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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?

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With the holidays fast approaching, it’s time to start thinking about seasonal photos.  Do you prefer posed photographs or spontaneous ones?  Do you like to creatively edit your photographs with filters, actions, or adjustments?  Today let’s take a look at a simple way to create some dynamic black and white images.

For the purposes of this tutorial, I am working in Photoshop CS6.  I will also note the options available for this technique in Photoshop Elements 12. Please check your own software version to see how this tutorial will work for you.

This is a picture of my dog, Riley.  I love the splash of color his Santa hat gives the photo, but let’s see what a black and white photo would look like.


To add a Black and White Layer Adjustment we can:

  • Go to the top Menu Bar:  Image > Adjustments > Black & White
  • OR, go to our Layers Panel, and click on the 4th icon from the left (the circle that is half black and half white)
  • OR, go to the Adjustment Panel and click on the rectangle (2nd row, 3rd from left) that is half black and half white)

Once the Adjustment is applied, we might find ourselves absolutely happy with the image. If that is the case, we can just save the image as we normally would and be done! But Photoshop gives us creative control in the Black and White Adjustment Panel, if we would like to make further adjustments.


This is the result I received from applying just the Black and White Adjustment. It’s not bad, but I would like to see the Santa hat be a little more prominent, not fading into the background as much as it does.


Photoshop offers use some Presets to experiment with, and here is where the fun begins.

  • Try ticking the “Auto” button first to see if you like those results. You might find exactly what you are looking for!
  • Experiment with any of the Presets in drop-down box. Tip: Use the down-pointing arrow on your keyboard to quickly cycle thru the Presets.
  • If you find a Preset that you like, but the effect is too strong for you, experiment with blending modes on the adjustment layer.
  • Experiment with the color sliders for a fully customizable effect.
  • Remember you can combine adjustment layers too. (For example, I also added a Levels Adjustment to the image below.)

Here is the end result I was happiest with:


(Black and White Adjustment Layer; Custom Slider Adjustments; Levels Adjustment)

There is no formula for getting the “right” look for every picture. Each picture will be different.  Experiment with all of the available options to see what works best for your photograph.  If you don’t like the results are you getting, just go back to the Preset drop-down arrow, click on “Default,” and start all over again!

Photoshop Elements Users: The path you will follow is:  (Top Menu Bar)  Enhance >  Convert to Black and White.  You will find “presents,” which Elements refers to as “styles” on the left of the options window, and Color Adjustment Sliders on the right.  Use the Undo or Reset buttons to undo any changes.

It’s fast. It’s easy. It’s fun! And that’s all there is to it!

Download the PDF of this tutorial here, and watch the video on YouTube by clicking here or on the image below.


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Are there times when you need to resize multiple layouts to meet particular specifications?  As a designer, perhaps you need to resize Creative Team layouts or images for blog posts?  As a Creative Team Member perhaps you need to resize your work for forums?  As a personal scrapbook artist, do you need to resize your work to upload to print sites?  These are just a few instances where you might wish for a way to resize quickly and efficiently.  There is good news!  Adobe has provided a way for us to do this in both Photoshop and Photoshop Elements.  Let’s take a look at that  process today; but before we get started, here’s some news I hope will be helpful for you.

Going forward, you will be able to download a PDF of our tutorials so that you can keep them on your own computer for easy reference.  You will also be able to watch the tutorial on YouTube, which will be helpful for visual learners (like me!).  Links will be at the bottom of each post. We hope that you will find this helpful!

For today’s tutorial, I am using Creative Cloud 2014.  I tested this in CC2014 and Photoshop Elements 13.  Please check your own software version to see how this works for you.

Let’s look at Photoshop first:

1.  Follow this path:  File > Scripts > Image Processor


Here is a screen capture of what the Image Processor looks like:


2. Select the folder that contains the images you wish to resize.

3. Choose the location where you wish to save the resized images.

4. Choose the size and type of file you would like your resized images to be.

5. You may also choose to run an action on the images if you like.  For simple resizing, I leave this unchecked.

6.  Click RUN and Photoshop does the work for you!

I usually choose to have  my resized images placed in my original folder.  Photoshop will put the resized images in a folder that it names JPEG. This is what that looks like:  (resized images in JPEG folder, in addition to the original images).


In Photoshop Elements, there are just a few differences to note:

1.  The path to locate this option is:   File > Process Multiple Files.

2.  You have the option to rename files if you wish in the “File Naming” section.

3.  Image Size:  If “Constrain Proportions” is checked, you need only enter the width or height.

4.  You can add Quick Fixes (similar to running Actions in Photoshop), and you can also add Labels.

Important Note for Photoshop Elements users: Photoshop Elements will REWRITE over your images if you choose to save the images in the original folder.   Unless you want your original images resized permanently, choose to save the resized images in a different location.

And that’s how easy it is!  I hope you have found this tutorial helpful!

Credit:  The layouts shown in this tutorial are from my creative team, using “Free to Be,” a SnickerdoodleDesigns mini-kit.

Download this tutorial in PDF format.

Watch this tutorial on YouTube.

See you next week!


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