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How to make Grunge Photoshop brushes

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If you still aren’t sure about the technical details needed in order to create a brush we suggest you start of with our first tutorial “How to make brushes in Photoshop”.
Generally speaking it is a piece of cake to make a brush. However making a brush that can be useful for you and others takes some effort. Here we will show you in 3 simple examples how to easily make great grunge brushes in a matter of minutes.

Example 1: The Decaying Brush

The great thing about making grunge brushes is the fact that you can literally make the brushes by using your own resources. That means you can take your own photos of old walls and moldy textures and then create Photoshop brushes out of them, that way making these brushes a 100% personal creation.


1. Choosing the photo:

Now let’s start off with a photo of a decaying wall. The photo was found on , it is a great stock exchange site where you can find thousands of quality photos for free (if you’re not in the mood to take pictures yourself). As you can see this photo is very texture rich and just perfect for the task at hand. Though be careful when selecting photos for your brushes and ask yourselves the following question: Do they have enough/too much contrast? Will it be easy enough/possible to isolate portions that are brush material?


2. Converting to grayscale:

The first thing we should do when making grunge and texture brushes is to convert this photograph to grayscale, in other words desaturate the image (command/control + shift + u). That way we will have less trouble determining and isolating a portion of the pic that will later become a brush.


3. Edit the surface:

Now with this particular set we’ve decided to use the conservative approach. We used the eraser tool and chose a brush that is very, very soft and large (100px) so that I may gently erase portions of the photo without much trouble. Make sure you’ve erased all of the edges so that your brush doesn’t end up with some ugly corners.

curves_1thumb.jpg curves2_thumb.jpg

4. Try some image adjustments:

Now you can leave the texture as is and go directly to the brush making process, or if you wish to experiment with it further, we suggest you play around with curves (CTRL + M) and levels (CTRL + L). Manipulating the curves in the curves dialog box alters the tonality and color of an image (from shadows to highlights on 14 different points). The levels dialog box lets you correct the tonal range and color balance of an image by adjusting intensity levels of image shadows, midtones, and highlights. In either case it’s an excellent way to adjust the image and make it just right for brush making.
The two images above are examples how changing curves and levels can affect the image.


5. Save your brush:

If you’re satisfied with the results it is time to save your brush by going to Edit> Define Brush preset. After you click that a small window will appear. Name your brush whatever you like and click “save”.


Example 2: Noise brush
Let’s try it with another stock photo, this time we will use another image adjustment that can work well in creating grainy brushes.




Try some curves (CTRL + M):


Then just for fun, do a posterize effect (image/adjustments/posterize)


And then erase some portions of the brush in order to get a more random shape.
With this type of brush you can give a grainier feel to you work without having to add noise or any other filter.
Here’s what we did with just the one brush we’ve made in the second example.


The important thing about making grunge brushes is to know how to find patterns in photos that you can get your hands on. In this particular photo we found at least 5 parts that you can sample for you brushes.



So let’s recap:
Use a photo of decaying textures, old walls, moldy surfaces and rust.
Isolate the portions of the photo you want to turn into a brush. You can do this either by using an eraser tool or by the lasso and magnetic lasso tool.
Play around with Curves (CTRL + M) Levels (CTRL + L) Brightness/Contrast (Image/adjustments/brightness-contrast) and other effects to spice up the pattern,
Go to Edit/Define brush preset, save the brush.

You’re done.

Make as many brushes as you like and use them to create grunge surfaces with ease.

Tutorial Created by Jelena Jovovic from

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