Create Custom Photo Brushes

Create Custom Photo Brushes
This is a new version of our previous half sepia tutorial. This version of the half sepia photo effect has higher contrast and works better for more photos.

Preview of Final Results

Half Sepia 2

Half Sepia 2 Photoshop Tutorial

Step 1

Open a photo inside Photoshop. The half sepia photo effect works on most photos but is most useful for images with high saturation.
Photoshop interface

Step 2

In the Layers palette, click on the button and select Hue/Saturation.
Hue/Saturation menu item
The Hue/Saturation tool will appear. First, checkmark the Colorize option near the bottom right corner. Copy the settings from the image below then click OK.
Hue/Saturation tool
Your image should now have a bright sepia tone.

Step 3

We will now work on the layer mask of the Hue/Saturation adjustment layer. Make sure that you have the layer mask selected by clicking on the layer mask thumbnail in the Layers palette.
Layer mask thumbnail
Choose Image > Apply Image and use the default settings. The only setting that you may need to adjust is the Invert setting. If you leave the Invert option unchecked, the sepia tone effect will only be visible in the brighter areas of your image. If you enable the Invert option, the sepia tone will be visible only in the darker areas of the image.
The invert option in the Apply Image tool

Step 4

Now we'll add a black and white adjustment layer. In the layers palette, click on the button and choose Black & White. If you are using Photoshop CS2 or older, you will not have the Black & White menu option. Instead, choose Channel Mixer.
Black & White menu item
The Black and White or Channel Mixer (If you're using Photoshop CS2 or older) settings will appear. Simply click OK with any settings. We'll go back to edit the settings later.
Black and White tool
Change the blending mode of the new Black & White or Channel Mixer adjustment layer to Soft Light.
Soft Light layer blending mode
Double click on the Black & White or Channel Mixer adjustment layer thumbnail to bring back the settings. Adjust the settings while looking at the preview to get the results that you desire. If you are using the Channel Mixer tool, checkmark the monochrome option.
Black and white tool

Half Sepia 2 Final Results

Half Sepia 2
Half Sepia 2 before and after

Preview of Final Results

Custom Photoshop brushes

Step 1

Open Photoshop and open a photo to use as a brush. It should be something that would work in a pattern, where the content of the photo is obvious as various sizes. I'm using this "blue angel wing" I found on iStockPhoto. IT should be relatively large, perhaps 1000 pixels for both width and height. If you create a brush at a small size, setting the brush to a larger size than originally created will cause it to lose resolution. But making it smaller is no problem, just like resizing a photo.


Optional: You can download this file to use at or use a similar one.

Step 2

To first define a brush, we need to select the area. Click the Rectangular Marquee tool on the toolbar.
Photoshop Rectangular Marquee tool

Step 3

Click-and-drag a selection around the photo. We don't need to remove the white pixels first because they will be transparent in a brush.
Blue angel wings with rectangular marquee

Step 4

Go to Edit>Define Brush Preset.
Define Brush Preset menu item

Step 5

Name the brush something that matches the image, and click OK.
Defining a brush name

Step 6

Now that we have the brush defined, go to File>New and create a new file at 1024 x 768. Click OK.
New Photoshop document using a web preset

Step 7

Click the Brush tool on the toolbar.
Brush tool selected

Step 8

Click the arrow on the Options palette which will bring down the brush styles and size options. Scroll down and click the brush we just created. You can change the size here, or change it by pressing the left and right brackets to make the size smaller or larger. Bring the size of the brush to something much smaller, such as 100.

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7 comments on “Create Custom Photo Brushes”

  1. hey,thanks for this but is it possible to use a image with its original color instead of selecting a single color in foreground ?

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