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How to Make a Hair Brush in Photoshop

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Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

Today we will be creating a quick and easy hair brush Photoshop set! We will use simple shapes mixed with brush settings to create three different hair effect brushes in Photoshop. While we are only creating three this time around, you can create an endless amount of hair brush Photoshop packs just by trying out different settings and shapes!

Let's get ready to learn how to create a hair brush in Photoshop.

If you're short on time, however, and need high-quality hair brushes quickly, check out Envato Elements and GraphicRiver! There you'll find the best hair brush presets for Photoshop and much much more. 

Hair Filaments Brush For PhotoshopHair Filaments Brush For PhotoshopHair Filaments Brush For Photoshop

What You'll Learn in This Photoshop Tutorial 

  • How to make a hair brush in Photoshop
  • How to make hair brush presets for Photoshop
  • How to make and use a hair style brush in Photoshop

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

What You'll Need

Find more resources on Envato Elements!

1. How to Create a Hair Strand Brush in Photoshop

Step 1

Let’s start by creating the simplest of the three hairbrushes, the single hair brush Photoshop preset. This hair brush is ideal for straight hair and gives you the most control over what the hair strand might be painted like. 

Create a big empty white canvas. The size doesn’t matter as we’re going to crop it when exporting our brush.

Step 2

Now, with a black semi-hard round Brush, paint five or six dots somewhat close to each other and in different sizes. Use the [ and ] keys to adjust the brush’s Size quickly.

It doesn’t have to be just like what you see here; in fact, you can always make a few different dot patterns, turn them all into brushes, and have a variety of hair strand brushes to choose from.

draw three dots draw three dots draw three dots

Step 3

Next, hold Control and click the layer icon of the painted dots to create a selection. Hit the Crop tool to instantly crop the canvas to the exact size of the dots.

crop three dots crop three dots crop three dots

Step 4

Now, let’s go to Edit > Define Brush Preset. Don’t worry about naming your brush just yet.

define new brush define new brush define new brush

Step 5

Let’s open a New Canvas with a subject already extracted and in need of some hair to set up and test our brush on.

Go to Window > Brushes Settings to open the Brush Settings panel, and for the single straight hair brush, all we need to do is set the Spacing to 1%.

Still, make sure to save the new brush’s settings by hitting the Square icon in the bottom right corner of the Brush Settings panel.

brush settings for single hair strand brush settings for single hair strand brush settings for single hair strand

Step 6

Now, we can try our new hair paint brush in Photoshop! This brush is best used with a tablet, as it relies heavily on both pressure and opacity; however, the upcoming brushes are much more mouse-friendly.

This brush is my personal favorite go-to when painting backlit hair, and I like to refine the painted hair with a soft round Eraser brush.

When painting backlit hair, I like to use either white or a pale color that matches the overall lighting of the image.

I use layers set to Normal, Softlight, and Overlay, creating multiple layers below, above, and clipped into my subject.

That's how to create a hair brush in Photoshop, but let's create a couple more!

how to create hair brush in photoshophow to create hair brush in photoshophow to create hair brush in photoshop

2. How to Create a Curly Hair Brush in Photoshop

Step 1

Next up, a curly hair brush for Photoshop. This brush is ideal for afro curls and other tighter natural hair textures. 

Let’s go back to our original white canvas to make our new shape. Create a New Layer, and stamp a larger hard round black dot onto the canvas. My brush is set to a size of 125 px; however, you can go much larger if you want a higher resolution brush.

create black dotcreate black dotcreate black dot

Step 2

Now, let’s select the Eraser tool and set it to the same Size as the paint brush, which in my case was 125px.

Take the Eraser brush and align it over the black dot, misaligning it slightly so that there is a sliver left over on top, and then click to erase.

We want to create a 1 to 2 px crescent moon shape. The thicker the shape, the thicker the hair strand will appear, so again feel free to make multiple versions of this brush with varying thicknesses.

erase part of dot erase part of dot erase part of dot

Step 3

Again, let’s hold Control and click the layer icon of the crescent moon shape to create a Selection.

Hit the Crop tool to crop the canvas to size. And then let’s go to Edit > Define Brush Preset.

Step 4

Let’s open up a new .PSD of a subject with curly hair to set up and test our brush on.

Go to Window > Brush Settings and set the brush to the following settings:

curly hair brush settings curly hair brush settings curly hair brush settings

Step 5

Again, don’t forget to save the brush using the bottom-right button in the Brush Settings panel, or else you’ll have to apply all of the settings all over again.

