Our online creative community has a long history of sharing resources such as Photoshop brushes. Prior to writing this piece, I scanned my massive PS brushes folder. My oldest brushes date back to 2001. All of them were free downloads from generous creatives wanting to share with other users.
Best is a buzzword and highly subjective. Before I list my Best Free Photoshop Brush websites, I’ll tell you my selection criteria:
- The brushes must be free for personal and – ideally – commercial use.
- High resolution (2500 × 2500 pixels) brushes should be free.
- Screen shots should be large enough to discern brush samples.
- There must be a one-click download, and it should be in plain sight.
- You shouldn’t have to register for this or that before you’re able to complete the download.
- Brushes must be open source, or released under a Creative Commons license. (They must not violate copyright or trademark laws. They must be royalty free.)
- The site should be well-organized and searchable.
Over the years I’ve bookmarked a few websites that offer quality free resources and I go to them first when I need a certain something for a project. These six resources – in no particular order – are my go to resources for Photoshop brushes. I’ve included a bonus resource that is free, with the purchase of a magazine.
Brusheezy began in 2005 as a resource community providing Photoshop brushes, patterns and textures. The website is easy to navigate and it provides a one-click download. However, you’ll face nag screen delaying your download five-seconds.
Although not every brush set is 2500 × 2500 pixels, overall quality is high. Not every brush set shows you brush dimensions, but featured images give you a good idea of what to expect in your download. Brush size matters. If a brush is too small, it may be unsuitable for print projects.
The site search uses a sort of drag-net approach, returning brushes, patterns and textures, unless you append “brushes” to your search query. All results returned seem relevant to the search query, but to me, search should assume I want brushes if I start my search in the brushes section. Search results tend to favour “Premium” resources, assets requiring a paid subscription.
Q Brushes is a lean, well-organized, easy to navigate website providing “Quality brushes for Photoshop.”
You search for brushes by entering a term in the search field, jumping to Brushes by Categories, or Brushes by Tags. Each tag in the Brushes by Tags cloud is clickable and loads a page of brushes associated with the selected term.
The Full Preview button loads a screen shot of all the brushes in the set. Many of these images are useful. Few of them, however indicate brush size, a common problem with Q Brush’s offerings.
Overall, Q Brush lives up to its tagline “Quality brushes for Photoshop.” It does one thing and it does it well.
Brush King began providing free Photoshop brushes in 2008. Brushes are split into 14 categories. All are free, and most seem to be free for commercial and personal use. (Some of the brushes have oddly worded copyright notices. Some, such as the one featured in the screen shot, are not. So, as with any resource you find online, do your homework before committing it to a commercial project.)
In addition to searching by category and search query, Brush King provides other brush sets created by the same artist, as well as related brushes. It’s a nice feature and gives the site a sense of community.
The honorable mentions don’t fit my criteria for a “best” resource, but they’re worth mentioning because they are good resources.
Obsidian Dawn is a solid source of Photoshop brushes, textures and patterns. It’s well organized, easy to search and loaded with assets of good-or-better quality. It earns its honorable mention status because commercial licenses for brushes cost an extra $3.
Free Brushes is a large, cluttered site with loads of brushes. It appears abandoned. You’ll still find good brushes here, but I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for new arrivals.
Photoshop Creative Magazine
Photoshop Creative Magazine provides a free CD-ROM with each issue. The disc is loaded with Photoshop brushes – many of which work with the issue’s tutorials – stock images, actions, textures, tutorial extras and video tutorials, adding value to the magazine’s cover price. There’s also a free-to-join online community with links to tutorials, stock images and other free resources.
The creative community has a long history of sharing resources online. As creatives, we’ve all benefitted from our community’s generosity. We benefit from websites such as Brusheezy, Q Brushes and Brushking that collect, create and share quality Photoshop brushes and other useful resources.
I’m always on the lookout for good quality free stuff. So if you have a reliable source for Photoshop brushes, send me a link and I may add it to this list. After all, sharing has always been one of the great things about the web.
Image Courtesy: Peter Baumann