PI8 PhotoShop Brush Mask

Hanne's PS brushesThe PI faithful have long wanted to be able to use PhotoShop brushes. Some of the most gorgeous ones I've seen are by Hanne (whose brushes are available from Graphic Goo). I used her "Love Letters" brushes in the image made in this tutorial. (View full size).

PS brushes have the .ABR file extension and can only be opened in PhotoShop (or renamed .JBR and used in PSP). I'm going to tell you upfront that you can't use them in PI, but I have "cheat" you might be able to use, depending on what software you have lying around.

Being able to work along with this tut depends on your having PhotoShop Limited Edition. The good news is that it is often packaged with scanners and digital cameras, and with other Adobe software. So go through your software CD's and see if you have PhotoShop LE. You might be pleasantly surprised. If you do, you can put those brushes to work for you in creating masks for PI images. (You can also make these brush masks in PhotoShop Elements)

Begin by opening up PS and create a new image with a white canvas. From the Brushes palette, click the arrow and select Load Brushes.

load brushes

When the Append Brushes dialog box opens, select the desired .ABR brush file and click Open.

append brushes box

The brushes will be added at the bottom of the Brushes palette. You'll have to scroll down to find them. Don't be surprised if you can't tell what the brush looks like from the thumbnail in the Brushes palette. Start clicking in the white canvas to create the base for your brush mask.

start stamping with brush

Don't overdo it with the brushes. Leave plenty of bare area. If you get a stamp you don't like or it needs to be repositioned, choose Edit, Undo. Be careful because PhotoShop only lets you Undo the last command. When you've got an arrangement you like, save it in a non-web image format such as PSD or BMP. Here's what I ended up with. It kind of looks like a romantic postcard.

finished brush image

Close up PhotoShop LE and open your brush image in PI8. Make sure that white is your background color in the Tool Panel. Open up an RGB True Color image that you'll be using as the background for the brush image mask. I'm using a beautiful pink flower photo by my friend Bren of Eye Envision Studios.

flower image

Make your brush mask the active image by clicking on its blue title bar. If the image you are using has lots of light colors, you might want to choose Format, Invert to get a kind of "negative" effect. That's what I did below.

invert colors

Choose Format, Data Type, Grayscale (8 bit). Click on the True Color image's blue title bar to make it active. Choose Selection, Import Selection. Doing so will open the Import Selection dialog box. Only grayscale images will be listed in the "Import from" option, or you can open a grayscale image from File. Select your brush mask and click OK.

import selection box

You'll see a selection marquee around the image. If you need to resize the selection, choose the Transform tool. Make sure you choose the "Selection" option in the Attributes toolbar (circled). If you don't, the bounding box will not appear around the selection and you won't be able to resize (new feature in PI8).

transform tool, selection option

If you want to, you can simply choose Edit, Fill and fill the brush mask selection with a color, gradient or texture. For a more advanced approach, switch to the Pick tool. Right click on the selection and choose Convert to Object. Right click and choose Properties. When the Object Properties dialog box opens, experiment with various Merge methods to see which one suits the image best. I ended up using Darken.

You won't likely see much difference on the image itself for most Merge methods. You'll have to copy the object into your Clipboard, then do Edit, Paste, As a New Image. Hit Enter to deactivate the object. You'll see the results of the Merge choice in the new image with a white canvas. Notice how inverting the grayscale brush mask resulted in hardly any of the underlying flower photo showing through? If I hadn't Inverted, all of the flowers would be showing and the brush shapes would be white.

new object

This brush mask image is lovely and delicate just as it is (view full size). If you want a little more color, delete the brush mask object from the True Color photo. Copy the photo into the Clipboard, then Paste it into the mask brush image. Right click and choose Properties to open the Object Properties dialog box. From the General tab, edit the Transparency to create a sheer overlay of color. I've used 65%. Also play around with the Merge methods, if you're feeling adventurous. Some surprisingly beautiful and unexpected effects can be created by varying Merge method.

Finally, don't forget that any selection, including a mask, can be filled with a gradient or texture. That's what I did in the image below, in which I made a mask from MissM's "The Celts" brushes. I filled the brush mask with a very dark gray (view full size).

fill brush mask with color

This tutorial uploaded 1/10/03

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