We explore one method of using standard Photoshop brushes to create a tree from the ground up.

Create a Glowing Tree in Photoshop

Composition in Photoshop can be a challenge when you need to create images that look like objects in nature. Trees are a great example. Most of us have to reach for a brush or do a lot of work on an existing image to get what we're looking for. The problem with a brush or pre-existing image is that you're stuck with what you've got and can't typically get the exact look or shape you want for your flyer or brochure printing project.

This tutorial explores a method of using standard brushes to build trees. You can use this technique to fine-tune your own method of tree creation or use the same look we've created below.

1. Open a new Photoshop image. For this tutorial we use 600x600 with a transparent background to begin with. Click the Default Background Colors or press “D” to reset the colors to black and white.

2. Grab a standard brush. For this tutorial, use any of the Default Brushes that doesn't have a blur effect.

Step 2: Default Brushes

3. With your Brush Tool selected, go to Windows -> Brushes or hit F5 to open the Brushes options menu. Click “Create new brush” icon. Call the new brush whatever you like.

Step 3: Create new brush

4. Under the “Shape Dynamics” settings, change the control and jitter settings to the following:

Step 4: Shape Dynamics

5. Under the “Scattering” tab, adjust the scatter percentage to 0% and the count to 7.

Step 5: Scattering

6. Next, change your “Color Dynamics” settings to the following:

Step 6: Color Dynamics

7. Change your brush size to around 25px for your first brush strokes and choose a brown color (6a5b09).

Step 7: Brush Strokes

8. Make your first tree trunk to see how the dynamics of a faded brush work. You'll notice that the brush automatically fades out on you. This allows the brush to taper off at the end.

Step 8: Fade Brush Work

9. To make various branch sizes, you need to make two separate adjustments to your brush. First, for limbs you should reduce the brush size while also increasing the fade size under the “Shape Dynamics” tab. In this example, use a brush size of 10px with a Fade value of 200:

Step 10: Shape Dynamics

11. For roots and small limbs, you can use a shorter fade value. A smaller brush size works as well, such as 7px in this example:

Step 11: Shorter Fade

12. Now we just need some leaves! Same theory applies. Start with a simple brush and we will tweak it from there. Click the “Create new brush” and call it your whatever name you would like. Start with the “Shape Dynamics” settings:

Step 11: Shape Dynamics and Fade

13. Move on to the “Scattering” settings:

Step 12: Scatter

14. Now, using a bright green (36ff00), paint a few strokes across your tree limbs.

Step 14: Brighten

15. Change the color to a darker green (377626), reduce your paint brush size, and change your scattering settings. Then just keep adding more leaves until you're happy with the effect. Your tree is now ready for your poster, web design, or brochure printing project.

Final Step: Add More Leaves


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