The following assets were used during the production of this tutorial:
- Plain white paper
- Oil-based paint
- A brush or a simple stick
1. Preparing the Canvas
First, prepare a clean sheet of paper. For the paint, you can choose between oil‑based paint and water-based paint. Oil-based paint is much glossier than water‑based paint and much thicker. In this case, I chose oil-based paint because its spatter is also similar to a blood spatter.
Using a brush or a simple stick, spill the paint onto the paper. Wait for the paint to dry. Oil-based paint takes longer to dry; you may need to leave it for a day. After it is dry, scan the paper at the highest resolution.
2. Editing the Scanned Image
Open the scanned paint spatter and click Add Adjustment Layer > Levels from the Layers panel.
Move the parameter sliders to the center until the paint spatter has a higher contrast and we have a solid white color on the paper.
Add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer, and increase the contrast value.
In making a custom brush, we only need black and white pixels in the image. Convert this paint spatter into a black and white image by adding a Black & White adjustment layer. Drag the available sliders until you have maximum blackness, but be careful not to destroy its highlight.
Make a new layer on top and then cover every paint spatter on the paper's edge with white. We do not want to see any sharp edges in the brush.
3. Converting to Brush Tip
Click Edit > Define Brush Preset. Give it a memorable name and then click OK.
From now on, you will find it as a custom brush tip inside Photoshop. Activate the Brush tool and then right-click on the canvas. In the Brush Tip dialog box, you will find this latest brush tip at the end of the list. Click to activate it.
Set the foreground color to red and then click once in a new canvas file to test the result.
4. Import and Export Brush
We can also export the brush into a file. Click Edit > Presets > Preset Manager and then select Preset Type: Brushes. This is where Photoshop places all its brushes. Click the brush that you want to export. To select multiple brushes, hold Shift while clicking the brush. Click Save Set to import.
In the next dialogue box, save it as a brushes file. You can send this file to your friend.
To import the brush file, open the Brush Options dialog box and then click its context menu in the top-right corner. Select Load Brushes and choose the brushes‑file.
There are at least three ways to make your brush appear more unique:
- Combining it with another brush
- Deleting part of the brush using another custom brush
- Playing with its opacity
You can combine the brush simply by applying another brush on top of the previous‑one.
Another way of varying the brush is by deleting some of the brush using another custom brush.
You can also try to rotate the brush shape by right-clicking and dragging the arrow on the brush preview.
From this tutorial, I hope you understand the basics of creating a custom brush. Of course you can simply download a free custom brush or buy one. But using your own custom brush will definitely make your design unique.
Go ahead and don't be afraid to experiment. Step out of your comfortable designer's workroom and start creating your own brush. Below is a simple piece of red text in the style of the Dexter TV series, made by painting with a blood spatter brush. I bet you can replicate this easily.