Scrapping with Brushes


Art Card from Around the World collab kit (the digi chick) in this month’s Digi Files. Spattered Alpha by Something Blue Studios.


I (Katie) try to make sure I’m always expanding my digital scrapbooking skills and techniques because it keeps digi scrapping fun and fresh for me. One area I really have not done much with is brushwork and using digital brushes. It’s not because I don’t like them, I really admire beautiful brushwork and think it can take a standard layout design to greatness. It’s just that I don’t remember to use them, I don’t have my brushes organized (gasp!), and I’m not as comfortable with the techniques they require. So this post is just as much for me as any one of you – I need some brush inspiration! I turned to the team for some help in this area.



Brushes are different than other types of digital embellishments because they can be loaded right into your program (find some tips and tutorials here). In fact, Photoshop programs come pre-loaded with several brushes and it’s easy to add more! Brushes are similar to a digital stamp and they generally have a softer and more blended look than most digital pieces. Brushwork makes a layout feel a bit more artistic and often adds some creative flair to a page. There are many types of digital brushes ranging from alphabets, stamped images such as flowers, blending masks, paint splatters, and more. Just about anything can be made into a brush (find resources here).

Wendyzine says that she loves grunge and paint-style brushes “to use behind photos to draw the eye in a bit.” She also prefers “to use masks and journaling prompts as brushes because I can load them into PS and have them there without needing to find the product on my HD.” Wendyzine has some good tips for looking for brushes. She says “I like brushes that come with preset scatter settings. To me, they are more useful.”



Jenn Lindsey is the master of brushes in my opinion. She says” I use different combinations of brushes to create all of the masks in my templates, as well as creating blended photos without my templates. The majority of my brushes are from, but when using them for commercial use purposes, you have to check the individual TOU’s of the brush makers.  I also use the Tuma Soft Preset viewer to keep track of my brushes and view them before I load them into PS.”

Here are some of her layouts to illustrate her brushwork:

In this layout, I used a couple of grunge brushes to paint a clipping mask that I then attached the faux brick background paper to:

Credits: Dragon Tales collab by After Five Designers


I used brushes to erase the top edge of this photo that I blended into the background in this layout:

Credits: Queen of Hearts template, So Thankful by MScraps Designers, Harvest paper pack by Three Paper Peonies, Spontaneous by Sabrina’s Creations, Zoie by Misty Mareda (recolored slightly), Wild Hearts by Michelle Coleman (sparkly flowers), Pea Sarah font


In this layout I used a grunge brush to slightly erase the word “at” before applying a blend mode; Splatter brushes were also used behind the photos in white (with the Overlay blend mode) to give the layout a more grungy feel:

Credits: Heart of Nature by After5 Designers, Bit O Luck by Audrey Neal, Upside Down alpha by Dunia, Big Kid Church alpha by Krystal Hartley, 9 to 5 alpha by Krystal Hartley, Boys in my Backyard alpha by Erica Zane, Jayne Print font


Here are some great layouts with brushes from the galleries (all images are linked)


This one has beautiful bits of blended color brushes to add just the right finishing touches.



The brushed scrollwork on the background gives this a feeling of wallpapered parlor in the olden days.



The brushes on this layout have made it into a real work of art.



The subtle brushes used on this layout show how they can add the perfect little accent behind a photo.




SHOPPING FOR BRUSHES: (all images are linked)

You can easily create a brush from any .png file by following the steps in this tutorial. If you want and even quicker shortcut, just use an action like this set from Wendyzine!




Spritz and Spray



Art Journal Caravan 2011 Provisions {Parcel 16} Apprentice Art Box Edition




Life In Pictures Brushes and Stamps



Grunge Brushes Set 3

And Jenn says to be sure to check out the brushes at Design Fruit – she loves them!



I use a lot of brushes that come in both .abr and .png format and usually just use the .png shapes (and there’s nothing wrong with that!). I’m feeling more inspired now though to load up some brushes and get playing. I love the soft and artsy look that comes with using brush files and I can see that they really do finish off a page. We’d love to hear about how you use brushes and what some of your favorites are. Feel free to share in the comments!

katie big