How to Create and Use Custom Brushes in Photoshop Elements

Make your own brushes for Photoshop Elements

It's possible to create your own brushes in Photoshop Elements and save them to your brushes palette. For example, you can convert one of the custom shapes that comes with Photoshop Elements into a brush and then save multiple variations in a set.

Instructions in this article apply to Photoshop Elements 2019 for Windows and Mac.

How to Make Your Own Brushes in Photoshop Elements

To create a brush using a custom shape in Photoshop Elements:

  1. Open Photoshop Elements and select File > New > Blank File.

    New > Blank File
  2. Set the width and height to 400 pixels, set the Background Contents to White, then select OK.

    Set the Width and Height to 400 pixels, set the Background Contents to White, then select OK.
  3. Select the Expert tab at the top of the workspace.

    Selecting expert mode
  4. Select the Shape tool. Set it to Custom in the Tool Options panel, then select a shape.

    The Shape tool in sidebar
  5. Click and drag across the document to create the shape.

    Click and drag across the document to create the shape.
  6. Go to Layer > Simplify Layer to convert the shape to pixels.

    Simplify Layer
  7. Go to Select > All.

    Select all
  8. Go to Edit > Define Brush from the Selection.

    Define Brush from Selection
  9. Name your brush and select OK.

    The number under the brush thumbnail indicates the size in pixels. It's best to create your brushes in a large size since the brush will lose definition if it is scaled up.

    Name your brush and select OK.
  10. Select the paintbrush tool and scroll to the end of the brushes palette. You'll notice your new brush has been added to the end of the list.

    New brush in menu

How to Save a Custom Brush to a Set

By default, Photoshop Elements adds your brush to whatever brush set is active when you define it. If you ever need to reinstall your software, however, these custom brushes won't be saved. To back up your custom brushes, you must create a new brush set.

  1. Go to Edit > Preset Manager.

    Preset Manager
  2. Select your brush from the bottom of the active brush set and select Save Set.

    Only selected brushes will be saved to your new set. To include more brushes, hold the Shift key as you make your selection.

    Save Set
  3. Give your new brush set a name and select Save.

    Give your new brush set a name and select Save.

Open the Brush palette menu and select Load Brushes to load your custom brush sets. If you want to add more brushes to this custom set later on, load the custom set before you define your new brushes, then remember to save the brush set again after adding to it.

Load Brushes

How to Save Variations of a Brush

You can customize the brush and save variations of it. For example, select Brush Settings to adjust how your custom brush looks.

Brush Settings

Once you're satisfied, go the Brushes palette menu and select Save Brush. You can then give the variation a new name.

Save Brush

Your brush variations will appear in brushes palette. After you've added all the variations you want, go to the Brush palette menu and select Save Brushes.

Save Brushes

You can rename and delete brushes by right-clicking a thumbnail in the brushes palette.

You can also use clip art, fonts, textures, or any other graphical assets you can think of to create a custom brush.

Custom Brush Examples
 Sue Chastain