Have you been trying to figure out what happened to those cool custom brushes you made in Photoshop? Not finding any help online about it? I may have your answer, so keep reading.
Many tutorials tend to neglect mentioning that when you save a custom brush preset it doesn’t actually “save” into the brushes presets folder within Photoshop. This can be a problem – because – where are they then, if saving your brush preset actually did save them to your computer? Well.. it didn’t – all that did was create the brush. Saving as file onto your computer is still necessary and a separate process – or rather, a continuation of the process that some how to guides online tend to skip over.
To save your brushes into that hard file location (PS Presets – Brushes folder) you can either actually paste the .abr file into that folder location or save it there via the “save set” option within the preset manager.
You can “load” brushes from other folders into your brush preset manager while working in Photoshop, which will give you access to those brushes, but this is an option used for already created .abr files. And, there’s no guarantee they’ll stay loaded or even accessible under various conditions.
My advice: If you don’t want to lose the brushes you’ve created, you’ll need to export your custom brushes folder into a save location on your computer. Or, use the “Save Set” option mentioned above.
I’ve had my brushes completely disappear on more than one occasion – complete sets of custom created brushes gone forever because I didn’t save a copy onto my computer in a separate location after creating them.
You see, Photoshop didn’t make this particular feature involving the creation of custom brushes very intuitive and many people are unaware that they stand to lose their work through system or application updates if they neglect to save externally. And, the “save” feature isn’t presented as a traditional “save” option – you need to “export” the file, which then saves it. Or, you need to “Save Set.” I’ll go over both methods here below.
An expert or someone who had taken extensive coursework in the use of Photoshop would just know this, but to those of us who are self-taught – we often learn these things the hard way, through trial and error. And unless you’ve lost your work due to this little oversight – even an expert may not think to include the information in a quick tutorial. This is probably why you can find a ton of walk-throughs for creating custom brushes but not often find the full explanation for saving your brushes.
If you’ve ever lost your custom made brushes after doing an update for your operating system or for Photoshop, this is probably the information you’ve been looking for that so many help sites and videos are not actually addressing.
Here’s how it goes:
— You create custom brush and save in a “group folder” in your PS brush preset manager.
— You enjoy said brushes in your work for some time.
— One day, PS crashes or you install updates.
— Upon restart you notice all your custom brushes are gone and you can’t seem to find them anywhere.
— You go to Google where you spend far too long searching message boards and help websites.
— You notice that others have this same thing happen to them.
— You also notice that this same question has been posed by various people across many years and that they all received similar responses (none of which were very helpful).
— Then you finally come across an answer that simply states that your brushes are gone forever and you cannot get them back.
— Then, by some in-depth searching (or by finding my post), you finally learn -oh!!! I have to EXPORT!
Something so simple but so often overlooked.
The bad news is: you lost all your previously created custom brushes.
The good news is: it’s really easy to make sure it doesn’t happen again – and I’m going to show you how.
Once you’ve created your custom brushes you can group them together into a folder. To do this: open your Brushes Panel (Window — Brushes). Scroll down to your brushes — hold shift key and click each custom brush — right click — choose “New Brush Group” — give it a name and hit OK.
Now click on the grouped folder — right click — hit “Export Selected Brushes.”
Give your new .abr file a name and choose a save to location on your computer. I suggest that this location be a folder created on your local drive that remain separate from Photoshop.
Open your Brushes Panel (Window — Brushes). Click on the menu button in the top right corner of the brushes panel and select Preset Manager.
Scroll down to your brushes — hold shift key and click each custom brush or brush group — choose “Save Set” from the options on the right — give it a name, choose a save location and hit Save.
Either way you choose to do it – now you have a back-up file of your brushes that’s actually saved onto your computer.
If you ever find that your brushes have disappeared from Photoshop, simply go to your saved file and copy/paste it into your Photoshop/Presets/Brushes folder. Or, from Photoshop, go Window — Brushes — Preset Manager — Load — Select .abr file – hit Open.
You can further protect your created files by grouping them into a zip file. Highlight each file — right click — choose “compress” and name the file when saving. From there, you can upload to the cloud. I use Google Drive.
Be sure to check out my posts about an Easy Way To Create Photoshop Brushes From Images and Easily Creating Unique Photo Effects in PS Using Masks and Brushes.