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Making A Photoshop Moon Brush

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Photoshop brushes are all greyscale, where the brush is darker its less opaque, brighter less so. This means that we can make some quite detailed brushes by converting images to grayscale.

In this example I’m going to add the moon to an image of a Dallas.

Scene : Dallas skyline by night File: #60373799 | Author: mandritoiu

Moon : luna piena in bianco e nero File: #86341576 | Author: al85

Thinking Logically (Or Trial and Error)

It would be easy for me to type out the right way to do this, the truth is I invariably get it wrong the first time.

Here I’ve got my image of the Moon, looks great, I could copy and paste it into the image of Dallas but I’m thinking that I might want to stamp the Moon onto other images in the future so a handy brush in my collection would be great.

However, the lighter part of the image wants to be the darkest part of the brush and vies-versa. If you’re like me, you’ll forget about this, so let’s start by showing what happens when you do, then we’ll correct it;


First thing I need to do is to select the pixels that make up the brush, for this image it can be everything, so I can use Ctl+A (PC) or Cmd+a (Mac)


But you could just as easily use any of the selection tools.

Make a Photoshop Brush

From the menu choose Edit > Define Brush Preset


And then name the Brush Preset;


and click OK.

Using The Brush

If you’ve already selected the Brush Tool, the brush will change to the new one straight away, if not then choose the Brush Tool from the Tool Box.

If the new brush isn’t already selected then click the down facing arrow at the top of the screen, you’re new brush should be the last one in the window, clicking it will select it.


Resizing and Stamping The Brush

Brushes can be resized by using the [ (smaller) and ] (larger keys or using the slider in the contextual menu or dynamically on screen. Here’s a 30 Second Photoshop tutorial on how.

I’ll reset the foreground and background colour to Black and White by pressing D, then flip them over using X. I want the moon to be white, but you can use any colour you like for brushes.

Then, in this case, all I have to do is right click to ‘stamp’ the brush down onto my Dallas image;


As expected, although the image was right, the brush is inverted.

Inverting and Image

To make the moon a brush I need to invert it, as you can see above, the black background ended up as white and completely solid.

To inverse the image just press Ctrl+i (PC) or Cmd+I (Mac)


And repeat the steps to save and name it

No Background?

Previously the brush had been rectangular, now we only have the moon? Because Photoshop works with opacity where the image is white Photoshop makes it transparent, so does’t include it in the brush.

So now when I stamp the brush down all I paint it the Moon. Lovely!


I may want to reduce the opacity a little, and for a little “extra credit” use a mask to put the moon behind the buildings a little to add some authenticity.

Everything’s a Brush

I chose the image of the moon as it highlights the use of shades of grey as the opacity of the brush but your brush can be of anything and any colour, give it a try. If you’re confident with Channels why not use them to make brushes too? Have fun, see you next time!


About Eric Renno (435 Articles)
Eric’s background in video editing with Adobe Premier led to his interest, and then obsession, with Photoshop. Starting TipSquirrel.com as a hobby he is proud to have gathered together and be a part of The Photoshop Nuts. Known as only “TipSquirrel” for two years, Eric ‘went public’ when he was a finalist in The Next Adobe Photoshop Evangelist competition. He’s also been a finalist in Deke’s Techniques Photoshop Challenge. While still taking on some freelance work, Eric has recently become a Lecturer at Peterborough’s Media and Journalism Centre where he enjoys sharing his knowledge as well as learning new skills. This realisation that he loves to teach has made Eric look at altering his career path.

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