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Stamp Brushes

Lesson 5 from: Advanced Techniques with Brushes in Photoshop CC

Lisa Carney

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Lesson Info

5. Stamp Brushes

Next Lesson: Concept Brushes

Lesson Info

Stamp Brushes

We're gonna talk about stamp brushes, now. Now, I have categorized brushes in different, I kind of call them stories. And this is not professional, this is not law, this is just what I do so I understand what I'm looking at or talking about. So a stamp brush, for me, is literally you use it once. You're not dragging across your canvas, you're stamping it like a potato stamp. So I'm gonna show you some art on that. And I keep throwing these in, because I just want you to see how many crazy-ass brushes I have. Again, I try to put them away so no one sees, it's like cleaning up your closet, or your living room and everything is shoved in the closet. So stamp brushes, what is a stamp brush? For me, a stamp brush is like eyelashes, eyebrows, trees, filigree, frames. And I'm gonna do some stamp brush art just to kind of walk you through a sample of what kind of stuff you can make. Now there are concept brushes and stamp brushes. We're gonna talk about that. And some people use these intercha...

ngeably. I just want to be really clear that when you're out in Internet-land, and some folks call a concept brush, and they mean it as a stamp brush, that's okay. This is just my way of doing it. So let me open this real quick. I was looking at some old photos, as you do. Oh, come on, sweetie. There you go, thank you. I was looking at some old photos, and i just think they're really interesting how they have stains and scratches and whatnot. And I was using that kind of as inspiration to look at doing editorial art. So I'm gonna talk to you a little bit about this process for stamp art. Ooh, and I have something called Layered zero, not good. I'm gonna dissect it for a second, and we can take a look at the brushes. So I've got some paper. I like to use old, torn paper for things. And then I will often do a little bit of color correcting, to lighten or darken it. And then I did some swirls. So I have some brushes, let's go here for a second. Do you remember I said I like to save my ABR files? I like to save them out in a folder so I can find them later. I am going to tell you the hell that I went through doing this last six months of doing all this artwork and not pulling out my brushes into separate folders. And then later, I was looking for them, like, oh, I'd like to show people where I got, oh, I want to re-create that. And I was like, where is that filigree brush? Oh, dear God, because I was looking through 1,000 brushes. So now, as a rule, I put all the brushes into a folder. Now let me be clear, not only do I put the brushes in a folder, I tend to put the brushes where I got them from. And what I mean by that is I just loaded, by dragging the ABR file onto a folder, I just loaded a whole set of filigree brushes. Let me see if it will let me scroll down. It's not gonna let me, so let me move over here. There we go, now it'll let me scroll. All right, are you feeling the pain just a little bit just right now? Look at this. Do you remember I loaded the watercolor to show you? Get rid of it, clean your house. Okay, I loaded that copier to show you. I'm gonna still show you that, let's leave that. All right, so now I have these filigree brushes that I got off online, and I think they are absolutely lovely. And I have this, I'm gonna turn the brush settings on. We're gonna do a lot of time in the brush settings, don't hate me. You know you love me. I'm turning the spacing off. Ooh, look how pretty that is. So now I'm gonna go to my swirls, and I'm gonna make a new, let's try this. And I'm gonna pick black as my color. Now, this is a really good time to talk about brush resolution, brush size in your document. Whenever possible, you want to have your brushes huge. So I make brushes, I buy brushes that are huge, so that I can use them on any size file I want. These brushes are resolution dependent. That means the pixel size that they are made at matters. And if you res them up or down, they're gonna get softer. So I always make brushes huge so that I can go down. I'm using my brackets to reduce the brush size. I'm using the brackets to reduce the brush size. You can also slide up your brushes here. I'm not a numbers gal, so for me, if something says 200 pixels versus 33, it means nothing to me, because my files sizes change so much. So I like to use my brackets. And I'm just gonna stab once. I'm gonna turn that swirl off. I'm just gonna click once. I've made my swirl. Now, with stamp art, I think, folks, myself included, will spend a lot of time trying to oh, rotate them exactly right before you stamp. I gotta tell you, I'm not into that. I'd rather just stamp it on the piece and then do Cmd + T, and then rotate it there. That's the beauty of a stamp brush, you don't have to set the brush up exactly right, and now you can play with it however you want. Now what I have gotten