I love Photoshop brushes because they offer so much versatility. Today let’s take a closer look at them.
Many designers, when creating brushes (ABR files) will also include the “stamped brushes” in PNG format. So when you purchase a product that comes with both PNG files and ABR files, which should you use? Let’s look at different ways to use both formats, then you can decide what works best for you.
Note: Photoshop brushes prior to CS6 were limited in size to 2500 X 2500 pixels. With the introduction of CS6, brushes can be as large as 5000 x 5000 pixels. This is why you might see something like this is a designer’s brush product:
The “sd_oven-lovin” ABR file would be for versions of Photoshop and Photoshop Elements that accept 2500 x 2500 (or smaller) brush sizes. The “sd_oven-lovin-CS6+” would be for Photoshop versions (CS6 and CC2014) that accept larger brush sizes.
Why you might want to use PNG Files instead of an ABR file:
- Placing a PNG file on your document is fast and easy. There is no need to “load” or “install” the ABR file to use your product
- PNG files give you a good visual reference for what the brush truly looks like on your page. It can sometimes be difficult to see the brush image in the Brushes Panel, even with the large preview option. You can hover your brush over the paper to get an idea of the size brush on your paper but will need to stamp it to see what it truly looks like.
Why you might want to use an ABR File instead of a PNG file:
- Versatility. You can make a lot of creative choices prior to stamping the brush on your paper.
Using either a PNG file or a stamped ABR brush is a personal choice. The important factor in making your decision is… how can you get the best result with the stamp you are using and the background paper you are working with.
Here are just a few ways to use PNG and ABR files.
In the image below, I have placed a black PNG stamp on a background paper. The Blend Mode is Normal. This will be our starting point.
Here are how different Blend Modes affect this PNG file on this background. (You could get different results on a different color background.) Using Blend Modes is a quick way to work with PNG files. You might find the exact look you are trying to achieve very easily.
Here are another few ways to use PNG files:
1. Use a Color Adjustment Layer to change the color of the PNG file by clicking on the half gray / half white circle at the bottom of the layers panel. Choose “Solid Color,” then select your color choice from the Color Picker Window that opens. Doing this will clip the color layer to your PNG file, offering you the flexibility of experimenting with blend modes and opacity levels of both the color layer and the PNG file. (Alternatively, create a blank layer above the PNG file, fill that layer with color using your favorite tool, and clip to the PNG file.)
2. Clip a background paper to the PNG file. (If you need a refresher on clipping masks: Clipping Masks in Photoshop.) In my example below, I duplicated and rotated the background paper, and clipped it to the PNG file. Experiment with other papers to see the results you get with them!
3. Lock the Transparent Pixels and paint over the PNG file with your choice of colors, using a soft brush. Alternatively, place a blank layer above the PNG file, and clip it to the PNG. Paint on the blank layer. (As usual, with Photoshop, there are multiple ways to accomplish the same task. Choose your preferred method.) In image 3 below, I picked up one of the light brown colors in the background paper, and then added another few brush strokes of the light rose color.
These are just a few ways to work with PNG files. Experiment and see what other ways you can discover that help you achieve the look you want.
Using the ABR file allows you to make multiple design choices prior to actually stamping the brush on your paper, and this flexibility is preferred by some.
In the top menu bar, you have the opportunity to choose:
- the color you stamp the brush with
- the size of your brush
- the blending mode
- the opacity
By accessing the Brush Presets in your Brushes Panel, you can choose other options that might be of interest to you when using certain brushes; for example, scattering, texture, color dynamics, and more.
It’s really up to you. If you know exactly what effect you want, sometimes using the ABR file is fastest. If you would like to experiment with different options, sometimes it’s more fun to play with the PNG files.
Me? I use both. I just can’t make up my mind which I like best, so I’m glad that I don’t really have to choose!
For this paper and this stamp; however, here is the result I liked best.
Tools and technique:
- ABR file
- Stamped the brush in color d5a355
- Blend mode Linear Burn
- Opacity 28%
(I enlarged the stamp a little using the Transform tool. Normally I would not recommend enlarging images, but because of the texture on the background paper any potential loss of stamp quality was not noticeable.)
As a point of possible interest, here is the original image from which I made the brush; the Hoosier that is in my kitchen.
Many of the utensils seen on the Hoosier you will find in my new kit Oven Lovin.
Click on the image below to download the stamp used in this tutorial!
Click the link to download a PDF of this tutorial: PNG vs. ABR files: Which should you use?