How To Use Photoshop Brushes in Other Programs

Blue paintbrush with blue light streaks coming off the bristles

 Tyson Ferro/Getty Images

Adobe Photoshop custom brushes are distributed in sets with the ABR file extension. These files are a proprietary format and generally can not be opened natively with other graphics software.* Most software does support the PNG format, however, so if you can convert the brushes in the ABR file to a PNG file, you can open each file in your editor of choice and then save or export them as a custom brush tip using the custom brush function of your software.

Converting ABR Brush Set to PNG files

Some brush creators will distribute the brushes in both ABR and PNG formats. In this case, half the job is already done for you. If you can only acquire the brushes in ABR format, thankfully we have the free, open source ABRviewer program from Luigi Bellanca. Once you have the brush files converted into PNG format, you can export them back out as a brush, using the appropriate command from your editor. Here are instructions for some popular photo editors.

Paint Shop Pro

  1. Open a PNG file.
  2. Check file dimensions. If larger than 999 pixels in either direction, the file must be resized to a maximum of 999 pixels (Image > Resize).
  3. Go to File > Export > Custom Brush.
  4. Name the brush tip and click OK.
  5. The new brush will be immediately available for use with the paint brush tool.


The GIMP does not require Photoshop ABR files to be converted. Most ABR files can be copied to the GIMP brushes directory and they should work. If the ABR file does not work, or you would rather convert from individual PNG files, do the following:

  1. Open a PNG file.
  2. Go to Select > All, then copy (Ctrl-C).
  3. Go to Edit > Paste as > New Brush.
  4. Enter a brush name and file name, then press OK.
  5. The new brush will be immediately available for use with the paint brush tool.