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How to Make a Cloud Brush in Photoshop

Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

What is the best brush for painting clouds? The one that you create yourself, of course! In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to make a cloud brush in Photoshop using a photo, and how to create your own cloud brush set.

And if you want a quicker solution, scroll down for some amazing resources available on Envato Elements.

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

What You'll Learn in This Cloud Brush Tutorial

  • How to make a cloud brush in Photoshop
  • What brush to use to paint clouds
  • How to select a cloud without its background
  • How to create a cloud brush set

What You'll Need

The following resources were used in this tutorial:

How to Make a Cloud Brush in Photoshop

Step 1

First, you need to find a photo of a cloud. If you want to create brushes with separate clouds, the cloud in the photo should be separated from the others.

single cloud photo

Step 2

Use the Crop Tool (C) to quickly remove the rest of the image.

crop the cloud

Step 3

Photoshop brushes are saved in grayscale, so we need to get rid of the colors and focus on the contrast instead. To do this, add a Black & White adjustment layer.

selct black and white adjustment

Step 4

By default, the sky will turn gray. This isn’t enough for us! Drag the Blues and Cyans sliders to the left to make these colors darker, until the sky is completely black. Be careful not to make the cloud too dark in the process!

make the blues darker
remove blue sky

Step 5

We removed the sky from our brush, but the cloud looks pretty gray at the moment. To fix this, add a Brightness/Contrast adjustment layer.

add brightness contrast adjustment

Step 6

Drag the Brightness slider to the right. Leave a couple of gray areas in the cloud, but make most of it pure white.

increase brightness
make cloud brighter

Step 7

Right-click the layer stack and select Flatten Image. Then press Control-I to invert the colors.

invert the colors

Step 8

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

name your brush

Step 9

The brush is ready to use! Just open the image with the clear sky, set the color to white, adjust the size with the [ and ] keys, and click to add the cloud.

add a cloud to the sky

Step 10

If you want to adjust the behavior of this brush, press F5 to open the Brush Settings panel. If you want to paint multiple clouds with one stroke, for example, you can adjust the settings in the following way:

Increase the Spacing...

change spacing of brush

Step 11

... add the Size Jitter...

add size jitter

Step 12

... and the Opacity Jitter.

add opacity jitter
cloud brush with multiple clouds

Step 13

To create a realistic effect of a cloudy sky, it’s better to use a couple of brushes with different cloud shapes. You can create them using the same method. Sometimes, though, the clouds in your photo will not be so nicely separated from the other ones. In this case, just paint over the redundant areas using your individual cloud brush. This way, you’ll remove them without compromising the edges of the cloud you’re trying to select

detailed cloud brush
remove clouds with brush

Step 14

If you want to create your own cloud brush set, open the Brushes panel and click Create a New Group. Give it a name.

create new brush set
name brush set

Step 15

Then simply drag your cloud brushes into the group.

drag brushes to set

Good Job!

Now you know how to make a cloud brush in Photoshop!

cloud brush photoshop

Cloud Brush Photoshop Actions and Effects

Do you need some clouds ASAP? Try these great resources:

Cloud Brush Set (ABR)

cloud brush set

This set contains 30 realistic cloud brushes, so if you're looking for the best brush to paint clouds, you're likely to find it here! They work for both the older and newer versions of Photoshop.

Rain Clouds Photoshop Action (ATN)

Rain Clouds Photoshop Action

If you need to add a dramatic effect to your photo, this action will let you add stormy clouds and heavy rain to any image. You can use different color effects and different directions of rain.

Cloud Text Photoshop Action (ABR, ATN, PDF, PSD)

Cloud Text Photoshop Action

If you've ever wanted to see your name written on the sky, this action will allow you to write your text with clouds! It comes with the background, as well as the images of the plane for extra realism.

Cloud Photoshop Action (ATN, ABR)

Cloud Photoshop Action

Add some dramatic clouds of smoke to your photo with this powerful action! Choose from different colors to create the effect you need.

Fantasy Clouds Photoshop Action (ABR, ATN)

Fantasy Clouds Photoshop Action

Add trendy, gradient colors to your photo and fill its background with clouds to create a stunning fantasy effect. This action also includes a light leak effect!

More Photoshop Brush Tutorials

Do you want to learn more about creating Photoshop brushes? Try these tutorials as well:

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