Saving, loading, and editing brush sets

After you define a custom brush, you must save it if you want it to last forever — or at least until you decide that you can live without it. In Photoshop, you can preserve a custom brush by clicking the new brush icon in the brush options dialog boxes (shown in Figures 5-17 and 5-22) or by saving it as part of a brush set. The program ships with a default brush set plus four additional sets, found in the Presets/Brushes folder in the main Photoshop folder. Brush sets have the file extension .abr. You also can create your own custom brush collections. This option comes in handy if you need to share custom brushes with a fellow Photoshop user. Just create a new brush set containing your custom brushes and then give your colleague the brush set file. (Note that earlier versions of Photoshop can't load Version 6 brush presets.) Also, if you find that you never use certain brushes in a set, you can create a new set that doesn't contain those brushes. By limiting the number of brushes in the Brush dropdown palette, you make the job of hunting down the brush you want easier.

You can save brush sets — as well as load and edit them — either by choosing commands on the palette menu in the Brush drop-down palette (see Figure 5-16, earlier in this chapter) or via the Brushes panel of the Preset Manager dialog box, new to Photoshop 6. To check out the dialog box, choose Edit ^ Preset Manager. Figure 5-25 gives you a look at the Preset Manager with the Brushes panel at the forefront. If you're already working in the Preset Manager, you can press Ctrl+1 to get to the Brushes panel.

Click for menu

Click for menu

Figure 5-25: You can load, save, and edit brush sets here or in the Brush drop-down palette on the Options bar.

By default, the Brush drop-down palette displays the basic Photoshop brush set, which features a selection of round and square brushes. You can't delete this brush set, but you can prevent brushes you don't use from taking up space in the palette. You also can load or create a different set, combine two or more sets, and add or delete brushes from your custom brush sets. Here's the drill:

* Save a brush set: To save all brushes currently displayed in the Brush palette, choose Save Brushes from the palette menu. If you want to save only some of the brushes as a set, however, open the Preset Manager dialog box. Shift-click the icons of the brushes you want to save and then click Save Set. I suppose you could also delete the brushes you don't want to save from the Brush palette and save the file through the palette menu, but the Preset Manager provides a more convenient option.

Regardless of where you initiate the save, Photoshop takes you to the Save dialog box, where you can name your brush set. By default, brushes are saved in the Presets/Brushes folder, which is a darn good place for them. The next time you start Photoshop, your new brush set appears on the Brush palette menu along with other available sets.

* Use a different brush set: If you want to put the current brush set away and use a different set, choose Replace Brushes from the Brush palette menu and select the brush set you want to use. Alternatively, click the arrow at the top of the scrolling list of icons in the Preset Manager dialog box (I labeled it in Figure 5-25) to display a similar menu, and then choose Replace Brushes from that menu.

* Load multiple brush sets: You can keep multiple brush sets active if you want. After loading the first set, choose Load Brushes from the Brush palette menu or click Load in the Preset Manager dialog box. Photoshop appends the second brush set onto the first. If you want to keep using the two sets together, you should save them as a new, custom brush set.

♦ Delete a brush: To delete a brush from the current brush set, Ctrl-click its icon in the Brush drop-down palette. When you press Ctrl, your cursor changes to a little scissors icon, indicating that you're about to snip away a brush. You also can delete a brush by clicking its icon in the palette and choosing Delete Brush from the palette menu.

Want to give a bunch of brushes the boot? Do the job in the Preset Manager dialog box. Shift-click the brushes you no longer want and then click the Delete button.

♦ Restore default brushes: To return to the default Photoshop brush set, choose Reset Brushes from the menu in the palette or the dialog box. You then have the option of either replacing the existing brushes with the default brushes or simply adding the default brushes to the end of the palette.

♦ Rename a brush: If you ever want to rename a brush, select it in the Preset Manager dialog box and click Rename. Or, even easier, click the brush icon on the Options bar (as shown earlier, in Figure 5-22) or double-click the icon in the Brush drop-down palette. Then enter the new brush moniker in the Name option box and press Enter.

If you want your new brush names to live in perpetuity, resave the brush set. Otherwise, the names revert to their original labels if you replace the brush set, as is the case with all changes you make to brush characteristics.

Photoshop Secrets

Photoshop Secrets

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