7 days of PS Actions, graphics, templates & fonts - for free!* Unlimited asset downloads! Start 7-Day Free Trial
Advertisement
  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Adobe Photoshop

How to Get a Square Brush in Photoshop

Scroll to top
Read Time: 4 mins
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

Photoshop offers plenty of brushes by default, but most of them are roughly round in shape. What if you need a square brush, for example for pixel art? In this short tutorial, I'll show you how to get a square brush in Photoshop and what to use it for!

What You'll Learn in This Square Brush Photoshop Tutorial

  • How to get a square brush in Photoshop (the square brushes set)
  • How to make a square brush in Photoshop from scratch
  • What to use a hard square brush for
  • What to use a soft square brush for

1. How to Get a Square Brush in Photoshop CC

In the past, Photoshop used to have a special default brush set filled with square brushes of many sizes—perfect for a pixel artist. But since the CC versions, they have disappeared from the library. The good news is, they're still available—you just have to dig a little!

Step 1

Take the Brush Tool (B) and open the Brushes panel. Click the icon in the upper right corner.

open brush menuopen brush menuopen brush menu

Step 2

Close to the bottom, you'll find the Legacy Brushes option. Click it, and then click OK.

append legacy brushesappend legacy brushesappend legacy brushes

Step 3

Scroll down the list of the brushes until you find the Square Brushes set. That's where you'll find your Photoshop square pixel brushes!

open legacy brushes listopen legacy brushes listopen legacy brushes list
square brushes list photoshopsquare brushes list photoshopsquare brushes list photoshop

You can use these brushes to create pixel art like this cute pixel pig from Envato Elements:

pixel art examplepixel art examplepixel art example

2. How to Make a Square Brush in Photoshop

But what if you need a big square brush, for other purposes than pixel art? Resizing the brushes from the set is not a solution, because at a bigger scale they're not as square as they seem. So let's make our own Photoshop square brush together!

Step 1

Create a New File. Make it square—3000 pixels wide and high. Choose black for the Background Contents.

create new filecreate new filecreate new file

Step 2

Go to Edit > Define Brush Preset. Give it a name.

create new brush presetcreate new brush presetcreate new brush preset

Step 3

Now you have a huge square brush! But what would you need such a brush for?

Let's say you have a photo like this, and you want to crop it temporarily. You can use a Layer Mask for this job, then take a big Hard Round brush, and draw over the edge while holding Shift.

cropping photo with a round brushcropping photo with a round brushcropping photo with a round brush

Similarly, you can use the Rectangular Marquee Tool (M) and fill it with black.

cropping photo with a marquee toolcropping photo with a marquee toolcropping photo with a marquee tool

Both ways work pretty well, but a simple square brush beats them both!

If you take your big square brush, Photoshop will show you its outline. This outline can be used to quickly visualize the cropping just by hovering over the photo.

cropping photo with a square brushcropping photo with a square brushcropping photo with a square brush

And the actual cropping is achieved with a single click! This may not seem like much, but when you're working with lots of photos, this really can add up in the long run!

cropping donecropping donecropping done

3. How to Create a Soft Square Brush in Photoshop

OK, but what if you want to achieve the same effect, but with soft edges instead? Here's how to do it!

Step 1

Create a New File the same way as before. Go to Layer > New > Layer From Background. Then press Control-T and resize the layer content to 90%.

resize the layerresize the layerresize the layer
resize the squareresize the squareresize the square

Step 2

Go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. Adjust the Radius to the level of softness you need.

add gaussian bluradd gaussian bluradd gaussian blur
make the edges softermake the edges softermake the edges softer

Step 3

Go to Edit > Define Brush Preset and give it a name.

create a new brushcreate a new brushcreate a new brush

Step 4

Now you can use your square brush the same way as before, but this time you'll get a blurry edge instead!

crop with a soft edgecrop with a soft edgecrop with a soft edge
soft cropping donesoft cropping donesoft cropping done

Step 5

To make things even faster, you can paint over the area you want to keep (hold the Shift key to keep the edges straight)...

select cropping with a maskselect cropping with a maskselect cropping with a mask

... and then press Control-I to reverse the mask and get a nicely feathered cropping in seconds!

invvert the maskinvvert the maskinvvert the mask

Good Job!

Now you know how to make a square brush in Photoshop and what to use it for!

pixel art examplepixel art examplepixel art example

Other Photoshop Brush Tutorials

If you're interested in Photoshop brushes, you may also enjoy these tutorials:

Advertisement
Did you find this post useful?
Want a weekly email summary?
Subscribe below and we’ll send you a weekly email summary of all new Design & Illustration tutorials. Never miss out on learning about the next big thing.
Advertisement
Start your 7-day free trial*
Start free trial
*All Individual plans include a 7-day free trial for new customers; then chosen plan price applies. Cancel any time.