Create Your Own Brush Preset in Photoshop

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One of the creative ways you can use an image is to create a custom brush shape in just a few simple steps. This allows you to “paint” or add that shape to any of your post-processing.


For example, I created my own brush preset which acts like a stamp so I could easily add these cranes (shown below) to any image and at whatever size I want.


Original silhouette of cranes against a dull looking sky

Here is how created these brushes:

  1. I select an image that I think will make a good black and white silhouette.
  2. I open the image in Photoshop and select Image > Adjustments > Threshold. This renders the image completely black and white, kind of like a stamper. You should have a black silhouette with a white background. The white background is important to create the necessary cut-out look.
  3. Use the slider to adjust the silhouette to make it look the way you want it to look.
  4. Once the silhouette is adjusted, make sure that your image is no larger than 2500 pixels on the longest side. To do this, go to Image > Image Size. Make adjustments to the image size, if necessary and then close the Image Size box.
  5. Select Edit > Define Brush Preset. In the dialogue box, type in a name for your brush present and then click OK.
    Your new brush is located in the brush tools.

You can change the color and size in the same way you can change the other brushes in Photoshop. For my final image above, I chose to create two brush presets so that I could place each bird onto the background separately.


Original image of colorful sky before adding my new brush preset

So… the next time you take a dull photo, try to see if you can use it to create a custom brush shape.

About Author Denise Ippolito

Denise Ippolito is a full time professional photographer, international workshop leader, and creative artist living in New Jersey. Most recently one of Denise’s images was selected as the "Birds" Category Winner in the prestigious Nature's Best 2016 Windland Smith Rice International Awards Competition. In 2015 she also won the Category for "Art in Nature" in the Nature's Best 2015 International Awards Competition.
In 2010 and again in 2014 Denise received a Highly Honored award in the same Nature's Best competition. Also in 2014 one of her images was selected as part of the People's Choice Awards Top 50 Images in the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition. She has also won several PSA (Photographic Society of America) awards. Her images have been published in magazines and text books, sold as greeting cards, calendars and most recently featured in a Sierra Club Documentary. Six of her images hung in the distinguished Birds of the World Exhibit featured at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Denise travels extensively presenting slide shows, lectures and seminars and teaching photography and Photoshop. Her workshops feature a variety of subjects including: avian, flower, landscape and urbex (urban-exploration) photography.