A lot of people use Photoshop, a small minority of those people actually use the ‘full’ power of the Application – not that, that’s a bad thing (does that even make sense). One of the most common questions I get asked is where do you put all the different downloads (shapes / brushes / swatches etc) from the web and then how do you activate them in the Application. Well it’s easy – but only if you know how.I’m on a Mac so we’ll use the Directory structure from that version to explain, it’s similar on all platforms and version from 7 onwards – I’ll be using CS3 for this.
Ok, so above is a screen cap from the /presets folder which you will find in the Photoshop directory. Pretty self explanatory what lives where but let’s delve a little deeper with some examples.Photoshop Brushes One of the most common presets, a brush is a collection of brush ‘tips’ which can be literally anything. Let’s say you have a collection of grunge patterns that you use frequently, rather than loading the individual file everytime and then moving it to a new layer for editing / masking, you could put all these ‘files’ into a brush preset, select, paint, save time. Brushes always end with .abr file extension. Put them in ‘/presets/brushes’.Some good sites for brushes: http://browse.deviantart.com/resources/applications/psbrushes/ http://www.psbrushes.net/ http://photoshopbrushes.com/brushes.htmPhotoshop Shapes Second only to the widespread use of brushes are the shapes, dumped into ‘/presets/custom shapes’ they always have the .csh file extension. You can access these shapes with the ‘custom shape tool. There are loads of great shape sites out there and I tend to find that I keep all my arty-farty floral patters in shape files, but they can be literally anything. Shapes are ‘vectors’ and so can be scaled to any size and keep their resolution.Some good links for shape files: http://browse.deviantart.com/resources/applications/customshape/ http://www.magurno.com/ http://www.mikesquarter.com/Photoshop Actions Actions are ridiculously powerful little ‘mini apps’. If you’ve ever played with macros then you need to read no further, for the rest of us: Actions allow you to perform a series of actions on an image and record them, you can then save them to a file and at the click of a button redo it all with nought more than a single click. Example – You need to duplicate a layer 3 times and independantly adjust the R, G and B channels, but you need to do this for 20 images that were washed out. You start recording, perform the actions on a single file and save this to a action file, which you can then call up at will on the remaining 19 images all at a single click – get your head around these, the real time-savers. Actions always have the .atn file extension. Put them in ‘/presets/actions’.Some good sites for actions / tutorials: http://www.photoshopsupport.com/tools/actions.htmlhttp://www.actionaddiction.com/http://www.about.com/Photoshop Swatches A swatch is a collection of colours organised into a file. For example if I’m working on a new site but I have a specific colour scheme in mind I put all of those colours into a swatch file and then load it into Photoshop, that way I only have to worry about the 3 primary’s and 10 of so secondary colours I’m using on the site – no more colour dropper when trying to replicate colours. A real time saver when working with a specific colour set. Swatches always have the .aco extension. Put them in ‘/presets/colour swatches’.Some good sites for swatches: http://www.milesburke.com.au/blog/2006/02/03/the-web-20-secret-weapon/If I’ve forgotten anything, comments are welcome.