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Free Brush of the Week #54 – “Spent Pestle” Specialist Brush

Painting with eth Spent Pestle Photoshop brush
Painting with the ‘Spent Pestle’ Photoshop brush (paper texture added)

This week’s free GrutBrush ( ) is a specialty brush which mostly means that it doesn’t quite fit perfectly into any of the traditional media categories like charcoal, ink, watercolour, etc. Nor does it quite fit into my catch-all category “Natural Media” where I normally place brushes that behave and look like traditional media. This is what I call a ‘Specialty’ brush. Tthey tend to have a look that is quite unique that makes them suitable for one particular tasks rather than general drawing or painting. you wouldn’t chose a specialty brush to take a message while on the phone or draw a map to your house.

Making this image

To create this drawing I alternated between black and white a lot (using the ‘x‘ key shortcut) and used the white to carve away at the black lines, sometimes shaping them into finer points than the brush weight allowed. When I was done, I turned the layer into an overlay, over the paper texture and toned down the white parts of my drawing using hue/saturation to the point where it is still just slightly visible, almost as if it’s a faint water stain, like wet sand off a shoreline. I then added a tetxured overlay of the paper on top of the black areas to give it a more ‘lived in’ look and integrate it a bit more with the paper backing. A flat layer of colour on a natural background always looks too artificial to even be a part of it’s own background, nothing in real life is one single colour or tone.

Having more fun with the brush of the week demo doodles

This drawing is also the start of a bit of a departure from the usual demo images, not in the content or style, which is my usual doodley sketch style, but in the rules I set for myself when creating it and it’s something I hope to be doing more of from now on. For the past year, I usually set myself pretty tight rules on how I present the demo images, I try to make sure I only use that one brush, ‘as is’, I don’t change the width, I don’t manipulate the appearance of the lines, I used to stick to only one that brush for the whole piece. In the beginning I even tended to restrict myself to black and white to present what I felt was the most accurate depiction of what the lines look like so that you know exactly what you’re getting when you download the brush. This year I am going to try (spare time permitting) to relax my self imposed rules and have a bit more fun with the brushes for a few reasons:

  1. You can always click through to the brush page on the website and see all the technical details there including an animated preview showing exactly what it’s like to draw an unadultarated brush stroke in black on a white background.
  2. It’s a free brush, so I am not sure why I feel like I’m doing a bait and switch just because I used an eraser to tidy up a splotchy area of one line or added a texture, or changed the line width. I realise that I shouldn’t shy away from showing unconventional uses of the brushes the point is to show you what you can do with an art tool, and part of that should be to get creative with it, I’m not making a schematic for a medical device!
  3. The final reason is mostly for me. While following strict rules may be a reliable way to immediately showing what the brush looks like, that’s not very conducive to creativity or fun. I always tell myself “Just stick to using the brush as is, consider this drawing a product demo and then later you can have some fun with it and do something more creative” but in reality, later never comes. Making the brush of the week is often the only time all week that I actually do any doodling so If I don’t use the ‘free brush of the week’ in a creative and fun way when making the demo image, I may never get to it again! It does me good to remind myself that I started making these brushes was a way to add creativity back into a stressful work life, and I hope I can share some of the benefits with you.
    So from now on I’m going to try to be a little looser with the brushes and play around a bit more. Hopefully I’ll take advantage of my relaxed rules and start having a bit more fun with the brushes, and Im sure you’ll forgive me if I add in a few flourishes with other brushes and take a few liberties with the technical details. I promise that the images will always be primarily driven and inspired by the brush I am giving away.
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Free Brush of the Week #53 – ‘Scatter Mat’ Natural Media Photoshop Brush

Painted with the Scattrer Mat Photoshop brushe (wash with 'Moth Wing' brush)
Painted with the ‘Scatter Mat’ Photoshop brush (wash with ‘Moth Wing’ brush)

This week’s free Photoshop brush is “Scatter Mat” a gritty wiry natural media brush that starts with a relatively uniform mid toned line but ends in a powdery mess at the highest pressure range. This brush brings a chimney sweep’s broom to your sketchbook. As always, you can download it on the free brush of the week page until Monday when there will be a brand new free Photoshop brush to download.

