After compiling a list of GIMP and Photoshop brushes, Lauren Marie and Pelf said they’d like some tips on choosing and using brushes. I linked to some instructions on installing brushes at the time. Now I’m going to give a run-down of how I use choose and use brushes.
If you’re already experienced in brushing in GIMP or Photoshop, I’d love for you to leave a comment. Link to some of your creations, or leave us your own tips on how to go about using brushes!
My suggestions here assume that you have some experience in using layers and tools. If you don’t: feel free to ask, or search Google and come back when you’re ready. 🙂
Lists and websites
I’ve already put together a list of brushes that I’d vouch for!
You see, you likey
If someone has used brushes in an artwork/graphic that you like – download them. Others using brushes is a form of recommendation in my eyes.
For example, while searching for vine-themed images (for a project I had in mind) I came across Fly Free. Some of the elements in that are lovely; low and behold, there’s a Japanese Foliage brush set available for your download pleasure.
I compiled a Japanese Foliage brush set for GIMP using the PNGs available at Designfuit, but I’m yet to receive permission to release them.
I also got into cloud brushes because I’d seen a couple of other people use them. Also, I made a couple of my own silhouette-people brushes after inspiration from other’s work.
Following tutorials is a great way to get into the swing of using brushes. There’s a vector wallpaper tutorial that I think is particularly good. It uses a range of brushes, including sparkles, floral, and “vector” shapes.
While it’s a bit of an indirect recommendation – tutorials don’t usually tell you specific brushes to download – it can help to give you an idea of the types of brushes to search for and add to your repertoire.
A similar tutorial is the more advanced render. It is a bit more difficult, but you can skim through it as another example of how you can use brushes.
For these 3D render tutorials: you don’t have to be able to create 3D models; there are several places to download ready-made ones. I have used some from gish159 on deviantArt.
Start from the corner
Do you want to make an image from scratch, but you’re not sure where to start?
When I don’t have a particular scene in mind I start from the corner. Lots of brush sets provide brushes designed for corners.
A simple example:
Those flowers and bamboo are a corner brush. Once placed I can build around (and underneath) it.
Start from a central point
If you have something to start with (a 3D render, or a photograph), it gives you a centre point to brush from.
A quick example:
This was a stock photograph from stock.xchng. It was:
- Colorised – to give a brownish hue
- Tree and grass duplicated into a new layer
- Brushed with some abstract brushes under the new tree layer – from behind the tree, which is the centre point
- Brushed on top of the grass with some abstract, sprouty brushes
- Brushed under the tree layer, but on top of the original layer with some clouds
It’s as simple as that! Of course, at first it may not seem simple, but the key is to just keep playing. Trust me – I’ve used Ctrl+Z plenty of times to get rid of some ugly or misplaced brushing!