Wednesday, August 08, 2012

High Contrast Brush

Sometimes I need a nice high contrast brush with very minimal anti-aliasing. This can be a problem with the default brushes in Photoshop. The basic round Brush Tool, at it's "hardest" setting, is still a relatively soft brush. And the Pencil Brush tool is too mechanical and pixelly. It was this problem that drove me to create this brush, which is very high contrast, but not completely without some anti-aliasing. It has a nice organic quality that prevents it from feeling like the Pencil Brush so it feels much nicer in the hand, and produces a much nicer line. It's not a complex brush, but if you are like me, you may find yourself reaching for it a lot.

It's good for inking, particularly if you need photo-ready artwork. As I said, it's not completely without anti-aliasing, but if you run a threshold adjustment on it when you are done, you will find not many pixels get dropped out.

Here is a illustration I recently did for my brewing club using this brush. 

And like some of the other brushes here, I have created a matching Eraser tool preset so you can erase with the same line qualities.

Download and enjoy!

High Contrast Brush

For those of you using pre-CS5 versions of Photoshop, this particular brush is simple enough you can re-create it yourself. Here's how:

- Open the 'Brush' palette by going to Window->Brush
- Start with a standard round 5 pt. brush.
- set 'Hardness' to 100%
- Check 'Spacing' and set to 25%
- Under 'Shape Dynamics' set:
      - brush size to 'Pen Pressure'
      - set 'Minimum Diameter' size of 7%
- Under 'Dual Brush' set:
      - pick a standard round brush and set the size to 3 px
      - set spacing to 25%, Scatter to 0, Count to 1
      - set the 'Mode' to 'Hard Mix'

That's all there is to it. It's basically one round brush with a dual round brush using a hard mix. Enjoy!


  1. I gasped out loud when I saw an update to the blog. It seems like a long time since an update. I actually just started using Photoshop (I was using Corel Painter) and your stumpy pencil was the first brush I could really get behind. Thanks!

  2. Haha, thanks Don. I used to be a big Painter fan too. I don't think Photoshop is quite there yet, but its close, and I don't like jumping back and forth between applications.

  3. it seems promising, unfortunately it is not compatible with PS CS2.
    Would a compatible version with old version of Photoshop be available?
    Thanks a lot=)

  4. Alas, Adobe does not allow me to do this. It's been a while since I used CS2, but I don't think it has the features that this brush requires. Can anyone report about whether it works on CS3?

  5. I've always had a hard time figuring out what kind of brush to use for "inking." Thanks for this one!

  6. Anonymous4:28 AM

    It doesn't import in CS4 unfortunately

  7. That's unfortunate because there is nothing CS5 specific about it. If I get some time I will document the settings and perhaps folks with older versions can just recreate it. It's pretty simple.

  8. Anonymous6:11 AM

    That would be awesome. Love your brushes

  9. I updated the post with directions on how to make this brush yourself.

  10. Isabel12:59 PM

    Hurray for new posts!

  11. *gasp!* I've been looking for something like Painter's Crow Quill pen!