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Brush Management

Lesson 2 from: Advanced Techniques with Brushes in Photoshop CC

Lisa Carney

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Lesson Info

2. Brush Management

Next Lesson: Brush Options

Lesson Info

Brush Management

I'm gonna begin with the old and the new. So, the most exciting thing for me and the most fantastic thing without question is how you now manage your brushes. So, what that means in Photoshop, is for the first time in forever, you can actually put your brushes in folders. (sings a note) I sing for that because that way you can actually, for example if you look at this graphic, the "old", that is just the beginning of my brushes. I think I had over a gigabyte of brushes. And if you can imagine, you're on a job and you're working and, "Oh, I need that eyelash." Oh, well do you see how many eyelash brushes I have there? I have a gazillion and that's not even all of them. Well, which eyelash? Now, what you can do with Photoshop is you can actually have a folder that's just called "eyelashes". That's it, nothing else, and then you can load it just when you need it. And we're gonna review how to do that and hopefully you'll enjoy that. Seriously, it's the greatest thing ever and there's anot...

her function here that is... (gasps) So fantastic. You can actually export selected brushes. That means, if I'm workin on a job and Ken is gonna do a next piece or wants to do a look that's similar, I can give Ken... one brush... just one, labeled beautifully, you drag and drop it in, it's fantastic. In addition, the viewing is now fantastic for me. You can now view your brushes by brush name, brush stroke, and brush tip. (Lisa gasps) There's a slider, how exciting is that? You can make, I know I'm such a geek, I get so excited you can make your preview large or small as you need it. So, where that's very helpful is when you have your million brushes and you're tryin to sort them out, you can make them small and do it by name and then when you actually need to look for an effect, you can make it huge and see what it's gonna do. And if it's distracting to look at the stroke, you turn the stroke off and just look at its tip. Honestly, it's the best thing ever. Alright, so the other thing that's really great, and this has actually been in existence for a while but I'm not sure people knew. To load brushes, it is so easy to load a brush. I used to have to go through the menu like, okay, brush, import, settings and find the settings and I'm not really good at that kind of thing. Let me get out of this window here. I have a lot of files, let's just call it how it is. A lot of files and it's really sometimes challenging for me to find all my files. I'm just gonna move my windows over here for just a second. Cleanin this up... So, what I now can do, which is the greatest thing ever, is I can manage my brushes by having folders that are just ABR files. So, just these files can be my brushes. So, if I have a specific job, if I'm working on anything in particular, I can title it and look at this, you just drag... And drop it onto your icon for your application and then that will then show up in your brushes. So, when you go to your brushes... Let's take a look at this menu for a minute. (Lisa gasps) Makes a girl really happy. That file I just loaded up, just showed up right there. There are my copier brushes. I have a lot of brushes here right now. This is not even a fourth of the brushes I have, not even. But I can keep it all small and manageable. You can change the titles of your brushes. So, right here you can rename your groups. I call em titles, but you can rename a group to whatever you want it to be. You can also change the name of your brush. Double-click on it, you can change the name of the brush. I'm gonna recommend that as we go along. The brushes that they've given you now, let's keep going here for a minute. In addition, I don't wanna skip this. You can load all your legacy brushes and with the companion handout, it'll give you exact information of how to do that in your brush presets. There's a lot of information here. Really, all you need to know is you just drag the icon onto the PhotoShop icon, but there's some other settings there you can check out. So, here's the great news and the really bad news. The great news is there's over 1200 brushes you can get for free. Oh, (sighs) that's great right, 1200 brushes? But do you remember the analogy we had about the toothpaste dial and there's too many choices? This is what I find happened for me, personally. There are just too many choices. The greatest news about that is you can organize them, rename them... and then put em in folders and get rid of all the other ones and I'm gonna show you how to do that, but I wanna let you know where you get your new brushes. So, what you wanna do in Photoshop... To get more brushes, you click right here on that "Get More Brushes" and that will take you to... This page. I can't open it on-line here for you so you're just gonna have to trust me. It'll take you to a page on Adobe and all of the Kyle Webster brushes will show up for you and you click and download. They're free as long as you're on the CC subscription and you can download any of em. I'm gonna recommend y'all do this and this is what I've done, I have literally downloaded all of them. I do not load all of them. I have downloaded all of them and I put them in a folder. Let's go to my desktop here. And I've put them all in a folder and I load em as I like. Why do I do that? I do that because I don't want to have to go online every time I wanna get these. So, go home, get em, put em in a folder and keep em and then load em as you want. You can always access the web, but imagine you have to access the web to get those, so what if you're working on a project and you're in the woods and those no internet? You can't get those brushes. So, a little bit of advice for ya there. Also, this starts a whole new conversation about brush