Featured image of custom Pixia brushes

Custom Pixia Brushes: Make, Edit, Prepare, Save, Use!

This article is copyrighted (c) to Christina Roberts. All rights reserved.

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In this tutorial post, I’m going to show you how to make custom Pixia brushes from a brush base, how to adjust the colors right, how to save, and how to import your custom brushes. The primary reasons you may want to make and use custom brushes to extend the capability of Pixia and change the dynamics of your pieces. With custom brushes, you’ll be able to add texturing and depth that you may not be able to with regular, round brushes.

Shorter Video Tutorial

Make And Import Your Custom Pixia Brushes Base Image

Image of a smudge brush base
Sample scan of 10 smudgy brush bases made with 6B pencil, eraser, and thumb.

To make our custom Pixia brushes, we need to first create the master file (the “base” file). This is an organic process. I tend to use analog tools and traditional photocopy paper when I make my brush bases. I like to make smudges, grunge, ink blots, and any other artistic-type effect I can think of. Quite a few people are more comfortable creating brushes in a digital space. Any way you like to do it will work well!

If you used regular paper, scan your brush base and open it in Pixia. I have a fresh scan here of 10 smudgy brushes I just made. Because I like to paint big pieces, I want big brushes. I advise you to always save your brushes at their full scanned size. Pixia loads brushes at 100% size and has a great size scale feature. You can scale the brushes down or up anytime in Pixia! No need to make a separate brush for each size you want.

Prepare Your Custom Pixia Brushes Base Image

After we’ve imported our brush base image, we need to adjust the brightness, contrast, and vividness (saturation). Go to Image > Color and Contrast. Always consider how light or dark you want your custom Pixia brushes to be. Too dark may make your brushes too heavy; too light may make them too light to work well on the canvas. Use your best judgment.

Pixia's Brightness and Contrast scale
Pixia’s Brightness and Contrast scale

After adjusting the brightness and contrast, go to Menu > Color Balance and slide only the Vividness (saturation) scale all the way left to -40. This essentially makes your base grayscale. Grayscale is best, as it ensures your brushes adapt best to whatever color swatch you use on your canvas.

Pixia's Color Balance scale
Pixia’s Color Balance scale

At this point, save your base file if you like. It’s always best to keep a full size copy in case you want to make brushes for other programs.

Crop, Fix, and Save Your Custom Pixia Brushes Tips

Now we’ll break up the base file into individual pieces (brush tips). My brush file contains a 10 cropped smudge brushes, as Pixia currently limits a brush set to 10 brushes. Select the Selection Square tool.

Pixia's Square Selection Tool

Pixia's Trimming or Crop option

Select the piece you want to separate out from the base image. Right-click and select Trimming (Crop, Cut Out). Pixia will copy the selection as a new file. Do the same thing for all the other pieces.

Depending on your brush base, you may need to touch up the base pieces. I need to for mine. When I scanned my base file, little bits of black dirt and flecks came with it. These smudge brushes aren’t meant to be perfect, but I do want to remove a few of the blacker spots on them. To do so, I use a small, soft brush on low opacity with white and paint around the edges of the bases where I think it’s needed; or I use a very small brush on low density with white to gray out some of the black flecks. You can also copy a lighter part of your brush, paste it over the area you want to remove, and softly erase around your copied layer to help it blend into the overall brush. Use your best judgment based on your brushes.

I export each brush base to a custom folder I made in pendata. Each brush should be a Bitmap (BMP) image.

  • For Pixia 64-bit, save custom Pixia brushes to C:\Program Files\Pixia64\pendata\YOUR CUSTOM FOLDER
  • For Pixia 23-bit, save custom Pixia brushes to C:\Program Files (x86)\Pixia ver. 6\pendata\YOUR CUSTOM FOLDER
Pixia's Brushes Panel
Pixia’s Brushes Panel showing my new, custom Smudge brushes

When you’re all done, close Pixia and reopen. Go to the Brushes Panel and find your new folder with your new brushes.

  • Smudge The name you gave your new brushes folder in \pendata\
  • 100% The max size of the brush. Click 100% to dynamically size the brush up or down
  • Down Arrow Click this icon to change the set of brushes you want to use
  • Flip Horizontal Arroa Click this icon to flip your selected brush left or right
  • Flip Vertical Arrow  Click this icon to flip your selected brush up or down
  • Edit Brushes Button Click this Edit button to open your selected brush in Pixia for live editing

Now let’s check out the brushes! I’ll use my character Valentine just to demonstrate. By using low Density (low opacity), flipping the brushes, and even using selective smudging, I can darken his skin and give him a dirty, almost beat up look, instead of that smooth, shaded look. Rather fascinating dynamics at play! I can see a lot of potential for these brushes already! I might use them to add texturing to clothing, to building walls, or even to paint tree branches. And, as they’re pretty large, I can use them well for my big pieces, too!

Sample picture using Smudge brushes for dirty shading
Unfinished Valentine face shaded with my new Smudge brushes.

In Summary

That’s pretty much it! Pixia comes with some nice default brushes. The program also has a wonderful dynamic brush scale and softness/hardness feature. But making your own custom Pixia brushes will enhance the creativity, options, and depth of your pieces. Sometimes, there’s effects you can’t achieve with default brushes. I hope you found this tutorial helpful and will be able to make a lot of your own custom Pixia brushes too. Please let me know what you thought!

Download the Brushes!

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