Now you can use your brush to paint! Don’t be afraid to make the brush larger as it’ll scale up well. This brush works great with or without a tablet and is excellent for creating tiny hairs caught in the light and creating a dramatic backlit hair effect for people with tighter curls.

curly hair brush photoshopcurly hair brush photoshopcurly hair brush photoshop

3. How to Create a Wavy Hair Strand Brush in Photoshop

Step 1

For our last hair effect brush in Photoshop, we’ll be creating a wavy hair strand brush, perfect for painting stray hairs or smaller hair strands. This hair brush works great with both straighter hair and tighter curls. 

Let’s go back to our blank white canvas and paint a loose S-like shape on a new layer, making it longer and less curvy. I set my brush Size to 10px at 75% Hardness.

draw s like shape draw s like shape draw s like shape

Step 2

Now, we can take our hard round Eraser brush and start thinning out areas of the S-like shape, similar to what we did with the curly hair strand brush.

If you painted the S shape with a mouse and not a tablet, make sure to taper the ends of the shape with the Eraser brush.

Make some areas very, very thin, while others remain thick to give the appearance that the shape is twisting.

partially erase shape partially erase shape partially erase shape

Step 3

Once you're happy, hold Control and click the layer icon to create a Selection. Hit the Crop tool to crop the canvas to size. And then go to Edit > Define Brush Preset.

Step 4

Let’s go back to our curly-haired subject to set up and test our brush. The settings are as follows:

wavy hair brush settings wavy hair brush settings wavy hair brush settings

Step 5

Test the brush out and see how it looks!

This brush is ideal to use for fly-away hair strands, small pieces of thread or string, tiny strands of hair that would be catching the light, or any other instance where a touch of detail is needed. 

On straighter hair, it's best used for shorter baby hairs seen near the edges of the face, although for tighter afro curls, it can be used all over to add slight hints of light or shine.  

You may end up wanting to add a bit more Spacing or add a small amount of Scatter. This brush is highly customizable to what you are painting or painting on. In fact, it’s worth testing out different brush settings and shapes for all of the brushes seen here today!

hair drawing brush photoshophair drawing brush photoshophair drawing brush photoshop

You're Done!

And that is how to make a hair brush in Photoshop! The best Photoshop brush for hair is the kind with a lot of variation, so try and make multiple different versions of the same hair type. Play with shapes and settings, and remember, you can never have too many hair strand brushes in Photoshop! I have been using a version of these exact strands and find them to be the best Photoshop hair brushes for painting, lighting, and masking hair. 

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Top Photoshop Hair Brushes and Resources

Whether you're looking for a single hair brush for Photoshop or a whole pack, we have you covered! 

1. Hair Filaments Brush for Photoshop (ABR)

Hair Filaments Brush For PhotoshopHair Filaments Brush For PhotoshopHair Filaments Brush For Photoshop

This hair drawing brush Photoshop set is perfect for creating quick and easy flyaway hair stands like the ones created in the above tutorial! It contains over 40 unique wavy hair strands to add life and detail to any photo or drawing 

2. Fur, Hair and Grass Brushes (ABR)

Fur, Hair and Grass BrushesFur, Hair and Grass BrushesFur, Hair and Grass Brushes

Looking for a hair drawing brush Photoshop pack that is multi-purpose? Then this pack is for you! It can be used to paint hair, fur, and even grass. There are over 50 brushes included, and it works with both new and older versions of Photoshop!

3. Facial Hair Photoshop Action (ATN)

Facial Hair Photoshop ActionFacial Hair Photoshop ActionFacial Hair Photoshop Action

This hair style brush Photoshop action focuses on the hair found on someone's face! Create instant, photo-realistic facial hair with just a click of the button. The best part? You get to choose if you want a beard, mustache, or something in-between!

4. Soft Hair Textures (JPG, PNG)

Soft Hair TexturesSoft Hair TexturesSoft Hair Textures

This hair brush pack contains 10 transparent PNG files of soft pastel hair tufts! Colorful and modern, these can be used in photo composites or even trendy graphic design projects.  Download this hair brush set today!

5. Fur Realistic Painting Brushes for Photoshop (ABR)

Fur Realistic Painting Brushes for PhotoshopFur Realistic Painting Brushes for PhotoshopFur Realistic Painting Brushes for Photoshop

Looking to paint realistic fur? Look no further than this hair paint brush Photoshop set! This pack contains some of the best Photoshop brushes for hair, fur, and all things fluffy. 

Looking to learn even more? We've got some more tutorials below, including this fantastic free course: Photoshop Retouching for Beginners on our YouTube channel:

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