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Custom Digital Brushes

Brushes are an exciting and excellent source of clipart. You may not have thought to look for brushes simply because they are called 'brushes' but they are plentiful and mostly free, made and offered by generous enthusiasts and craftspeople online.

Brushes are essentially 'stamps'. They can be mixed and matched. You can make your own compositions or pictures with them and save them as new brushes. They are greyscale so you can resize, recolour or otherwise edit them and save them as clipart images. A brush is software so takes up less room on your computer than images. Brushes are really handy tools to have for image making.

Some brushes come as complete pictures and only need to be resized and/or coloured to be ready to usein your projects. There are all manner of subjects and quality varies. Brushes can be made from any image from grungy to doodly to photographic and are highly versatile.

While most brushes are free, many brush makers only require credit if you use their work in a public manner. Some don't have any requirements and some have their own TOU (Terms Of Use) so be sure to read them, if they do, to avoid copyright issues.

The most plentiful of brushes offered freely are those made for Photoshop. Sets of brushes are made into files with an ABR extension. These files are not backward compatible, for example brushes made in Photoshop CS3 will not be useable in Photoshop 6. But all is not lost! If you don't have Photoshop there is a way around it.

There is a free application called ABR Viewer that lets you view the brush sets and export them to useable image files suitable for most graphic applications.

Brushes are fashioned as black and white or greyscale images. Brushes from earlier versions of Photoshop can be rather small, but nothing that resizing won't fix. In your graphics program they can be transformed by rotation and flipping. They can be manipulated in other ways; edited by adding to or subtracting from the image. They can then be saved as new brushes. They can be totally recoloured as monotone images or coloured in by using layers to do it with.

Brushes are a lot of fun to work with and you can make new brushes from old brushes.
heart brushes
These brushes were created from other brush sets I made: a flower set, heart set and floral set. Once the compositions were made I turned them into brushes also. They can be used as is or coloured and saved as JPGs or PNGs as finished clipart.

Article and image Copyright Mina Keenan

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