Tutorial – Digital Brushes how-to

Good Tuesday to all of my friends out there! Yes, that means YOU! I’m back with another tutorial that is SO fun and will open up your creative world! I’m talking about DIGITAL BRUSHES!! I’m here to walk you through the process of loading them into Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements) and start using them on your projects!

The first thing you need to do is download some digital brushes! There are SO many places online where you can download digital brushes. Most of them cost – and rightly so, after all – the designers need to make some casholla! My personal favorites are, of course, House of 3 – they offer SO many gorgeous brushes in so many styles. I love all of them. I also like Designer Digitals and Two Peas In A Bucket. In fact, a two peas, you can find some FREE brushes to try out HERE. Take a look!

Seriously, though, you can probably be online for HOURS looking at all of the crazy beautiful digital brushes out there. Different sites may work differently, but for most, you click on the link and a screen will pop up asking you to “Save File” or something similar. For our example today, I want you to walk along with me right from the download step. So, let’s go to Photoshop Brushes dot com to download some free brushes. I liked their floral brushes, so we’re going to download these one. CLICK HERE to go there.

 1. Click here to download your brushes.

2. When this screen pops up, click “Save” and OK. This will download your zipped folder. It will look like a file folder with a zipper up the side. When I click “OK”, it saves the folder to my “downloads” folder on my computer. This might be different on yours.

3. Find your zipped folder. I opened up “Downloads” on my computer and found the zipped folder right here.

4. I need to “unzip” the folder to get my brush files out. If you right click on the zipped file, you will see something like “unzip” or “extract all” or something like that. Click on that to unzip your folder.

5.Now you can choose where you want to save your brushes. You will save the folder somewhere on your computer (desktop, or documents, or a special ‘scrapbooking’ file you’ve created….wherever you know you’ll find it again!).Have I lost you yet?

6. Now you can open Photoshop. We have to open the program to LOAD the brush. A brush file is different than a PNG file or a JPEG. It can’t be viewed like a picture or an image. This kind of file needs to be loaded into Photoshop before you can use it. So, open up Photoshop and we’ll get to the fun part!

7. Once Photoshop is open, we can load your brush. To the left on your tools palette, click on the brush tool. Then, click on the little downward facing arrow to the right of the brush size at the top of the screen.

8. Now you will see a little arrow facing toward the right. Click on that and a drop down menu will appear. Find where it says “Load Brushes” and click.

9. A Screen will pop up and you’ll need to go to the location on your computer where you saved your brush back in step 5! You will be looking for a file that ends in .abr. That is the file extention for brushes! Click on the brush file and click LOAD. That is going to load your new brush into the brush library in Photoshop!

10. Here is where you can now find your new brushes loaded into your brush library. They will usually load at the bottom of your brush screen. Check it out! It’s in there!

11. PLAY TIME!! Okay, if you are new to digital brushes, this may take a second to wrap your mind around this. You may want to think of digi brushes like you would a physical paint brush. They can be used that way, but they are MORE like a digital STAMP. It is an image you can STAMP onto your digital documents/images/photos. So, to play around with these brushes, we are going to create a new 4X6 document to play on. Click Ctrl+N to make a new blank document ( you can size it however you want to, but I’ll be sizing it as a 4X6).

12. Click on your brush tool on your tools palette, then click at the top to the right of the brush size to reveal your drop down menu of brushes. Scroll to the bottom to find your gorgeous flower brushes, and click once on one of the images that you like. At the top you can adjust the sliders to change the size of the image.

13. Now move your mouse over the blank document and let it hover (meaning, don’t click yet). You’ll be able to see a black and white outline of your brush shape. This will give you an idea of how big the image will look on your document. Is it too small? Just use your left and right bracket keys ( [ and ] ) to make the image larger or smaller ( you can also resize on the brush menu using the slider). When it is a good size, click once. Your image will appear on your document! Voila! Just like a stamp.

14. Now you know the basics of digital brushes. There are a few more tips I’d like to share, though, to make things easier and give you more creative control!

Making new layers for each brush: It helps to create a new layer before you click your image. That way you can resize or delete your image after you’ve stamped it. This can totally save you when working on things like photos, etc. So, before you stamp a brush on, simply click on that little dog earred square on the bottom of the layers palette. It’s an easy step that will save you headaches!

Choose your own color:  Unlike stamping, you aren’t limited by the number of ink pads you own! You literally have any color in the rainbow to use. How? Simply select ANY color of the rainbow as your foreground color before you stamp (do you remember how to do that?). Nice!

Play with Opacities: By playing with the opacity of the brush or the layer you created the brush on, you can get so many fun looks!

 And now you can create SO MANY fun things, from cards, to tags, to embellishing photos, to invites, to your own patterned paper! Endless amounts of fun to be had 🙂

I hope this helped your understand brushes a little better. If I didn’t explain something clearly please let me know. It’s hard to know what YOU already know and what you are interested in learning more about. Let me see YOUR brush creations – I want to know if it’s helping you!

4 thoughts on “Tutorial – Digital Brushes how-to

  1. Thanks! I already knew how to get brushes and load them but I don't use them much because I didn't know how to re-size/re-color 🙂 seems so simple I don't know how I didn't stumble across it before! haha


  2. I also figured out how to do brushes all on my own several months ago. I wish I had your tutorial before I struggled through things on my own. You are really good at explaining it all so simply. Please keep it up.


  3. Omg this is a great tutorial! You made it seem so simple. Thankk you so much for all the effort and the sharing. People like make life so easy. Thank you again!


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