Photoshop Tutorial: Create Beautiful Custom Brushes for Painting Trees

In this tutorial, I will explain how I create my own custom brushes and how I use them in order to save an incredible amount of time for painting trees, bushes & grasses.

I used Adobe Photoshop CS5 & Wacom Cintiq. You could use any other graphic tablet for Pen Pressure capability.

Let's create something great, shall we?

End result:
Create Beautiful Custom Brushes for Painting Trees Final Image

avatar Hayato

Views: 69683
Score: 9.29 / 10
Author earned: $30
Practice tutorial

Step 1

The first thing to do is create a blank canvas; I usually make sure it’s set at 300 dpi resolution, around 500 by 500 pixels, so the brush itself doesn’t become pixelated or incapable of scaling to larger sizes when working on a large image.

First brush design is going to be geared toward foliage, specifically a Maple Leaf, which will be used to create quick, easy batches of leaves without going through too much rendering trouble. So to begin, grab any of the default brushes supplied by Photoshop and just start to draw out a silhouetted shape, in this case the Maple Leaf.

Step 2

Since we do want a bit of depth to the brush, block in some of the veins and you can also fade some areas so everything isn’t on the same level which helps give a bit of variation.

I used a new layer to do the veins with Chalk Brush.

Added 50% White Opacity of Soft Round Brush to make some fade areas.

Step 3

Now that you’ve created the brush shape itself, you need to save it. Go to Edit > Define Brush Preset and then choose a name and click OK.

Step 4

You’ll notice that the new brush, with the name you’ve chosen, will show up in the brush list at the very bottom. The next step is to select the new brush you’ve just created and click the Brushes Option window, pressing F5. This brings down the brush settings you can apply to your custom brush.

Step 5

Leaving the brush settings at a default doesn’t allow for much control or variation in the strokes, so the first thing to do is allow for some pressure sensitivity; you do this using the Other Dynamics (Transfer on CS5) settings.

NOTE: this settings will be applied correctly if you've been using the graphic tablet.

Set the Opacity Jitter to approximately 50% and make sure the control setting is set to Pen Pressure. To provide some variation in the direction and scale of the brush, choose the Shape Dynamics settings.

Step 6

Set the Size Jitter to 100% and make sure the control settings under Angle Jitter are set to Initial Direction. The control setting under the Roundness Jitter should be set to Pen Tilt, and a minimum roundness of approximately 25%.

Step 7

One of the last settings I adjusted before finding the right feel for this custom brush was the Brush Tip Shape where I applied 70% spacing to the separation of the brush flow.

Step 8

Now that we know where the settings for the brush options are, feel free to test them and play around with different variations, different percentages of control and varying dynamics, including Scatter, Texture, and Dual Brush modes.

Step 9

OK, so now our brush settings are complete all that we need to do is save the brush options that have been applied. It’s very important throughout this process that you don’t choose another brush, or else you may lose all the settings you have applied to your custom brush. Click the Brushes Option window (F5) as previously, and now choose New Brush Preset. Label your new brush, click OK, and the custom brush you created earlier will now be saved with the new settings you’ve applied, and located at the bottom of your brush list.

Step 10

The next step is just as quick and basically a recap of what we just went over. I’m going to create a quick variation of the Maple Leaf by getting rid of the stem and adjusting the shape of the points.

First, erase the stem of the original brush, then choose Select > All, then Edit > Transform > Warp.

Step 11

You’ll notice that the entire box has been selected with the dotted lines, and once you choose the Warp transformation option; you can choose points on this graphed box to mold and skew the brush shape.

Step 12

You can also grab anywhere inside the box and just drag it to transform its original outline, and then apply the transformation (using enter button) to confirm the change.

Step 13

After applying a few of the same brush options as before, such as the Other Dynamics (Transfer) and Shape Dynamics, I’ve played around with it and I’m happy with this variation on our original brush.

Illustration below represents the entire image creation using with the new custom brushes only.

Feel free to scatter around your new custom brushes, use your own imagination & creativity to create trees, bushes, grasses or even entire landscape scenery.

Step 14

Save the brush preset, as we did previously, and it will be added to your list. Lastly, now that we have two custom Maple Leaf brushes, both with the default shape and the brush settings saved as preset brushes, you’ll want to save the brush list. On your brush list there is an arrow next to the top right of this box. Click the arrow then Save Brushes and label your brush list; they will be stored and can be used at any time you wish.

Step 15

We arrived to the end of this tutorial. I appreciate so much for following me through all of these simply steps to achieve something creative.

Do not hesitate to try your own experiments. Custom Brushes are powerful & versatile on its own. It takes time and patience, but at the end, you will be more than just happy to know that you can speed up your digital paintings with a lot of uniqueness.

Good luck in your journey through Digital Arts, everyone!

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avatar CorneliaMladenova

Very well explained and detailed tutorial, thank you so much for sharing

(5 years and 1476 days ago)
avatar Hayato
Hayato says:

Thanks, Cornelia. Glad that you like it.

(5 years and 1476 days ago)
avatar Dubhy63
Dubhy63 says:

Great tutorial ,thanks for sharing

(5 years and 1476 days ago)
avatar George55
George55 says:

Nice tutorial and great details..... it will help and save time as you say...... Good idea... good luck!

