How to Install Brushes in Adobe Photoshop

Install custom brushes to extend Photoshop's native toolkit

A dynamic ecosystem of artist-supplied content, including brushes, extends the core feature set of Adobe Photoshop. Custom brushes offer different levels of softness, a variety of edges and patterns, and a series of new shapes to fine-tune your designs. These custom brushes import through the Brushes option menu.

Instructions in this article apply to Adobe Photoshop CC 2020, although the behavior is similar for recent versions of Creative Cloud. These procedures do not work with the Creative Suite version of the Adobe software suite.

Sample brushes for Photoshop
Brusheezy

How to Install Photoshop Brushes

Free Photoshop brushes are easy to find online. Popular places to find brushes include DeviantArt, Brusheezy, and Tumblr.

The Adobe Stock service offers thousands of brushes. However, Adobe Stock follows a subscription model separate from Creative Cloud, so the brushes you find there aren't free. These brushes do, however, plug in cleanly with Photoshop.

To install a brush from an online site for use in Photoshop, complete the following steps:

  1. Download the Photoshop brush or brush pack you've chosen.

    If the brush comes in a .zip archive, you must extract the file before you can install the brush. Photoshop Brush files use the .abr extension.

  2. Launch Photoshop and create a new file or open an existing one. From the Brushes window, click the three-line hamburger icon to reveal a flyout menu.

    If the Brushes window isn't visible, go to the Window menu and select Brushes.

    The hamburger menu in the Brushes menu
  3. Select Import Brushes.

    The Import Brushes command
  4. Open the ABR file of the brush or brush pack, then select Load.

  5. The new brush (or brush pack) displays in the Brushes window. Select and use a tool from this new grouping.

    Custom brushes behave identically to stock brushes.

    Photoshop with new brushes

Test the brushes with a blank document, or add a transparent layer to an existing document to test it without modifying the original content.