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Custom Brush Effects

Lesson 5 from: Special Effects for Composite Photography

Corey Barker

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Lesson Info

5. Custom Brush Effects

Next Lesson: Spark Effects

Lesson Info

Custom Brush Effects

This brush I'm gonna show you how to create, it's from scratch and the cool part about it is it's almost good for anything. I call it my universal particle brush. And it's very, very easy to create and actually gives you a brilliant snow effect but it also gives you a lot of other effects as well so let's start by creating a new document. So I'm going to go ahead and make it once again a square-formatted document so I'm gonna do 1,500 by 1, here and once again make the background black. Well actually, it really doesn't matter, white or black because what we're going to do is add noise. So go to the filter menu and go to noise, add noise. And this is kinda based on a technique I discovered years and years ago but I just kind of added onto it by adding a brush because normally I would do this noise effect, create the effect itself, and then just apply it to my image and blend it. Then I discovered, what if I made it a brush? Everything I ever do I'm thinking what if I made it a brush? No...

t everything but almost everything. But you'll see here in the add noise window that I've got the amount in full max at about 400%, distribution at gaussian, monochromatic is checked on. So we're gonna and hit okay there. It just fills it with noise. Now we're gonna go into the filter menu and go to blur and do a gaussian blur. And here is where you decide. You can actually get much finer particles with a smaller blur or you can get very large chunks like if you're going for snow, you'd probably want to go a little bit higher, maybe five to ten pixels. That's of course based on this file size. So if you're using a much larger res document, it would need to be a higher setting. Just be aware of that. So I am going to go and actually I think I'm going to go with more like three here. I want to get a little bit finer effect here. So once I've blurred it, now I'm going to go in here into my levels and we're gonna push the contrast hard to really space them out a little more, about like that. And now what we're getting is a good variation of sizes of those elements. Now this image as you see, I use this to create star fields for sky images and space images but I also use it for creating particle effects like this like this brush we're about to do. So I'm gonna push the black end a little bit, just space them a little bit more. I want to get a little bit more spacing there. It's funny, I can actually see more detail there than I can here. So I think that'll work right there so I'm gonna hit okay and I'm gonna use levels to kind of boost the contrast a little bit. And if you want, here's kind of a cool trick. If you want to make the particles a little bit bigger, if you like the distribution, you can go to the filter menu and go to other. And I keep mixing these up, I think it's minimum. Nope. It's maximum. So go to maximum. Here you can actually preserve roundness which can actually increase the size of the particles. Look, bouquet. That's too big, okay. I just want to keep this at a relatively small setting and I want to make the particles just a little bit bigger than they actually are so if you add turn preview on and off, you can see what it's doing there. Not only is it expanding the size but it's getting it a little bit brighter in detail so I think that looks pretty good. Now, I'm gonna turn this into a brush so knowing what we know about the flares I talked about earlier, if I define it as a brush now, I'm just going to get one, big, solid brush with a bunch of holes in it. A Swiss cheese brush if you will. So we want to invert the image of course. Press command or control I and that reverses the image. As I talked about before as well, I don't want the edges. I don't want to see this brush cut off. I don't want it to be a square particle brush so I need to fade the edges here. So I'm just gonna go in and get the gradient tool and let's just use a linear gradient, foreground the transparent, set the foreground to white, and I'm just gonna come in from each side and fade the particles away from the edges. Maybe go in in the corners here just so it's not so much of a rounded box, there, there we go. Perfect, now I'm gonna use levels to darken up the contrast of the existing little dots there and what you definitely want to have, solid ones, but you see I've got a variation of gray ones in there, those ones you can barely see? That's gonna create a lot more variation in the brush so you could force it all to black and get just solid particles but I want to have a little bit more variation here so I'm gonna dial that back a little bit more, there we go. So now, ready to define the brush. So simply go to edit, define brush preset, no time to name it. This was that point, the a-ha moment when I was playing with this effect. And I was thinking oh man, this works really well. So I'm gonna go into my brushes. It should already be selected so there it is. And right off the bat, if I just start painting with it, it looks pretty good. It's all one orientation though and one direction. Not the band. So if I just