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5.11 – Using Photoshop Elements >


This tutorial assumes you have read and used earlier tutorials in which brushes were employed.

1 – Mac Students

When you see Ctrl in the tutorial, use the Cmd key instead.

2 – Erase with the Confetti Brush

1) Create a file with two photographs in the layers stack.

In the example below, there are two color layers.


2) Click the top layer, Layer 2 here, to make it active (darker blue).

3) Select the Eraser tool.


4) At the bottom of your screen, in Tool Options, open the brush menu.


5) Open the menu at the top of the window.


6) Select Artistic Brushes.


7) Select the Confetti brush.

You can enlarge the window.

Click on its upper-right corner, hold, and drag.

To close the window, click on a blank area on your screen.


8) Adjust the size of the brush with the bracket keys on your keyboard.

If you don't want to erase the top layer completely—where you brush—lower the opacity in Tool Options.

9) Click on the work area repeatedly in different locations—or—click, hold, and drag.

Holes are created in the green Layer 2, allowing the orange Layer 1 to be seen.

As you use the brush—the shape changes—as does its opacity.

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10) Experiment with other brushes.

For example, in the Default Brushes menu, there are two leaf brushes.

11) Make sure you're still on the top layer before erasing.

12) Take notes about what each brush does that's appealing.

13) When you're finished, do the following.

• Select a more typical brush in the Default Brushes menu or Basic Brushes menu.

• If you lowered the opacity of the Eraser tool, set it back to 100%.

3 – Using a Mask

You can do the same erase effect by using a mask instead.

The red numbers in the screenshot below refer to the numbered steps further down.


1) Select the Brush tool.

2) Make sure the foreground color is black.

3) Select a brush.

The scattered leaves brush was used here.

4) Click the fourth icon at the top of the layers stack to create a mask.

5) Note, the mask has a blue rectangle around it.

It's active.

The black paint will appear on the mask, not on the top layer, here, Layer 2.

6) Click, hold, and drag.

The leaf shapes in the Layer 2 mask (below) are blocking the green layer—revealing the orange from Layer 1.


4 – Create a Brush from a Selection

You can create a brush from a selection.

Select a shape, texture, face, and so forth.

The brush will have a single color—unfortunately—not all colors.

Do the following.

Select a Brush Set

1) Select the Brush tool.

2) Open the brush menu in Tool Options.

3) Select a brush set, such as Basic Brushes.

This is where your brush will appear.


If you've already created your first brush—and are now creating your second brush—select the brush set you created before.

Make a Selection

The area that you're going to select should be about 500px in size.

If you were to create a smaller brush, the quality would be poor when you enlarge it.

1) Select a selection tool.

2) In the lower-right corner of your screen, click the More icon.

3) Select the Info tab.

When you drag out the selection, its size will appear under Dimension. 


4) Drag out your selection and check its size.

If it's too small:

a) Press the Esc key on your keyboard.

b) Enlarge the photograph with the Zoom tool.

c) Select your selection tool and try again.

5) At the top of your screen, go to Edit > Define Brush from Selection.


6) Enter a name for the brush and click OK.

You can now use the brush.

The brush appears in the brush set you selected above.


In the example below, the brush was made from a selection of a pretzel.

The pretzel photograph was by David Benbennick.


The Color Picker tool (looks like an eyedropper) was used to select a color from the photograph of the pretzel.


As mentioned, brushes have only one color.

The pretzel brush doesn't have all the colors of the pretzel in the photograph.

Below, the brushed pretzel is on the left.

The real pretzel is on the right


Saving the Brush

If you want to use the brush at a later session, do the following.

1) At the top of your screen, go to Edit > Preset Manager.

2) Click the brush you created.

3) On the right side of the window, click Save Set.

4) Enter a name for the set, such as My Brushes.

5) Click Save.

6) Close the Preset Manager window.

7) Select the Brush tool.

8) Open the brush menu in Tool Options (1).