(5 years and 1476 days ago)
no avatar

Thanks for messaging me about your tutorial... I am very happy that i did not miss this one..

These are important skills for photoshop artists. With understanding it WILL save time and provide creativity expansion.

THis is a great tutorial. You have provided very clear and effective information that is easy to follow.

Thanks for takng the time to write and post .

I look forward to your next tutorial.

Cant wait to play and see if i can now take these skills that you have shared and put them into reality.

(5 years and 1476 days ago)
avatar nishagandhi

wow thanks for sharing! looking for more of ur tuts

(5 years and 1476 days ago)
avatar dekwid
dekwid says:

by writing this way just show how profesional you're great...!

(5 years and 1476 days ago)
avatar IDt8r
IDt8r says:

This is very well written and easy to follow. I especially like that you gave some examples of what the brush would look like with different settings. Thank you for taking the time to create this tutorial!

(5 years and 1475 days ago)
no avatar
mlkusnadi says:

Marvelous, thanks for sharing.

(5 years and 1475 days ago)
avatar theodosiou

Just with a word... PERFECT!!!!

(5 years and 1475 days ago)
avatar Hayato
Hayato says:

Thank you so much for your supports, everyone. But first of all, this is my first attempt to write a tutorial. So, bare with the simplicity from me yet there's so many tutorials out there about custom brushes which have a greater writing skills far better than me.

I know some people will not like this simple tutorial, but I try to tell you something; it's not how newbie I am about making custom brushes which I want to share; this tutorial aims for the speed, not the fancy stuffs how I made the fantastic creations. Instead of how did you finish complex illustrations in a short time by using your own custom brushes.

So this tutorial simply for everyone.

For intermediate & advance users, I'll definitely create something far greater than just a brush creations. Please support me, so I'll try to make another tutorials for you, for every pixel-eyed persons.


Upcoming tutorial: Character Concept Arts for Movies & Games.

Description: We'll talk about how I create character concept arts for movies first. This upcoming tutorial, I'll show you how I made Tron characters. Especially the glowing parts of their bodysuit. I hope you'll learn something useful with my most favorite Blending Options > Outer Glow > Color Dodge & Linear Dodge (Blend Mode).

Tools Required: Photoshop + Graphic Tablet.

Level Required: Everyone.


Stay tuned! You'll be blast for it.

(5 years and 1475 days ago)
avatar minnie
minnie says:

Great tutorial for it's simplicity!! Now I understand better how brush settings work...
Good work Hayato!!

(5 years and 1475 days ago)
avatar nasirkhan
nasirkhan says:

Very nice detail tutorial with some great tips.

(5 years and 1475 days ago)
avatar junkieball

Great tutorial. All tutorial of this type should be easy and simple to follow which this one is. Great first attempt!

(5 years and 1475 days ago)
avatar niks1351
niks1351 says:

It is very well explained..... I love it ....

(5 years and 1475 days ago)
avatar adelia
adelia says:

You did an amazing job and you look great,thanks for sharing my friend

(5 years and 1475 days ago)
avatar Bambi
Bambi says:

Nice tutorial, you say its a simple tutorial but there is enough detailed information in there for all.

(5 years and 1475 days ago)
avatar Hayato
Hayato says:

The simplicity because I'm still on my way learning English. Sometimes, I googled with google translate for the exact words. If there's a word or two you don't quite get it, feel free to ask me. I'll explain it more carefully. I hope in my next tutorials, I'll also improve my writing skills as well as my teaching.

Once again. Thank you so much for your supports, everyone.

(5 years and 1475 days ago)
avatar arca
arca says:

Easy to follow and well laid out tutorial.

(5 years and 1475 days ago)
avatar bcabilan
bcabilan says:

It's your 1st but the best...Longing to see your next tutorial bro! Keep it up!

(5 years and 1475 days ago)
avatar aheman
aheman says:

your first one? a great first one! very nice painterly effect

(5 years and 1475 days ago)
avatar Androla
Androla says:

nice tutorial!

(5 years and 1475 days ago)
avatar maclu2iaf
maclu2iaf says:

very neat

(5 years and 1474 days ago)
avatar ramesan
ramesan says:

very nice tutorial!!

(5 years and 1474 days ago)
avatar Hayato
Hayato says:

Thanks for your kind words, everyone. Still, I'm new to this (esp with W.E.T > Written English Tutorials). I'll improve my writing skills as well as the quality of my upcoming tutorials.

(5 years and 1474 days ago)
no avatar
maozbd says:

very impressive tutorial well done hayato

(5 years and 1474 days ago)
no avatar
hoore10 says:

Excellent tutorial. Thank you for messaging me .

(5 years and 1473 days ago)
avatar Christy
Christy says:

Great Job Very well explained!!!

(5 years and 1473 days ago)
avatar hereisanoop

Fantastic guide for custom brushes.... easy to understand and experiment with , great job my friend. wish to see more...

(5 years and 1473 days ago)
avatar dreamboy
dreamboy says:


(5 years and 1465 days ago)
no avatar
[banned] says:

Really enjoyed, thanks

(5 years and 1439 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:


(5 years and 1438 days ago)
no avatar
Guest says:

i love it..................great...

(5 years and 1338 days ago)

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