Technology is a wonderful thing! Technology is our friend! But for today’s tutorial, let’s get back to basics. Let’s explore one of the very basic techniques available in Photoshop and Photoshop Elements – the Brush. I recently learned that there are many of us who are curious and interested in them, but feel mystified in how to use them. So this tutorial is full of the best, basic tips for using digital brushes.
Although there are many ways and purposes for a brush, let’s focus today on only one thing: using the brush as a stamp to create a decorative design element for your layout.
For starters, load your brush according to the instructions included in your download for the software you use. Then after you have created your document, find your brush tool on your Tool palette.
After you activate the Brush tool, you will see, towards the top of your workspace, a button to activate the Brush menu. When you click on that little arrow, it will open a menu of all of your available brush options. Select the brush that you would like to work with by simply clicking on the thumbnail in the menu.
I am clicking on a cowboy hat brush. The number represents the size of the brush in its default form. This brush is very large at 2472 pixels. The brush size can be made smaller by moving the slider to the left which is above the menu of available brushes.
Next, take note of the opacity and flow of your chosen brush. For this lesson, we will leave it set to 100% opacity and 100% flow. Just know that it’s there and we’ll explore how to use that in a future lesson.
The most important trick to remember when working with brushes is to be sure to create a new layer for each brush. The beauty of having the brush work on its own layer is that you can turn the visibility on or off, you can resize it, or you can move it or rotate it anywhere on your layout. If you forget and stamp it directly on your paper or on an embellishment layer, the option to change it separately is greatly reduced.
After you create a new layer, be sure to activate that layer. Then, simply place your mouse wherever you would like the brush design to be placed on your layout and click! Doing so will “stamp” the brush design right onto your layout. The color of the stamp will default to the foreground color from your Tool palette. For my layout, the brush layer looks like the highlighted layer below.
Now it’s time to decorate! One of the most basic ways to decorate your brush work is by clipping a piece of paper to the brush layer. For this layout, a paper from Menagerie Collection Biggie was selected and placed directly above the brush layer. Using the key command Ctrl+G, the paper is clipped to the brush layer, and the brush design takes on the properties of the paper.
Brushes can take on many forms and purposes in our digital scrapbooking. By showing you these basic tips for using digital brushes, I hope I have demystified them for you. So give brushes a go on your favorite layouts! The SG Design Shop is full of beautiful and creative digital brushes, and I’m sure that there are many that will suit your creativity and scrapbooking needs!
Digital scrapbooking product used:
Tutorial written by Amy Flanagan