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Design

How to Create a Leaf Brush in Photoshop

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:MediumLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Let's take a look at how to create a quick but effective leaf brush for Photoshop completely from scratch! We will be learning how to create Photoshop brushes, how to install Photoshop brushes, and how to add a brush texture. Let's get started!

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

What You'll Need 

You'll need the following resources in order to complete this project:

Find more resources on Envato Elements!

1. How to Create Photoshop Leaf Brushes

First, let's create a few different leaf brushes using a few different 3D renders!

Step 1

To start things off, let's create a basic leaf brush ideal for shrubs, bushes, or even ivy!

Find an image of some plant leaves—I will be using this 3D asset as it comes on a transparent background! Download it as a .PSD. 

Step 2

Open up the PSD file and delete the shadow layer. 

remove shadow

Step 3

Go to Image > Adjustment > Hue/Saturation and bring the Lightness to -100.

fill with black

Step 4

Mask or erase the stems and pot using either the Eraser Tool or Layer Masks

mask stems

Step 5

Crop the image down to its exact pixel size. Go to Edit > Define Brush Preset, name the brush "leaf", and then hit OK.

crop image

Step 6

Open up a New Document.

Select your new brush, but we aren't done yet! We still have to set and save all of its brush settings. 

Open up the Window > Brush Settings and set them to the following: 

Brush Tip Shape

  • Spacing 30%

Shape Dynamics 

  • Size Jitter: 60%
  • Control: Pen Pressure (if applicable)
  • Minimum Diameter: 5%

Scattering 

  • Scatter: 140%
  • Count: 3
  • Counter Jitter: 20%
  • Control: Pen Tilt (if applicable)

Step 7

Hit Create New Brush, found on the bottom right-hand side of the Brush Settings panel, to save a new brush with the current settings. 

Make sure Include Tool Settings is checked, unchecking all other boxes, and then hit OK.

Create a new layer and paint with your new brush!

leaf brush

Step 8

I painted the bush below by first setting down a base of dark blue-green #20333d leaves, and then adding a slightly lighter set of blue-green #304d4c leaves on top.

Next, I added an even lighter green #326c60, and a bright true green #73c75d.

Then finally, on top of all other leaves, I created a bright neon-green #a3df55 set of leaves.

I like to paint each of them on their own separate layers so I can easily add more as I go!

paint shrub

Step 9

Create a quick shadow by duplicating all of the leaf layers, and then merge all of the duplicated layers together. 

Go to Image > Adjustment > Hue/Saturation and bring the Lightness to -100, changing the leaves to black.

And finally, using the Transform Tools to squish the image down into a shadow-like shape. 

Use a soft Eraser brush to fade out the ends of the shadow.  

add shadow

2. How to Create a Brush of Blowing Leaves 

To create a set of loose, free-form leaves, we are going to start by repeating the first few steps of the previous brush! 

Step 1

Find an image of some maple leaves—I will be using this 3D asset as again it comes on a transparent background! 

Download as a .PSD. 

maple leaves

Step 2

Open up the PSD file.

Go to Image > Adjustment > Hue/Saturation and set the Lightness to -100.

fill leaves with black

Step 3

Crop the image down to its exact pixel size.

Go to Edit > Define Brush Preset, name the brush "leaf", and then hit OK.

crop leaves

Step 4

Open up a New Document. Select your new brush, because it's time to set the brush settings!

Open up Window > Brush Settings and use the following settings: 

Brush Tip Shape

  • Spacing 45%

Shape Dynamics 

  • Size Jitter: 48%
  • Control: Pen Pressure (if applicable)
  • Minimum Diameter: 10%
  • Angle Jitter: 100%
  • Roundness Jitter: 19%

Scattering 

  • Scatter: 93%
  • Count: 2
  • Counter Jitter: 20%
  • Control: Pen Tilt (if applicable)

Color Dynamics 

  • Hue Kitter: 6%
  • Brightness Jitter: 18%

Step 5

Hit Create New Brush, found on the bottom right-hand side of the Brush Settings panel. Make sure Include Tool Settings is checked, unchecking all other boxes, and then hit OK.

Create a new layer and paint with your new brush!

maple leaves in the wind

3. How to Create a Flower Photoshop Brush 

Now, on to a flower brush! 

Step 1

I will be using this flowering rush to create a meadowy flower brush. 

Go ahead and repeat the first three steps of the past few brushes!

create black flowers

Step 2

Open up a New Document. Select your new brush—time to set the brush settings!

