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Custom Brushes in Photoshop - getting started

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Date Added: 9th December 2009
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Using a brush set

1. Edit and save

So far, you've saved your brush in your basic set (it appears by the end of your standard brush listing). To get a little more control over it and to save a whole set you can use something called "The Preset Manager". Access it by going to "Edit/Preset Manager..." in the menu. In this new window, you can manage, rename, save and load your brushes (as well as other things in Photoshop, like patterns or gradient). Make sure you have "Preset Type" set to "brushes". You will see a complete list of your current ones. Rename any you think aren't right, and then select the new custom brushes you've made (only yours, not the rest of them). Click "Save Set..." and choose what to name it and where to put it. Photoshop will create an ".abr" file which contains your selected brushes. This way, you can create a set for a specific type of texture, a set of traditional art brushes, one for patterns or effects etc. And, the good thing is, you can move it between computers, or share the sets with your friends or colleagues.

Note: Creating sets in Photoshop CS and then trying to load them in Photoshop 7 won't work. I Haven't found a converter for it either, but if you know a way around this, let me know. The hard way is to check the CS brush' settings and then recreate it in version 7.

2. Loading brushes

When you want to load your sets, enter the menu for the brush tool. I will go through the most important choices in this menu:

Reset Brushes - This will replace all the brushes you have with the standard set. You will get a dialogue box asking if you want to "append" (the default set will be added after your current set) or simply just replace it (all your custom brushes will then be GONE so don't do it if you haven't saved your brush set!)

Load Brushes - Here you load you custom brushes into the standard list. They will be added after the standard brushes. This choice is what I recommend when you load your own brushes.

Save Brushes - Will save all available brushes (just like you did in the "Preset Manager" with the difference that here it will save them all, not just the selected ones).

Replace Brushes - This is the other way of loading your brush set. All your current brushes in the list will be deleted and the set you load will be the only choice you have. Good if you have a special set with a couple of standard brushes together with a bunch of texture brushes, and you don't want Photoshops long default list clogging up your workspace.

That's it!
Now you have two pattern brushes if you ever need a bumpy surface, you know the difference between a custom shape brush and a texture brush and you know how to manage your sets.

This might have given you some additional ideas of how you can use custom brushes, and hopefully a whole lot of ideas on brushes you'd like to create for your own.

Good luck with the creative process!


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