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Download: Photoshop Brushes Series 33

20 chalk, charcoal and graphite brushes By Dave Nagel
Applying filters to create sketch effects is all right sometimes. But there are the occasions when you want to do the actual work yourself, rather than relying on the software to do it for you. Unfortunately, there aren't all that many great choices for getting the job done in Adobe Photoshop. So I've decided to put together a new collection for Photoshop designed specifically for simulating the process of sketching with dry media.

The brushes
This new library of brushes for Adobe Photoshop--Nagel Series 33--offers 20 custom brushes designed to emulate four different types of "natural" media. (By the way, if you're wondering why I always put the "natural" in quotes, it's owing to the fact that there's nothing particularly natural about chemically produced media--at least no more so than anything else you might work with. It's just a useful phrase to differentiate traditional media from digital media.) The types of media emulated in this series are chalk, charcoal (including charcoal pencil), dry brushes and that most sketchy of media, the good, ol' graphite pencil.

There are seven chalk brushes in total, designed to produce a light, soft texture with ragged edges. The charcoals have a more pronounced texture and include two thinner charcoal pencils, which build up density and thickness with pressure and tilt. There are also four "dry brushes," which are essentially meant to mimic paint brushes with drying pigment applied to them. These will produce light and sparse regions when you're painting, which can be useful for working on background textures. And then there are the five pencils, which are designed to resemble various graphite implements, including one that allows you to mimic a pencil on its side. All of the brushes are fully dynamic and take advantage of features found in Wacom Intuos, Cintiq and Graphire tablets, including pressure and tilt. (Graphire and some Cintiq models don't support pen tilt.) They're also fully customizable, so you can adjust controls and brush characteristics to suit your needs.

Here are samples of all of the brushes in this week's colection. The examples are all quickly drawn with a single stroke of the brush using varying pressure and tilt on the graphics tablet to achieve variation. Below these samples you'll find instructions for downloading and installing this collection.

Remember that you can find even more free downloads by clicking here.

Download and installation
This week's brush collection is compressed in a Zip archive, which can be decompressed using any Zip utility. (Simply double-click the file in Mac OS X to decompress it.) These brushes support Photoshop CS and Photoshop CS2 (but not Photoshop 7) in Macintosh and Windows environments. They are also supported by recent versions of Adobe Photoshop Elements.

Download: Nagel Series 33 Brushes (48 KB)

Once you download the brush file (, expand it. (The expanded file will be called NagelSeries33.abr.). Then move the .abr file into the Brushes directory in your Photoshop folder (/Adobe Photoshop/Presets/Brushes).

Then launch Photoshop. Open your Brushes palette, and click on the flyaway menu at the top right. There you'll find the new brush collection, which you can install simply by selecting it. After you select it, the new brushes will appear at the bottom of the list of available brushes. (Note that if the brushes do not appear in this flyaway menu, you can load them manually by selecting "Load Brushes" from the menu. A dialog will appear asking you to locate the brush file manually.)

If you have any questions, be sure to visit me in our Adobe Photoshop forum by clicking here.  And remember that you can find our previous downloads by clicking here.

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