better at, in recent time, is I will now, follow me here, guys, follow me here. I'm gonna click on my brush. I'm gonna not click on that window, I'm gonna click on this window instead. I'm gonna click my brushes here. Do you notice? I want to point this out, this is kind of an annoying thing for me personally. If you click on your brushes here, it'll take you to the brush setting in this window where you're at. If you click here, it takes you to your general brushes. So I want to be on this one. Do you see how this is highlighted, right here? Do you remember I turned that spacing off? That doesn't look like the spacing's off. You know why? Because the minute you change your brush, you've made a new brush. So I changed the spacing, I never saved it. So every time I go to this brush, it's gonna have the spacing on, unless I click on Add a New Brush and call it Flourish no spacing. Now this is a minor, minor, minor change, minor change. There are major changes coming. So I'm just doing this to illustrate. So if I choose to not change the spacing, or change it and save it, I'm gonna save this brush and I'm gonna delete the other one, now. Because otherwise every time I open it, I gotta do it. And who's gonna use a flourish spaced, right? Now, I have this brush. What I will do when I'm doing a job is I will make a folder. I will put now, as I go, this may seem a little anal, every single brush I use. And I'm not kidding. I make every single brush I use, as I go, and I stick it in there. You can delete them later, but if you wait until after the jobs done, you're not gonna remember what you did. Trust me, I've been doing this for six months. Every, ah-ah, which brush. Now here's the other beautiful thing about these brushes, I'm gonna Cmd + C to copy them and copy that name, and instead of calling, let's try this swirl, I'm gonna suggest you name it with the brush you used. Name the layer with the brush you used. Take it from my pain, I'm telling you, you're gonna want to do this. All right, so if we look at this stamp art, all I did is I did a couple of swirls. And I did this a while ago. If you had to pick up this job, or if I wanted to reproduce this, filigree brush? There's no name. I have no clue what brush I used, because I was less than a rocket scientist a few months ago. Now the splatter is just a generic splatter brush. It's so pretty. I think it's pretty. This is a Kyle brush. It's a Kyle brush that I have now named big splat, or splatter, because it didn't matter to me. Now I have used this art. I made it a size, oh dear, I don't remember what brush I used. Don't panic, we don't need to panic today. Do you know why? We have the amazing ability of making a new brush at any moment. So I'm gonna go to my Edit menu. This is not in the handout. It's in the handout later, but it's not in the handout right now. I'm on the file called splatter. I'm gonna go Edit, Define Brush Preset, and I'm gonna call that Big Splatter. And now, if I go back to my brushes, there it is, Big Splatter. Ooh, look at the spacing. It's a stamp brush, right? I don't have the spacing where I want it. I'm gonna go back to the brush settings. I'm gonna turn off smoothing, because I don't, well, you know what, I might use smoothing on this. I'm gonna go to Brush Tip Shapes. I'm gonna turn off spacing, and now I'm gonna save that brush Big Splatter No Space. Let's go back to your brushes. Ahh, I feel so much better now. And before I forget, before I go get a cup of coffee, I'm gonna drag that into my stamp art folder and I'm gonna go ahead and feel free to delete that. Now, another important thing I want to tell you about. These brushes are in my PhotoShop. If I close or open them up, they're here. I am happy, everything is good. I have about three Macintoshes I work on. Those brushes are on this computer. Those brushes are not on the Cloud right now, they're not on anyplace else. So once you are done with your job, when you are done with your job, I recommend you save out your brushes when you're done. Please, save out your brushes. I say that from pain, personal pain, as I think you can feel, in the room. So let's go through these, I've got so much more to show you. Frames, that's a copier brush hell. That's Tone Edge Brush Hell 07. I started to get a little smarter, and started naming things. Gonna throw that one away. I did a coffee stain. So these are just ideas for stamp brushing. Frame brushes, now this is an interesting idea, and some people agree with me and disagree with me. This is a placed image, it's just a placed stock art. It's black and white, it's nothing, right, nothing special. What if you guys thought about inside stamp art, and I have it here somewhere, what if you guys save your frame, and all your frames, and all your photo edges, as stamp art, stamp brushes, excuse me. Because then you're not going through an image library to actually go look for all these things. So I'm gonna turn that frame off. I made this stamp art brush, frame. It's huge, why is it huge? Because I told you, I make all my brushes big so that I can use them. I'm gonna reduce it. I'm