9) Click the icon in the upper-right corner of the window (2).

10) In the next window that opens, click Load Brushes (3).


11) Select your brush set and click Load.

Your brush set will now appear at the bottom of the brush set list.

The Next Time You Create a Brush

Be sure to select your brush set in Tool Options before you create your next brush.

By doing so, your latest brush will be saved in your brush set.

When You Upgrade Photoshop Elements

The brush set you created is not stored in the same folder as the default Photoshop Elements brush sets.


On a Windows computer, the brush set is stored here:

C: > Users > Your Computer's Name > AppData* > Roaming > Adobe > Photoshop Elements > Version Number** > Presets > Brushes

* You may not see AppData, as it's a hidden file.

** Photoshop Elements 2020 is 18.0.


The pathway on a Mac computer was not found.

Search for the name of your brush set using Spotlight.

Press Cmd + Space Bar.

Windows & Mac: Move Your Brush Set

When you upgrade to a new version of Photoshop Elements, your brush set may not be available.

Do the following.

1) Close Photoshop Elements.

2) Navigate to your brush set.

If you're Windows, use the above pathway.

If you're Mac, search for your brush set.

3) Select the brush set and press Ctrl + x (Windows) or Cmd + x (Mac).

The brush set is cut, pending pasting.

4) Navigate to one the following locations.

• Windows:

C: > Program Files > Adobe > Photoshop Elements 2020 > Presets > Brushes

• Mac:

Applications > Adobe Photoshop Elements Version # > Support Files > Presets > Brushes

5) Press Ctrl + v (Windows) or Cmd + v (Mac).

The brush set is pasted into the Brushes folder.

6) Open Photoshop Elements.

The brush set is amongst the default Photoshop Elements brush sets.


5 – Create a Brush Using the Custom Shape Tool

Create a shape with the Custom Shape tool, select it, and create a brush.

Do the following.

1) Select the Custom Shape tool.


2) Select a shape in the menu in Tool Options.

3) Press and hold down Shift, while dragging out the shape.

By holding down Shift, the shape is not distorted.

When dragging, the dimensions of the shape are displayed.

You want the the shape to be 500px or larger.

The shape appears in a new layer.

The layer is active (darker blue).

4) Do one of the following.

• In the layers stack on the right side of screen—right click on the shape layer—and click Simplify Layer.

• At the top of your screen—go to Layer > Simplify Layer.

The shape is converted to pixels.


5) Select the shape using the Magic Wand tool.

6) Go to this step above to finish making the brush.

6 – Downloading & Installing Brushes

You can find brush sets for just about any subject online.

Most Photoshop brushes will work in Photoshop Elements.

Check the license of the brush set before downloading.

Below, a cloud brush created by Helenartathome at Brusheezy, was used.


Do the following.

1) Check the license of the brush set.

2) Close Photoshop Elements.

3) Download the brush set.

It will probably be inside a zip file.

4) Go to your Downloads folder.

5) Extract the brush set from the zip file.

A second folder appears.

6) Open the second folder.

The brush set is inside.

It may have the .abr extension.

7) Select the brush-set folder and press Ctrl + c (Windows) or Cmd + c (Mac).

The brush-set folder is copied, pending pasting.

8) Navigate to one the following locations.

• Windows:

C: > Program Files > Adobe > Photoshop Elements 2020 > Presets > Brushes

• Mac:

Applications > Adobe Photoshop Elements Version # > Support Files > Presets > Brushes

9) Press Ctrl + v (Windows) or Cmd + v (Mac).

The brush set is pasted into the Brushes folder.

10) Open Photoshop Elements.

7 – Smart Brush Tool & Detail Smart Brush Tool

These tools have numerous effects to choose in the menu in Tool Options.

As you brush with the Smart Brush tool—it paints an effect into a selection—being made at the same time.


The Detail Smart brush paints the effect where you brush—without making a selection.

Unfortunately, you can't create a selection manually to be used with this tool.