Photoshop Friday! 2007 #30 Create a brush from a dingbat

Welcome to another edition of Photoshop Friday!

Today’s quick tip is a cool time-saver (at least it will be when we combine it with next week’s PSF on saving and organizing brushes…).

Creating Brushes from Dingbat Fonts

There are a few good reasons to create brushes from some of your favorite dingbats. I’ll go in to more detail about the WHY at the end of this tutorial - for now, let’s talk about the HOW. :D 

1. Open a new blank document, probably something 5x7 or larger, just so you have enough canvas to work with.

2. Select your Horizontal Type tool. In the Options bar at the top of your screen, select a dingbat font, and type a large number, something higher than 100, in the Size box.

3. Click on your document and type the letter that corresponds to the dingbat you’d like to use (hint: having trouble finding and managing dings as fonts? I use The Font Thing - it’s a free font management software, available for Windows). I am using a cute heart/arrow from the CK High Energy Doodles font at

IMPORTANT: Create all your brush files in black

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4. In order to create a brush, we need to make a “raster” image out of our dingbat - basically turn it from a font into a set of pixels. Right-click on the new type layer in the Layers palette, and select Simplify Layer from the flyout menu (Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3: Right-click and choose Rasterize Type).

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5. Select your Rectangular Marquee tool. Draw a rectangle selection around your dingbat letter.

6. Go to Edit > Define Brush from Selection (CS/CS2/CS3: Edit > Define Brush Preset).

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7.  You’ll be asked to provide a name for your brush. Name it and click OK.

8. Select your Brush tool. Choose your new brush from the dropdown selector in the Options Bar at the top of your screen. I’ll be stamping my brush on a photo, so I’ve opened that.

9.  Create a new layer (Layer > New > Layer).

10. Choose an ink color for your brush using the swatches at the bottom of your toolbar.

11. Stamp your brush by clicking down once.

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12. I set my brush to Overlay blending mode using the dropdown box at the top of the Layers palette. It gives a cool effect to the ball. :)

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Here’s my final image, after a little color correction, cropping, and sharpening:


 So why make brushes from dingbats? A lot of what you can do with a brush, like resizing, re-coloring, changing blending modes, you can do with a font, too (I know that’s what you’re thinking. Admit it.) :) But there are several things that are unique to brushes, that fonts can’t do:

  • You can  use a brush to mask out areas of photos or patterned paper. This is generally done by painting with a brush on a layer mask (like I showed in this tutorial), and it’s MUCH easier to do this with type/dingbats if you’ve got the image already in a brush.
  • You can use your brush with the Eraser tool, to erase type into a photo or patterned paper.
  • Other tools you can use brushes with include the Dodge and Burn tools (ever try burning a type or dingbat brush into a photo? Now you can! It’s a very cool look. :D)
  • You can flip and rotate brushes before stamping them down, to fully customize the look.
  • You can use the brush to create a selection and then add grunge effects to your dingbat.

I think it’s easier to store some of my favorite dingbats as brushes, right alongside my other brushes. But how do you save off a brush so you can install it again and again? How do you organize brushes, anyway? Next week’s Photoshop Friday will focus on saving off brushes as .abr files, and some tips for organizing them.

Have a wonderful, Phabulous Photoshop Phriday! :D



Jessica Sprague9 Comments