first foliage brush set was geared towards black and white comic making and incorporated the classic elements of rendering foliage in pen and ink. Since then I’ve moved onto making foliage brushes for color use, and my most popular set is probably my foliage set that I designed to paint with a Studio Ghibli inspired aesthetic.
I think my advice for beginners is to not feel intimidated and just give it a try. Your first few brushes will probably not be the best but they will still be useful to you and through those experiences you will get to know the program and how to make even better brushes. Also don’t be afraid to mess up! I have quite a few documents of failed foliage brush parts that just didn’t work out as I had imagined they would. Expect brush making to take time too. On some of my more involved sets it’s taken me working on them over a few weeks to get them done and tested.
Check out more of Amy's lovely work here:
What Kind of Brushes Would You Create?
I hope this article inspired you to start creating, customizing, and working with custom brushes of your own, whether you're working in Photoshop, Procreate, or a different software of choice!
A big thank you to Leonard, Aleksandra, Matej, and Amy for sharing their thoughts, their work, and their brushes with us today! Your work is so inspiring!
What kind of brushes would you like to develop? Here's to making great content. Good luck and happy designing!
Looking for even more brush content? Check out these resources!
- Photoshop in 60 Seconds: Create Custom Brushes From Texture GraphicsMelody Nieves07 Oct 2016
- How to Create Hair and Fur Textures in Photoshop Using the Kyle T Webster Brush SetsRowena Aitken24 Jul 2018
- Free Video Course: Essential Tips to Master Photoshop BrushesMelody Nieves09 Oct 2018
- How to Make Halftone Effect Patterns and Brushes in Photoshop and IllustratorLaura Keung20 Mar 2020
- 50+ Free Photoshop Brushes to Download Now!Melody Nieves22 Jan 2021