Get down and dirty with inky, customized Photoshop brushes and brilliant photomontage techniques.

If you’re not using custom Photoshop brushes already, then you’re missing out on one of Photoshop’s most useful features: used well, they will bring flair and individuality to your designs – as well as saving you a lot of time.

In this masterclass, Craig Shields shows how you can move away from the screen and create your brushes from scratch in some decidedly un-digital ways, using ink and brushes, before tweaking them for use in Photoshop.

Part of the joy of this tutorial is the opportunity it offers to step away from the computer and get your hands dirty; you’ll hone your kills at blending digital and traditional media, as well as having fun.

On the CD is an image of a nebula, a custom brush created by Shields, and a background texture.

Step 1
To make your own custom Photoshop brushes, you will need to find yourself some old paintbrushes – the older, the better. Also, you’ll need some ink or black paint, a small amount of water, and some plain white paper to make your marks on.

Step 2
Grab a sheet of paper, dip your brushes in some ink and get painting. Be as rough and as experimental as you want: try watering down the ink a little so that the marks you make aren’t solid black, putting extra texture into your strokes. Do as many as you like, and have fun with it.