As you know, I am a major Photoshop brush fanatic. This week I am doing a quick blog on creating brushes from scanned marks and then turning them into brushes. I am finding it so handy to have these brushes for detail or grunge effects for areas that need just a little more subtle texture. So here are the steps I am finding useful for creating this type of brush.
Creating the Brushes
- Need to create some square marks on paper – in my case an inexpensive Sketch Pad from WalMart that is good for Pen, Pencil, Pastel and Oil Pastel was used. 10 different marks were created on the page as shown below. All but the Pencil Brush mark were created using an inexpensive set of Faber Castell Black India Ink artists pens sized to S (0.3 mm), F (o.5 mm), M (0.7 mm), and B (1.8 mm) – any of their sets look pretty nice. Any type of media could be used here.
- Scan the whole document as a JPG at 600 dpi. Below is the scanned document with some explanatory text added for blog.
- Bring scanned document into PS and increase the brightness with Levels Adjustment (CTRL+L) or Curves Adjustment (CTRL+M) to make sure the background is white – the scanner tends to darken the whites as seen below.
- Select each mark with the Marquee Tool and put on its own layer (CTRL+J). More contrast can be added here if the mark is still not as dark as needed by using the same Levels or Curves Adjustments.
- One by one, toggle each layer on with the others off and create brush by going to Edit -> Define Brush Preset and name it.
- Once created, add different settings in the Brush Panel to make different effects. I experimented with all the marks, but only kept the labeled brushes shown below. Some just do not work out well.
My favorite brush in this group turned out to be the Pencil Brush which was just a basic pencil scribble. In Image 1 above the green soft vertical lines that seem to stretch the columns out is from this brush effect. Image 2 below is another example of using this brush. (For both image details see end of blog.) By making a few changes in the Brush Panel, a new brush called Pencil Thin Vert Lines brush was created. Using this I was able to create a very nice vertical effect for use below extracted objects. (Here are the settings used if you would like to create a similar brush: Brush Tip – used Pencil Brush mark, Size was huge – usually have to reduce it as it came in as 2955 px, Angle set to 90 degrees (makes strong vertical lines), Roundness 12%, and Spacing 10%; Shape Dynamics Size Jitter Control set to Pen Pressure and both the Flip X Jitter and Flip Y Jitter boxes are checked; and Smoothing section checked.)
Here are steps to create a handy PNG file from a layer in a document that would be nice to use in other images.
Turn a Layer with a Brush Effect into a PNG File
- Highlight the layer in the Layer Panel.
- Right click and choose Duplicate the Layer.
- In dialog in Destination Document drop-down, select New to create a new document.
- Just this layer appears in the New Document that can be saved as a PNG file. For the Vertical Pencil effect, I saved it in my Library Panel for quick use.
The Duplicate Layer command also my favorite way to move layers between files with lots of layers – none of this dragging with the Move Tool. In the Destination Document drop-down, select the document to move layer(s) into instead of New and of course do not save as a PNG. Hope this will give you some ideas on creating your own unique brushes – I am going to try scanning in some crayon marks and also some watercolor marks. By making changes in the Brush Panel, lots of subtle texture effects can be created. Have a good week!…..Digital Lady Syd
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Image 1: This image turned out to be very complicated and several iterations were created before I settled on this look. I first began with the beautiful model image called peach2 by faestock and extracted her from her background using the Select and Refine command. She was duplicated and put in the background at 35 % layer opacity and at a smaller size to get the two face look. The hair was thickened by using my basic SJ Pastel 3 brush (see How to Create My Favorite Brush blog.) The floral headband is from Carousellerie Creative Pinkish Blooms Arrangement Wreath 04 – Free Transform (CTRL+T) was used to adjust it to her head. The background was added – starting with 2 Lil’ Owls (for website link see sidebar at my Tidbits Blog) Making Waves 2 texture. Then the column was extracted from the Ancient Ruins IV by Pelleron at DeviantArt and taken into Topaz Impression2 using my Colored Pencil preset. (Started with Colored Pencil II preset and ended up with these settings: Stroke Brush Type 07, Brush Size 0.90, Paint Volume 0.77, Paint Opacity 0.20, Stroke Width -0.82, Stroke Length -0.25, Spill 0.26, Smudge 0.16, and Coverage 1.00; Color Overall Sat 0.37, and Red Hue 0.78, Red Sat 0.32 and Red Lightness 0.28; Lighting Brightness 0.21 and Contrast -0.40, Light Direction X: 1.00 and y: 1.00; and Texture Strength 0.33, Size 0, Paper I texture and white background.). Next the Pencil Brush was turned into a PNG object to add the effect on a layer underneath to add a very vertical grunge look. On top of the model an Orange vertical light leak was added on the right side and some Gold Dust Glitter by Alaina Jensen added on top of her head. A Watercolor Wedding Collection flower bunch by Lisa Glanz was added down the right side of the image. French Kiss (see my Tidbits Blog for website link) Tableaux Fresco texture was applied and set t0 54% layer opacity – a layer mask was added and the model and some more center areas were painted out. Kim Klassen’s Downtown II Collection Isobel (could not find link) was added at 48% layer opacity and set to Soft Light Blend Mode. On top 2 Lil’ Owls Comos 11 texture was desaturated and set to Overlay blend mode for the star effect. The Bumble Bee brush his from fartoolate at DeviantArt. The text is from Robert Louis Stevenson. There were lots of adjustment layers in this file also.
