Photoshop Friday! 2007 #31 Saving brushes and brush sets

This is a continuation of last week’s tutorial on creating brushes from dingbats. This week, I’ll show you how to save off brushes and brush sets (.png images, too!), and then next week we’ll go about organizing them for quick finding and loading later. :)

Saving Brushes and Brush Sets 

The key thing to remember about saving brushes is that Photoshop will save everything you have in your brush selector dropdown as a brush set, no questions asked. Kind of annoying if you ask me, but nobody did, so there it is. :P What this means for us is that we must delete the brushes that are in the brush selector, leaving only our new brushes, in order to save them as a set.

In Photoshop Elements 5, I like to start with a small brush set, like “Thick Heavy Brushes”, which only has 5 brushes to delete before we save our set. Let’s get started making and saving our very own brush sets. :)

1. Select your Brush tool (b).

2. Drop down the brush selector in the Options Bar at the top of your screen.

3. In Photoshop Elements, you’ll see a dropdown box with the various predefined brush sets in it. Select Thick Heavy Brushes from the dropdown.

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NOTE: In PSCS/CS2/CS3, you’ll need to click the small arrow button and select Thick Heavy Brushes from the flyout menu (remember to click OK rather than Append).

4. Now type, draw, import, scan, or otherwise create an image, then create the brush from it (Tutorial on this from last week is here) .

When you drop down the brush selector after creating your brush, your new brush is at the end of the list. Now it’s time to clean out the brushes we don’t want.

5. Drop down the brush selector in the Options Bar.

6. Right-click on one of the brush thumbnails and choose Delete. Click OK in the following dialog box.

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7. Repeat step 6 for all the remaining brushes in the list, except the one(s) you want to save into your brush set.

You can add more brushes to your set before saving, simply by creating more new brushes at this time.

Saving a Brush or Brush Set

When you’ve got all the brushes you’d like in your brush list, saving them is easy. :)

1. With the Brush tool selected, drop down the brush selector in the Options Bar.

2. Click the little arrow button to the right of the dropdown panel.

3. Choose Save Brushes from the flyout menu.

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4. Navigate to a place on your system where you’d like to store your brush set, and give it a name. 

5. Click OK.

Now you have a portable, installable .abr file, all ready to go!

Issues, Caveats, Tips, Warnings

  • Now you can install only the brushes you need at any given time, and you always know where your sets are. Right? Well, we’ll talk about more tips for organizing brushes next week. ;)
  • Sometimes brush sets have compatibility issues, even among Photoshop versions. I haven’ t had a problem installing any brush set I’ve made yet, but I’ve heard of it happening - and it’s usually with older versions of Photoshop trying to install brushes created with newer versions. Anyone with more info on this, feel free to post in the comments and I’ll update.
  •  Please don’t forget that images that are part of fonts or other image sets, even if they were free, are still copyrighted to their owner/creator. Simply making a brush out of them doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re free to distribute, give, or sell those brushes without permission. But if it’s for your own personal use, or you’re using copyright-free material, then the sky’s the limit! :D

Next week we’ll talk about organizing all those pesky .abr files. :) (HINT: don’t throw away the .png files that come with your brush sets…)


Have a super, Phabulous Photoshop Phriday, and a great weekend! 


Jessica Sprague7 Comments