In this session, we were joined by Khara Plicanic, a self-confessed design geek and Photoshop nerd who is passionate about helping creatives up their game. As a gifted teacher and the host to many online design courses, Khara shared her Photoshop expertise with us today. Get ready to soak up her knowledge and learn how to make stellar Photoshop brushes!


Create a Document

Create a new document by adding a speckled black and white layer. Add a photo of a sunset. See the image below for reference.

Instead of painting with the brush on the actual layer, paint on the layer mask. It will create a gradation of colors from the sunset.

Add the Image

Add the whimsical-looking heart image from the Elegant Collection. While making a brush, isolate what you want to turn into a brush.

Create the Brush 

Press command or control + A, to put marching ants around the whole document and then make a brush by choosing edit, define brush preset. Give it a name, and it’s ready to use.

Add Effects

Switch back to the graphic and turn on the layer mask so the mask would then block that entire sunset layer. Paint on the mask by pressing X on the keyboard to exchange the color swatches and pick the brush.

Open brush settings and change the way that the simple heart behaves. Click on the brush tip shape and choose spacing. Take the spacing, and we drag it to the right. We can see that individual hearts start to show.

Turn on the shape dynamics category, called size jitter. This will help form a variety of sizes. So every time you pick up the brush, a different size will show up.

Change the size to 20% difference. Skew them in different directions.

Test the brush by using it on the image. You’ll notice as soon as you let go, it will automatically rotate.

Use Text as Brush

Choose a paragraph from the text. Use the Marquee Selection Tool to click and drag the selection around the paragraph you want to use. The black text is going to be captured instead of the white. Click on edit, Define Brush Preset, and give it a name.

Go back to the image document and try the brush.

Pro tip: Create the brush of the size you intend to use to avoid pixelating.

Tap on the brush settings and turn on shape dynamics. Play with the size jitter, angle jitter and adjust the spacing. Use it like a stamp instead of clicking and dragging the brush. Save the brush.

Make a new blank layer and press D to get the default color. With the black brush, stamp the area. Take the layer and rename it. Clip it to the layer with the hearts by creating a clipping mask, or hold down the Option key.

Add Details 

Add the ‘be mine’ text layer with the Violetta Font. Add texture from the Strike Matchbook Collection.

Create a Path

Turn the heart-shaped graphic layer into a vector path. Hold down Command or Control on the keyboard and click the thumbnail for that layer. This will put a selection around it. Go to the paths panel and choose the button below to turn the selection into a path. Click to see the blue dots outline. Rename this to a heart.

Hide the layer and create a new layer. Click on the brushes and double-click on the heart brush. Click on the settings with the brush tool active and drag the spacing out.

Click on the shape dynamics and turn the size jitter up. Click on scattering to help scatter from the path of the brush. Give it little space and increase the count.

Add Color Dynamic

Turn on color dynamics, allowing it to introduce color variation while painting so the dots would be in different colors as you work on them. Turn on the foreground-background and pick a color. Choose a dark red and pink color for this.

Click on the Huge Jitter allowing the color to bleed inside and outside. Turn this down to 2%.

Open the swatches panel and choose a red color. Hold down Option or Alt and click on the pink color. Put that as the background color. Make the brush smaller by sizing it to 25 or 30 pixels and stroke the pack.

Add a Background

Add a black background and add ‘xoxo’ at the bottom. See the image below for reference.

Add glitter from the Glitter Pack in the Styles Panel. Turn off the overlays. Click on the Pattern Overlay Effect and change the blend mode from normal to overlay. Copy the same effect on the ‘xoxo’.

Use a Photograph as Brush

Choose the Bimbo Font Collection and pick a stackable font. Type the word ‘love’ and create a shadow font from the collection.

Duplicate that layer in the layers panel and change the color. Choose the Sans Main from the Bimbo Collection to write ‘love’. Paint it white and copy the layer to make it stackable. Change the top layer’s color to red and font to Sans Decor Three. This will form little dots.

Create a type layer and open up the glyphs panel. Find the font and the glyph you want and double click on it. It will automatically appear.

Create a Pucker Kiss Brush

Use the Rectangular Selection Tool and draw a box around the pucker kiss image to help define the actual brush tip. Choose edit and define brush presets. Rename the brush.

Go back to the previous image and pick a similar color. De-saturate the brush and make the lips bolder and darker. With the Marquee Tool choose edit and define brush preset.

Shape the dynamics and add color. Use it as a pattern.

Take the texture layer and clip it to the long shadow layer. The layer that you want to reshape needs to be directly above the shape you want it to turn into. Drag the kisses layer so that it's right above the love shadow layer. Hold down Alt or Option, hover the cursor and then click. The texture will apply to that layer.

Build a Texture in the Brush

Choose the patterns panel and click on Legacy Patterns. Click on Artist’s Surfaces and choose canvas. Change the mode from high to multiply. This will add a pattern to the brush.

Adjust the color and shape and save the settings. Click on the cogwheel and choose export to export the brushes. This helps restore the brushes.

Congratulations! You have successfully learnt how to make brushes in Photoshop.