Graphic Design / Interactive Design / Fine & Applied Arts / Parkland College

Graphic Design Exercises

Photoshop: Brushes


To learn advanced Photoshop digital painting and texturing techniques by recreating the art below:
Required equipment: digital tablet


Although Photoshop comes installed with a wide array of brushes one can download many more for free from the Internet. Often, brushes can be modified to increase their effectivness and flexablity. In this exercise, we'll explore all of these options.


setting up custom brushes

  1. download starter files
  2. open "brushes_worksheet_blank.psd"
  3. window > tool presets > fly down menu > load tool presets: “wow brush presets”
  4. inspect brushes and tools

painting the apples with a hard round brush

  1. select "hard round" layer
  2. window > brush
  3. window > color > drop down menu: HSB Slider
  4. select hard round brush
  5. brush panel > transfer: yes, spacing: 1%
  6. transfer panel > opacity jitter: pen pressure
  7. flow: 20%
  8. using the eye dropper tool, sample a portion of the "hard round" apple
  9. working from large color blocks to finer details, paint over the apple using fluid painterly brush marks
  10. adjust the flow and opacity of the brush if needed (hint: the lower the flow, the smoother and less noticeable the brush strokes are)
  11. repeat with the shadow and background, pay attention to ‘edge control’
  12. using the HSB slider to increase or decrease the brightness of sample colors, add highlights and shadows

The objective is to create a painterly interpretation of the reference, not an exact copy. Keep the painting loose and expressive.

painting pastel apple

  1. brush: “pastel brush”
  2. select "pastel" layer
  3. follow same procedure as previous apple

painting the "explore" apple

  1. select the "explore" layer
  2. inspect the dozens of brushes in the "WOW" pack
  3. choose 1-3 brushs that interests you or download one from the internet
  4. paint the "explore apple" with your choosen brushes
  5. type the brush names under "explore" for reference

extra credit (2 points)

  1. open "brushes_extra_credit_blank.psd"
  2. save as "brushes extra credit"
  3. new layer "paint"
  4. using in the provided drawing as a guild,
    paint the apple using the brushes of your choice
  5. hint: start by painting in large opaque color shapes then add details
  6. hide the drawing after painting is complete

sampling colors with the eye dropper tool is allowed
painting on top of the photo is not allowed


  1. submit a color laser proof with your name on it for grading
  2. file graded proof in your Process Book for individual review
  3. publish a JPEGs linked from your Process Page (no wider than 800px)

Last updated: 3/1/17 ■ Webmaster: Paul Young