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Making a Mess Again in Photoshop

Photoshop Ink and paint splatter brushes
Splashing about with Ink and paint in Photoshop

Taking a quick break from working on the cloud brushes to play around with some new splattery ink and paint brushes in the workshop. As usual, the goal is to make brushes that behave naturally; staining, splattering and ‘soaking’ into the paper as you draw, these are not stencil stamps. Here you can also see how using one of my paper templates enhances the organic look (take a look at the lighting in the darkest spots for example)

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GrutBrushes Plugin & Sampler Set of 10 Free Brushes and Tools

10 Free Photoshop Tools for GrutBrushes Photoshop plugin users
10 Free Photoshop Tools for GrutBrushes Photoshop plugin users

This Free Photoshop sampler set of 10 free Photoshop brushes and tools for digital artists is yours for free to celebrate 1 full year of giving away a new free Photoshop brush of the week for 52 weeks straight! If you’re using Photoshop CC 2014/15 Download it with the free GrutBrushes plugin panel for the full effect or simply use them in your Tool Presets panel. This image was created using only the tools in the GrutBrushes sampler on a paper background with no post processing.

It Includes: 1 Impasto Oil Brush • 1 Watercolor Brush • 1 Charcoal Brush • 1 Photoshop Pencil • 1 Gouache Brush • 1 Cross Hatching Brush • 1:1 Square Crop Toolset • Sharp Eraser Tool • Graph Paper Tool •

Use it with the free plugin:

For a new free brush every week:

To get Every single Artist’s Brush from GrutBrushes without waiting 180 weeks click here!

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Site is Teetering, but here’s a quick tutorial video.

Normally I’d be announcing the free brush of the week today (Week #52…1 full Year or free brushes!), but I was waiting until some really serious website problems were resolved. That doesn’t seem to be happening so my post announcing the free sampler set of 10 brushes and tools (6+4) which I’m releasing as a “Pay What You Want” product (i.e. free!) is delayed.  While waiting for someone to help me fix it I made this quick video shows how to install them into Photoshop using the plugin. Come and download it at your own risk as the site seems to be in danger of going down at any moment but while it’s up, you can get them here

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GrutBrushes Photoshop Plugin V1.1.1

The GrutBrushes Photoshop plugin for Digital Artists has been updated!

Version 1.1.1 of the GrutBrushes plugin is ready! If you need to update it you can download it from the available downloads section on your account page.

If you don’t have it yet, you can get the GrutBrushes Photoshop plugin for free here.

This may be a ‘minor’ plugin update but it includes some new features and quite a few fixes that may be rather major to those who requested them!

New to V1.1.1 – March 8 2014

  • Last brush used indicator – the #1 requested new feature
    • When you pick a brush, the border now lights up in white. This will remain ‘on’ until you pick another GrutBrush, even if you change the settings or pick another tool from the Photoshop menu. Clicking on it again will reset that brush to its default settings.This is the last GrutBrush you picked from the panel


  • Reload Cached Brushes
    • When updating Photoshop, Adobe sometimes removes all your GrutBrushes from the panel and when you open Photoshop again you find an empty GrutBrushes panel. Instead of adding them back again, try this option to reload all your brushes
      Reloads all the brushes you had installed in Photoshop using the GrutBrushes plugin panel
      Reload missing brushes after updating Photoshop


  • Ok to Replace All when reloading brushes
    • If you do ever want to add back in all your brushes and reload duplicates by accident, you no longer have to click “ok” to overwrite each one. Just click “apply to all” and any duplicates will be over-written. This is useful if you want to add a number of brushes and don’t remember which ones you already loaded.
      Check to reload and Replace all existing Photoshop brushes
      Check to reload and Replace all existing Photoshop brushes


  • Load Brushes from Zip file – No more unzipping first!
    • You can now just select the zip file that contains your brushes when adding a new brush, you no longer have to unzip it first! This is a nice time-saver and will also allow for downloading and installing sets of multiple brushes from one single file.


