What are Photoshop Brushes?

If you’re familiar with Photoshop at all, you’ve probably heard about the magical things called brushes. Photoshop brushes come in many shapes, sizes and patterns, and when used properly, add accents to your work while cutting the time it takes to get the effects you want. From shapes to lines to sparkles to cars to grass to dots to snowflakes, there’s a brush for just about anything you can imagine. You just have to know where to look for them. 

Where Do I Find Photoshop Brushes?

There are a lot of great websites out there that offer free brushes for download. A Google search for “Photoshop Brushes” will return many different kinds of sites -- some are large collections while others showcase work from independent brush artists. Another great place to look for brushes is on the deviantART website. This site has a whole category just for Photoshop brushes, all of which you can install and use for free. Just be sure to read the artist information as some brush makers ask for credit when you use a brush in your digital work. 

How Do I Install A Photoshop Brush?

Now that you’ve found the brush that’s perfect for your art project, you have to place it in the right folder on your computer so Photoshop can find it. Follow the steps below to install a new Photoshop brush:

  1. Ensure that Photoshop is not running – if you install a new brush file with Photoshop open, the program will not find the brush until you have shut it down and reopened it again
  2. Download the brush to your computer in a place you can find it.
  3. Unzip the brush if it came as a .ZIP folder. What you need is the actual brush file, which will have the extension of an .ABR. Usually, an .ABR will show up as a little brush icon to help identify it.
  4. Once you have extracted or identified the .ABR file, you need to move it into the proper folder. By default, Photoshop Brushes are located in the C:Program FilesAdobeAdobe PhotoshopPresetsBrushes folder.
  5. Copy and paste the .ABR file inside the Brushes folder. When you open Photoshop, it will now recognize your new brush as a preset. 

How Do I Use A New Photoshop Brush?

Once you moved the brush file to the proper folder, you’ve got the job half done. In order to use the brush for your digital artwork, you must make it a part of your brush tool settings in Photoshop. This isn’t as complicated as it sounds:

  1. Select the “Brush” tool from the toolbox.
  2. Click the downward-pointing arrow icon located on the top tool bar, next to the brush size.
  3. Click the arrow pointing to the right, located in the top right corner. Photoshop will display a list of brush files located in your brushes folder.
  4. Double click on the name of the new brush you want to use. A message will pop up that prompts you to replace the current brush settings with the new brush. If you click OK, it will overwrite all of your brushes – so you don’t want to do that. What you do want to click is the APPEND button. This will attach your new brush set to the bottom of your current brushes.

Once you have appended your brushes, use the scroll bar to go down to the bottom to find them. Your new brushes have now become a part of your normal brush tool setup and you can choose them like a normal brush at any time!