management. Most people used to keep their brushes in a preset folder, buried in Photoshop. I don't do that. I have, literally on a dropbox or a cloud file, brushes, and all my ABR or my .abr files are stuck in there, so that way I can find em when I need em, all of them, and then when I do a job, I will actually make an ABR file inside a job. The ABR file is the code for a brush. When you save a brush it's called a .abr file and I'm gonna show you that in one second. So, what I'm gonna recommend y'all do is, let's say we're workin on a brush and we make this bubble brush that we think's the most fantastic brush in the world. We wanna save that brush setting, so you're gonna call it whatever you love or want and then you go to the column here to the right. And you're gonna export selected brushes. So, if you guys look up ahead on the screen, what you're gonna see is that brush is highlighted in blue. Do y'all see that? And that's the one brush I have selected and I'm gonna pull that off to the side and I'm gonna say, "Wow, I love this brush." or whatever you want to call it. And just for this demo, I'm gonna put it on the desktop and I'm gonna put save. Now, that brush... Is right here, it's a .abr file. On my desktop, see "Wow, I love this brush"? Now, that was one brush. What if you have a whole bunch of brushes? Alright, I've got toner hell brushes. Those are fantastic; we'll talk about those later. I have the folder... Selected. Okay? So, when you click on the folder and you "Export Selected Brushes". Desktop, call it whatever you want. "No, I mean I love these brushes." Whatever you wanna call em. "They're paying me a million dollars to do this job." Whatever you want to call the brushes, you can call them. Now, those ABR files, that is one brush, that's a bunch of brushes. You're not gonna be able to tell the difference. It's an ABR file, okay? Now, that "toner hell" file, I'm gonna delete it. I'm gonna say something controversial now. I'm gonna suggest, when you start a job, dump every brush you have. (Lisa gasps) Dump all of them; clean your pallet. It's like cleaning your paint pallet. If you've saved everything off... There's no panic, we're cool, no panicking today, not yet. We can panic later. There might be a little panicking later, but now. Alright, so well, which one did I wanna... I wanted the "Wow, I love these brushes". I'm gonna take that icon, drag it to my desktop. Hey, there's a folder called, "Wow, I love these brushes." And there's the polar coordinate one, okay? So, whatever, it looks like I didn't save my copier. Whatever brush you save, oh that's this brush, excuse me. I wanted to load, "No, I mean I love these brushes." I think I'm illustrating that you should really name em a little more specifically. (audience laughs) Now... Having a folder called, "No, I love these brushes", really isn't helpful, is it? No, what you can do is drag that folder up one, up ten, you put it wherever you like, this is so fantastic. There's my "toner hell" brushes happy, loving me. This one folder called, "No, I mean I love these brushes." which does me no good, I just click on the little trash can and it's gone, goodbye. Everything's cool, "Wow, I love this brush." I don't know it, I don't want it. This is a really odd thing for people and in fact, folks I've been talking to in our work flow and I'm saying "Delete your brushes." and they're like (Lisa gasps) "What, wait, what, I can't delete my brushes." Yes, delete all of them and all you have to do is reload em as you need em. Seriously, it's probably the most single-handedly new work flow thing that's changed my life. The other reason is, did I mention 1200 brushes? So, imagine you're doing a watercolor project and you've got Kyle's, what is it, 168 watercolor brushes? It's somethin ridiculous like that, I may even have it written down. Yes, I do, he has 140, not quite as ridiculous as I thought, but fairly ridiculous. 140 different watercolor brushes. On a few of these, I actually just wrote the number out so I could see cause I was like, "Jesus, how many brushes?", 169 concept brushes. Well, I don't know about you but that's a lot of dang scrolling to try to find the brush and with his brushes, which I do wanna reiterate they are exquisite, they're really fantastic, they're all called "Kyle brushes", so this presents a naming problem. So, let me go ahead and show you what I mean by that. I'm gonna open up the ABR files. Excuse me, those ABR files are my files. I'm gonna open up his watercolor files for just a minute. I'm grabbing his brushes by its name and dragging on it to my Photoshop icon, easy peasy lemon squeezy. I go back to Photoshop. And maybe I should drag it right onto the icon, that's a good idea, isn't it? There we go. Alright, here we are in our brushes. Alright, here are his watercolor brushes and I'm seriously telling you they're amazing. Throughout this course, what we're gonna do in the later segments, is we're gonna go through each section like that. Impressionist brushes, the half-tone brushes, the watercolor brushes, the concept brushes, and talk about how they work. Now, while these are amazing brushes, do you see all the names? "Kyle's Real Water", "Kyle's Real Water 80" and I find, for me, this is a little challenging because, okay, great, I know he made them, but I just wanna know which brush it is. So, what I would tend to do for me and just for an ease, I might call em H20 brushes and then leave it by the name of the file. So, as you can see here, I just called that "H20... "Broad Washer Rough". That's all I do. Now, in addition to that, that name... "Broad Washer Rush" might not mean anything to you. You might wanna say, "Oh, it splatters big or it spreads wide.", whatever word actually means the image for you and you're free to rename these. Look, I sing Kyle's praises everyday. I don't need his name on my brushes anymore. Does that make sense? And he's terrific.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Brushes Companion Handout
Adobe Stock Contributor