gonna turn the lower frame off so you can see this a little better. Okay, not quite to size. Listen, the thing you need to know about framing, you gotta be inside the canvas. If you click outside the canvas, you're gonna have nothing. So click inside your canvas. All right, I'm gonna transform it, Cmd + T. I'm gonna make this picture a little bigger. It's not exactly the same, right? It's a little gray, that's okay. Let me size it up a little better here. So let's say for government work that's good. Well, I can just double it up. Cmd + J, Cmd + J, double. You end up making it a little fatter. I'm gonna grab these two together and squeeze them, make them into one. I call it squeezing, no one else calls it squeezing. When you merge layers, I call it squeezing. You don't have to tell anyone. And now I'm just gonna do a levels move on it, see if I can darken it up. And now I just have a frame. So maybe you store your frames as brushes, instead. It will take way less memory, way less memory, than having digital files. So I know that's a little unusual, but that's what I like to do. Wings, got a little wing thing here. In fact, you know what I'm gonna do for ease? I'm gonna put a gray layer behind. Just so you can see it. So these are just wings, there's one side and another side. It's just a brush. And then I've got a gal in here that I stuck in there, she seems nice. You could make a brush out of her, if you wanted to. If you think you're gonna use her again. And then I just made a darkening blob out of that. Darkening blob sounds really good, doesn't it, super. Hey, can I show you guys something else about brushes? Do you remember that chain brush I did earlier on the stroke? You can add an emboss on a stroke, and if you do that on a chain, it'll make it look like your chain's actually three-dimensional. Do you see that, right there? It's just a little emboss. And all that is is a Layer Style. I just did a little bevel. So you can actually make something that's 2D look a little 3D, with just a little edging. And then I just put another top texture. Now this top texture is once again that conversation. It's texture, and it's black and white. Maybe consider making a brush out of that, right. Just consider, I'm talking some radical stuff here. I think you guys get the point. And then I put a little paper texture on top. And that's it, that's some stamp art. So hopefully you understand stamp art brush, and again that was the inspiration for it, right there. Oh, I don't want to forget this. Let me talk about another section of stamp brushes, and I really like this, especially for what I do, which is entertainment. We're forever doing light rays. Light rays and little flings on logos, lens flares. Instead of having a huge library of lens flares that you have full color, geeze, just make a brush. Make a light ray brush. I have them, I have them here. Let me show you this real quick. I was gonna move on, but now I'm not moving on. I'm gonna show you the light rays. Okay, eye detail, light rays. Now I have to tell you, I get into discussions, I'm just gonna call them discussions, as opposed to arguments, with folks. Some folks will call light rays a concept brush, and in fact, Kyle, who makes way more money than me, calls them concept brushes. I differentiate between a stamp brush and a concept brush by stroking or building up. And I'm gonna show that in just a second. So if I use a brush (finger snap) as a single click, I, Lisa Carney, call it a stamp brush. I want you to know, out in the universe, other folks will still call that a concept brush. The concept of a light ray, okay, it's just me, but for me it's more about the gesture I'm doing. I say that because you will be on the Internet searching for brushes and someone's gonna have concept brushes and they will have light rays in them. Me, I stick it somewhere else. All right, so I think I feel like perhaps you've got the point here about the stamps, but I keep my stamp brushes in a folder and I use light rays also, eyelashes, splats. I mean, I don't think I have to beat the dead horse, it's literally just taking the brush and stamping. And you can stick it behind files. And the big takeaway I want you to have here is save your lighting effects as a brush, as opposed to an actual pixel file that you have to store as a library. And then imagine, you can take it. Those ABR files are tiny, they're teeny, teeny, teeny, tiny. And you can take them anywhere. You can take them as bag of tricks. Now also, for security purposes, often companies will not allow you to bring in files, but they will let you bring in tools for your Photoshop. And you might be able to, dare I say, get away with having light rays, as opposed to actual digital images, when you go into another shop to work. So that's a professional practice thing. I have a whole drive of tools I bring, gradient maps and brushes. They used to be called tool presets, but now they're just brushes. And I bring them on jobs when I go so I can use those.

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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