The Ultimate Guide to Making Custom Brushes in Krita (2023)

As a digital artist, finding just the right brushes is key to creating the look and feel you want. While Krita comes with an impressive collection of default brushes, the real power comes from the app‘s extensive brush customization abilities.

With Krita, you have full control to fine-tune every aspect of a brush, from its size and shape to advanced features like textured tips, dual brushes, and custom opacity and rotation settings. Creating your own brushes allows you to craft tools perfectly suited to your personal art style.

In this guide, I‘ll walk you through the process of designing your own unique brushes in Krita from scratch. I‘ll explain what each brush setting does and share some of my favorite custom brushes and brush packs. Finally, I‘ll go over tips for getting the most out of Krita‘s brushes with a drawing tablet.

Whether you‘re a beginner looking to expand beyond Krita‘s default brush set or a seasoned pro wanting to dive deep into brush mechanics, this article will help you become a brush-making expert. Let‘s get started!

Why Make Custom Brushes?

So what‘s the big deal about custom brushes anyway? While Krita‘s built-in brushes are great, there are several compelling reasons to create your own:

Efficiency. Having brushes tailored to your specific needs allows you to work faster. No more digging through menus to find the right brush – they‘ll be right at your fingertips.

Creativity. Experimenting with brush settings is a fantastic way to spark new ideas and happy accidents. You might stumble upon a cool effect that inspires your next piece.

Style. Your personal artistic style is what makes your work unique. Custom brushes are an extension of that style. Creating your own brush set makes your work instantly recognizable.

Flexibility. From concept art to comics, custom brushes help you create the perfect look for any project. Krita‘s powerful brush engine can simulate everything from painterly strokes to crisp lines and special effects.

Now that you know why custom brushes are so useful, let me show you how to make your own. I promise it‘s easier than you might think!

Step-by-Step: Making a Custom Brush

To demonstrate the brush creation process, let‘s walk through making a custom ink pen brush.

1. Choose a starting brush

While you can start with a completely blank brush, I find it easier to pick an existing brush that‘s similar to what I want and use that as a base. For our ink pen, let‘s start with Krita‘s built-in Ink-7 brush, which gives a nice fine line.

Krita's default Ink-7 brush

2. Open brush settings

With the Ink-7 brush selected, open the Brush Settings editor by clicking the brush icon in the top toolbar. Here you‘ll see a dizzying array of options – don‘t worry, you‘ll only need to tweak a few of them to get the results you want.

Krita's brush settings panel

3. Adjust brush tip

A brush‘s tip is arguably its most important characteristic. Krita lets you use any grayscale image as a tip, from basic shapes to complex textures. For our ink brush, let‘s switch to a slightly rougher tip to give the lines a more hand-drawn feel. Click the "Predefined" brush tip option and choose "Ink-o-04".

Brush tip options

4. Change size settings

In the "Size" options, increase the brush "Size" to around 25px. Uncheck "Enable size sensor" if you don‘t want pen pressure to affect brush thickness. I‘ll leave it on for this brush to allow for variable-width lines.

5. Set opacity and flow

Under "Opacity", set the brush "Opacity" to 100% for solid lines. The "Flow" controls how quickly the brush reaches its full opacity – I‘ll set it to around 80% for a slightly softer buildup. Make sure "Enable opacity sensor" is checked to modulate opacity with pen pressure.

6. Test brushes in the scratchpad

At any point, you can test out your brush in the scratchpad area on the right side of the Brush Settings editor. Use your pen or mouse to draw some test lines and shapes to see how the brush looks and feels. Don‘t be afraid to experiment!

Testing a custom brush in Krita's scratchpad

7. Name and save your brush

Once you‘re happy with how your custom brush looks, give it a descriptive name like "Rough Ink Pen". Click the "Save New Brush" button at the top of the settings panel. Your brush is now saved to Krita‘s brush library, where it‘ll show up with a thumbnail preview.

Save a new brush in Krita

That‘s it – you‘ve just made your first custom Krita brush! Feel free to repeat these steps and tinker with different brush settings to create a variety of tools for inking, sketching, painting, and special effects. Remember, experimentation is key.

Fine-Tuning Brush Behavior

Now that you know the basic steps for customizing a brush, let‘s explore some of the other brush settings Krita offers to take your tools to the next level:

Blending Modes: These determine how brush strokes interact with the underlying color, from basic mixing to more complex color dodge/burn, overlay, and other effects. Great for adding texture and glow.

Texture: You can apply a texture to your brush strokes, from gritty noise to paper grain and halftones. Use textures to quickly add visual interest to concept sketches and backgrounds.