Image 2: I actually had posted this image a few weeks ago using a different color palette. Here is some of the blog post from my Tidbits Blog. This pretty flower is from an old album called Illustrations of the New Zealand Flora (Plate 139) published in 1914. It was just a black and white line drawing and I added the color and texture. The image was removed from a page in the downloaded PDF file using the steps in my How to Create Vintage Text for Images Fun Photoshop Blog -just go towards the end for steps to pull images. I am afraid I took a little color liberty here as the volume says the flowers are actually white, but I liked the pink color. The flowers pink color was created by using a Curves Adjustment Layer’s individual Red channel with the layer mask filled with black (CTRL+I in the mask) – just painted in the pink on the petals – layer was set to Color blend mode. On a separate blank layer under the outline, painted in the green textures using Grut’s I Qwillo (I love this brush for drawing and painting!) and a Mixer blender to paint in the leaves and stem. Below that but above a white background layer a texture layer was painted – just experimented with a couple of my brushes (the Pencil Brush from above for the vertical lines and the squares are a brush that was created from Subtle Grunge Texture 10 – Cement texture 10 by Spoongraphics). Took just the texture layer into Topaz Studio (see my Introducing the Free Topaz Studio blog) and sidebar at my Tidbits Blog for free download. The Radiance filter was applied so the fine lines showed up – I thought it matched the line drawing effect of the flower. The font is Viner Hand ITC and an Outer Glow layer style with a Contour change was used to make the text stand out. Used a Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer to set the background texture color. The original flower outline was set to 15% layer opacity at the top of the layer stack. That was it.
Even though I have been spending a lot of my time recently trying to learn some of the “bells and whistles” of Corel Painter, I find I still enjoy going back into Photoshop and using brushes I am more familiar with using. This is where I started learning painting techniques and I believe it is a good place for others to start. Painter has a lot to offer, but you have to get used to using brushes in either program to create beautiful images – for me Photoshop was the place to begin. And selecting flower images was a nice easy place to get the feel of a brush or to experiment with new settings. That is what was done in this case above with the Alstroemeria flower that was shot a while back.
1. First a texture was dragged into and re-sized to fit an image from Bridge, but you can right click and choose Place -> In Photoshop. If you open the texture in Photoshop and then move it into the image, you lose the texture name in the Layer Panel which I find useful to have. I guess you can tell it is Melissa Gallo’s Painted Textures Christmas Present Texture that she graciously gave away for the holidays. Can’t say enough good things about her textures! If you want to learn a lot more on this effect from a real expert, she offers classes on this type of painting at her site . This texture was left at Normal blend mode and 100% layer opacity.
2. Next a layer mask was added to the texture and the flower was painted out partially with black to hide some of the petal edges using my Chalk Brush set to 30% opacity. This was an easy brush to create and a good example of one I just started using and liked the results – in this case just used Photoshop’s Chalk Brush 60 with the Shape Dynamics turned on and Angle Jitter set to 19% in the Brush Panel. The jitter creates a little different angle for each stroke so the strokes do not look so uniform in the image. On the layer mask I just dabbed with short strokes to keep some of the rather scratchy effect from the texture on the flower. By using a lower brush opacity, 30% or less, or changing the size of the brush, you can go over certain areas to get just the right amount of the image being hidden. And if you go too far, just press the X key to switch the paint color to white and paint back areas that don’t look correct. If you are not quite sure you like the effect of this brush, try some of the other brushes Photoshop offers – Spatter 59 gives a slightly different effect with the Angle Jitter turned on. If you like a brush you created, save it down as a New Brush Preset by clicking on the pop-out in either the Brush Panel or the Brush Preset Panel. When I really like a brush, I also save it as a Tool Preset by clicking on the little arrow next to the brush icon in the far left of the Options Bar and click on the bottom icon, New Tool Preset. This is where I keep my Chalk Brush – always have it available.
