How to set up your Photoshop document and brush presets to illustrate using a tablet

By Kieran Hunter

A lot of people view some of my earlier illustrations on YouTube and wonder how I set up my document. This is your starting point and it's important to get your brush presets right.

Here are the settings for the document.

Photoshop document set up for illustration

My Photoshop document set-up Im showing you on Photoshop CC but this relates to all version of Photoshop. My document is usually something this size:

  • Width - 40inch (Maximum)
  • Height - 40inch (Maximum)

If your computer can't handle the size and starts lagging, then make the document size smaller, it really doesn't need to be this large it can be any size you want. I only make my documents huge encase I feel like printing it large scale afterwards. Resolution is an easy one, 72 Pixels/Inch for the web, and 300 Pixels/Inch for printing. Of course the 300 DPI will increase your overall document size by a lot. Colour mode, again it depends if you're going to be printing or not, RGB for the web, CMKY for printing. The rest I never change.

Setting up your brush

I only use one type of brush, the standard circle brush. I draw a lot of line work, I don't really tend to paint, for painting you want to use a program such as Coral Painter 12.

The brush I use for my illustrations.

Photoshop brush for illustrations

Brush Settings

The most important thing to do when using your tablet is to enable pen pressure, (getting the brush to react with your tablets pen, as you press down). This gives you different thicknesses and makes the strokes realistic. Go to Window > Brush and then choose shape dynamics, make sure control is set to pen pressure.

Photoshop brush shape dynamics for illustration

Go to window > brush, to change the settings. There are a load of other settings here to give you different effects but I haven't experimented with these yet.

Choose shape dynamics and then make sure control is set to 'pen pressure' Your document should now be ready to start illustrating. Remember if your brush is lagging when you draw, drop the document size down to 20 inches or even smaller. Any questions, don't forget to ask.

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