Dual Brush: This option lets you combine two brush tips into a single brush, allowing for some really interesting stroke effects. Try pairing a textured brush with an ink brush for cool dry media looks.

Example of a Krita dual brush

Airbrush: Enable airbrush mode for brushes that build up smoothly with pen pressure, perfect for soft shading and smooth blends.

Rotation: You can set brushes to automatically rotate along the stroke direction, giving a more natural hand-painted look. Great for organic textures and painting hair or grass.

Color Smudge: These brushes pick up and mix underlying colors as you paint, simulating the look of traditional media. Use them for interesting color blends and painterly effects.

Don‘t be afraid to push Krita‘s brush engine to its limits. It can handle everything from simple sketches to complex paintings and illustrations. The more you experiment with brush settings, the more you‘ll develop your own unique collection of go-to tools.

Saving and Organizing Your Brushes

Once you‘ve created an arsenal of awesome custom brushes, it‘s important to keep them organized so you can find what you need quickly. Here are some tips:

Brush Tags: Give your brushes descriptive tags like "inking", "sketching", "texture", etc. so you can filter and find them easily later. You can add tags when saving a brush, or by right-clicking a brush and choosing "Edit".

Brush Groups: Krita allows you to group brushes into folders or categories. To create a new group, open the brush palette, click the "New Group" button, and drag brushes into it. You can even nest groups within groups for more granular organization.

Organizing Krita brushes with tags and groups

Importing/Exporting: Krita makes it easy to share your custom brushes with others or move them between computers. To export your brushes, go to Settings > Manage Resources and click "Export". Choose the brushes you want to share and click "Export" to save them as a .bundle file. You can then send this file to other artists or post it online. To import brushes, simply double-click a .bundle file or go to Settings > Manage Resources and click "Import".

Where to Find Brushes

In addition to making your own brushes, there are tons of great pre-made brush packs available for Krita, both free and paid. Here are a few of my favorites:

Krita‘s Default Brush Packs: Krita actually comes with several excellent brush sets for drawing, painting, inking and more. Don‘t overlook these – there are some real gems included! Some of the best are Deevad‘s brushes for comic inking and David Revoy‘s concept art and painting brushes.

GDQuest: This popular Krita resource site offers several high-quality, free brush packs for inking, painting, and effects. I‘m a big fan of their "Painterly Brushes" set.

Brush Packs on Gumroad and Itch.io: Many digital artists sell premium brush packs on platforms like Gumroad and Itch.io. These are usually very high-quality, professionally-designed brushes and well worth a few bucks if you find ones suited to your style. Some of my favorites are Max Ulichney‘s "MU Brushes" for painterly illustrations and Kurt Papstein‘s "Neon Brushes" for glowing effects.

Krita brush packs on Gumroad

Remember, while it can be tempting to go wild downloading tons of brush packs, at the end of the day it‘s more important to learn a handful of tools really well than to constantly chase new brushes. Find ones that complement your art style and workflow and focus on mastering those.

Drawing Tablet Tips

To really get the most out of Krita‘s brush engine, you‘ll want to use a pressure-sensitive drawing tablet. This lets you control brush size, opacity, and other attributes with the pressure and tilt of your stylus, just like traditional media.

Here are a few tips for using drawing tablets with Krita brushes:

Customize Pen Pressure: You can tweak how much effect pen pressure has on brush size and opacity in Krita‘s "Configure Krita" settings. Experiment to find a sensitivity that feels natural for your drawing style.

Use Pen Tilt: Some tablets, like the Wacom Intuos Pro, support pen tilt sensitivity. Krita‘s brushes can use this to control attributes like brush rotation and texture. It‘s great for simulating traditional media like calligraphy pens and markers.

Set Up Pen Buttons: Most graphics tablet pens have two buttons on the side. You can set these up as keyboard shortcuts for common actions like right-click, changing brush size, undo, etc. Customizing these buttons can save you a lot of time!

Go Forth and Paint!

Whew, that was a lot! I know Krita‘s brush options can seem overwhelming at first, but remember – you don‘t need to learn everything at once. Start with the basics of customizing brush tips and sizes, and slowly experiment with the more advanced features as you go.

The real key is to jump in and start creating! Use your new custom brushes in your digital art and see how they feel. Pay attention to what kinds of marks and effects come naturally to you, and don‘t be afraid to iterate and refine your tools as your art style evolves.

I hope this guide has demystified the process of creating custom brushes in Krita and given you the knowledge and inspiration to make your own. With practice and experimentation, you‘ll soon have a versatile collection of brushes perfectly attuned to your unique artistic voice.

So go forth and paint, and may your brushes serve you well! If you create any custom Krita brushes you‘re particularly proud of, I‘d love to see them – share them in the comments below. Happy painting!

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