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How To Install Photoshop Brushes – Ultimate Guide

What are Photoshop brushes?

 

Photoshop brushes are a dream for anyone who uses Photoshop. They are basic painting tools which apply color using strokes. The way they apply them and the effect they create differs a lot between one brush and another. You can find them on the Photoshop Tool Bar or by using a B shortcut. If you’ve ever used the software, you have probably also used one of the pre-installed brushes. Yes, Photoshop comes with a few of them already installed upfront. However, that’s only a small and very basic selection of all the brushes out there.

The pre-installed sets are like the tip of an iceberg – the world of Photoshop brushes is enormous. Explore it to try new effects and discover your own creative potential. If you find the right brush, you can probably achieve any effect imaginable. And if you can’t find one, you have the option of creating your own brush. In this article, however, we will teach you how to install an already pre-existing Photoshop brush.

Why are Photoshop brushes useful?

Photoshop brushes are a very useful tool to save time. They allow you to create your design, or any other form of art, quickly and without the need to draw the desired elements separately every single time. They’re also a big help if you lack certain skillset. A brush or a set of brushes can help you achieve the seek effect without too much extra effort.

What brushes can I install?

There is a huge number of Photoshop brushes available for download and install. It’s quite overwhelming really if you are new to the topic and don’t know what brushes to start searching for. Although there is no official way of categorizing them, you can distinguish the different brushes tools by their effects:

Painting effect brushes

If you want to create something resembling an actual painting, done with real brushes, you will most likely want to search for tools around the painting effect brushes section. The available sets vary from watercolor, acrylic to wet, dripping paint effect.

Natural effect brushes

The term ‘natural effects’ is very broad. The brushes sets vary from those that resemble skin, hair, clouds, water, fire, grass, etc. Anything that’s found in nature can be imitated digitally with the use of an adequate Photoshop brush.

Grunge effect brushes

You don’t always want to make your design or art pretty. Sometimes, you’ll want to show mystery, fear or imperfections in your work. For such purpose, grunge effect brushes will be your best solution as the brushes will give a distressed and worn look.

Fantasy effect brushes

Fantasy effect brushes relate to anything that can’t be found in nature or isn’t painting or grunge. The effects, again, differ a lot. You will find brushes that turn your background into a galaxy sky, add dust, blood and anything comic or magic. These brushes are used to add extra flair or unique effect to existing works and meant to be used with a very specific concept in mind.

Where to find brushes to install?

Online. There is no recommended website you should head to or places that you should avoid at all costs. Make your research by simply Googling ‘photoshop brushes’. Feel free to add whatever effect in front of it, for example, ‘cloud patterns photoshop brushes’ or ‘free stardust photoshop brushes’.

You will find both paid-for and free options. Naturally, it’s nicer for every user’s pocket to save those few extra dollars and find a free tool. Remember, however, that the free options can be sometimes of a low-quality. Therefore, the process of finding your desired brush can turn out to be very time-consuming.

How to install Photoshop brushes?       

The first thing you should know is the fact that you are going to download a set of brushes, not a single brush. The set will be a folder including brushes that create variations of the same effect. 

After you download a brush from a website of your choice, open Photoshop and select Edit > Presets > Presets Manager. Under Preset Types, select Brushes. Click the Load button. You’ll be taken to your computer files where you can find the downloaded file with brushes. Choose the one with .abr extension. Click OK.

Another option is to simply find the folder with the downloaded brushes and open it by double-clicking. The action will automatically import the brush folder into Photoshop. You will be able to find them in your Tool Bar, under Brush Tool. If you’re a very visual learner and prefer to watch than to read, we recommend heading to YouTube for Photoshop tutorials. 

Photoshop brushes recommendations

For each of the four categories of painting, natural, grunge and fantasy effect brushes, we chose two brush sets that we believe are truly great. They’re all free so just go ahead and give them a try. 

#1 Painting – Houston Sharp Brushes


The Houston Sharp Brushes is an extensive brush set created by a well-known illustrator. The set is comprehensive, diverse, reliable and of a high-quality. It’s great for countless illustrators as it can also be used for textures and overlays.

Download it here

#2 Painting – Omri’s Brush Pack Overhaul 2017


Omri Koresh prepared a curated set of brushes that are compiled and very organized. It’s another great set for any illustrators thanks to the diversity of the included brushes. Every once in a few years Omri updates their sets so keep an eye open for the next brush pack.

Download it here

#3 Natural – Brush Pack 3.0 by Fenris


Brush Pack by Fenris is a very comprehensive set of natural brushes ranging from leaves, through chains and trees to plants and flowers. It’s a great pack for illustrators who like to speed draw and get ideas down quickly and effectively.

Download it here

#4 Natural – Hair Brushes III by LPD Dragon Fly


We don’t really need to explain this set, do we? We chose it because we believe it’s the best brush kit to illustrate hair as it is highly detailed and realistic. The author has two more of these sets, check those out too!

Download it here

#5 Grunge – Subtle Grunge Brushes

A great, extensive set of subtle grunge brushes. By using it, you can add noise to your work without making it look cheap. The final effects will show subtle vintage details. This set features realistic and high-quality brushes that will add a lot of personality to your vintage-themed works.

Download it here

#6 Grunge – Mixergraph Grunge Brushes Kit


In comparison to the previous set, this one is much more intensive. It has a stronger treatment of vintage wear and tear. You can use it for a tonally weathered look such as, for example, vintage signposts.

Download it here

#7 Fantasy – Halftone Texture Brushes


The Halftone Texture Brushes set is an ultimate kit for a unique halftone and organic treatment to your prints. Using it alongside colors reminiscent of golden-age comics will make your illustration pop.

Download it here

#8 Fantasy – Sketchy Cartography Brush Set


A great collection of brushes helping to create maps for books and illustrations. It’s an extensive collection of curated scans and every brush is thoughtfully labeled for easy access and a clean workspace. Couple this with the grunge sets to create a visually interesting cartographic map.

Download it here

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Written by Natalia

Natalia is an admirer of design and the arts. Takes care of marketing at DesignBro. In free time loves to visit museums and teach photography.

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