Photoshop Brushes Tutorial

Picture 9

The new brush engine introduced with Photoshop 7 is probably my favorite new feature since the addition of the history palette. It provides the power to turn previously lengthy, skull-compressing chores into a matter of a few merry mouse clicks. In this tutorial, we’ll explore how a custom brush can be used to make realistic leafy foliage.Picture 1
1. We need to start by creating a path of a leaf. It’s always easier to start if you have an example to work off of, so I plucked a maple leaf from a tree in my backyard and scanned it.


Use the Pen Tool to draw a path around the shape of the leaf. You don’t need to pick up every detail of the left, just the general shape. (For more details about using the Pen Tool you might want to reference the Paths Tutorial).
Picture 2
2. Fill the shape in with black by going to the Paths Palette, right-clicking on the path to select "Make a Selection," and then pressing Alt+Backspace while your foreground color is black. Make sure there is transparency showing behind your leaf; you may have to hide the background layer and others by clicking the eye icons in the Layers Palette. Now we are ready to create a brush.
Picture 3
3. Use the Rectangular Marquee Tool to make a selection around your leaf. Go to Edit>Define Brush and name your brush (whatever you want) in the dialog box that pops up.
Picture 4
4. Your new brush can now be accessed in the Brush Palette, how exciting. Create a new blank image, select the Paintbrush Tool, and click on your brush at the bottom of the Brush Palette.
Picture 5
5. In the Brush Palette, there are a great deal of settings you can now customize to fit your own taste. Start by decreasing the Master Diameter of the brush until it looks reasonably sized in the preview below. I chose 40 px. Then click on Brush Tip Size and increase the spacing. I settled with 90%. Next click on the words Shape Dynamics . This is where the real fun begins. Set the Size Jitter to 100%. Experiment with the other settings if you feel like it. Raise the Minimum Diameter to around 24% to prevent any micro leaves from appearing in the final result. I also changed the Angle Jitter to 13% and set the Angle Jitter Control to Pen Pressure.
Picture 6
6. Click on Scatter from the left menu. Crank up the Scatter a good bit. I went up to 607%. Make sure Both Axes is checked. Adjust the Count if you want. I left it at 4. The Count Jitter varies greatly with every brush, so it is completely up to you. I lowered it to 20%.
Picture 7
7. Next go to the Color Dynamics menu. Set the Foreground/Background Jitter to 100% to produce the largest variance in colors. You will want to move the Hue Jitter up slightly. I set it to 14%. The Hue Jitter, like the other three settings below make slight changes to the colors of the leaves. You will probably want to go back and adjust them afterwards to see what produces the best effect.
Picture 8
8. Lastly, you need to select a foreground and background color that define the range of colors the leaves will cycle through. I chose a red for the foreground and a yellow/orange color for the background. Make sure the Opacity and Flow of your Paintbrush are set to 100% in the options menu at the top of the screen so the leaves will display in full color. Now put the Paintbrush Tool to the canvas and be amazed.
Picture 9
9. I must end with a note of apology because just as I reached this step, I noticed Photoshop 7 has a lovely leaf brush that comes with the program. All of this was not in vain, however, because the stock leaf brush is that of an oak leaf, not a maple like the one we just created. And of course, you have to admit that our brush was much more exciting to make and truly natural. To the left is a version using green colors.