  • Reset Plugin (in the “About GrutBrushes” popup)
    Reset all settings and remove all brushes
    Reset plugin Panel (in About Menu popup)
    • This will reset the GrutBrushes panel, as if you had just installed it. Use this when you want to clear all GrutBrushes settings. This will remove all the brushes and clear all settings. Use this with caution and be aware that this will remove all GrutBrushes from the panel and you will have to add them (it will not delete them from your hard drive but always backup your brushes anyway!)


  • External Images dropping into panel disabled
    • Some people discovered the hard way that it was possible to drag images into the GrutBrushes panel and get them stuck there. This should no longer be possible with V1.1.1 If this has happened to you the “Reset” button should fix this for you (see above)


  • TPL files only filter (Mac)
    • When adding Photoshop brushes and tools to the panel, you will now only see the relevant TPL files in the file requestor and other non-installable files will be hidden from view.


I think that covers most of what you’ll notice in this new version. To install the update, just run the installer as usual, restart Photoshop and you should see the new menu items. To be sure, click on the about menu and you should see “V1.1.1”

If you need to uninstall the old one, here are detailed manual uninstalation instructions for both PC and Mac are included in the zip file.

If you are having trouble using the Automatic installation or would like to install it manually there are manual plugin installation instructions here which are also included in the zip file.

Let me know how you like it and leave feedback in the comments below. If you like the plugin a great way to support it is to leave a review for it here

[box type=”alert”]Manual Installation If you are having trouble installing automatically using the jsx install script, you can install the plugin manually. It basically involves copying two folders onto your hard drive. A step by step PDF with instructions is included and can be found online here.[/box] Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail
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Free GrutBrush of the week #51 – Hatch Leescritch Cross Hatching brush

This week’s brush is “Hatch LeeScritch” a A dense cross hatcher with a heavy fingerprint that ramps rapidly to clear on the edges. The pattern of this cross hatch brush is mostly opaque and thick stroked but the individual hatches taper to a sharp point. In this video I install the brush from inside Photoshop using the GrutBrushes plugin but you can also download it from free brush of the week page and load it in manually like any other Photoshop tool preset (see the included pdf)

You can get a new free Photoshop brush every week here:

and the plugin here (Photoshop CC2014/15 only)


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GrutBrushes Gallery – Submit your paintings and Drawings!

Digital Painting by Synthetic Geek. Painted using GrutBrushes
Digital Painting by Synthetic Geek

The GrutBrushes Gallery is Online and Open!
Finally! Come by to have a look at the fantastic work created with a ton of talent (… and GrutBrushes!) by artist’s of all types, almost all of them not me!
You can support the artists by visiting their pages and support the gallery by sharing it (easy sharing links are at the bottom of the page)

If you have some work you’d like to submit for possible inclusion in the gallery I really want to see it! Even if you want to send me doodles you’ve done and don’t want to make them public just yet, please do and  l can keep it just between us. I love to see the great drawings and paintings you create with the brushes, it keeps me inspired and I learn what brushes to make next based on what you create with them and your suggestions. So send me your stuff.

Sorry it’s taken me so long but I had to make sure I had all the proper permissions and the correct links to see more of these generous and talented artists’ work. I’m still waiting to hear back from some of you so if that’s you, send me your info and permission to post! When submitting your work, let me know if it’s ok to use it in social media posts as well as the gallery and then you won’t have to see so many of my scribblings anymore. For now, you’ll just have to visit the gallery to see some real artist’s work.

Thank you very much to everyone who submitted to the gallery!