With Inktober, Blacktober, and countless other October drawing challenges (like ours!) in full swing, it’s time to talk about ink brush choice. A common question we see is whether Inktober and its like are able to be done digitally. As we covered in our Inktober article, the answer is (drumroll): yes!
But deciding to render an image digitally is just the beginning. Every digital art program includes at least a dozen brushes across a few mediums, and there are thousands of sites where you can download new brush files. How do you choose?
If you’re doing a challenge besides Inktober, medium – and therefore, digital brush – may not matter to you! But if you’ve ever tried to replicate the look of a traditional medium with your digital art, you know can’t just use any digital art brush, especially if you’re trying to imitate that incredibly rich effect that comes from physical pen-and-ink brushes.
Finding the Perfect Tools for Digital Inking
If you’re here via google search, you’ve probably noticed that while there are many beautiful oil paint brushes, watercolor brushes, and even ink-splotches, for whatever reason styles that mimic traditional ink brushes are a bit rarer!
So, we combed through a bunch of listicles, Reddit threads, and deviant art searches to produce this list of best digital brushes that look like real ink.
They’re organized into the following categories, so you can skip to the most relevant section to you if you just wanna get to the good stuff:
Photoshop Inking Brushes
Flaptraps Art Brushes 1.0 ($9.95)
These custom-made ABR brushes are accompanied by a brief tutorial from the creator on his thought process during their creation. There is also a professional license available for $19.95
Camelhair Brushes ($2.00)
This is a 16-pack of brushes with various styles and strokes designed for Photoshop. It’s compatible with everything beyond Photoshop CS5 – though it may (not guaranteed) be compatible with previous versions. The price is for standard use only.
This collection of digital art brushes is designed for Photoshop and is compatible with PS CS2 and beyond.
The brushes Aaron Griffin uses to create his stunning art are all contained in this pack
This Photoshop brush pack is entirely free for use and contains 44 brushes to recreate your favorite India and inked looks.
This is perhaps the best deal on this whole list, as this particular pack contains 192 brushes for Photoshop CC.
3 Ink Brushes for Photoshop (FREE)
The first brush mimics a fully-loaded traditional ink brush, the second is closer to an ink pen, and the last is similar to a dry brush used in Chinese inking.
As the name implies, this brush pack contains 84 ink drawing brushes for Photoshop.
Clip Studio Assets for Digital Inking
Those who have Clip Studio (hopefully!) already know this, but once you’ve purchased the software, you have access to the asset marketplace, which has assets of all types – many for free, so you can experiment with styles. The marketplace is huge and always updating; as such, it felt only fair to highlight several excellent digital art brushes for inking in Clip Studio. Here they are, in no particular order – enjoy!
- Soft Liner Pen via HelpArtists
- Freehand Drawing via 摩耶薫子
- Various Character Pens via ×ェ×
- Ink Pens via 檸檬22
- Carl Brush via Katrinci
- Real Ink 2 via Horie407
- Kut Brush via spriggiestuff
- Square Pen via mistymoor
- Frenden’s 800+ Clip Studio Brushes via Frenden
- *Note that this pack costs $14.99, but let’s be honest – it’s 800 brushes.
Procreate Inking Brushes
Finally, we have a single excellent Procreate inking brush. Procreate is the newest of these programs, so understandably has fewer options to pick from at the moment. That’s not to say that there aren’t many other great procreate brushes out there, there are, but we wanted to highlight instead that (most) Photoshop brushes can be ported into Procreate! (Skip down to #4 right here in the below section for a video guide on how to do so.)
You should still feel free to check out this awesome set of brushes designed specifically for Procreate, but there’s no need to recreate the wheel if you already have a collection of brushes you like.
Procreate Sumi Brushes (€5.31 (or $5.15))
This pack contains 16 Procreate inking brushes with a wide range of weights and clarity.
Create Your Own Digital Inking Brushes
If you’re tired of using other people’s brushes or just can’t find that perfect look, creating your own brush is pretty simple. (Okay, maybe not simple, per se, but it’s entirely doable – we believe in you.)
Here are three super handy guides to creating various brushes, plus the guide we mentioned above:
- How to Create an Ink Brush in Photoshop via Envato Tuts+
- Making Custom Brushes in ClipStudioPaint via Liber Art Online by Jon Torres
- How to Make the Best Inking Brushes via Lucas Peinador
- How To Import Photoshop Brushes Into Procreate 5 via Ghost Paper
Each has its own bits of wisdom, but no matter which you choose to use (or maybe all of them), you’ll be creating your own custom digital art brushes in no time.
Now that you have the tools, it’s time to put them to use! Be sure to check out #inktober, #drawtober, or #co2ignartchallenge to show off your newly-inked work and share it with the digital art community!