How to create brushes and vector shapes from Photographs in Photoshop

by hannah 230 views0

Header2

This tutorial for how to change a photo into a brush or a vector shape is split into three sections. To create either a brush or a texture you can follow the first part before the tutorial is split into 2 dependent on what you want to create as your end result.

Dependent on the photograph you start with, this tutorial can produce very different results! I have used just 1 photo in the tutorial to demonstrate the steps but you will see below the results of 4 very different photographs and the final vector shapes and brushes created. If you have a quick read of the tutorial you will see that you are roughly able to see at Step 3 what can be created from a particular photo using this method, so I would recommend following this tutorial to Step 3 with a selection of photos before deciding which one will give you the final effect if you are looking for.
The photos that I have used are all available to use from Wikimedia, so you can use them to follow the tutorial if you wish.
Red Squirrel 

Red Squirrel
Red Squirrel
Trees

Trees
Trees
Fire

Fire
Fire
Derelict Building

Derelict Building
Derelict Building
Follow the tutorial to create brushes and vectors like the above examples:
Step 1.
Open up your photograph in Photoshop. Use the largest size of photo that you can at this stage.

original photo
original photo
Step 2.
Choose Image > Adjustments > Threshold from the top menu.

Image > Adjustments > Threshold
Image > Adjustments > Threshold

Step 3.
Use the threshold slider to change the image. What you see in black at this stage will be largely what your brush or vector shape will be based on. The amount you change the slider is up to you dependent on what effect you are trying to achieve.

Remember that you do not have to use the whole of the image – With this particular photograph I think the shape created by the squirrels tail is the sort of shape that I want to create.

Threshold Options
Threshold Options
Step 4.
Use the crop tool to focus in on the area of the photo that you want to use.

crop
crop
Step 5.
Use the Brush Tool with the foreground colour set to white to cover over any areas of black that you don’t want to feature in your brush or vector shape. With the Brush Tool selected right click the canvas to change the brush size and hardness. Choose a brush size that suits the size of the document you are working to and set the hardness to 100 to keep the hard edges that have been created by the Threshold.

Change brush size
Change brush size
Cover over any areas you don't want
Cover over any areas you don’t want

 

Step 6.
Select the magic wand from the tool bar and click on part of the black area. If the wand does not pick up all the black areas, with a small area of the black selected go to Select > Similar from the top navigation.

Select Similar
Select Similar
All selected with the magic wand
All selected with the magic wand

 

To create a vector shape:
Step 7a.
Open the paths palette. Window > Paths. On the paths palette click on the top right drop down icon and select Make Work Path. Choose 0.5 pixels as the tolerance when asked.

Windows > Paths
Windows > Paths
Make Work Path
Make Work Path
Tolerance 0.5
Tolerance 0.5
Path will appear in the palette
Path will appear in the palette

 

Step 8a.
You can now define this path as a Custom Shape by going to Edit > Define Custom Shape from the top menu and give your shape a name in the prompt box.

Edit > Define Custom Shape
Edit > Define Custom Shape
Give your shape a name
Give your shape a name
Step 9a.
You can now open a new document and try out your custom shape.

New Document with white background
New Document with white background
Step 10a.
To access the custom shape click on the rectangle tool from toolbar and choose Custom Shape Tool. In the options bar click on the shape drop down and you will find the latest added shapes at the bottom. Select your shape.

Choose Custom Shape
Choose Custom Shape
Find your shape
Find your shape
Shape Selected
Shape Selected

Step 11a.
The shape takes on whatever colour you have selected in the foreground of the colour palette so you may need to change this first. To change the colour once your shape has been drawn you can go to the layers palette (Window > Layers) and double click the colour next to the shape. Please note that to keep your shape in the same proportion you will have to press shift as you draw.

Foreground selected
Foreground selected
shape
shape
Change colour in the layers palette
Change colour in the layers palette
To create a brush:
Step 7b.
Choose copy, new documentwith a white background and paste Ctrl C + Ctrl N + Ctrl V / Apple C +Apple N + Apple V. (This separates the texture from the background and places it on a white background.

copy and paste into new document to seperate background
copy and paste into new document to separate background
Step 8b.
Check your document size. If your document and texture is over 2500 pixels square you will need to resize it in order to create a brush. To do this go to Image < Image Size and check the settings. If larger than 2500 pixels, change the width or height (whichever is biggest) to 2500 pixels. If it is less than 2500 pixels you can leave it as it is.

Image Size
Image Size
Check width and height
Check width and height

 

Step 9b.
Define your texture as a brush. Edit > Define Brush Preset and give your brush a name in the prompt box.

Edit > Define Brush Preset
Edit > Define Brush Preset
Give the brush a name
Give the brush a name

 

Step 10b.
Start a new document and select the brush tool. In the options tool bar find your brush in the drop down menu. New brushes created will appear at the bottom of the list.

Select your brush
Select your brush

Step 11a.

Please note the brush will take on whatever colour you have selected in the foreground of the colour palette. You can also change the size of your brush by right clicking the canvas and changing the settings.

Final Brush
Final Brush

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