drag it like that, I'm just getting almost like tire tracks in a sense which, if you're going for that, that's fun but now we need to adjust the behavior of the brush. We've got the brush itself defined. Now we need to adjust this behavior. So we're going to go back into that brush options panel and here's where you really want to go crazy. So, gonna start in the brush tip shape. Let's increase the spacing just slightly a little bit. Activate shape dynamics. And I've done this so many times I've got a flow here now that I go and it's just like going through a check list. So activate shape dynamics, size jitter to 100, angle to 100, flip X and flip Y at the bottom here, check those on. So it's gonna vary the size as I paint, the angle, and it's gonna flip the orientation as I paint as well. We want as much randomization as we can get. We're going for a random particles effects, you want to apply as much randomization as you can. Now if I start painting with it, you'll see that I'm getting something a lot more interesting, a lot more random. And you see the possibilities right away. I can create a Milky Way effect, I can create snow, I can create rain even. That's looking pretty good. I'm going to go in here and maybe activate scattering, maybe just let it spread out just a little bit there. So yeah, we're getting some good variation there. I'm gonna increase the brush size a little bit so now we're getting something, looking really good. You seeing this now? In fact, let's put it in context. I've got a photo. This young lady's hanging out in the snow but there's no snow. We're gonna fix that. So let me size this down a little bit. So now the beauty of this of course is you can brush it, you can also put it on its own layer. So I'm gonna create a new layer, painting with white, and we're just going to go in here and just add some snow. If we go over her, we can of course go in here and mask it away unless you use a gradient here. But like I did with that bouquet effect. A little bit more back there. But like I did with that bouquet effect, this brush is one size. It's varying the size but it's limited to do that. If I put a new layer on here and then size the brush up a lot more, we can create the snow elements in the foreground. Scale it up a little bit. Even run a blur on it so if it's in the extreme foreground, it won't have that depth of field. You can fake that depth of field by putting a little blur on it. Once again put a layer mask on it and let's go in here and mask the subject. Something you can't do in reality is direct the snow away from the model you can go in here and do that here and then now you've got snow that you can move around. You can animate this, too. That's certainly a possibility. But that's taking that to one extreme. Another way of using this brush. You know what, let's use the same image so you can see. Even though she's in the snow, we're going to make rain. So I'm gonna do the same thing here. I'm just gonna go and brush this in and then you're just gonna go to filter, blur, and do a motion blur. Not quite that fast. So do something like that. And you can enhance this even further by duplicating the layer, going in here and do a warp and I just duplicated that rain layer and if you command or control T to invoke free transform and then just right-click on it and choose warp here, you can offset the positioning so it looks like it's kind of falling. It actually looks more like falling snow than rain. But you've got varying layers of falling snow falling in varying speeds and directions and stuff like that so you can really play with the depth of it. You can get finer and finer rain as you go away, bring it forward and get much larger rain but that's all from a custom brush you built right there in Photoshop. But speaking of rain, I do want to show you a really cool trick for it. You want to see a really cool trick for rain? This is one of my go to's. One of the things, rain really quick and easy. I mean one trick I used a long time ago and I actually learned it from Burt Monroy, if anybody knows who Burt is, great illustrator. Learned this trick is adding the noise like I just did a moment ago and then just doing an extreme motion blur and then blending it with the image. But then I thought, I wanted to play around with it and actually discovered a different way of doing it. Kind of has the same principal but it's using one extra filter in there. So on this new layer, I'm gonna go ahead and do, I just filled it with 50% gray to get a base color in there. I'm gonna go ahead and do the noise fill again. Just go to noise, add noise. And I'm gonna do a very tiny blur on it just to get a little bit because when you add the blur like that or add the noise, if you zoomed in really, really close, you'd see that they weren't blending. It's just very fine edge black and white dots so there's no variation of grays in there so I'm just going to do that by adding a very subtle, one pixel blur here. So I'll do that. Then I'm going to go into the adjustments. This is something you've got to do. I'm going to go into the adjustments and rotate this image 90 degrees. The reason is this filter I'm gonna use can only go left and right. So I'm gonna go to, is it pixellate? It's been so long since I used it that, there it is. So go to stylize and go down here and choose wind. And