Creating Photoshop brushes is rather easy. But, I often find that brush sets lack consistency and are often created form various textures or sources. I like consistency.
I think a great set of brushes isn't just a matter of throwing a bunch of brushes that kinda look similar together in a set, but rather create a set where each brush complements each other—this way if one of the brushes doesn't work for what you're trying to achieve, another brush in the set might since they're created from the same source.
Start With A Photo
First of all we'll need a high-resolution image. I find it works best with a photo of a texture rather than something like a landscape or portrait, for obvious reasons.
For the purpose of this tutorial I've used one of my own photos taken with a Nikon D90.
Your image should be as big as possible – this one is 4288×2848. It is also included in the download link at the bottom of the tutorial.
Optimizing The Image
Next we'll need to optimize the image a little bit before we start cutting it up and creating our brushes.
The goal here is to raise the shadows slightly and adjust the contrast if needed. So, let's open up our image in Photoshop:
You can of course adjust the shadows and highlights, levels and curve settings according to the image you're using.
Select Areas To Create Brush From (5 to 10)
Then we can slice up this image into a number of areas. I've decided to cut it into 10 rectangles.
An easy way to split your image up into 10 parts is to use the Slice Tool
Using the Slice Tool simply drag over the whole image to select it all. Then click on ‘Divide' at the top. It'll open up a dialog window asking you how you want to slice your image.
Since I want to have 10 rectangles I put the following:
Hitting OK will divide our original image into 10 almost equally sized rectangles.
Then you can ‘Save for Web & Devices'. You should be familiar with the window that opens next. You probably won't need to change anything there so you can just click ‘Save'.
Then save this on your desktop or somewhere that's easy to find on your computer.
You'll end up with 10 images. Now we can use those to create our set of Photoshop brushes.
Those images are still big enough to create some very interesting brushes and they're still quite hi-res. Of course having a very big original image helps there.
We could definitely have created more than just 10, but for the purpose of this tutorial it'll do just fine.
All 10 Images
Now you can close the original ‘texture.jpg' document. Create a brand new document and make it 2500×2500 and select Grayscale as the color mode.
Then you'll need to import your first rectangle texture. Simply place it in the center of your new document.
Now you may want to cut out a part of your image – I like to keep just an interesting portion, in the case of this first brush I cut out the bottom of it to focus more on the top part which has more details. You could also use the Lasso tool to select a portion of the image you'd like to keep.
Since we've already optimized our image earlier we can jump right into the ‘Exposure' settings. Photoshop will take into account that we're working on grayscale and by increasing the exposure we basically make the lighter parts of our image white instead of light grey.
In the case of the first texture image I went with 1.5 Exposure with 0.8 Gamma correction.
And here's the result:
You could simply leave at that and repeat the process for every other texture image, but I think this brush would benefit from not being a rectangle – it'd be nice to make it more rounded.
Let's grab the Eraser Tool and select the basic Rough Round Bristle brush (or any other brush you might have in there, experimenting never hurt anyone). We'll erase parts of our texture image with this brush to create more natural and smooth edges.
Creating The Set
Once you're satisfied with the result it's time to save your brush. Simply go to Edit -> Define Brush Preset and then name your texture and hit enter.
Then just repeat the whole process for the 9 remaining texture images and you'll have a set of 10 brushes that are consistent and all fit together.
To export your set go to Edit -> Preset Manager -> Select your 10 brushes -> Save Set.
Download The Final Result
I hope you liked this tutorial! Of course feel free to experiment with other techniques, some things might work better for you. Experimenting with various source images will obviously get you different results.