Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Organizing Photoshop Brushes

Organizing your Photoshop Brushes is an important part of being an efficient digital artist. You can start by deleting or renaming Brushes. First, choose a Brush as your active tool (hit the "B" key), then go to the Menu > Brush Presets > right-click or button-click (with a stylus and pressure-sensitive tablet) and you'll get the options to either "Rename" or "Delete Brush." See A below.

A. Brush Preset Panel. Right-click for the options shown above.

But what you really need to know about is the Brush Preset Manager. To find that, make sure a Brush is your active tool, then follow the path in B below (which is: Menu > Brush Presets > "gear" icon for drop-down Menu (top right corner) > Preset Manager.

You can also load default Photoshop Brush collections that are not part of the default start-up set, and there are some good Brushes. To load those, scroll past "Preset Manager" (below) to get to "Assorted," "Basic," Calligraphic," "Dry Media," ... etc.
Please click here for my blog post about these collections.

B. Here's how to get to the Brush Preset Manager.

The Brush Preset Manager (C below) is where you can arrange your Brush Presets, create your own collections, and load Brush collections.

At first, I just selected the ones that I used the most and dragged them to the front of the list, right under "Hard Round." To do that, click the Brush that you want (shift-click additional Brushes if they are next to each other, or cmd-click/PC:ctrl-click if they are not); and drag-and-drop where you want the Brush to end up. Before you release the mouse, make sure the line appears where you want to Brush to end up. Please see C below.

C. To move a Brush, click on it, then drag-and-drop to the place where
you want to put it. Moving your favorite Brushes to the beginning
of the Presets is a good start to organizing your Brushes.
And just like in the first step above (image A above), you can right-click to Rename or Delete. You can also select certain Brushes by selecting them (shift-click if they're all together, cmd-click if they are spaced apart), then saving them as a set (circled below in D).

When you save a set, it goes into the appropriate folder, which is:
(Your computer name)/Macintosh HD/Users/(your user name)/Library/Application Support/Adobe/Adobe Photoshop CS_/Presets/Brushes
C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS5\Presets\Brushes

And notice the "Load" button just above "Save Set"--that's where you go to access the different sets. Photoshop by default will go to the correct folder, but it's always good to know where that is.

I always like to save the entire set (after loading some of the Photoshop defaults, like "Dry Media," creating and saving my own, downloading some from the internet) before I start deleting ones that I don't use. That way, I can easily restore the set if I need to. To do that, click on a Brush in the Preset Manager, then cmd-A/PC:ctrl-A, then "Save Set." I usually name it something like "My Big Set."

D. Brush Preset Manager
So, now that you've renamed your Brushes, arranged them in a logical order, and organized them into sets, go paint some pictures!

Click here for my post about making your own custom Brushes.


Susan Miller said...

Thank you very good to know. I use your brushes and really have been having fun seeing what each one does.

Moira Munro said...

Thank you!
I have found that I can order Brushes as you suggest, but if I do this with Tools, they lose the order I gave them and revert to alphabetical order - most frustrating. Any suggestions?

For Brushes, I have an additional suggestion: save a number of brushes which you can name as ===== Watercolour brushes ====== and so on. This helps visually to get to the brushes I'm looking for, among a long list.

I do wonder if instead of a long list I should split my usual brushes into different brush sets, and click on the sets I want as I do a painting. Have you tried that or do you have all brushes you're likely to need for one job in one set?

David Opie said...

Moira, I don't use the Tool Presets because I like to right-click to get my Brushes. I played around with the Tool Presets and didn't have the issue of them reverting to alphabetical order, so I don't know what to tell you. I like your idea of using special characters so that they visually stand out from the list. I have a big standard set (about 120 Brushes) that I tend to use, including the Wet and Dry sets that I put together. I often refer to the jpeg swatch sheet to choose what Brushes to use.

Moira Munro said...

Thanks Dave,
I hadn't noticed that right-clicking brought up the brush list. Saves another gesture, so that's nice.

Some of the brushes you sell have become firm regulars of mine, they're great. I tend not to think of using your jpeg swatch sheet, being mean about how many Photoshop windows are open (sometimes Photoshop seems painfully slow) but that's a good tip too.

David Opie said...

Moira, the jpeg swatch files are small and shouldn't slow down your computer. They are a high enough resolution that you could print them out, which I also do. I am glad that you're making good use of the Brushes!