Open up Window > Brush Settings and use the following settings: 

Brush Tip Shape

  • Spacing 33%

Shape Dynamics 

  • Size Jitter: 32%
  • Control: Pen Pressure (if applicable)
  • Minimum Diameter: 9%
  • Angle Jitter: 5%
  • Roundness Jitter: 30%

Scattering 

  • Scatter: 20%
  • Count: 2
  • Counter Jitter: 20%
  • Control: Pen Tilt (if applicable)

Color Dynamics 

  • Hue Kitter: 6%
  • Brightness Jitter: 18%

Step 3

Hit Create New Brush, found on the bottom right-hand side of the Brush Settings panel. Check Include Tool Settings, unchecking all other boxes, and then hit OK.

Create a new layer and paint with your new brush!

paint flowers

4. How to Draw a Leaf Brush  

Next, let's look at how to quickly create a leaf brush in Photoshop completely from scratch. No extra images needed! 

Step 1

Create a large New Document. Mine is 4000 x 4000 px!

Step 2

Using a hard, round brush, paint two leaf-like shapes. Note that I said "leaf-like" as you don't need to be Picasso here! Just a general shape will work. 

paint leaves

Step 3

Copy the leaf-like layer and then shrink and angle it, turning four leaves into eight. Bring down the Opacity of the two leaf layers to around 70%.

duplicate leaves

Step 4

Duplicate the leaf-like shape again, further shrinking it and placing it over the other leaves. Bring the Opacity back up to 100%.

paint smaller leaves

Step 5

Create a few random solid black blobs around the outside of the leaves. 

We are creating variation in the leaves, so make sure they are different shapes and sizes, but keep them paired for the most part!  

paint outer leaves

Step 6

Repeat the above step one more time, adding even smaller leaf-like blobs. Crop the image down to its exact pixel size.

paint last leaves

Step 7

Go to Edit > Define Brush Preset, name your brush "Leaves", and hit OK. 

Step 8

Open up a new canvas or image to paint on.

Select your "Leaves" brush from the brush menu, open the Window > Brush Settings, and set the brush settings to what you see below.

Brush Tip Shape

  • Spacing 30%

Shape Dynamics 

  • Size Jitter: 61%
  • Control: Pen Pressure (if applicable)
  • Minimum Diameter: 5%

Scattering 

  • Scatter: 142%
  • Count: 3
  • Counter Jitter: 20%
  • Control: Pen Tilt (if applicable)

Color Dynamics 

  • Hue Kitter: 6%
  • Brightness Jitter: 18%

Step 9

Hit Create New Brush to save the current brush settings. 

Remember to make sure to check Include Tool Settings, and uncheck all other boxes.

Again, create a new layer and paint with your new brush!

cartoon leaves

5. How to Install Photoshop Brushes

Finally, let's learn how to install Photoshop brushes and take a look at some of my favorite leaf brush resources!

Step 1

First, select the brush you want to download—I will be downloading these Elegant Floral Brushes for Photoshop

Once downloaded, place the .ABR file somewhere on your computer. I recommend having a folder dedicated to storing all of your brushes!

floral brushes

Step 2

Once extracted, open a Photoshop file and select the Brush Tool.

Click on your brushes, found in the upper-left-hand toolbar. Choose the Gear Icon in the upper right corner of the Brush panel. 

Choose Import Brushes and locate the new .ABR brush file. 

Select the new brush from the Brush panel and paint!

floral brush

We've Done It!

And there you have it! Creating your own resources can seem like a daunting task at first, but putting together some simple shapes can get you some big results in the end!

However, if you are like me and aren't much of a digital painter—or just someone who needs some green but doesn't have the time to hand-paint all those leaves themselves—take a look at some of my favorite premade leaf resources!

Grass Photoshop Action

This Photoshop action will create a grass effect in just a matter of seconds! It also includes a grass brush to perfect any blades of grass that might need a trim.

grass action

Elegant Floral Brushes for Photoshop

This brush pack contains 15 different Photoshop brushes of photo-realistic flowers and shrubs. Perfect for both realistic and surreal photo composites! 

floral brushes

10 Watercolor Leaf Branches Illustration Graphics

Here are ten watercolor leaf branch illustrations that will give your image a touch of watercolor. The best part? These images are a whopping 400 px in size, making them perfect for just about any print project.

leaf branches

Green Leaves

Another pack of gorgeous illustrations to give you that watercolor vibe. All of these leaves are hand-painted with plenty of brush texture!

spring leaves

Spring Leaves

Finally, this image pack contains vines, ferns, and larger blooms of leaves that are all inspired by spring and summer plants. 

green leaves

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

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

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