you've got a number of different methods here. You can do wind, blast, stagger, anything like that. And you can of course go from left to right as I said. And of course I want my rain to be coming down in the image so that's why I rotated it first and now we're going to apply it. So I'm actually going to go in here and choose wind and we'll do it from the left there, there we go. I think from the left, don't we? Okay. So I'm gonna do that. If I zoom in here, you can see how the effect is taking shape. Now I'm gonna press command F a couple more times and that is just reapplying that wind filter to the existing, to the previous one. It just enhances the effect even more so. But what it does is it achieves these kind of streaks that almost seems like they have some kind of dimension to them, like layers of it. So if I go in there and take what we've got here, take a levels adjustment so I just pressed command L and just grab the black eyedropper tool and I'm just gonna click once in the image here and instant rain appears. How cool is that? Now you can adjust the density of how much rain there is just by moving the shadow slider further in to get fewer, bring it out to get even more, maybe do something like that. So now I'm gonna go back and rotate the image back around. And I'm just going to blend it to the screen by changing this to screen. And if you just stretch the pixels by scaling it outward and even tilt it a little bit, there you have rain falling in the scene. Much more realistic rain because it's got the trailing. I've seen raindrops where it's just dots stretched but when it tapers off like that, it has this much more realistic look to it so that is my go to for creating custom rain. Isn't that cool? This is just something I want to throw in when it comes to brushes. You can define any image in Photoshop as a brush and I'm always trying to, sometimes I'm like I like adding cracked glass effects and stuff like that but I'm always having to pull the images and then just kind of blend them to the scene here. But you can do, like I said, the flare really kind of sets off this technique and once you know the technique, you'll go in and try it on a whole bunch of different things. For instance here, this file is pretty much ready to be a brush. It's already set up, it's got the white background set up. I'm just gonna go in here and check the size and that's fine. So I'm just going to go to edit, oh what did I forget to do? Huh? Line levels. Let's make sure that background is pure white. Maybe even darken the lines just a little bit more, there we go. No, not pattern. Define brush, there we go. So look, there it is. So now I have cracked glass. We'll just do it in the same, why not? We've devastated her enough with bad weather. But the cool thing is, obviously cracked glass looks different. If the area behind the cracked glass is dark, then the crack will appear white. You'll see the white edges but it's by nature of the contrast. So depending on the image, you just simply change it to white or black. In this case, I'm gonna set the foreground to white, dab once, and there, the dreams are shattered. Or you can just go completely crazy. (audience laughs) You've got that effect ready and on hand instead of going and looking for cracks. You can certainly make a whole library of different types of cracks and just go ahead and add it in there and you can even add some dimension to it by, since it's on transparency, add a little bevel and emboss to it. Let's do chisel hard. And if I go in here, I can actually, yep. If you bring the fill opacity, it kind of brings me to another point. Everybody know what the difference between fill opacity and opacity is? Just a quick note. Fill opacity, you actually probably notice it here in the layers panel, too. There's that opacity setting right here in the fill. Fill adjusts the original pixels on the layer so it only affects it so if you've got a layer style and you only want to see the layer style itself, then you would dial down the fill opacity to zero and it will leave the style at 100% so like if here, if I take the fill opacity down to zero, then I can see just the beveling I've done for this effect here. So you can create kind of the hint of distorted glass instead of just blatantly putting the lines right on there. But that's just using that fill and the difference between fill and opacity there.

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Bonus Materials with Purchase

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Ratings and Reviews

Pat Saizan

Great short course. Love to see advanced photoshop classes like this. Cory is great and an excellent instructor.

Beth Krzes

i found this class to be very informative. the image and description were a bit misleading but I did enjoy the subjects covered. well worth the time. I think he went through the steps quickly, you do need a better than average understanding of layers and tools as he isn't always clear as to the "path" of how to do certain steps. I took notes, attempted the project and listened to the lesson again to reiterate the sections that my notes weren't too clear. also was more focused on watching the process vs just writing it down. would recommend this class to anyone who wants to step up their skils in PS.

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