Free Photoshop Pencil Brushes

I do all my artwork from start to finish in Photoshop. It’s a very powerful program and overall I enjoy using it. But I’ve never been thrilled with Photoshop’s brushes.

There’s nothing in Photoshop that does a good job simulating the look and feel of a real-world graphite pencil. Painter and Sketchbook Pro are have pretty good pencil brushes, but I’m so used to Photoshop that I don’t really want to go to the trouble and expense of learning a new program. Instead, to simulate pencil I’ve been using the standard hard-brush tool in Photoshop with the opacity set to 30%. That way I get a thin gray line that I can build up with pressure and crosshatching. For rough sketching it gets the job done but it’s really not the same thing. The results are satisfactory at best.

pencil  brushes

Then I discovered these Photoshop brushes (Nagel Series 33) from Dave Nagel at that do a pretty good job of simulating graphite and chalk. I’ve only had a little time to play around with them and have yet to try them on a client project, but so far I really like them. It’s a huge improvement over anything that comes standard with Photoshop. My favorite is an 11-point brush called NagelSeries33-CharcoalPencil1. I used it to sketch the doodle up above. The texture looks like a lot like graphite, and you can get a nice range of dark-to-light simply by pressing harder with the Wacom stylus. I think I’ll be using it a lot.

And best of all, the brushes are free. You can download the brushes and get instructions on how to install them here.