Creating grunge brushes
2006 at 11.32 am posted by Veerle Pieters
My recent tutorial about creating pattern backgrounds sparked some questions from readers if I could do the same for something that is referred to as “grunge”. The pattern tool is ok for repeating items but the grunge look gets it effectiveness just from the randomness I think. So I think it would be better if I show you how to make a grunge brush instead. I know several of those are available for download but there is nothing more rewarding then creating your own :)
So in this article I'll show you how to create 2 types of brushes that can be used to create the grunge effect. Like always this is just one way of doing things as I'm sure there are others also. In a next tutorial I'll explain another way to create a similar effect in Photoshop if you just want borders. A brush is better because you can apply it everywhere and it gives you more creative freedom then the other technique.
Creating a random grunge brush
Choosing and preparing the image
First of all you have to find a perfect suitable photo to start from. I've found a lot of good material on the TextureKing website to start from, but you can start from any image you like. Next you desaturate your image : Image > Adjustments > Desaturate (command/control + shift + u). Then you play with the levels : Image > Adjustments > Levels (command/control + l). The values shown are different for each image and each result you want to achieve, but in most situations you'll have to drag the outer sliders more towards the middle, so you get a more back and white effect. Make sure you don't exaggerate, make sure there are some grey areas left.
Select a suitable area and clean up
Now select the Lasso tool from the Toolbox and select an area which you think would be perfect to create the brush. Copy this selection and past it into a new document. Now select the Erase tool from the Toolbox and select the Rough Round Bristle brush from the Brush palette. If you have removed the default brushes you need to reset the brushes to get to this brush. Now, clean up the borders of your selection so you don't see the edges. Reduce the size of the brush if needed.
A grunge brush is born
When you're done, go to Select > All (command/control + a) and go to Edit > Define Brush Preset and name your brush. The brush will appear in the brush palette now (last one in the row). Now you can test the result, by selecting a color and choose the Brush tool from the Toolbox and click in your document.
Creating corner brushes
You can also create corner brushes. Just select another area from the image that would suit as a grunge corner and repeat the same steps. You can rotate your image to create similar other corners.
The final result of my grunge design
Save your brushes
Creating these brushes requires a lot of experimenting, but it's fun. You can create your own set of brushes by saving them in the Brush palette located in the Options Toolbar. This is of course important since your brush will be saved permanently as a Brush Set (.ABR file), so don't forget this. Otherwise as soon as you reset your Brush palette, your brush will be gone. Click the little arrow button on top right and select Save Brushes from the menu. You have to make sure that only your brushes are loaded in the palette, otherwise the other default brushes are saved as well in that set. By saving them in an .ABR file you can create your own collection of brushes.
Want to learn more?
A good and not expensive source to learn more about Illustrator, Photoshop, or web design is by joining the Tuts+ sites. You get access to the source files for just $9 a month. So your ONE membership gives you access to members-only content for ALL the Plus sites. I've written a tutorial for the Vector Tuts section.