Photoshop comes with many brushes already built in, and you can go to sites such as deviantart.com or brusheezy.com to find freebies that users have submitted, however in this tutorial we are going to look into designing our own set of brushes.
Coffee and Grunge, Two of my Favorite Things
Coffee stains and grunge splatters have become staples in much of grunge design. The great part about a grunge theme is that there are no rules! This gives the designer a ton of freedom. We are going to create coffee stain and splatter brushes that can be used again and again in our designs.
Brew Up Some Coffee and Let’s Get Started
- Put on the Maxwell House (my fav) and brew up a cup
- Find some paper, preferably textured paper (it makes more interesting stains).
- Grab some different sized mugs, and a straw
- This is the fun part! Spill some coffee on a hard surface and get the bottom of the mug wet, then place the cup on the paper. Try different amounts of coffee, different shapes and so on. Also for the splatters, use the straw and drip the coffee randomly onto the paper. Once you’ve got some cool stains and splatters, take a rest; we need to let the coffee dry. These are the some of the stains that I created:
- Scan the image in at a nice high resolution.
- Bring the image into photoshop and desaturate it. You should make your brushes black and white, you can apply color to them later when you use them. To desaturate the image click image>adjustments>desaturate
- Next let’s adjust the levels, to exaggerate the contrast. Click image>adjustments>levels to bring up the levels window. Bring the black slider and the white slider towards the middle until you get the contrast you like. Leave some gray in the stains; it will make your brushes more interesting in the end.
- Now we need to make individual selections of all the stains you want as brushes, copy them and paste them into a new document.
- Grab the rectangle marquee tool by pressing “m” or locating it on your toolbar. Make a simple selection around the stain you would like to work on.
- Hit “ctrl, c” on the keyboard to copy that selection.
- Hit “ctrl, n” to open up a new document.
- And hit “ctrl, v” to paste that selection into the new document.
- Clean up the brush by deleting any excess or unnecessary marks. To do this, make a selection using the magic wand tool, you can find it on the toolbar or Pressing “W”. Also note you can play around with the tolerance to refine your selection. Once you have a selection you’d like to take out, press “ctrl, x” to cut it out. Repeat selecting and cutting until you have just the brush that you want.
- Save the file to a location that’s easy to remember
- Open up Illustrator.
- Create a new file. file>new
- Place the photoshop file. file>place
- With the stain selected click on the drop-down arrow next to the live trace button at the top of the screen. Select tracing option from the list.
- First click the preview button, to see how the changes effect your image. Make sure Fills and Ignore White (Note this will not be an option in CS2 or below versions, you will have to cut the white space and make the background transparent within Photoshop) is checked on and that the Mode is set to Black and White. Now fiddle with the other setting until you get the result you like. I adjusted the Threshold, Path Fitting and Minimum Area. Below are the settings I used; however your brush will be different and therefore probably look best after some trial and error…
- Click the Expand Button in the control panel.
- Copy your newly made Illustrator Vector. “ctrl, c”.
- Open up Photoshop again, and create a new document, “ctrl, n”. Make the resolution 300dpi and make the size rather large, I went with 2500px by 2500px.
- Paste the stain into Photoshop, “ctrl v”. In the dialog box that appear check pixels.
- We need to prepare the brush palette for a new set. Click edit>preset manager. Select all the brushes by clicking on the first then holding down the shift key and clicking on the last brush. Press delete, then finish up by clicking “done”. This process empties out your brush panel so you can add your new brushes without extending the old set. This process however does not completely delete the old brushes that were in there, merely it creates an empty set for you to work with.
- Select the stain by clicking on the thumbnail in the layers palette while pressing down ctrl. This will select only the stain.
- Click Edit>Define Brush Preset. Name your brush something applicable.
- Finally go to your brushes panel, click the flyout menu and click save brushes. Enter a name that works for you and click OK.
Scanning and Preparing the Image
Select Your Brush
Bringing the Work Into Illustrator
We could stop at this step and convert the file to a brush, and it would be very useful; however the brush would not be very scalable, and we would be limited to the resolution we have now. By bringing Illustrator into the mix, we can make the brush larger, and then scale it down in size depending upon our need!
Back Over to Photoshop
Time to Make the Brushes
Now you have a working brush. Repeat these same steps to add more to your palette. You can also go back to your preset manager and begin adding more to your set by dragging and dropping.
That’s it! Now you can take your new brush library and incorporate your original brushes into your next design. I hope you find some good uses for this.