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Saturday, December 11, 2010

Photoshop Tip: How to create a customized signature brush

As you know, it is important to sign your artwork with a copyright symbol in order to protect it. But the signature is often lost when art is manipulate in Photoshop while creating patterns and derivatives of the art. Of course, a copyright symbol and artist name can be typed and placed on the art but I think it is better to use your own unique signature. One method to do that is to write your signature in a Photoshop file and create a brush of it. A signature brush can be easily reused, re-sized, the color changed, and can be placed anywhere on the image. Below are instructions on how to create your own signature brush in Photoshop.

Image at the right shows the location of some of the commands used in the following instructions.

Create Signature Brush
1. Open a new PS file that is 2500 by about 800 pixels at 300dpi. 2500 by 2500 pixels is the maximum size allowed for a brush. Note: Any size can be used but I chose the largest allowable size so that the signature will be sharp for large paintings.
2. The background layer should be white so that the signature in the above layer really stands out.
3. Create a new layer but do not fill it in with a color. The layer needs to be transparent except for the written signature.
4. Write your signature in black with the Brush Tool. Any brush and thickness size can be used. I used the hard round brush at 25 pixels. Note: It is easier to write your signature with a Wacom pen tablet than with the mouse. Although, I used a mouse for my signature but had to edit it to make it look better.
5. If the signature is too small, enlarge it by selecting it with the Marquee Tool and dragging the window handles after pressing the command key plus the letter T.
6. Use marquee tool to select the entire signature
7. Go to Edit / Define Brush Preset. In the brush name window that opened, name the brush (example: signature brush) and click OK.

Note: For information on creating the copyright symbol © and adding it to your signature for your brush, go to the comment section of this article and checkout my reply to Marci's question.

Test Signature Brush
1. Open a new document to test your new signature brush. Any file size will do.
2. Select the brush tool (located in side panel) and click on the newly created signature brush in the pop-up Brush Preset picker located in the brush option bar (at the top of the page).
3. Choose the color you wish for the signature brush. Make sure that opacity and flow in the brush option bar is 100% or the color saturation in the signature brush will be reduced. In other words, if the flow is set at 50%, the signature would be gray instead of black.
4. Open a new layer and click once to place the signature on the page. By placing it on a separate layer, the signature can easily be edited.

• If the signature is too large, reduce it with the left bracket "[" key. The right bracket "]" key enlarges the brush size.
• The signature size can also be changed in the Brush panel by using the size slider. The brush panel can be opened or closed with the toggle icon in the brush optionbar or by opening it with Window / Brush option (F5).
• The signature can be rotated by using the Free Transform command (command key plus the letter T) or can be warped by using the transform warp command (Edit / Transform / Warp). Warping the signature would be handy when placing it along the edge of a round piece of art or a circular product mock-up.
• The color of the signature can be altered by using the hue/saturation adjustment command (command key plus the letter U) or the curves command (command key plus the letter M).

I welcome any comments or suggestions. Please write them in the comment section below.


  1. Thanks Joan for this great the saying goes "you learn something new everyday".

    Andy Mars

  2. Joan, thanks so much for this great tip. Creating a signature this way sounds a bit easier than the way I currently create my signatures using a mix of Illustrator and Photoshop. I'll give it a try.

    Your blog always has such useful information. I appreciate your sharing your knowledge with us.

  3. Thanks so much Joan. Do you have a favorite copyright symbol to include with this brush?

  4. Hi Marci,
    Of course any font style will do or create your own © copyright symbol. I tend to use the Palatino font a lot in my e-mails so I used it for my signature font. In case you don't know how to get the copyright symbol for fonts, press option key plus the letter G key (PC = alt + G). Then rasterize the symbol (Layer / Rasterize / Type), select that layer and the layer the signature is on, and merge (command + E)the two layers. And then create your signature brush. Joan

  5. was the rasterizing step that I was missing. You are a gem!

  6. Helpful article!!! Thanks for sharing.

  7. Thanks so much for this tip (I found it by following a link from Kate Harper's blog). I like to put cartoon type illustrations in some of my blog posts and trying to get the signature to look the same in all of them is always the hardest - and most time-consuming part!