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Making Brushes Handier and Even More Useful
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Today's Scrap Girls, Etc. article is written by a member of the Scrap Girls Forum! Barbara (BarbaraC1977) has shared with us a great tutorial about making brushes easier to use in Adobe Photoshop Elements. Thank you, Barbara!
When you install brushes, Photoshop creates a preview thumbnail in the Brush Palette to help you select a brush. You can select "Stroke Thumbnail" for brushes used as strokes; I use regular "Large Thumbnail" for most shape and texture brushes. Unfortunately, Photoshop shows all brush preview thumbnails squeezed to fit in a square shape. This is fine for brushes whose vertical and horizontal dimensions are nearly equal. It is a significant distortion for brushes that are long or tall.
Here's an example, showing Elisha Barnett's Dynamic Brush Set: Decorative Tape 12601:
When you haven't used the brushes in a while, it takes some experimentation to refresh your memory of each brush and how they would look on your layout. If you don't remember the name, hovering over a thumbnail will eventually show the name of the brush preset, but I get impatient waiting for this tooltip to appear.
I like to move quickly and go straight to the correct brush set and brush. I've developed a technique in Photoshop that helps me do this, and I'd like to share it. This technique also works in Photoshop Elements; the steps are almost identical.
Create a square document that measures 600x600 pixels with a transparent background. Then select images to represent the product. In this case, I'll copy in the PNG images provided by Elisha, resize them to fit the rectangle, and arrange them to be visible. I use the marketing image (included in your download) whenever it's a clearer preview of the brushes.
Next, in a clear, readable font, add a title. I use the core product name and the designer's initials. Make the text as large as you can fit comfortably onto the square. The most important characteristic is to make the outer perimeter of the image and text content to be close to a perfect square. This assures the Photoshop preview will be a much more faithful replica of the brushes.
Merge the layers together, and then press Ctrl+Click (Cmd+Click on a Mac) on the thumbnail in the Layers Palette:
You should see the "marching ants" marquee highlighting all areas of the dark image.
Click Edit> Define Brush Preset then name it to match, such as EBA_DecorativeTape. In PSE, click Edit> Define Brush from Selection.
Select the Brush Tool (type B) and then select the brush drop-down arrow on the toolbar:
Click the (tiny) drop-down arrow, and then click the arrow at the upper-right of the window, and click Preset Manager.
In the Preset Manager, locate the newly created label preset at the very end of the brushes and click to select it; drag its thumbnail to the beginning of the Decorative Tape brush set.
The preview is small, but shows the shape of the subsequent brushes, and the text is just large enough to be legible. I could have chosen a single representative PNG file and used a larger font, and it might be even more effective.
Here's another example, showing Dinny's (Diane Miller) Brush Set: Edgy LINES. When I first load the brushes, the Photoshop thumbnails don't give me any clue how they will perform.
Fortunately, Dinny's marketing preview is very clear. When the marketing image shows the brush images clearly for your needs, drag the image into your 600x600-pixel workspace.
Select the borders, white and purple areas and delete them, since brushes are created with a monochrome image. Add the text title "Edgy Lines DMI" and proceed as above.
Now the brush set has a label and a preview that brings order to the squiggly thumbnails to the right.
When the previews are relatively undistorted, such as in Brush Set: Lovely Lace by Syndee Nuckles, you might still want an easy-to-read label for those brushes.
Create a simple text title, using a larger font in a 600x600-pixel workspace. Select the text layer content (Ctrl+Click on the thumbnail in the Layers Palette) as above, and then Edit> Define Brush Preset, then naming it appropriately "Lovely Lace SNU."
To save your brush sets with the labels, open the preset manager in your Brush Palette:
Click to select the label preview and drag it to the beginning of the appropriate set. Click the label preview, press and hold the Shift key, and click the last preview of this brush set. When you've done this correctly, all of the thumbnails in this set will have a heavy border, as shown.
Click "Save Set," then navigate to the desired location, and save the updated brush set with the appropriate name. The next time you load these brushes, they'll be labeled with the design name and designer initials.
This technique helps me identify and use brushes much more efficiently. I hope you find it useful in your scrapping!
Barbara Crane (BarbaraC1977)
Scrap Girls, Etc. is a column pulling bits and pieces from all over Scrap Girls. Stay tuned as Scrap Girls' team members bring you tutorials, musings, recipes, interviews, design/software tips and tricks, layout walk-throughs, and who knows what else!
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Tuesday, June 12th - 8:00PM EDT
Join Theresa (tiza126) for the New Member Chat on June 12th at 8pm ET in the Live Chat room lobby. This is a great place to ask questions about getting around the Scrap Girls site or about digital scrapbooking in general - and a great place to make some new friends. All are welcome, new and long time members included. You do need to have Java installed on your computer to access the Live Chat.
High Noon Crop
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Join April (April Showers) each Wednesday at 12 Noon EDT for the High Noon Crop. All coasts and time zones are welcome! These crops are designed to allow you to work on your own photos and themes, simply giving participants a one hour goal and a fun, new challenge each week.
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June's Forum Game: Re-JUNE-venate!
We helped you jumpstart your January and now it's time to re-JUNE-venate your focus on scrapbooking! Join us on the Scrap Girls Forum for "Re-JUNE-venate!" This is a game and challenge that focuses on taking time to scrapbook regularly despite the little "speedbumps" of life. When the month is over you'll have completed several layouts and been treated to some fun along the way.
A Welcoming Committee Member will post a task each Monday through Saturday from June 1-30. The tasks will be formatted in a LARGE PURPLE FONT for ease of locating them in the game thread as it grows. Some tasks will require Forum participation, email responses or gallery posting. Read each daily task carefully to see what is required of you.
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For complete details, visit the Monthly Forum Games folder on the Scrap Girls Forum.
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