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How to Create a Japanese Brush Font Text Effect in Photoshop

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Read Time: 6 mins
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

Creating a completely custom font effect from scratch may sound like a daunting task, but it's much less complicated than it might seem! And the task becomes even simpler when you put some high-quality resources to use—resources that you can customize and alter so you still end up with something that's unique to you and your project!

In this quick tip, we will be taking a look at how to create a Japanese brush font text effect in Adobe Photoshop.  

Follow along with us over on our Envato Tuts+ YouTube channel:

What You'll Need

To complete this project, we are using the following resources:

Find more resources on Envato Elements!

1. How to Create Paint Stroke Photoshop Brushes

First, let’s start by creating an ink brush Photoshop brush.

Step 1

Import an image of painted brush strokes. Ideally, you want them to be long, with tapered and textured edges.

Paint strokes Paint strokes Paint strokes

Step 2

Turn the image black and white by going to Image > Adjustments > Desaturate. 

These paint strokes are a little light, so let’s darken them by going to Image > Adjustments > Brightness/Contrast and bringing the Contrast up to 100 and the Brightness down to -150. 

Repeat this step until your paint strokes are a nice solid black. 

darken strokes darken strokes darken strokes

Step 3

Select your paint strokes by going to Select > Color Range and clicking on the black paint. Bring the Fuzziness all the way up to 200 and hit OK.

Step 4

Create a Color Fill layer set to black. The color fill layer will automatically take the shape of the selection! 

create color fillcreate color fillcreate color fill

Step 5

Smooth out the edges of the paint stroke by double-clicking on the color fill layer's layer mask and choosing Select and Mask.

Set Smooth to 9, Contrast to 24%, and Shift Edge to -30%. Your settings may vary, but we don’t want to lose too much of that streaky brush texture, so be careful! 

smooth edges smooth edges smooth edges

Step 6

Finally, Crop down your paint stroke and go to Edit > Define Brush Preset. Name your brush, and you are done!

You will want to make as many brush strokes as possible, but alternatively, you can also download a set of premade brush strokes that come on a transparent background or a premade brush pack that is all ready to go!

create brush create brush create brush

Step 7

If you're not sure how to install Photoshop brushes, you will want to select the Brush Tool, open the Brush window, click on the Gear icon found in the top right-hand corner, and then select Import Brushes. 

From there, you will want to navigate to wherever you save your brushes, select them, and that’s it!      

2. How to Create a Brush Stroke Font Effect 

Finally, let’s move on to creating our Japanese-inspired text effect. 

Step 1

This first step is optional, but it might help you out for your first few tries with this effect! 

Choose a font that's similar to the structure you want your text to have. In this case, the Japanese brush font “Little Samurai” works perfectly.

Type out your word or phrase. Now, we can use this as a template when we are placing our brush strokes!

template text template text template text

Step 2

Import your brush stroke brushes, or have your brush stroke images (with a transparent background) in a folder nearby so you can drop or paint them in as needed.

I will be using these brush stroke PNGs found on Envato Elements.

image pack image pack image pack

Step 3

Now, it’s a matter of combing different brush strokes to make different letters. Let’s start with an easy one, “M.”

Drag and drop your strokes to match up with the three vertical lines that make up the lower section of the "M", using our text as a guide. 

Make sure to use different strokes for each line. You want to avoid patterns and repetition! 

first brush strokes first brush strokes first brush strokes

Step 4

Place a fourth line going through the upper portion of all three lines. You have an “M”!

I suggest grouping all of the brush strokes into their own group and naming it according to the letter they create. 

creating an M creating an M creating an M

Step 5

You can use the Paint Brush and Eraser Tool to add or take away detail from each line to add further fine-tuning and variation.

Also, remember to Flip lines Vertically and Horizontally and adust both their height and width to avoid the look of repetition.

adjust lines by flipping adjust lines by flipping adjust lines by flipping

Step 6

Use the Warp Transform Mode to create and match curves, and to fit the strokes to match the shape of the template text. 

Do these steps over and over until all of your letters are created! 

adjust lines by warping adjust lines by warping adjust lines by warping
all text all text all text

Step 7

Change the color of the text by adding a Color Fill layer and clipping it into your master group—the group holding all of your letters. 

You can also go ahead and fill in any sparse spots quickly by creating a New Layer below all of your text layers and painting using a hard white brush. This will help your paint look fuller, if that's the look you are going for!

change color change color change color

We've Done It!

And there you have it! You can whip up these painted letters in a matter of minutes, and if you find yourself reaching for this kind of text effect fairly often, go ahead and create the whole alphabet, save it in a PSD file, and you've officially created your very own template! 

So, as always, keep experimenting with different techniques and practicing, and don't forget to post your version below, along with any questions, comments, or critiques!

create a japanese brush text effect  create a japanese brush text effect  create a japanese brush text effect

More Japanese Brush Fonts

Okami - Brush Font

Okami is a hand-drawn brush font with rough and bold letters. It's great for logos, branding, print projects, and of course creating a Japanese brush font text effect! 

okami font okami font okami font

Wonderfont Brush Typeface

This font face is ideal for creating a Japanese brush font effect that comes off more rustic and unrefined! 

wonder font wonder font wonder font

30 Acrylic Brush Strokes

This collection contains 30 isolated high-resolution brush texture strokes made using yellow acrylic paint and many different paintbrushes perfect for creating a Japanese brush font effect. 

acrylic brush strokes acrylic brush strokes acrylic brush strokes

66 Long Ink Strokes Photoshop Stamp Brushes

Download 66 hand-painted ink Photoshop brushes that work with any Photoshop version! This ink brush Photoshop pack is high resolution and would be a great addition to any project.

long strokes long strokes long strokes

Looking to learn more? Why not check out the following tutorials:

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