NOTE: A couple little things to know about the Brush Panel. You need to click on the words of the individual brush section to get it to open up – if you just check the section on the left side, it applies whatever settings are there without your seeing them. One thing I noticed, if you set the Shape Dynamics Angle Jitter to 19%, this setting is sticky (does not change until you make a change to it) if using the same type of brush tip – it will always appear at this amount in the Shape Dynamics section until you change it. The Chalk and Spatter brushes are use the same Brush Tip so the setting sticks. But if you switch to a different Brush Tip, like an Airbrush for example, the Angle Jitter amount changes. It is recommended that you lock the setting in a section when creating new brushes if you like the setting so it does not change when trying out different brushes. Any unlocked attributes revert to those with which the original Photoshop brush tip was created. I do not lock my brush settings once save it down as a preset. Whew! Brushes in Photoshop can be confusing!
3. Used the same brush to add paint on a New Layer above the texture layer to add a few different colors (light pinks and blues). Also used Fay Sirtis’ Water Impressionist Blender Brush #1 Mixer Brush. Fay is both a Corel Painter Master and a Photoshop painting guru – if you were a NAPP member, and now are a Kelby One member, her fabulous painting brushes are all downloadable for free from her webinars and videos posted on-line at the site.
4. Now to add some texture back into the area where the layer mask removed it. The same texture layer was duplicated (CTRL+J) and placed at the top of the layer stack with the layer mask deleted. A Hue/Saturation Adjustment Layer was clipped to the layer (ALT+click between the layers) and with the Colorize button checked, Hue was set to 282, Saturation slider was set to 21, and Lightness -37. (I just discovered that with Colorize checked, the Saturation slider only goes from 0 to 100 so a setting of 21 is not that saturated in this case.) This added a slight pinkish cast to the whole texture. The texture layer was then set to Hard Light blend mode at 28% layer opacity – this adds the stroke texture over the flower and just added a little pinkish color. Basically I just experimented until I got a look I liked.
5. On a New Layer on top, French Kiss Spatter2_13 brush was used to add a little more localized texture to the image in different colors. These were added at a very low opacity.
6. The last step was to walk away until the next day (learned this from Aaron Nace) and realized I needed a little more color pop so a Selective Color Adjustment Layer was added. The Reds were adjusted so more pink was showing up in the upper right , Whites cyan was adjusted toward red, and Blacks cyan, yellow and black sliders were adjusted. Since this was over the top, the layer mask was filled with black (CTRL+I in mask) and just the areas I wanted to look a brighter were painted back. You have to be careful when messing with the Whites and Blacks Colors in this adjustment layer as they can really ruin an image if too much is applied. That was it. I really like the resulting colors!
******This image used even fewer steps with a different texture – just painted out parts of the flower with the Chalk Brush. I did not think it needed texture added above the flower in this case. The beautiful white texture is from French Kiss’s Tableaux collection and called CremeFraiche, another one of my favorite texture sites. Next a Selective Color Adjustment Layer was added and only the Reds and Yellows were adjusted to darken the red in the front flower and greens in the leaves. The layer mask was filled with black and just a little bit of localized color was painted back with a white low opacity chalk brush I created. The last step involved adding Nik Analog Efex Pro using just a few filters – Basic Adjustments was checked with the Detail Extraction set to 74%; Light Leaks was added over the red flowers using the first light leak in the Dynamic category and set to 52% Strength – this gives the lovely light pink in the texture; Lens Vignette was added to just whiten the image edges; and Levels & Curves – what I like to manipulate is the Luminosity Channel, just dragged it up a little and the RGB Channel down a little all set to 100% opacity. I believe the Luminosity curve is what makes me like this plug-in so much! Last step was a Curves Adjustment Layer in Photoshop. This was a very simple process, but the image is so much prettier than the original with the distracting background.
I am still learning to paint in Photoshop, but I feel like I can count on getting a pretty nice painterly look with just these few steps. The bottom line is that you should just make a couple of brushes that you like (and as noted above, be sure to save them as a brush and a tool preset if you really like them). Just start building up paint on separate layers or removing texture with layer masks at very low opacities, and maybe higher if you like the effect. With a few adjustment layer tweaks and blend mode changes, a very interesting image can be achieved out of one that looked rather ordinary. ….Digital Lady Syd
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