The Internet is filled with mad amounts of free Photoshop brushes and I’m obsessed with downloading them and stirring up my Photoshop designs. Not only do they let me mix it up, but they help me out when I’m in a crunch. When a client wants some kind of jazzy flyer ASAP, I’d rather deliver them a good product and rake in the cash over turning down the job or giving them crap. Well, having a massive, organized Photoshop brush library helps me out in that department, too.
Notice I said, ORGANIZED. Yes, Photoshop brush organization will really help your workflow process.
First of all, where do you find free Photoshop brushes?
Downloading cool Photoshop brushes for free is easy. You just need to find a good website that gives them away and start browsing. Google “free photoshop brushes” and you’ll find several. If you’re looking for a specific kind of brush, Google that. For example, search for “grunge photoshop brushes” or “paint splatter photoshop brushes”.
My favorite Photoshop brush website is Brusheezy.
Oops! I just got sidetracked again… and downloaded a few more brushes while I was testing the Brusheezy link. Okay! Back to the blog here…
How do you install a Photoshop brush?
There are a couple ways to install a brush and use it in Photoshop. The lazy way if you’re in a hurry is just to download the brush file. The brush will be in the form of a .abr file. A lot of the times you will download the brush file that is in a ZIP package. So unzip the the ZIP file and open the .abr file with Photoshop. The brushes will appear in the brushes window when you select the Brush Tool (B). Easy, right?
The problem with that is you’ll tend to lose your brushes. If you’ve found a really cool Photoshop brush, you may not be able to find it next time you have the thought, “I should use that awesome grungy floral dog bone brush I used that last time. Wait, where the hell is it?!”
So to avoid this, put the Photoshop brush in the proper place on your computer’s hard drive. On a PC, you need to but the .abr file in Program Files > Adobe Photoshop > Presets > Brushes.
On a Mac, it’s essentially the same. Go to your Applications folder and put the.abr file in Adobe Photoshop > Presets > Brushes.
This way they’ll show up in Photoshop when you’re in the brushes window and you want to select a brush.
How do you organize your Photoshop brushes?
Okay, so if you’re like me, you’ll eventually bulk up your collection with a bunch of random brushes you like and want to keep. The problem is that when you select one in Photoshop they’re all in random order with random names and you end up selecting random ones until you find one that “will work.”
So first of all, in your Presets > Brushes folder, whatever the file is named is what will show up in Photoshop. So, for example, “johnnys_wicked_cool_paint_splatter_brush.abr” will show up as johnnys_wicked_cool_paint_splatter_brush in Photoshop. People that make brushes always give them funky names and then you end up seeing all this messiness when you’re in Photoshop.
So change the filename to something simple, clean and obvious. I like to name all of my Photoshop brushes with some sort of category name first. Photoshop automatically alphabetizes the names, so this makes it super easy to find the brushes.
Remember that any changes you make to files on your hard drive won’t show up in Photoshop until you restart Photoshop!
Here is an example of how I would name some of my Photoshop brushes:
Paint 01 (splatter).abr
Paint 02 (brushed).abr
Paint 03 (artist board).abr
Paint 04 (splatter).abr
Paint 05 (angry painter).abr
That way everything looks very clean in Photoshop and it’s easy to find the brushes you want when you want them.