Adobe Photoshop is by far the most popular software for painting. It comes with many pre-packaged brushes and there’s plenty of tutorials online to help anyone learn.
But even with a mountain of free tutorials and guidance on painting in Photoshop, you may still feel a bit off. More practice helps but sometimes you might want to try some new brushes too.
Digital artists across the world release their brush sets online. Some are free, some cost a small fee, but there’s a tremendous amount of PS brushes online tailor-made for artists.
And I’ll curate all the best options right here for you to peruse. Doesn’t matter if you’re looking to create pencil marks in your digital work, or paint some extra textures into your concept pieces—there is a brush set in here for every purpose under the sun.
Ah, pencil brushes. These bring the feeling of traditional drawing right into your digital art.
If you want a simple pack to get started with pencil marks check out this one from Soenanda. Totally free and pretty small, but it comes with a handful of brushes mimicking different softness levels and even one for mechanical pencil lead.
All-in-all a nice starter pack for getting more traditional marks in your art.
There’s a big difference between graphite and charcoal pencils. They leave very different markings, feel totally different, and have varying grades to their materials.
Not too many artists get into charcoal unless they do a lot of traditional work. With that said, charcoal can look awesome on digital work!
And this brush pack gives you everything to get started with charcoal, without buying any. This way you can attempt some digital work and see how it feels to paint with the real-world style of vine charcoal.
From chalky lines to dual pencil markings, this pack has a little bit of everything.
Its strength comes from the generic style of each brush meaning you can format the final output any way you want. There is some incredibly cool stuff you can do by altering settings in the PS brushes panel.
That’s what I like most about this set: the ability to customize the final output to look great and suit your needs.
I’m a huge fan of Gumroad for anything art related. Tutorials, video demos, brushes, plugins, everything.
And this pack from Sparth does not disappoint with 30 custom brushes tailor-made for all forms of digital painting. I find that these work best with realist paintings such as concept art pieces or photobashed paintings.
Only downside here is the price tag. It does seem a little steep for the amount you get, although the quality is pretty high so if you like these styles it’s worth the price.
Not all content on Gumroad comes with a price tag. This brush set is one such example with a default of $0 to download(although you can tip).
Creator ramstudioscomics released this brush set online for free as it was their very first set when starting to paint digitally. That makes it an excellent choice for newbies who are hesitant to work with Photoshop defaults.
There’s a little bit of everything here from chalking effects to comic brushes, some hair & fur textures, blending brushes, anything you could possibly want.
A massive set of 50 brushes all designed for Photoshop CC.
This is perhaps one of the largest and most technical brush packs in this list with a ton of textures mixed in. Rocks, tree bark, grass, clouds, there’s a little of everything that you’d expect to find in a detailed brush pack.
There’s also a handful of blending and smudging brushes that you can use to restyle your artwork and get it looking tip-top.
As far as ink brushes go, I think this pack might take the cake.
Disney character designer Shiyoon Kim released these brushes on their Gumroad page as an example of what’s possible given the right pack. This does come at a steeper price point of $10 but you get a handful of custom ink brushes that are perfect for animation artists.
Actually, pretty much any digital artist could find use in these brushes. Yet at that price point I recommend it specifically for anyone who wants to copy Shiyoon’s style.
Cale Atkinson is an artist & illustrator with a very unique style. It’s got to be one of my favorite styles out there and his work really brings on a life of its own.
Well if you’ve ever wanted to see how he does it, now you can with this free pack of tool preset brushes.
These work a little differently than regular brushes and you should learn about tool presets if you’re not familiar. But these are incredibly powerful for digital artwork and the pack is 100% free for life.
Here’s a set that comes at a much higher price tag, but it’s also designed for both designers and artists who use Photoshop.
Inside is a set of ABR and TPL files with brushes for almost everything: watercolors, markers, oils, air brushes, you name it.
These have all been expertly fine-tuned to run with digital tablets and should work especially well on Wacoms. But if you can’t justify the price tag no worries: there are plenty of free alternatives all throughout this post.
Sketching is a very personal exercise and it’s easy to get finicky with line quality. That means you’ll really want some great brushes if you do a lot of sketching digitally.
I’m a fan of the many free packs listed earlier, but if you want to go premium check out this sketch-focused brush pack.
It comes from MaCaLabs and it’s one of the few brushes that comes with a tool presets file. This means you can upload brushes and change the default pressure settings to get them working exactly as the artist intended.
There’s good reason to paint custom textures yourself. Stuff like fur and hair can come out better if you work at it section by section.
That said, many artists would prefer custom texture brushes to save time and energy.
That’s where this awesome brush pack comes in to save the day.
Inside you’ll find 52 brushes all made to lay out believable grass, fluffy fur, and realistic hair. Not to mention every brush comes in high definition so they can be resized up to 5000px and still look incredible.
Finding high-quality watercolor brushes can be a challenge. Usually they’re lumped together with other brushes in the “big packs” listed earlier.
However if you just want an exclusive set of watercolor brushes look no further than this pack by Favete Art.
It comes with over 180 brushes all designed by hand, all made to clone the effects of watercolors on the digital screen. By far one of the best sets in this list if you’re a big fan of watercolor textures.
I figure it’s worth throwing in one more awesome watercolor pack into the list, just in case you want some variety.
Inside this pro watercolor pack you’ll find both the ABR file with the brushes and the TPL file for tool presets. This set does come at a slightly higher price than the one above, however I also see this pack updated year-over-year with new brushes and new presets.
Again, worth checking out if you’re into the watercolor texture. Might not be for everyone but certainly a very nice pack of brushes for artists.
Moving into oil brushes you might also like this set from the same creator Roman Melentyev.
Again this is part of his “pro brushes” set and it gets updated with new settings each year. That means you’ll also likely need the newest version of Photoshop if you upgrade, however many brush packs are backwards compatible so you can always ask the creator for more info.
For this pack you’ll find a bunch of custom oil brush styles. Bristles, soft brushes, dry brushes, some plain styles and many textures styles too.
Many of these can even work for concept art paintings if you’re going for a more realist style.
Within this 4-pack of brushes you’ll actually get a handful of different brushes all categorized together, and a few extras to boot.
From my count there’s over 40 different brushes along with free video guides on how to paint with them. No other brush pack has goodies like this!
You’ll also find completed works in PSD format along with JPEGs of the final designs. This way you can see exactly what these brushes can do, how the artist paints them using layers, and even follow along to create the same artwork yourself.
This does come at a larger price of $30 but for everything you get, I’d say that’s still quite a steal.
On the flip side we have this advanced brush set also designed by Marc.
This one comes with 25 different brushes and they’re designed with far more intricate details. If you already feel comfortable painting your own characters or environments from scratch, then you’ll feel comfortable working with this pack.
There’s something in here for every subject matter from skin brushes to fabrics and general dust/scatter brushes.
But don’t feel like you need a pro level of artistic experience before picking this up. Anyone can work with these brushes and start painting fast; but you’ll need a background in digital painting & general artistic skills to really craft pro-level work.