Ratings and Reviews


Knowledgeable Lisa is the best teacher. She makes learning Photoshop fun. Great course. Lisa has a great teaching style. She mixes in a great speech cadence, great voice up and down and pausing, jokes, and is extremely knowledgeable and fun to watch. Awesome course. Really helpful course for getting my feet wet with brushes.


This is a comprehensive overview of Ps CC Brushes, what they do, how they work and how to control, manage & modify them. I found it extremely useful to learn about the functionality/features that Ps CC brushes can provide even though I'm a photographer and not an illustrator or painter. I will never ever be able to employ everything Lisa explained & demo'd in the class - she covered a wide gamut of info. But she served the purpose, in this class, of being essentially what I'd call an 'idea sparker'. Once you see how she works with brushes and you find out how you can adapt (or create) brush tools to suit your personal artistic style the options for creativity are unlimited. I might re-title this class "Oh the Places Brushes Can Go" (apologies to Dr Seuss and his classic graduation gift book 'Oh, the Places You'll Go...'). Keep in mind a few things about this class (& back away from it and your credit card if you don't note a few key facts...): (1) It is called 'Advanced Techniques' - it is for intermediate to advanced Ps users, not newbies unless you're a child prodigy who picks things up really fast, (2) This is not a 'Paint with Lisa' class - we don't all paint a butterfly like a color by numbers together. Rather we learn about Ps brushes, how they work, what they look like and how to modify them and change their dynamics for different types of artistic/retouching/post-processing uses. Each person will have to experiment - there's no one 'this is it' formula that can be provided, (3) Lisa talks and thinks fast and has a pretty amusing patter too (she's clearly very intelligent!) - so be prepared to hit the Pause button. She repeatedly advises during the class, don't overload your brain with all there is to absorb with regard to Ps Brushes. Take breaks to try the info she shares & see what works for you before going on to a different section of the class. Don't buy this class thinking you'll whizz through it in 15 minutes & figure out how to complete a job you've committed to deliver in 2 hours, (4) There's a large packet of material that comes with a purchase of the class (descriptions, definitions, brush settings, drawing examples, etc.). Item #4 is the only thing I'd ding this class on. While the handout material contains lots of really really useful info it is - sadly - microscopic print. The text is exceedingly difficult for my poor old eyes to read. I value that there's plenty of white space on the pages to write notes as Lisa talks - I've done so prodigiously. But the print in that accompanying brushes class guide needs to be larger. I honestly wish I could enlarge the print in some way (unless it is a PDF that I can alter & I haven't figured it out). If there is a way to re-print with larger type font sizes someone please let me know! Bottom line: I highly recommend this class to more advanced Ps users who want a comprehensive overview of Brushes and working with them. It's definitely not a class for someone who wants a linear, step x step, "do this then do that" type of recipe class. As I've noted above, it's best as a way to learn about richly varied Ps tools you may have only had superficial exposure to previously; and get enough new knowledge to make you dangerous (and, dare I say it, boldly creative!).

Skye Taten

Lisa is the BEST teacher!!!!! Everyone should take this class!!!!!!! This class is utterly phenomenal!!!! Lisa is so knowledgable and so very talented. She is incredibly smart, super funny and so very helpful. This class contains so much valuable information, and at this price it's a complete steal. This class has forever changed my life!!! I'm so happy to have a new skill set. Thank you Lisa from the bottom of all of our hearts you are completely incredible and have touched all of our editing in photoshop lives forever!!!!! You are so very talented thank you so much for sharing your incredible skills and knowledge with us, you are a true beautiful talented soul. xoxo, Skye

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