• How to Rotate Brushes in Photoshop and PSE

    Photoshop Brushes are some of the most versatile and fun tools for digital design. Designer Digitals offers over 3400 brush sets at last count. That's an incredible array of design choices!
    Many times when we've worked with the brush sets, I have used the PNG images that come with each download. In the next few tips, we'll explore shortcuts for working with the ABR brush file, including some new ones introduced in Photoshop 2020.

    • To begin, load the ABR brush file of your choice into your software. Here's an easy way: After downloading and unzipping the set, you can just drag the ABR file into the editing window of Photoshop 2020. The brushes will populate at the bottom of the brush picker in the Options Bar. Note: If you are using an older version of the software or PSE, refer to our tip on Loading and Using Brush Files in Photoshop and PSE. It walks you through using the Preset Manager to load a brush file.
    • To work with the brush set, open a new document or a piece of digital paper.
    • In the Layers panel, click the Create a New Layer icon. This places a transparent layer above the background paper. I always recommend creating your brushwork on a new transparent layer so that you can hide, delete, resize or change the blending mode of the brushwork later.
    • Get the Brush Tool from the Tools panel. In the Tool Options, click the Brush Picker menu. This will be at the top of the Photoshop screen, or at the bottom of the PSE screen. The newly loaded brushes will be at the bottom of the brush previews.
    • Select a brush from the new set.
    • You can brush or stamp on the new transparent layer at this point. Keep in mind that the Foreground Color chip is the color of the brush. The brush will be stamped at the angle that the designer created the image. But what if you need the image tilted or turned? I find this particularly necessary when I am using a "painting" brush like watercolor images. Using the brush at the same angle over and over again doesn’t look realistic. It's also sometimes desirable when you are stamping words on a background or want to turn the image on its side. This is where the little compass icon in the Brush Options comes into play.
    • Method 1: In PSE, you can find this handy angle tool in the Tool Options under Brush Settings. Just turn the arrow to change the angle of the brush. In Photoshop, you can find the tool in the Brush Picker above the brush previews. You can also find it under Window > Brush Settings. You'll just turn the dial to change the angle of the brush.
    • Method 2: Starting in Photoshop 2020, you can change the brush angle on the fly by simply pressing the Left and Right Arrow keys. Once the brush is activated, hover above the new blank document. Press and hold an arrow key to watch the brush angle turn. When you are satisfied with the tilt, click to apply the brush. This is a game-changer since you can change the angle as you work without stopping!
    • Method 3: Since we are doing our brushwork on its own layer, the third way to create a tilt is to stamp the brush on the new transparent layer. Switch to the Move tool in the Tools panel and press Ctrl T (Mac: Cmd T) on the keyboard. This activates the Transform controls around image you just stamped. Hover the cursor over a corner. When it changes to a curved arrow, drag the corner to tilt the image. Shift/drag to tilt at 15 degree increments if you like more control. Click the checkmark to confirm the tilt.


    Using these methods gives you the flexibility to apply your brushwork at an angle that works for your design. And if you are using Photoshop CC (Photoshop 2020) you'll likely enjoy the new shortcut for tilting your brushes as you work.